The blog at Foreign Policy has twenty questions that the left believes will “expose” America’s Hockey Mom, Governor Sarah Palin.
They claim that these friendly little torpedoes establish (or disestablish) the bona fides of a worthy second in command . . .ignoring of course the artifice of a president actually having to make foreign policy decisions in seconds from memory and without a room-full of professional advisors, 535 clamoring "experts" on Capitol Hill, shelves of erudite briefing books, established protocols and precedents.
So how should Palin respond?
She studied Political Science in college, so she’s undoubtedly familiar with soft science dissembling on exams. But here’s how Truth With Speedzzter would tell her to respond.
1. In a broad and long-term sense, would you have responded differently to the attacks of 9/11?
SUGGESTED ANSWER: The fact is that we are left with the responses we already have. Monday morning quarterbacking does no good in determining how we ought to go forward.
Certainly we must redouble our efforts to hunt down Osama Bin Ladin and his henchmen. And we’ve got to neutralize Osama’s terror organization. We must remain vigilant in preempting additional terrorist threats from radical extremist. We should continue to improve border and port security. We need to take the fight to the terrorists in places such as Afghanistan. We’ve got to finish the job in Iraq.
2. Is Iraq a democracy?
SUGGESTED ANSWER: Iraq has made huge strides in meeting many of the benchmarks on the road to democracy. Is it perfect. Of course not. Is it a fully Western-style democracy? No. However, if we follow the cut and run policy of Mr. Obama, any hope of Iraq becoming democratic would collapse, chaos and innocent bloodshed would escalate, and Iraq would drift into Iran’s radical orbit. We don’t need to stay in Iraq forever, but we must stay until Iraq is fully self-sufficient and self-governing.
3. What's the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite?
SUGGESTED ANSWER: What’s the difference between a Catholic and a Protestant?
The theologians could point to a lot of differences. From our point of view – in practice – the Shia have often been more fundamentalist and the Sunni more amenable to Western ideas. But Sadam Hussein was technically a Sunni – and he was as violent and repressive as any of the Shia radicals in the Islamic world.
Regardless of the theological differences, we must encourage all strains of Islam to give up jihad, violence and terrorism. And we’ve got to support responsible elements in the global war on terror.
4. What is your preferred plan for peace between Israel and Palestine? A two state solution? What about Jerusalem?
SUGGESTED ANSWER: Obviously we’d prefer that they not fight. But this conflict has been raging almost from the ancient days of Ishmael and Isaac. The U.S. cannot impose peace on these factions.
Over the past three decades, the U.S. has helped reduce tensions by getting the sides to talk. But the active stakeholders for peace are the nations of the Mid-East.
We cannot waiver in our support for our strategic ally Israel. Any solution which compromises the territorial integrity and defensive capabilities of Israel is no solution at all.
The Palestinians must renounce violence and act as if they accept Israel’s inherent right to exist.
Syria and Jordan have a responsibility to the world community to diffuse tensions and to avoid actions which facilitate the conflict.
Jerusalem is a truly international city. It should not be partitioned or abused as some sort of bargaining chip or hostage to extremist ideologies. It must remain open to Moslems, Jews and Christians.
5. How do you feel about French President Nicolas Sarkozy's recent visit to Syria? Do you believe the United States should negotiate with leaders like President Bashar al-Assad?
SUGGESTED ANSWER: Mr. Sarkozy has the responsibility for determining his nation’s foreign policy. I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to comment on where he chooses to visit.
The U.S., of course, should have appropriate diplomatic relations with responsible members of the international community.
I’m not certain what you mean, though, by “negotiate.” If you’re suggesting that we should compromise on basic American principles and national interests or if we should create propaganda opportunities for regimes that are linked to support for terrorism, the only negotiations that are appropriate are warnings and cautions.
6. Nearly 40 percent of the world's population lives in China and India. Who are those countries' leaders?
SUGGESTED ANSWER: This is one of those sound-bite “gotcha questions” that you guys in the media love.
[If Palin really wanted to tweak the media and the left, she’d pull out a note card, her Blackberry or a book]
Anybody can look this kind of stuff up on the Internet or in the World Almanac.
The communist party’s politburo still runs the People’s Republic of China. And you’d think that Mao Zedong was still in power from all the photos of him we saw during the Olympics. But the current head of state is [make ‘em wait for it] Hu Jintao.
The president of India is Pratibha Patil. She’s another one of those who has helped shatter the glass ceiling as I understand it.
7. Do you support the U.S.- India Civil Nuclear Agreement, which would lift restrictions on sales of nuclear technology and fuel to India, a country which hasn't signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty?
