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