Very Serious Zombies
So the Very Serious Michael O'Hanlon is, once again, advising the United States to "stay the quagmire," this time in Afghanistan. Unsurprising. He's never met a war he thought was worth ending. I'll let you read the piece for yourself, but I'll just reprise my favorite O'Hanlon comment so that you can assess his credibility for yourself.
This was on Sarah Palin's interview with Charlie Gibson, where several people were asked "how'd she do?"
I thought she handled the discussion of the “Bush doctrine” fine. In fact, if you use those two words together among foreign policy analysts, some will also ask for clarification because the Bush doctrine can also mean “if you’re not with us you’re against us” going back to his 9/20/2001 speech and it can also be broadly interpreted to mean a more muscular, unilateralist America in general. So asking for clarification was totally within her rights, to be sure that Gibson was talking about preemption doctrine. And once she got that part right, her answer was reasonable.
Also her speech yesterday about going over to defend us against those who committed the attacks of 9/11, to troops headed for Iraq, is also correct because in fact al Qaeda is in Iraq now, even if it wasn’t then.
As a final point in her defense, her convoluted answer about whether we should use force against Pakistan—which apparently frustrated Gibson—was the right way to answer the question because you don’t want to be more blunt than you have to be on this matter, given how American political leaders’ comments play in Pakistan (and often make the situation worse).
Where I had concerns about her interview is where I have concerns about all four of the candidates—their support for admitting Georgia and Ukraine into NATO, apparently fairly soon. That is the right long-term goal but we need to let this thing cool. It is not a classic case of an irredentist or imperialistic state poising to gobble up the next neighbor; it is rather a dynamic of competitive great power behavior (more like that leading up to World War I, though not as serious) in which mutually provoking each other makes the situation worse rather than better. So count me as a contrarian against both tickets on this one, at least in terms of their apparent readiness to admit those two states to NATO in fairly short order.
If you don't remember it, this is how she actually answered the Bush Doctrine question:
Asked by ABC News' Charlie Gibson whether she supported the Bush Doctrine, Palin stared blankly for a moment before turning the question back on Gibson. "In what respect?"
The ABC anchor responded, "Well, what do you interpret it to be?" clearly testing her knowledge of the policy that has been in place since September 2002, before the Iraq war.
Palin couldn't say, offering an answer that didn't even mention preemption. "I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell-bent in destroying our nation. There have been blunders along the way, though. There have been mistakes made, and with new leadership, and that's the beauty of American elections, of course, and democracy, is with new leadership comes opportunity to do things better"
And it was patently obvious to any sentient being that her Iraq answer was just uninformed nonsense, which reporting
Palin had “substantial deficiencies,” the authors report, and her “grasp of rudimentary facts and concepts was minimal.” Those deficiencies became apparent on Sept. 10, when she was getting ready to fly back to Alaska to see her son, Track, depart for Iraq, the authors report. She was also preparing for her interview with ABC’s Charlie Gibson.
“Asked who attacked America on 9/11, she suggested several times that it was Saddam Hussein. Asked to identify the enemy that her son would be fighting in Iraq, she drew a blank. (Palin’s horrified advisers provided her with scripted replies, which she memorized.) Later, on the plane, Palin said to her team, ‘I wish I’d paid more attention to this stuff.”Seriously, O'Hanlon has never been right about anything, not even whether Sarah Palin had a clue what she was talking about in foreign policy. (She didn't.) It's just amazing that he's still out there getting paid to pontificate.