Alex Massie

Headline you won’t see: “Palin Agrees with Obama”

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I guess this is going to get some attention:


Well, yes and no. Here's what Sarah Palin told ABC News's Charlie Gibson:

GIBSON: And under the NATO treaty, wouldn't we then have to go to war if Russia went into Georgia?

PALIN: Perhaps so. I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you're going to be expected to be called upon and help.

But NATO, I think, should include Ukraine, definitely, at this point and I think that we need to -- especially with new leadership coming in on January 20, being sworn on, on either ticket, we have got to make sure that we strengthen our allies, our ties with each one of those NATO members.

We have got to make sure that that is the group that can be counted upon to defend one another in a very dangerous world today.

GIBSON: And you think it would be worth it to the United States, Georgia is worth it to the United States to go to war if Russia were to invade.

PALIN: What I think is that smaller democratic countries that are invaded by a larger power is something for us to be vigilant against. We have got to be cognizant of what the consequences are if a larger power is able to take over smaller democratic countries.

And we have got to be vigilant. We have got to show the support, in this case, for Georgia. The support that we can show is economic sanctions perhaps against Russia, if this is what it leads to.

It doesn't have to lead to war and it doesn't have to lead, as I said, to a Cold War, but economic sanctions, diplomatic pressure, again, counting on our allies to help us do that in this mission of keeping our eye on Russia and Putin and some of his desire to control and to control much more than smaller democratic countries.

There's plenty to be concerned with here and, look, as one suspected, it's not obvious that you'd term Palin a foreign policy maven but it's also the case that this is an answer - gauche and blunt though it undoubtedly is - that is right in the mainstream of American (and British) foreign policy.

On the substance of the matter Palin is not so far removed from her opponents. Barack Obama also wants Georgia to be a member of NATO. Presumably he can also conceive of situations in which war with Russia might, perhaps, be "necessary". The alternative is a NATO alliance which is worthless. Otherwise, what's the point of membership? Either a mutual defence pact means something or it means, well, nothing. If it means nothing then what's the point of NATO and shouldn't we be having an entirely different kind of debate?

Anyway, add this one to the long list of questionable foreign policy ideas enthusiastically embraced by both parties...

UPDATE: She also seems to agree with Obama (and, to be fair, GW Bush) on sending troops into Pakistan.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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