Palin Getting out of Neocon Business?

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palin computer.jpgPolitico‘s Ben Smith has the scoop that Sarah Palin and foreign policy advisers Randall Scheunemann and Michael Goldfarb have parted ways.
According to the article, the neoconservative Scheunemann said flatly to Palin, “We can’t give you the time.” All are saying that the split was friendly — even though Hoover Institution’s Peter Schweizer, a skeptic of America’s intervention in Libya (and thus not at all where the neocons are on interventionist crusading), was just brought on board.
But the next zinger Ben Smith wrangled was an exchange with Bill Kristol who basically implied that Sarah Palin was nudging over to an Obama-Lite foreign policy:

I know Brent Scowcroft. I worked with Brent Scowcroft. Sarah Palin’s no Brent Scowcroft.
My other thought: The surge in Iraq works. The surge in Afghanistan works. There’s an Arab Spring. The world obviously needs American strength and leadership more than ever. And now everyone (even Palin, to some degree) decides, hey, time to back off?
It’s foolish substantively and politically. Do Republicans really want to run as Obama-lite in foreign policy?

This wedge between pugnacious nationalists who disdain international deal-making, and more realistic, national-interest driven assessments of power and costs is a key one. If Sarah Palin is about to become a realist, well, I may have to put some of my problems with her aside (“some” of my problems).
More soon.
– Steve Clemons

Comments

6 comments on “Palin Getting out of Neocon Business?

  1. anirprof says:

    Steve,
    Who knows what Palin really thinks, but my bet is that you misread things by thinking she’s becoming more realist. Probably better expressed in W.M. Mead terms as becoming more Jacksonian — and in another of Mead’s favorite themes, more Christian Zionist.
    I think Palin probably is backing off of being so interventionist as neocons like McCain, Kristol, etc., who do believe in a very active US role and even support 90′s style purely humanitarian intervention. On that point, she and realists like you would agree.
    Beyond that, I predict key differences:
    1. Pugnacious is exactly where I bet she’s going. Think Pat Buchannan or John Bolton. Certainly *not* Brent Scowcroft or H.W. Bush cutting deals with the Chinese, or taking a restrained and gracious stance as the Warsaw Pact collapsed, let alone painstakingly and quietly assembling coalitions (a la Gulf War 1991).
    I suspect she’ll have a smaller set of issues that she cares about than do Kristol-esque neocons, but, that on issues she dos care about she’ll be far more insistent on US leadership and on “We win, you lose” outcomes than any realist would. (disagree with commenter Chris above on this angle)
    I could even see Palin explore a bit of economic nationalism, not as much as Buchannan, but if any of the GOP candidates would go there, it’s her.
    2. Most of the realists you point to are pretty clear in wanting signficant defense cuts, if less than pure deficit hawks or liberals like Barney Frank. Palin has been fairly focal the last 6 months in challenging those in the GOP who say defense should be on the table too. She’s actually been calling for significant INCREASES in military spending.
    3. Islam and Israel. This is the accute cause of the split between Palin and neocons. Much of the US neocon group has supported siding with Egyptian youth, helping Libya rebels, etc., but that’s not where the hardcore Islamophobes went (e.g., Andy McCarthy, Frank Gaffney, Pam Geller), nor is it where Nettanyahu and his government went. Palin has taken the Likud / Gaffney view, not the Kristol / McCain view; by her standards she’s been pretty clear and consistent on that (admittedly, a low bar). I don’t think Steve would usually include someone in his “realist” camp if they are *more* supportive of Nettanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman than Bill Kristol and Joe Lieberman!
    Not at all what I’d consider a shift towards realism.

