At a speech at Colorado Christian University Monday night, Sarah Palin further refined what has come to be known as “The Palin Doctrine” of foreign and defense policy, representing a departure from both Bush and Obama practices.
Previously, Palin had outlined the interrelationship between energy independence and national security. In her speech at CCU, she related what her criteria would be to go to war in five points. They are:
“First, we should only commit our forces when clear and vital American interests are at stake, period.
“Second, if we have to fight, we fight to win. To do that we use overwhelming force. We only send our troops into war with the objective to defeat the enemy as quickly as possible. We do not send our military and stretch out the mission with an open-ended and ill-defined mission. Nation-building, a nice idea in theory, but it’s not the main purpose of our armed forces. We use our military to win wars.
“And third, we must have clearly defined goals and objectives before sending our troops into harm’s way. If you can’t explain the mission to the American people clearly, concisely, then our sons and daughters should not be sent to battle. Period.
“Fourth, American soldiers must never be put under foreign command. We will fight side by side by our allies, but American soldiers must remain under the care and command of the American officers.
“And fifth, sending our armed forces should be the last resort. We don’t go looking for dragons to slay. However, we will encourage the forces of freedom around the world who are sincerely fighting for the empowerment of the individual.”
Politico suggests that this represents a departure from the so-called “Neocon” view that America could intervene in countries in order to promote freedom. While Palin seems to eschew “nation building,” such as has been undertaken by President Bush in Iraq and Afghanistan, she left the door open to covert intervention to support freedom movements in other countries, such as Iran and Syria. Troops would only be involved if the situation satisfies the five points Palin has laid out.
The Palin Doctrine is almost certainly a partial response to the non-war in Libya, in which President Obama has intervened but suffered criticism for because of a lack of a clear objective or clear strategy. With her detailed critique of Obama foreign policy, Palin has demonstrated a grasp of strategic thought that none of her critics are likely willing to credit her with.
Palin also showed boldness in delivering a foreign policy speech at a moment in which President Obama has enjoyed a foreign policy victory in effecting the death of Osama bin Laden. In the same speech, she lavished praise for the takedown of bin Laden, albeit by not mentioning President Obama’s name and with the mention that the policies of George W. Bush led to the execution. She might be making a good bet in this case; preliminary polls show that Obama’s bump is minimal and temporary at best.
The speech also suggests that Palin is edging toward a run for the presidency herself. Laying out a foreign/defense policy doctrine was one of the steps that many people had suggested she do before presenting herself as a candidate. Here she seems to have done so with great alacrity. She will be a formidable opponent indeed should she decide to run.
Sources: The Palin Doctrine, Barbaric Thoughts, May 3, 2011
Toward a Palin Doctrine, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, March 18, 2011
Palin splits with neocon advisers, Ben Smith, Politico, May 3, 2011