Despite all his touted “first-hand foreign policy experience”, Jon Huntsman is evidently not qualified to be President of the United States and therefore Commander-in-Chief of the US military.
On October 7th, Huntsman wrote an opinion article for the leftist Politico magazine, wherein he outlined a foreign policy reeking of appeasement, displayed a grossly naive view of the world, and called for further defense cuts under the guise of “smarter defense spending”.
The article was clearly directed against GOP primary race frontrunner Mitt Romney, who outlined a conservative, Reaganesque foreign policy coupled with a promise of reversing Obama’s defense cuts and a promise of DOD reforms.
In his own opinion article, Huntsman proposed a completely different, Carteresque, leftist foreign policy.
He started by labelling Obama’s foreign policy as “inconsequential” and then lambasted Romney’s:
“On Monday in New Hampshire, I will lay out my foreign policy vision and priorities, which will differ from the conventional thinking you will hear from some of my fellow Republican candidates — including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who will address the subject Friday.
To protect American interests, we need to transform our foreign policy for the modern world. Simply advocating for more ships, more troops and more weapons isn’t a viable foreign policy. We need more agility, more intelligence and more economic engagement with the world.”
This is utter garbage. More ships, more troops, and more weapons IS a viable foreign policy. Building up the US military IS a viable foreign policy. That’s because the US military is the main element of America’s might and influence, and therefore one of the main instruments of influencing the outside world, as well as an indispensable tool to protect America and the American people from harm. Therefore, building up the US military IS a viable foreign policy, and the only right course to take. Moreover, Huntsman was attacking a straw man argument. Mitt Romney was not advocating ONLY a military buildup. Alongside it, he also promised, inter alia, repairing relations with allies, protecting Israel at the UN, reforming multilateral institutions (including the UN), and trading with the outside world. He took a whole-of-government approach.
America does not need to “transform” its foreign policy, nor Huntsman to experiment with “transforming” it. America merely needs to change its foreign policy to the lines set by Ronald Reagan: peace through strength, supporting allies, standing up to America’s enemies, and trading with the world.
Furthermore, Huntsman falsely claimed that:
“As much as our economy needs transformation, so, too, does our defense infrastructure and approach to foreign entanglements.
We must transform our military to reflect the asymmetric threats we face. We are still saddled with a top-heavy, post-Cold War infrastructure. It needs to be rethought and reduced. To use corporate terminology, it needs to be right-sized.
We have military installations in 135 countries. How do we pay for them? With borrowed money.”
That’s also garbage. The US doesn’t need to “transform” its military, it needs to REBUILD its military after 3 years of disastrous cuts and 22 years of a procurement holiday. The idea that the US military needs to be “transformed” was conceived by, and is being peddled by, ignorant people who, like Huntsman, believe that the US will never again face a conventional threat (i.e. a nation-state enemy) and only asymmetric opponents like terrorist organizations and insurgencies. That idea is a ridiculous, childish fantasy not based on the real world. The US actually has several potential conventional foes (China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Syria). Huntsman has de facto proposed to turn the US military into a mere counterterrorist unit completely unable to fight conventional enemies. That is a recipe for disaster.
Huntsman was also wrong when he claimed that “We are still saddled with a top-heavy, post-Cold War infrastructure. It needs to be rethought and reduced. To use corporate terminology, it needs to be right-sized. We have military installations in 135 countries. How do we pay for them? With borrowed money.” It is not exactly clear what he meant – the military’s force structure or its base infrastructure, but in either case, he was wrong. The US military is no longer the heavy-vehicles, conventional-war-oriented Cold War military it was during the Cold War. As for base infrastructure, it has also been dramatically reduced since the Cold War, both in the US and abroad, although some additional efficiencies could be achieved with further base closures, but this would yield only small savings. Furthermore, the claim that the US pays for foreign bases with borrowed money is a blatant lie. The US doesn’t borrow any money to pay for any of the military’s expenditures, which are all financed from tax revenues. The US borrows money to pay for bloated entitlement programs, which now constitute 63% of the entire annual federal budget.
