A Neocon Divergence

During the June 5 Republican candidates’ debate, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was asked about gays in the military.  His answer went far beyond that.

Giuliani said, “This is not the time to deal with disruptive issues like this. Back in 1994 we went through this and it created a tremendous amount of disruption. Colin Powell, I think, was still the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff before he left at the beginning of the Clinton administration. He came to the view that this was a good policy. And I think in time of war, in a time where we’re trying to deal with this transition to a new kind of warfare that we have to be fighting — and we haven’t gotten all the way there yet, we need a hybrid army, we need to look at nation-building as part of what we have to teach our military — I don’t think this would be the right time to raise these issues.”

Nation-building?  In October 2000, George W. Bush proclaimed his distance from the neocons theory, saying that US military forces should be used to win wars, not to build nations.  Somewhere between 2000 and 2003, the President fell in thrall to the neocons notion that America’s mission in the world was to spread democracy. Is Rudy Giuliani falling into the trap that now has us in a self-imposed quagmire in Iraq?

We haven’t had the opportunity to ask Giuliani that question.  But yesterday in an informal gathering of reporters, I asked former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee if he agreed with Giuliani that we need to teach our soldiers nation-building.  

The answer was an emphatic “no.”

Huckabee said, “The United States government is not a missionary organization designed to convert every nation to a democracy.”  He added that, “Nation building is the job of diplomats, not soldiers.”  Taking a page from every warfighter’s credo, Huckabee said, “The military’s job is to kill people and break things.”

Here is a neocon divergence.  Huckabee is distancing himself from the Bush war plan, and from at least two of his competitors. First, Giuiliani, who may not really be a neocon, but has absorbed one of their most dangerous principles; second, Arizona Sen. John McCain, who may not be a neocon but has supported the President’s nation-building strategy in Iraq through thick and thin.

Where do the rest stand?  Is Giuliani really thinking in neocon terms?  Human Events aims to find out.

The Tuesday session with Gov. Huckabee covered many other subjects. He believes he has the best chance to defeat Hillary Clinton because he has run against the Clinton machine four times in state elections and has won against them.  Huckabee thinks that experience gives him an edge the other Republicans lack.  

In a number of debates, and in the Human Events interview of the former governor Mr. Huckabee has hit a populist note very hard, speaking out against CEO salaries that are hundreds of times larger than the average worker’s pay.  Does this mean he would impose government restrictions on business?

I posed that question to him, and his “no” was just as strong as his answer on the neocon’s nation-building ideal.  Huckabee said he wouldn’t favor government regulation, but would use the “bully pulpit” of the presidency to spur corporate boards to “…be more responsible.”  He is concerned about what he calls the “cross pollination”  between boards of directors, with commonality of members.  There could be, he said, a role for government in that.  

Huckabee also repeated his support for the “cap and trade” policy on carbon emissions favored by global warming theorists and being tried in Europe. Under a “cap and trade” system, the government would establish a limit on air pollution, divvy up “pollution rights permits” to companies that would add up to the overall limit, and then enable companies to buy and sell the permits.  The “cap and trade” approach is much-favored by the environmental liberals, including Al Gore and Barack Obama.  Most conservatives are more than skeptical: they are profoundly opposed.  But Huckabee said the method worked to control acid rain and could work for carbon emissions.

Asked about how he would govern differently from President Bush, Huckabee said that he opposes the Law of the Sea Treaty — “LOST” — originally rejected by President Reagan, signed by Bill Clinton and now up for Senate ratification with the endorsement of President Bush.

Huckabee said someone had called LOST “the UN on steroids” and, in his view, that was, “…a pretty apt description.”  He said ratifying the treaty would be one of the worst things the Senate could do.

On campaign issues, Huckabee was a bit cagey, not ruling out accepting a vice presidential nomination or being on a ticket with a pro-choice running mate.  

One surprise was in Huckabee’s response to a question he’d been asked before.  He refused to say whether he’d support the Republican Party’s nomination regardless of who it turned out to be.  That puts him in the company of Ron Paul and Tom Tancredo.  Does he really want to be there?

The governor was very happy about the fact his campaign will have raised more than $1 million in October in just internet donations.  He said there were three (preferred) ways out of Iowa:  “first class, business, or coach” and he plans to have enough money to be on one of the three after the Iowa caucuses.  What if the money didn’t propel him to at least that level of success?  

Huckabee joked there was another way out of Iowa, but as he said, nobody wants to, “go home freight.”