    Reply

  2. Chris says:

    Actually Steve, what Palin is doing is restoring the Nixon Doctrine.
    I’ve been saying this for days, but Palin is the shrewdest Republican politician out there. As long as liberal activists and the Washington Establishment keep insisting that she is stupid, that’s fine by us. The same cast of characters (who, by the way, are the same people who are driving the nation towards the abyss at 90 miles an hour, while the Bushie Republicans were simply driving towards the same cliff at a liesurely sixty mph) will alway underestimate her the same way they underestimate every conservative politician.
    It’s a point of pride with those of us with a sense of history that liberals called Reagan stupid and honestly believed that Lyndon Johnson was telling the truth about Vietnam in 1964. Oh well.
    Palin threw these people over the side. Don’t be fooled. This has been coming for some time. Why?
    Go back to the Nixon Doctrine. As the shrewdest, smartest politician of HIS time, Nixon understood that the United States needed a muscular, yet activist diplomacy for a period in which the U.S. needed to recover from a similar Lost Decade, which is what the Sixties were. We have spent trillions overseas, while Bush and Obama have committed the United States to a ruinous course in domestic entitlement spending that WILL bankrupt the nation.
    Consequently, the return of the Nixon Doctrine, where the U.S. honors its treaty commitments, is quite willing to sell arms to all comers, has no problem dealing covertly with the likes of Bin Laden or Allende, but will leave the heavy military lifting to the likes of the Israelis, the South Koreans, or the Indians. This kind of “burden sharing” would reduce the need for a massive naval and air buildup that has been going around in Republican circles to challenge the buildup of the People’s Liberation Army Navy and PLAAF.
    Naturally, most of our forces would come home from the Middle East, as they were in the Seventies and Eighties before the Tanker War began.
    For example, do not be surprised if Palin came out for maintaining our Defense Treaty with the ROKs, but for withdrawal of the Second Division from Korea, for example, as a cost-saving measure, to get our forces away from being exposed to the Chinese littoral.
    The Nixon Doctrine, applied to the 21st Century, has its good points. We haven’t lost nearly as many men as in Indochina, but we’ve lost vastly greater amounts of national wealth and we are much closer to bankruptcy that we were when Nixon was inaugurated. Nixon and Kissinger understood that they had to maximize diplomatic maneuver and minimize military commitments in the aftermath of our catastrophic Vietnam misadventure. Palin’s return to the Nixon Doctrine is implied, not stated openly, because one can only trot out Richard Nixon in private company these days, but it’s a good step that Palin is taking in light of the physical exhaustion of the American people and their exchequer.
    This is something Bill Kristol and Jennifer Rubin apparently don’t understand.
    People underestimate this Sarah Palin’s pragmatism at their peril. I’m not surprised that liberals do, given the legends and lies that were created about her by Obama’s political operatives in 2008. However, the Democrats made their bed. Now they must lie in it.

    Reply

  3. Just A Thought says:

    Mr. Clemons,
    You do recall that as Gov., Palin had between 85 and 90 % of the very diverse and independent Alaskan electorate on board.
    She did that by truly considering ALL points of view and coming to the best possible decision.
    Show me another Gov. or President anywhere who can bring all that diversity together in a similar way.
    Just A Thought

    Reply

  4. ManOutOfTime says:

    My goodness: if Mr. Kristol is going to go around
    pointing out all the potential 2012 Republican
    contenders who are “not Brent Scowcroft,” he’s not
    going to have much else to say. None of them is
    Chuck Hagel or Richard Lugar, either. Nor is any of
    them George H. W. Bush or George P. Schulz … and
    that’s not even getting into the list of smart
    Democratic foreign affairs pragmatists who these
    clowns “are not.”

    Reply

  5. ManOutOfTime says:

    My goodness: if Mr. Kristol is going to go around
    pointing out all the potential 2012 Republican
    contenders who are “not Brent Scowcroft,” he’s not
    going to have much else to say. None of them is
    Chuck Hagel or Richard Lugar, either. Nor is any of
    them George H. W. Bush or George P. Schulz … and
    that’s not even getting into the list of smart
    Democratic foreign affairs pragmatists who these
    clowns “are not.”

    Reply

  6. Cato the Censor says:

    Rats + sinking ship = a bunch of political flaks bailing on Palin. I’m grateful because I think it means maybe in a little while I’ll never have to hear about her again.

    Reply

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