National Security Network

Hurlburt: Experts Comment on Pawlenty's Foreign Policy Approach, GOP divide

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News CAP-NSN Press Call 28 June 2011

Afghanistan Afghanistan 2012 Elections Tim Pawlenty

Below is a partial transcript from a CAP-NSN press call today, featuring NSN Executive Director Heather Hurlburt. The call discussed Tim Pawlenty's foreign policy address at the Council on Foreign Relations, another example of deepening divisions among conservatives on national security.

HEATHER HURLBURT: Pawlenty’s speech really comes at a fascinating moment where we’re seeing a degree of incoherence among Republicans --among conservative presidential candidates, conservative leaders in Congress and the conservative base-- but a level of incoherence. But, it’s hard to remember in the history of American foreign policy since maybe 1968 when the Democratic base deserted their foreign policy establishment en masse with results that we know for the next 20 or 30 years of policy.

But you know, dating back to last fall, we’ve seen this kind of really nasty internecine sniping, with Pat Buchanan on the one side and Marc Thiessen on the other. You know, people like Senator McCain who of course was the party’s standard-bearer in the last election getting into the act; Lindsey Graham telling his fellow senators to sort of shut up in terms of how they should debate the war in Libya; and then Romney and Gingrich trying frankly to be on both sides at the same time, with Gingrich first lambasting the administration for not imposing a No Fly Zone over Libya and then less than three weeks later, lambasting them for imposing a no fly zone over Libya; Romney being very unclear where he stands about Afghanistan; Pawlenty giving a speech today which my colleagues will discuss in more detail but which is a speech about the Middle East that doesn’t talk about oil prices, that doesn’t talk about economic issues, that doesn’t talk about nuclear weapons, that devotes one sentence to Iraq and one sentence to Afghanistan.

It’s a really rather remarkably sort of incoherent moment and then you watch frankly the conservative foreign policy establishment which has many, many people that we all respect and who have been our colleagues for a long time you know frankly sort of trying to police what’s going on in the political environment with mixed degrees of success. You have George Will leading the idea that one can be a conservative and not an isolationist. And if you compare this I mean even to ten years ago in 2000, and I think Peter [Juul] will speak more to this, where you had Condoleezza Rice writing articles in Foreign Affairs about what her candidate’s foreign policy would look like, in a very serious way that were then reflected in the debates-- and it’s very difficult to imagine that level of seriousness out on the hustings this time at a moment where arguably the real challenges we face in national security and frankly in economics and how that connects up to national security are far more profound than they were in the wonderful days of the internet bubble in 2000 and, that’s just a really striking and frankly a very sad moment for a movement that had great internationalism and great concern with the world’s problems at its heart at various moments and it’s just a quite remarkable thing to see. And with that I’ll pass it over to Ken [Gude].

To listen to the full call, click here