Palin’s Limited Interest in Foreign Policy

Besides showing limited knowledge of foreign policy in her interview with Charles Gibson, The Washington Post reveals that she made a major gaffe during the deployment ceremony for her son. Palin repeated the claims tying the war in Iraq to 9/11 which even the Bush administration has backed away from:

Gov. Sarah Palin linked the war in Iraq with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, telling an Iraq-bound brigade of soldiers that included her son that they would “defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans.”

The idea that the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein helped al-Qaeda plan the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a view once promoted by Bush administration officials, has since been rejected even by the president himself. But it is widely agreed that militants allied with al-Qaeda have taken root in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion.

“America can never go back to that false sense of security that came before September 11, 2001,” she said at the deployment ceremony, which drew hundreds of military families who walked from their homes on the sprawling post to the airstrip where the service was held.

James Fallows discusses in length the significance of Palin not being aware of the meaning of the Bush Doctrine showing how this indicates that “she evidently has not been interested enough even to follow the news of foreign affairs during the Bush era.” Of course this insight is nothing new. Palin previously revealed this in interviews when she was asked about the Iraq war.

Well, maybe Sarah Palin thought the surge was great, or maybe she didn’t. It’s hard to tell what, if anything, Palin thinks or thought about the surge of troops in Iraq, or the decision to invade Iraq in the first place, for that matter. A clip search doesn’t show any substantive comments from Palin about Iraq during her short term as governor of Alaska, in 2007 or 2008, or at any point prior to that. That includes instances when she was specifically asked about the war.

In an interview with Alaska Business Monthly shortly after she took office in 2007, Palin was asked about the upcoming surge. She said she hadn’t thought about it. “I’ve been so focused on state government, I haven’t really focused much on the war in Iraq,” she said. “I heard on the news about the new deployments, and while I support our president, Condoleezza Rice and the administration, I want to know that we have an exit plan in place; I want assurances that we are doing all we can to keep our troops safe.”

Seven months into the surge, she still either had not formed any opinion on the surge or the war or just wasn’t sharing. “I’m not here to judge the idea of withdrawing, or the timeline,” she said in a teleconference interview with reporters during a July 2007 visit with Alaska National Guard troops stationed in Kuwait. “I’m not going to judge even the surge. I’m here to find out what Alaskans need of me as their governor.”

While McCain has enjoyed a bump in the polls from picking Palin, it will ultimately be difficult for him to explain why he chose someone with so little interest in foreign policy to be a heartbeat away from the presidency during a war he feels is extremely important.

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