Foreign Policy Magazine's blog has 20 questions for Sarah Palin. I decided to pretend to be tbe the VP nominee and answer them myself, off the cuff.
1. In a broad and long-term sense, would you have responded differently to the attacks of 9/11?
A lot of things could have done in hindsight, but Bush got the big things right. For instance, no attacks since 9-11.
To answer your question, I would probably be supping in Tehran by now.
Is Iraq a democracy?
In the sense that the Iraqi people can vote, then yes they are. But the Iraqi people have rights that other established democracies don’t. Iraq is certainly freer than Venezuela.
2. What’s the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite?
It’s not the difference that is important, but that there is a difference as far as they are concerned. We need to know who is who so that we can work out differences or use those differences to our advantages. We can leave the specific Imam questions for them to debate among one another.
3. What is your preferred plan for peace between Israel and Palestine? A two state solution? What about Jerusalem?
The question is whether the Palestinians want to live peacefully. The peace begins the day they do. Plans for peace made by others are good water cooler conversation, but no President can make them happen. I’ve seen the players standing in the Rose Garden my whole life and yet things remain the same.
4. How do you feel about French President Nicolas Sarkozy's recent visit to Syria? Do you believe the United States should negotiate with leaders like President Bashar al-Assad?
The French had a hand in the creation of Syria so there is a different relationship there. The visit made me think about that history.
I don’t see the point in negotiating with dictators. We should tell them what behavior we expect and the consequences of not following that behavior. For us, Israel’s right to exist is fundamental and no negotiation is going to make them acknowledge that right. So why give them standing by trading little things back and forth.
Remember it’s in the European nature to negotiate regardless of how fruitless their efforts have been in the past. It’s much like America sending a team to play in the World Cup every four years.
5. Nearly 40 percent of the world's population lives in China and India. Who are those countries' leaders?
Nobody really leads a country of a billion people. There are people who run the governments in those countries. In China it hardly matters what that person’s name is because the policy is always the same. In India the person is probably named Ghandi or will change his name to Ghandi.
6. Do you support the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement, which would lift restrictions on sales of nuclear technology and fuel to India, a country which hasn’t signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty?
Those treaties are as worthless gun control laws. Good nations will behave well regardless of signing and bad nations will not live up to any signature on any document. India is a longstanding ally and they should receive our help.
7. Other than more drilling, what steps do you suggest the U.S. take in order to move toward energy independence? Do you believe more investment is needed in alternative energy research? If so, how would you recommend this funding be allocated?
The premise of your question is that such research is automatically the responsibility of government. The market will find alternatives as the price of fuel rises. Government research is more likely to produce inefficient results, whereas the free market will have to find solutions that work. Remember that the government didn’t invent gasoline, so why do we expect them to invent the thing that replaces it?
I've heard people say that we need another Manhattan project or follow NASA's quest to get to the moon. But both of those initiatives were free from cost constraints. I have no doubt the government can create a new source of fuel if given unlimited money, but if it isn't cheap and abundant then it won't solve the problem. No government solution is likely to beat the free market one.
8. How would you balance concerns over human rights and freedom in China with the United States' growing economic interdependence with that country?
The China problem is a world problem and the Untied States cannot change that country without a consensus with other big economic powers. And there is no consensus. Most countries are perfectly happy with China’s level of barbarianism enough so that they awarded them the Olympics. The real changes will have to be internal. America needs to be honest about their shortcomings and not just call them a great friend all the time.
9. What's more important: securing Russia's cooperation on nuclear proliferation and Iran, or supporting Georgia's NATO bid? If Vladimir Putin called you on the phone and said, "It's one or the other," what would you tell him?
As the future VP, I cannot give away my hand on this one. But between you and me off the record, Russia will never be cooperative when it comes to Iran. They were buying all the oil from Iraq against the U.N. sanctions. Russia will do whatever they want. Sometimes our interests will overlap with their interests and sometimes they won’t. I wouldn’t trade the sovereignty of Georgia for a promise of help from a country that has already defied previous agreements.
10. Critique the foreign policy of the last administration. Name its single greatest success, and its most critical failure.
Biggest Success: No attacks since 9-11
Biggest Failure: The inability to keep our country united on the Iraq war.
11. What do you think will be the most defining foreign-policy issue in the next five years?
12. What role should the United States play in the global effort to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS? Should it support contraception, or abstinence only?
Contraception is a prevention of pregnancy not HIV. Are you suggesting that we hand out the pill? Monogamy will actually prevent the spread. Ask yourself, is a condom adequate protection from HIV if you knew your partner was infected? We should be teaching that every person is likely infected and risk decreases with condoms but condoms won’t always prevent infection.
13. You've said that the federal government spends too much money. What, in your view, is the appropriate level of spending as a percentage of GDP?
All government spending should be divided in half. One half for defense and the other half for all of the other things the constitution doesn’t require. 10% total should suffice.
14. You're an advocate of reducing environmental restrictions on drilling. How much oil needs to be found in the United States before the country achieves energy independence?
The price of energy will always be dictated by world supplies. Full independence is not really possible for any product in a world market. Should we only eat food grown in the United States? The goal is to create more so that the world price decreases. If someone creates it cheaper than us then we should buy it from them.
The race for alternative fuels reminds me of the medieval pursuit of alchemy turning cheap metals into gold. Energy is always going to have a cost. Our job is to make that cost as low as possible. We drill because that will lower the price. But to answer your question with a question. What amount of money do you need in the bank for you to stop cashing your paychecks?
15. What are your picks for the three most enlightening books written on foreign policy in the last five years?
America Alone by Mark Steyn
The Case for Democracy by Natan Sharansky
John Bolton’s book. I forget the title.
16. Who among the world's leaders can be listed as the top three friends of the United States and why?
Most every leader in the free world is a friend of the United States, assuming that you are talking about foreign policy. They have their own internal politics to weather and they can outwardly disagree with us on a number of issues. Behind the scenes they share our goals, keeping the world free and their people safe. Our disagreements on Iraq have not led to them hampering our efforts to fight terrorists.
17. In your opinion, which U.S. president was the most successful world leader and why?
Ronald Reagan defeated communism when much of the world and the political Left in this country were willing to let them live.
18. Which U.S. political thinkers, writers, and politicians would you enlist to advise you on matters of foreign policy and why?
Newt Gingrich, John Bolton, Richard Pearle, Condi Rice, and Paul Wolfowitz to name a few.
19. Who is the first world leader you'd like to meet with and why?
Sarkozy. He loves America almost as much as I do.