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Huntsman Suddenly Discovers That Starting Unnecessary Wars Is a Bad Idea

Jon Huntsman said this in a recent interview:

We used to be the party that put out wars: Eisenhower, Korea; Nixon, Vietnam; Reagan, the Cold War. And here we talk about starting wars. That’s all Republicans on the defense side seem to want to talk about — not negotiating a way forward diplomatically, as we had under earlier Republican administrations, but always falling back on the war option as if we haven’t had enough over the past 12 years.

It’s appropriate that Huntsman used the plural “we” when referring to Republicans that talked about starting wars, since he went out of his way during his presidential campaign to talk about doing exactly that. It’s all very well for Huntsman to borrow from Ron Paul’s debate answers now, but where was this a year ago when it might have done him and the Republicans some good? When it came to Iran, nobody (not even Santorum!) fell back on the “war option” quite as readily as Huntsman. It was as if we hadn’t already had enough of that over the last decade.

Just under a year ago, Huntsman said the following in response to a question about the possibility of launching a ground invasion of Iran:

I can’t live with the implications of not doing it. I can’t live with the thought of what a nuclear Iran brings to the region and what they said about Israel, which is our centerpiece alliance in the region. I can’t live — I can’t live with the world with a nuclear Iran.

So, then, you say, what do you do? And realistically, you have got to have all options on the table. You’ve got to be prepared to use all elements of national power.

This certainly wasn’t the only time Huntsman answeredthis wayon the question of starting a war against Iran, but it was the most egregious and extreme example of his willingness to contemplate starting an unnecessary war. If he wants to repudiate his views on war with Iran, that’s good news, but otherwise it’s a bit rich for him to be lecturing other members of his party on their willingness to start wars.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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