Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Foreign policy from a child's point of view

One of the themes on this blog is how often people try to understand national or international problems through unsuccessful analogies to children in a family. Usually the perpetrator is a liberal (in the US sense). In this post, the perpetrator of this analogy is Mike Huckabee, current seeking the Republican nomination for president. Here, for example, is Gov. Huckabee explaining his Pakistan policy:
We have no desire whatsoever to ‘invade’ Pakistan, fight its forces, or harm its citizens. But we have an urgent need to pursue non-Pakistani terrorists who have declared war on us into this no man’s land. I greatly prefer to do it with Pakistan’s blessing and cooperation, but, one way or another, it has to get done. If we have to step onto their soil briefly to protect our own, so be it. As a child sometimes goes into a neighbor’s yard to collect a baseball hit over the fence, so we may be forced to go over the fence. [emphasis added]
Invading a foreign country, getting your baseball back: same thing, right?

From the same speech, here is an international-policy-is-just-like-a-family analogy:

We haven’t had diplomatic relations with Iran in almost thirty years, my whole adult life. A lot of good it’s done us! Putting this in human terms, all of us know that when we stop talking to a parent or a sibling or a friend, it’s impossible to accomplish anything, impossible to resolve differences and move the relationship forward. The same is true for countries. [emphasis added]
The reason, of course, that we don't now have diplomats in Iran is that the last ones there were held hostage and tortured. Iran's position has little changed: One of the organizers of that attack is now president of Iran.

Here is another example of foreign policy thinking, although this is a little different because, here, Gov. Huckabee reasons by analogy to medical care before invoking familial obligations:

Cancer treatment can be rough, but the alternative is death. That’s how it is in Iraq: difficult as it is to stay, the consequences of leaving would be disastrous for the Iraqis, for the entire region, and for us. Those who say we don’t owe the Iraqis any more are ignoring what we owe our own children and grandchildren. We have to make our stand against Al Qaeda in Iraq and against Iranian expansionism there, and we have to make it now.
Previously, examples of liberals making national or international policy by analogy to childhood include Sen. Clinton's theory of economics which involves "calling for timeouts", and the New York Times' analysis of pre-World War II foreign policy in which the "children" (nations) needed to search for a "head of the family." Thinking-like-children also explains the appeal to Democrats of claiming victimization. (This may also be a consequence of unusually painful childhoods.)

But Gov. Huckabee is a Republican. On social issues, he is considered conservative. On economic issues, he is not: he opposes school choice and supports big government. This combination puts him closer to what is called 'right' in Europe rather than an American-style conservative.

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