Then, Huntsman wrote:
“The Cold War is over. We must shift from a foreign policy of containment – the containment of communism, to a policy of expansion — the expansion of economic competitiveness and global engagement through economic partnerships and trade agreements.”
The Cold War is over, but it doesn’t mean that conventional threats to America are over. The US is facing several conventional enemies and still needs to maintain a strong military. Economic competitiveness, economic partnerships, and trade agreements are nice, but they cannot protect America or its allies from physical threats, cannot protect American interests by themselves, and cannot serve as replacements or substitutes for a strong military. Building such a military is an unavoidable necessity. Huntsman is giving the American people a false choice between a strong military and economic competitiveness and economic partnerships. That false choice must be rejected.
“In stark contrast, many of my fellow Republican candidates appear to advocate the status quo: more military entanglements and more spending.”
That is a blatant lie. No one is advocating more military entanglements, and no one besides Romney is advocating more military spending. Moreover, more military spending would NOT represent “the status quo”, it would be a change of the status quo, because Obama has been incessantly cutting defense spending.
“Romney has called for adherence to a rigid level of defense spending. He claimed any defense cuts would represent a “grave mistake.””
Any defense cuts – especially now, after all the defense cuts already administered – would indeed represent a grave mistake. Moreover, Romney has not called for “an adherence to a rigid level of defense spending” – only for increasing the defense budget to a proportion that would be, in his judgment, sufficient to build and maintain a strong military.
“This sort of thinking, especially at a time when our country is streaking toward unsustainable levels of debt, is flawed. Of course, we must not cut corners, and the safety of our soldiers will remain paramount, but we can save money in many areas by improving efficiencies.
The National Taxpayers Union identifies $37 billion in Defense Department waste that could be cut — just by reducing the over-ordering of obsolete and unnecessary parts.”
This is yet more garbage. Romney’s proposal is not flawed. The NTU is an anti-defense, libertarian, defense-issues-liberal group. The DOD does not overspend $37 bn per year on spare parts – that would be about the entire annual DOD budget on spare parts. The NTU, as always, grossly overestimates defense budget waste. The DOD is actually suffering a shortage of spare parts, and needs to buy more of them every year. A large percentage of USN warships and aircraft are unavoidable for duty, as are 14% of the USAF’s aircraft. The majority of the USN’s aircraft is unable to accomplish its missions. One of the reasons is a lack of spare parts. In any case, the amount of “waste” spent on “over-ordering of obsolete and unnecessary parts” is grossly overestimated. That claim, by the way, was a mere part of a joint pamphlet that the NTU and the “Public Interest Research Group” (PIRG) wrote together, calling for massive defense cuts across the board, including closures of crucial modernization programs such as the F-35 and the V-22, to which there is no alternative. Some savings in many parts of the defense budget, in many agencies of the DOD, are indeed possible (as Romney himself has repeatedly acknowledged), but not on the scale that the NTU, the PIRG, or Huntsman have called for, and they need to be reinvested in defense to raise funds for modernization.
“America now finds itself threatened by a cancerous debt because politicians – in both parties – cling to sacred cows when it comes to government spending.”
This is utter garbage. It’s false, ridiculous, and insulting. Defense is not anyone’s “sacred cow”, it is a CONSTITUTIONAL DUTY of the federal government, for the execution of which the Congress is obliged to provide sufficient funding. If Huntsman does not acknowledge that defense is a Constitutional duty of the federal government, he is not qualified to be President, period. Furthermore, defense spending has never been “protected” or “off the table”, as is frequently alleged. Not during the 1940s, the 1950s, the 1970s, the late 1980s, nor the 1990s, not during the Bush era, and not under President Obama.
“With regard to Afghanistan and other foreign entanglements, America should not be nation-building overseas when we have nation-building to do here at home.”
This is also garbage. There is no “nation-building to do at home”, nor is the federal government authorized to do so. The federal government’s ONLY significant role is to protect the country. The US should never do nation-building – neither abroad nor at home.
As Jon Huntsman’s opinion article proves, he is not fit to be dog-catcher, let alone Commander-in-Chief. But it’s good that he wrote it – to prove that. He’s only discredited himself utterly and irreversibly this way.