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Huntsman’s Folly

It isn’t news to me that Jon Huntsman is misguided [1] on Iran policy, but he reminded us again today. His Florida CPAC speech made it quite clear [2] (via Andrew [3]):

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 [4] 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 [5]:

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.

5 Comments (Open | Close)

5 Comments To "Huntsman’s Folly"

#1 Comment By tbraton On September 23, 2011 @ 4:09 pm

Do any of these Republicans (and I include Romney in that pack) ever stop and think that they are giving Obama the green light to launch an unprovoked attack on Iran, just as he did with Libya? Pat Buchanan outlined such a “wag the dog” scenario about a year or so ago whereby Obama, facing the possibility of defeat at the polls, might invoke in 2012 shortly before the November elections. Such an attack would be entirely consistent with his views about Iran that he outlined in an interview with the Chicago Tribune in September 2004, two months before his almost certain victory against Allen Keys for the Senate seat from Illinois.

#2 Comment By IanH On September 23, 2011 @ 5:38 pm

Huntsman is the very definition of centrist.

#3 Comment By cfountain72 On September 24, 2011 @ 5:21 am


I guess if it was to ‘protect the civilians’ no one would really care. Qt least that seems to be the lesson of Libya.

Peace be with you.

#4 Comment By Jim Dooley On September 24, 2011 @ 8:29 am

The evidence continues to mount that real progress is not possible until the Republican Party falls apart. Unfortunately more time in the desert seems to be required before a majority of the American people come round to a realistic understanding of the role bombastic foreign adventuring plays in the domestic mess they are slogging through.

#5 Comment By tbraton On September 26, 2011 @ 6:51 am

In connection with my nightmare scenario re Obama launching an attack on Iran in 2012, it should be noted that it was revealed a few days ago that the U.S. had “sold” 55 bunker buster bombs to Israel in 2009. [6] (the story was first broken by Newsweek)

I guess this could be another case where the U.S. under Obama “leads from behind.” The Times article states ominously that “In 2005, the Bush administration notified Congress of a pending transfer to Israel of bombs designed to destroy buried targets. “This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country,” a news release from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency stated.” I just don’t understand how the U.S. was able to get along for 172 years before the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 contributed to the national security of the United States.