SUGGESTED ANSWER: India is, of course, a valued friend of the U.S.
India’s peaceful development of nuclear power would be a great humanitarian benefit to the people of that region. The current non-proliferation regime is riddled with holes and cheaters. The development of Iran’s nuclear capability is an example of this.
As Ronald Reagan said, we’ve got to “trust but verify.” And that’s what we must always do in the trade of sensitive technology. A piece of paper is no substitute for active involvement. We’ve got to work closely with the Indian government to encourage responsible, peaceful nuclear development. And we’ve got to aggressively oppose nuclear proliferation with diplomatic, economic and even military pressure as we uncover it.
8. Other than more drilling, what steps do you suggest the U.S. take in order to move toward energy independence? Do you believe more investment is needed in alternative energy research? If so, how would you recommend this funding be allocated?
SUGGESTED ANSWER: [Let Palin be Palin here. Palin doesn’t need any help on energy issues, but she should refer the viewers to the McCain-Palin website. And she should attack the unrealistic assumptions of Obama’s energy plan – this is stump speech “red meat” time]
9. How would you balance concerns over human rights and freedom in China with the United States' growing economic interdependence with that country?
SUGGESTED ANSWER: While China has made breathtaking economic progress, its human rights record is abysmal. China’s record on oppressing religious freedom and political dissent is simply horrible. The Olympics have shown that the Chinese government is slowly moving toward a more openness and is increasingly responsive to international concerns.
This movement isn’t fast enough. But we’ve got the beginnings of a foundation to build on.
As China develops economically, pressures for reform from within will increase. As the fall of the Soviet Union proved, Communism is a flawed system that cannot sustain itself indefinitely. One of our tasks is to identify the opportunities to reinforce, encourage and support those who are struggling from the inside to bring China’s human rights policies into the Twenty-First Century.
Obviously, we live in a global economy and where we exert pressure on repressive regimes over questions of basic human rights must be measured carefully and realistically. While we cannot realistically “boycott” China over human rights issues, we can use our diplomatic options to strongly encourage China to enact reforms. And we can look at questions such as most favored nation trade status and restrictions on technological transfers, and disincentives to additional investment as potential points of leverage on human rights issues.
10. What's more important: securing Russia's cooperation on nuclear proliferation and Iran, or supporting Georgia's NATO bid? If Vladimir Putin called you on the phone and said, "It's one or the other," what would you tell him?
SUGGESTED ANSWER: That’s a false dichotomy. Both are important. I’m not going to answer a hypothetical question about what Mr. Putin may or may not do. But with all due respect, cannot allow any world leader to blackmail us into something that is against our interests.
11. Critique the foreign policy of the last administration. Name its single greatest success, and its most critical failure.
SUGGESTED ANSWER: The answer to both questions is the same – the War on Terror. There have been no attacks on American soil since 9/11. America has stopped plenty of terrorist attempts. That’s not just the Bush Administration, but all levels of government working together. [insert Alaska vignette here].
But we’ve still not captured Osama Bin Ladin. That’s unacceptable. The job is not finished in Iraq or Afghanistan. John McCain fought virtually the entire Washington establishment for the surge in Iraq. John McCain as president will fight hard to bring the War on Terror to a strong and successful conclusion.
12. What do you think will be the most defining foreign-policy issue in the next five years?
SUGGESTED ANSWER: Such prognostications are generally unreliable.
There are many international pressures that will define the next five years. The battle against terrorism . . . energy . . . international trade and the economy . . . the continuing emergence of the Far East as an economic powerhouse.
Energy will likely be at the center of America’s national interests over the next five years [insert stump speech energy material here]
13. What role should the United States play in the global effort to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS? Should it support contraception, or abstinence only?
SUGGESTED ANSWER: HIV/AIDS is a difficult problem with a lot of local variations. For example, in some African cultures, AIDS is being spread through barbaric tribal practices and pedophilia. No amount of contraception subsidies will counteract this. Much of the global education effort should be aimed at dissuading populations at risk from engaging in irresponsible practices that are known to increase risk of contracting the disease.
The first responsibility of the U.S. government is to protect our own population from this terrible scourge. Part of that effort is to do our part to stem the epidemic overseas. One-size-fits-all international solutions don’t work. We’ve got to work with local leaders to identify areas where it is in the vital national interest of the U.S. to assist and cooperate. But the front lines of the battle will be comprised of the indigenous and local leadership and their creativity in adapting solutions to fit local problems and realities.
14. You've said that the federal government spends too much money. What, in your view, is the appropriate level of spending as a percentage of GDP?
