If you read his piece in Foreign Affairs when I linked it on Friday then you already know what’s here. If you didn’t, enjoy these five minutes of the Pax Huckabeeana — inexplicably minus the most hair-raising passage, about waging the war on terror by fulfilling our “moral obligations” to end poverty in the Middle East. The hard truth is that what you see here won’t lose him many votes: This is a speech aimed at the general election, towards picking up independents who’d view the continuation of Bush’s foreign policy as a dealbreaker. It’ll alienate plenty of hawks, of course, but Huck’s got Christian soldiers to counter them in the primary. Big points for savviness, then, however cringeworthy it may be to hear him comparing Osama to Brer Rabbit.
The real embarrassment isn’t the part about Iran, which is logical if you accept its naive assumptions, but Pakistan. Follow the link to the FA piece and read page five. He’s going to go after Al Qaeda’s safe havens in the tribal areas, he says, but gets no more specific than a “quick and limited strike” that hopefully won’t produce a destabilizing backlash (and lots of casualties). Unless that means carpet-bombing Quetta I’m not sure why he thinks it’ll be quick and easy to find and neutralize AQ hideouts. Does he think Bush has them all mapped out and is simply too gutless to send drones in to do the work?
He also proposes bribing the Pakistani government into keeping the heat on with humanitarian aid that’ll be tied to results. We’ve already given them billions in military aid and that hasn’t done much to motivate them; the idea here, presumably, is that humanitarian aid will buy off the people and not just the military. How much of that aid will be expropriated by AQ and the Taliban, though, the way so much U.S. aid in Iraq is siphoned off through extortion? And what would stop Pakistan from accepting the aid and then simply continuing to look the other way at Taliban activity in the tribal areas out of Islamic (and nationalist) solidarity? What he seems to be suggesting is a sort of Anbar strategy where we’d agree to help Pakistani tribesmen improve their QoL if they’ll shake off the Islamist parasite, but to the best of my knowledge, the prospect of filthy U.S. lucre isn’t what motivated the Sunnis in Anbar to turn on AQ; chafing under shari’a did. The Pakistani tribal areas seem to have a higher tolerance for that sort of thing, which leaves it an open question of just how much money alone can do.
Huck does recognize, though, that much depends here on empowering genuine anti-Taliban moderates in place of Machiavellian types like Musharraf. That’s the only way to guarantee a sustained offensive and to reduce the risk of abominations like this happening.