Charles Gibson once tried playing a game of gotcha with Sarah Palin by asking her to explain the “Bush Doctrine,” a self-indicting moment when the pretentious Gibson botched it himself. Last night on Fox, Palin gives a good explanation of the Powell Doctrine, which Democrats held as a standard to prematurely judge the Iraq War as a failure. In a quote captured by Real Clear Politics, Palin tells Greta van Susteren that the US should either commit to victory when it applies its military force, or get out:
Gaddafi has the blood of innocent Americans on his hands. As we understand it he is sanctioning the killing of so many Americans with the Lockerbie bombing. He needs to be held accountable for that for what happened all those years ago — now is our opportunity to make sure he is held accountable. What our president said first, our mission is to see Gaddafi go, he’s gotta go. But then we’re told by one of his top advisers, the President’s advisers, saying, Gaddafi is probably going to prevail over the opposition. Well then our president changes the tune again saying it is not our mission to oust Gaddafi. A lot of confusion. I would like to see, of course, as long as we are in it: We better be in it to win it. If there is doubt we get out. Win it means Gaddafi goes and America gets to get on out of there.
The entire interview is worth watching, as Palin says she would have supported a no-fly zone a month ago when the mission was defined as pushing Gaddafi out of power. Now, with an almost completely ambiguous mission and unclear objectives, Palin says we shouldn’t have bothered:
Palin says that victory is an end to Gaddafi’s regime, and any other outcome will be a failure:
I’d only disagree with a couple of minor points. A no-fly zone might have been sufficient a month ago even without pursuing it as an instrument of regime change. It would have bottled up Gaddafi in Tripoli and allowed rebels to organize a more effective counterforce, and perhaps pushed more of Libya’s military to defect. The timing on the mission changed everything, and took what could have been a successful and limited mission objective and made it impossible, and largely moot anyway. Palin is right that the only mission objective that makes sense now is Gaddafi’s removal, and Obama has publicly ruled it out. Secondly, I’d lean more towards Palin’s earlier contention that America does not need to get involved in every civil war — she uses Darfur as an example, a disaster into which candidate Obama pledged to intervene and so far has not — than towards her later position that suggests that America needs to provide material support to any democratization movement seeking to overthrow any despotic government. That sounds good in theory, but we simply don’t have those resources, although we can certainly provide rhetorical and moral support for such efforts.
Otherwise, Palin does a good job here providing the conservative viewpoint on military intervention and victory. She offers much more coherence in ten minutes than the Obama administration has offered in six days of fighting in Libya.