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Huntsman’s Folly

It isn’t news to me that Jon Huntsman is misguided on Iran policy, but he reminded us again today. His Florida CPAC speech made it quite clear (via Andrew):

And when our military is overextended, we risk being unable to aid our allies in times of crisis, such as Israel staring down a nuclear Iran. I cannot live with a nuclear-armed Iran. If there was ever a reason to use American force, it would be that.

Yes, Huntsman could live with a nuclear-armed Iran. So could the rest of us, and so could Israel. Huntsman has clearly put himself on record in support of launching an unprovoked attack on another state. It is a timely reminder that many sudden converts to skepticism about the war in Afghanistan are still quite insistent on starting another war in the region. Obviously, war with Iran will do nothing to rebuild our national “core,” and there is no telling how such a conflict might escalate or spread. Huntsman has had the opportunity to distinguish himself from the field as a fairly sensible realist on foreign policy, but between his disastrous refusal to take a position on Iraq and his infuriatingly conventional position on Iran he is doing his best to turn himself into a less popular version of John McCain.

P.S. Paul Pillar addressed the dangers of this sort of reckless campaign rhetoric earlier this week:

Probably more dangerous is the rhetoric coming out of the Republican campaign about Iran—more dangerous because it propels a vicious circle of mutual hostility and threat perception that already has seen many rounds of escalation. Republican extremists and Iranian hardline extremists feed off each other’s militant rhetoric. This is a rhetorical line that is likely to get only worse during the general election campaign.

Huntsman’s real chance was to offer an intelligent alternative to this. He chose to do the opposite.

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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