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Huckabee the Would-Be Conqueror

As expected [1], Huckabee offered nothing new on foreign policy in his announcement speech earlier today, but he did make a few absurd statements that jumped out at me. At one point during that section of the speech, he said [2]:

As president, I promise you that we will no longer merely try to contain jihadism. We will conquer it!

This is in keeping with Republican hawks’ allergy to the concept of containment in any contemporary context, but it is more dangerous than that. If the U.S. is actively opposing and combating a threat overseas, hawks are always going to find a way to portray the current effort as inadequate and insufficiently aggressive. This leads them to embrace fanatical and/or unworkable alternatives to the “weak” policy that they are deriding. So Huckabee is not content to contain “jihadism,” which he refers to as if it were a unified and monolithic movement, but promises that the U.S. will “conquer” something that cannot, in fact, be conquered. Indeed, the more that one tries to “conquer” an ideology like this through military means, the easier it is for the ideology to gain new adherents.

If Huckabee were somehow elected and were unhinged enough to try to follow through on this promise, he would be committing the U.S. to pursuing an impossible goal through unending war. The rhetoric of “conquering” an ideology with adherents scattered across many countries also suggests a level of permanent U.S. military involvement overseas that might embarrass even our own self-styled neo-imperialists. It’s possible to dismiss Huckabee’s statement as the sort of nonsense that a retreat candidate with no foreign policy experience feels obliged to say to get attention, but it’s such a ridiculous, ill-informed, and fanatical thing to say that it ought to prove that he is unsuited for the presidency.

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21 Comments To "Huckabee the Would-Be Conqueror"

#1 Comment By Uncle Billy On May 5, 2015 @ 3:41 pm

Yes, Huck wants to “conquer” an ideology, which can pop up in dozens of countries. So what does he propose to do? Invade an occupy every nation on the planet with a large population of Muslims? The man is a simplistic, bible thumping buffoon, which means he is perfect for today’s Republican party, which is being occupied by large numbers of simplistic, bible thumping buffoons.

Huckabee wears his religion on his sleeve, as if this is what Republicans have always done. Does anyone remember what religion Eisenhower was? Did Reagan go to Church every Sunday? Every election cycle, the GOP gets crazier and crazier. Huckabee makes George W. Bush look like William F. Buckley Jr.

#2 Comment By Egypt Steve On May 5, 2015 @ 4:25 pm

Even the Romans never extirpated all their enemies, and they were willing to level cities, crucify thousands, and sell hundreds of thousands more into slavery. What exactly is Huckabee going to do to eliminate violent resistance to America that hasn’t been tried, and hasn’t failed, a thousand times before?

#3 Comment By balconesfault On May 5, 2015 @ 4:26 pm

Onward, Christian Soldiers!

GOP politics these days seems to be so much about just finding discriminators that can activate a certain portion of the electorate.

In this case, there’s clearly a portion of the electorate who believes (a) that Islam is a clear and present threat to the survival of Western Civilization, and more specifically the US, and (b) that we can actually defeat jihadist impulses by show of force.

If Huckabee can capture that electorate, he’ll have enough base to make it pretty far along in the GOP primaries.

#4 Comment By alkali On May 5, 2015 @ 4:59 pm

Here is his health care policy — cure all disease:

Real health care reform will focus on prevention and cures rather than costly intervention. … As President, I’d launch a curative approach to health care and save money and lives — not government programs.

Say what you will, he’s consistent.

#5 Comment By CharleyCarp On May 5, 2015 @ 5:00 pm

So, he’s going to enter into an alliance with he Houthis?

#6 Comment By Myron Hudson On May 5, 2015 @ 6:12 pm

CharleyCarp: Good question. Al quaida and ISIS are Sunni Muslim. And their patron is Saudi Arabia, world leader in beheadings. This is gonna be great.

#7 Comment By AnotherBeliever On May 5, 2015 @ 7:06 pm

“As president, I promise you that we will no longer merely try to contain jihadism. We will conquer it!”

We eagerly await the details of your plan. Please post them soon so that we can vote accordingly. Love, America.

#8 Comment By sglover On May 5, 2015 @ 7:17 pm

It’s going to be amusing watching TV gasbags, and the “candidates” themselves, yammer about
“momentum” when none of them gets pluralities better than the low teens. With no many flakes and grifters to choose from, how’s a Republican to decide?!?!?

#9 Comment By Cfountain72 On May 5, 2015 @ 7:28 pm

Yes, ‘conquer jihad’! Does the Huckster understand that there are different kinds of jihad, only the most obvious one being the militant variety. The irony is that his statement exposes someone who desperately believes in a Christian form of militant jihad. Funny that I don’t recall Jesus actually taking up arms against His enemies, certainly not preemptively so. My reading of the Gospels doesn’t really jive with his.