SUGGESTED ANSWER: Percentage of GDP is an “inside baseball” statistic that only has meaning to some economists and policy wonks.
The real answer is that the federal government should recognize that every dollar it spends is a hard-earned dollar that it has taken from someone in taxes, and that spending of these taxpayer dollars should be at the lowest feasible level to fund the essential functions and responsibilities of the federal government. And the federal government shouldn’t tax or spend a dime more than is absolutely necessary.
We’ve got to go through our bloated federal spending line-by-line and cut out waste, luxuries and items that are not really the responsibility of the federal government. I’ve had executive experience in governing under a budget. In Alaska [insert vignettes about how Palin is a “pitbull with lipstick” on wasteful spending.]
On the other hand, Mr. Obama’s tax-and-spend liberal plans will bloat the budget by more than one trillion dollars. He will try to federalize our health care system. He will expand the bureaucracy. He will micromanage our energy development. He will further involve Washington in areas that ought to be decided and addressed locally. He will waste money we don’t have rewarding special interests that supported his campaign, such as the teachers unions. He will raise taxes, but not enough to cover his spending plans, so the national debt and deficit will balloon. That amounts to a tax increase on future generations.
15. You're an advocate of reducing environmental restrictions on drilling. How much oil needs to be found in the United States before the country achieves energy independence?
SUGGESTED ANSWER: In the world oil economy that’s rapidly expanding, every bit helps lower prices and increase supplies. But the question has the wrong focus because oil isn’t the only variable in energy independence. [insert energy stump speech here]
16. What are your picks for the three most enlightening books written on foreign policy in the last five years?
SUGGESTED ANSWER: I don’t do book reviews for a living. There’s too many fish to catch, too many moose to hunt, and too many hockey games to watch.
Seriously, too many of the big selling foreign policy books have been nothing more than rants against President Bush’s war plan or calls for an unconstitutional internationalism. [Palin could insert her list here, but here’s a few suggestions that will enrage the left and enthrall the base
America Alone by Mark Steyn
The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) by Robert Spencer
Unstoppable Global Warming , by S. Fred Singer]
17. Who among the world's leaders can be listed as the top three friends of the United States and why?
SUGGESTED ANSWER: That’s not a fair question to a number of America’s allies.
Certainly all of the members of the Iraq War coalition have taken courageous stands in the War on Terror. A good example of that is Tony Blair. He’s gone now, but he led the U.K. effectively in the War on Terror. Former Australian prime minister John Howard also was a good friend of the U.S. We’ve recently seen positive developments in France with Mr. Sarkozy and in Germany with Ms. Merkel.
But it’s just not fair to single out three of America’s friends for such a silly list.
18. In your opinion, which U.S. president was the most successful world leader and why?
SUGGESTED ANSWER: Several American presidents have lead strongly on the World Stage. Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, James K. Polk. As an Alaskan, I’m of course somewhat fond of Andrew Johnson, because if it wasn’t for his purchase of Alaska, Alaskans might be speaking Russian today.
Several Twentieth Century presidents made real change through tough foreign policy decisions. President Nixon’s outreach to China was undoubtedly historic. George H.W. Bush assembled a great coalition to beat back Saddam Hussein’s aggression in Kuwait.
But in my lifetime, one president stands out – Ronald Reagan. Mr. Reagan refused to back down from bedrock American principles, even when ridiculed by the left. He stood toe-to-toe with the Soviet leaders and refused to blink. He lead us to victory in the Cold War, which ultimately reduced global tensions and the nuclear threat. He lead us to rebuild our military capability and helped restore America’s stature in the world.
19. Which U.S. political thinkers, writers, and politicians would you enlist to advise you on matters of foreign policy and why?
SUGGESTED ANSWER: That’s a better question for John McCain. He’s the one running for president.
It’s been my experience that you get so much volunteered advice from so many quarters that you don’t have to “enlist” anyone special. We need to hear a variety of voices from both parties and outside of the U.S. John McCain has pledged to build a cabinet that’s inclusive.
And even if I don’t always agree with a position, I’ll listen to it. But naming names of particular people who will advise me after the election is presumptuous and not something I’m going to do.
20. Who is the first world leader you'd like to meet with and why?
SUGGESTED ANSWER: There are many leaders that I’d like to meet with. The order would be dictated by the situation. Obviously, we’d need to concentrate on leaders involved in hot spots in the War on Terror, energy and the world economy.
That aside, for strictly selfish reasons, I’d like to sit down with Angela Merkel because she’s a strong, able woman that I’m sure would have a lot of helpful insights on a variety of topics we’d have in common.