KAGAN’S FIRM STAND IN DEFENSE OF IGNORANCE…. David Paul Kuhn had an interesting item in the Politico today on the Republican Party’s “foreign policy establishment” being underwhelmed by the addition of Sarah Palin to the GOP ticket. Every other party faction is thrilled, but those who take international affairs the most seriously don’t seem encouraged.
Kuhn noted Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), for example, the former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who has defended Barack Obama and issued a statement with effusive praise for Joe Biden when he was added to the Democratic ticket. Since McCain tapped Palin, Lugar hasn’t said a word. Similarly, Condoleezza Rice and Virginia Sen. John Warner have offered polite assessments of Palin, but little more.
Then there’s the other side.
Robert Kagan, a foreign policy advisor to McCain, derided criticisms of Palin as elitist.
“I don’t take this elite foreign policy view that only this anointed class knows everything about the world,” he said. “I’m not generally impressed that they are better judges of American foreign policy experience than those who have Palin’s experience.”
I see. Those who spend their careers on foreign policy are fine, but their judgment is no better than a rookie Alaskan politician who has never said or written a single word on the subject.
And how does this work, exactly? It’s about ideology, not experience. As Kevin noted, this is the same crowd that never cared for Nixon or H.W. Bush, despite their foreign policy background.
Yglesias explains what Kagan & Co. are looking for.
Kagan, like most neoconservatives, thinks that in-depth knowledge of foreign countries and the politics and culture of foreign societies isn’t helpful in thinking about foreign policy questions. Similarly, they believe that in-depth knowledge of theoretical and empirical work in the field of international relations isn’t helpful. Indeed, they think that this kind of in-depth knowledge is actually harmful. They prefer the judgment of people who have little knowledge of the outside world but do possess a degree of gut-level nationalism.
One gets the distinct impression that if given a choice between a combat veteran who teaches international affairs at Georgetown after 12 years working in the State Department, and a high school junior who memorizes Bill Kristol columns, a surprising number of conservatives would prefer the latter be responsible for shaping U.S. foreign policy. And those same conservatives would make up a McCain/Palin administration.