Peace be with you.

#10 Comment By Uncle Billy On May 5, 2015 @ 7:31 pm

In addition, Huckabee is another “chairborne ranger” who never wore the uniform. As a former Marine Captain, it amuses me to see people who never served pontificate on who we should invade, who we should bomb, etc. Well, we are getting a Marine, Gen. Joseph Dunford as JCS Chairman to replace Army Gen. Martin Dempsey. I am sure that Huckabee could give tons of good military advice to Gen. Dunford! Another chickenhawk, God help us.

#11 Comment By Grumpy Old Man On May 5, 2015 @ 7:34 pm

He’s more charming than most of these guys, but not exactly suited for the job.

I’m reminded of “500 channels and nothing to watch.” Twenty candidates, and just about all of them talk complete nonsense, at least when it comes to war and peace.

I hope he doesn’t think that Shiite is something that comes out of the back of a cow.

#12 Comment By Uncle Skippy On May 5, 2015 @ 8:05 pm

I’m not endorsing Huck, but in all fairness, I’m not sure “conquering” is limited to military action. There is a lot of room interpretation: such as conquering by “turning the other cheek,” or hard court press to embrace the people of the Middle East in friendship and goodwill. Granted that the GOP is way far from that high level of strategic thinking, but that doesn’t mean that Huck is drinking the same Kool Aid as his fellow Razorback, Tom Cotton.

#13 Comment By Brian M On May 5, 2015 @ 9:26 pm

Given his policies and actions in Kansas, why are you giving him the benefit of the doubt, Uncle Skippy?

#14 Comment By William Dalton On May 5, 2015 @ 11:23 pm

Judged on my criteria of past experience, Mike Huckabee is the man most likely to be the Republican nominee for President in 2016. He ran in 2008 and made a reasonable candidate. He didn’t commit himself to outrageous positions in foreign policy. He stuck to domestic issues and sought to appear moderate on them – not a firebrand. Now he speaks of “conquering jihadism.” Does he really think there is a military answer, short of genocide, to the problem of contrary religious faiths? Does anyone think so? After all our spectacular failures of the last dozen years?
He should heed the advice of Gamaliel, who persuaded even the Sanhedrin which had condemned Christ to death: “Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

#15 Comment By Otto Zone On May 6, 2015 @ 12:04 am

“As president, I promise you that we will no longer merely try to contain jihadism. We will conquer it!”

Why not? After all, G W Bush conquered Evil, and in the process became the most successful President in history, venerated throughout the land. Surely Huckabee can handle a mere “mopping up” operation against jihadism with equal success!

#16 Comment By Fran Macadam On May 6, 2015 @ 12:08 am

There’s a reason this man left ministry for power politics. His heart wasn’t with Jesus. Unlike Jesus, he wants all the kingdoms of this world offered by the Adversary via military conquest.

#17 Comment By John On May 6, 2015 @ 8:34 am

@William Dalton/11:23 p.m.:

His flirtation with populism makes the money nervous, and his religious asides annoy the non-evangelicals. He’ll be gone by South Carolina or shortly thereafter.

#18 Comment By steve in ohio On May 6, 2015 @ 1:00 pm

“Mike Huckabee is the man most likely to be the Republican nominee.”

I think he is more of a Republican Jesse Jackson–somebody who has a loyal bloc of supporters, but unable to acquire the necessary votes to win the nomination let alone the general election. Evangelicals have other options this year–Cruz, Walker, Carson. Talk radio will limit his ability to capture the conservative vote. Rush and gang chose Romney over Huckabee 8 years ago. Glenn Beck claims the Huck is a progressive and often rails against him.

#19 Comment By Kolya Krassotkin On May 6, 2015 @ 1:18 pm

Huckabee is a white Hermann Cain, just trying to sell copy, and forgive me for sounding trivial, but this isn’t a Dickens’ novel. Can you imagine a President Huckabee? Perhaps only if there’s a Vice-President Fezziwig, Secretary of State Pumblechook or Treasury Secretary Honeythunder.

#20 Comment By jaybird On May 6, 2015 @ 3:39 pm

Just take a moment during your morning routine, look at yourself in the mirror and say, out loud: “President Huckabee”.

Hard mode: without laughing.

#21 Comment By Barry On May 6, 2015 @ 3:46 pm

John says:

“His flirtation with populism makes the money nervous, and his religious asides annoy the non-evangelicals. He’ll be gone by South Carolina or shortly thereafter.”

Many of his actions are quite carefully a renunciation of any previous decent tendencies which he displayed.

The man has spent the last few years purging any goodness from his politics.