Tim Pawlenty Goes Full Metal Hawk in Foreign Policy Speech


The National Journal reports on Governor Tim Pawlenty's speech today at the Council On Foreign Relations, in which the milquetoast Minnesotan decries reducing America's G.I. footprint:

"The Middle East is changing before our eyes–but our government has not kept up," Pawlenty said, according to prepared remarks provided by his campaign. "It abandoned the promotion of democracy just as Arabs were about to seize it. It sought to cozy up to dictators just as their own people rose against them. It downplayed our principles and distanced us from key allies."

"What is wrong, is for the Republican Party to shrink from the challenges of American leadership in the world," he said. "History repeatedly warns us that in the long run, weakness in foreign policy costs us and our children much more than we'll save in a budget line item."

"America already has one political party devoted to decline, retrenchment, and withdrawal," he added. "It does not need a second one."

Democracy promotion and foreign policy realism (the former being the Bush Administration's way of making lemonade out of lemons after it found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the latter being something the U.S. has pretty much always engaged in, as Senator John McCain and Muammar Gaddafi can attest), are not mutually exclusive, nor did they end or begin with President Obama. For more on Pawlenty's foreign policy philosophy, see this Jeff Goldberg interview for Bloomberg View: 

I then asked him why our national security demands victory in Libya, a country that poses no serious threat to the U.S. The intervention, after all, was motivated exclusively by humanitarian concerns.

"Initially, let's say that was the case," Pawlenty said. "A quick, decisive decision by Obama in days, not weeks, to impose a no-fly zone would have given us a very different result. But once the president of the United States says that Qaddafi must go, you just can't let him sit there indefinitely and thumb his nose at us. He's a third-rate dictator who has American blood on his hands."

Pawlenty's argument is not unpersuasive. "People who are thugs and bullies respect strength. They don't respect weakness. And when you project a foreign policy that is equivocal, tardy, uncertain, noncommittal, unprioritized, unfocused and naive, you invite more mischief, more danger and more confrontation."

More Reason on Tim Pawlenty. Jacob Sullum on the difference between military spending and defense spending, and on Obama's hunt for legal counsel that would justify his ignoring the War Powers Act