Is Jon Huntsman the GOP’s New Antiwar Candidate?

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 06: (CHINA OUT) U.S. Ambassador To China Jon Huntsman Jr. delivers a lecture at the Four Seasons Hotel on April 6, 2011 in Shanghai, China. Huntsman is in Shanghai to give a speech on US-China relations. He will also be stepping down at U.S. Ambassador To China on April 30. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images) Photo: ChinaFotoPress/2011 ChinaFotoPress

When Mississippi governor Haley Barbour exited the presidential race last month, it had little effect on the wider campaign, except for one thing: Barbour seemed to be the only mainstream Republican candidate (so, not including Ron Paul or Gary Johnson) calling for the United States to leave Afghanistan. With him gone, opinion on the war — and, really, waging war in general — became homogeneous among the major players. No cutting and running, anytime, anywhere!

But Jon Huntsman, who as the former ambassador to China has more foreign policy experience than anyone else in the field, also seems to have a different foreign policy outlook than anyone in the field. He tells George Stephanopolous that he wouldn't have intervened in Libya:

George Stephanopoulos: Is the President fighting that war effectively today?

Jon Huntsman: It means that we have too much in the way of boots on the ground in corners of the world where we probably don't need it. It means that we must prepare for an asymmetrical kind of response. It means that we probably don't need to be in certain parts of the Middle East where there are domestic revolutions playing out. Where we probably just ought to let them play out.

George Stephanopoulos: Is that Libya?

Jon Huntsman: Libya would be among them.

George Stephanopoulos
: You'd stop enforcing the no-fly zone?

Jon Huntsman: Well, I would have chosen from the beginning not to intervene in Libya. I would say that is not core to our national security interest.

And he sounds like, tentatively, he would like to leave Afghanistan:

George Stephanopoulos: You also said, in the event, that a draw-down in Afghanistan is inevitable. So would you begin it today?

Jon Huntsman: I would tell you that we have to evaluate very carefully our presence in Afghanistan. And my inclination would be to say that it is a heavy and very expensive presence we have on the ground. That at a point in time where we need to be looking at our asymmetrical threats, what we have in Afghanistan today is not consistent with how we ought to be responding.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Barbour was on CNN yesterday standing up for Huntsman's conservative credentials.

Transcript: Exclusive Interview With Jon Huntsman [ABC News]