Huck Under Fire

“American foreign policy needs to change its tone and attitude, open up, and reach out. The Bush administration’s arrogant bunker mentality has been counter productive at home and abroad. My administration will recognize that the United States’ main fight today does no pit us against the world but pits us against the terrorists.” — Gov. Mike Huckabee on the Bush Foreign Policy.

“I can’t believe he’d say that. I had to look again — did this come from Barack Obama or from Hillary Clinton? Did it come from John Edwards? No, it was Governor Huckabee. I can’t believe he’d say that. I’m afraid he’s running for the wrong party. The truth of the matter is, this president has kept us safe these last six years.” — Gov. Mitt Romney on Huckabee’s comments on Foreign Policy.

Mike Huckabee showed his inexperience in foreign policy last week. Writing in Foreign Affairs, Governor Mike Huckabee sounded more like his Democrat opponents than a Republican running for president. He accused the president of marginalizing General Eric Shinseki on the number of troops needed to occupy Iraq. Bunker mentality? If anything, we have reached out too much instead of doing what is in our own best interest.

The article was Huckabee’s attempt to establish his foreign policy credentials. Other presidential aspirants, including Hillary Clinton, have also chosen Foreign Affairs as the venue for such attempts. The usually glib Huckabee, who once quipped, “I may not be the expert as some people on foreign policy, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night,” realizes the seriousness of the concern regarding his foreign policy experience. He went overboard. Americans have elected governors since 1976, with the exception of George H. W. Bush, and what we want is executive experience. We need more than one-liners on foreign policy. Huckabee was quick to say that he was no “Ron Paul” and would not pull all the troops out of Iraq. Mike Huckabee is under the microscope now with this meteoric rise to popularity and he’s not holding up on foreign policy issues.

As recently as last week, Huckabee missed the release by the White House of a new National Intelligence Estimate that said Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003. A day after it was released, Huckabee said that he was unaware because he had been campaigning too much. But either Huckabee — or his staff — clearly dropped the ball.

What’s worse is that Governor Huckabee is not very wrong about some of the problems that the Bush Administration has regarding foreign policy. But many conservatives reject Huckabee’s, “can’t we all just get along” foreign policy approach. People respect the strong stand that President Bush takes on the War on Terror. They recognize that we haven’t been hit since 2001 and the President gets the credit for that.

While the mistakes made by the Bush Administration are many in the implementation of the Global War on Terror, a great many of the problems are in intelligence gathering. There is too much public discussion of intelligence and intelligence tactics to be able to protect the people who are charged with protecting us. The Global War on Terror will be controlled with military force, but will be won with actionable intelligence gathering. The left is doing everything it can to get in the way of intelligence gathering and statements like the ones made by Mike Huckabee in Foreign Affairs plays in to the hands of those leftists. Governor Huckabee has not learned that his words have power beyond the pulpit he is used to preaching in. Mike Huckabee is not ready for prime time on foreign policy.

My biggest concern about Mike Huckabee is that he sounds more like Jim Wallis, the leftist theologian, than the late Jerry Farwell, who endorsed him. He’s got a liberal streak in him that is guided by his faith. His faith has taken him socially to the left and by his own admission; he went to government to fix the problems that the church couldn’t. My faith tells me that I need to work within the church on what is God’s work, not have government do it.

So will Mike Huckabee stand this test of fire? Anything is possible, heck; Hillary Clinton appeared on the Fox News Channel on Monday morning, so I guess we could have a nominee from Hope, Arkansas that says he’s a Republican. But is that what we want? I want a conservative who doesn’t apologize for being conservative. I want a conservative that understands terrorism and terrorists and that you can’t negotiate with the ideology or the participants. I want a president that understands that this is the most important issue of our time.

The terrorists want to kill us. They don’t care if we are to the Right or Left, if we are Republican or Democrat, or if we are White or Black — they want to kill us. If we are dead we can’t debate all these other issues and if we don’t rebuild our military and let our intelligence professionals do their job, we won’t win the Global War on Terror and our civilization will be permanently changed.

The problem with Mike Huckabee is not that he was a governor who had little foreign policy experience; the problem is his naiveté in these arenas. This problem can be overcome but the other Governor from Hope, Arkansas needs to understand that the world is watching, listening and waiting for him to make mistakes so they can pounce. There may be hope but there isn’t much time.