Hawk Foreign Policy Quiz

Kevin Drum has a foreign policy quiz for hawks. There are eight questions:

1. Considering how Iraq has gone so far, do you still think that American military power is a good way to promote tolerance and democracy in the Middle East? Has your position on this changed in any way over the past two years?

I’ve never been a neo-con and have always been dubious of the use of force for such things. Clearly, the presence of American troops anywhere will create resentment. On the other hand, Hamid Karzai was just sworn in as Aghanistan’s first elected president and elections appear to be on track for Iraq in late January. These two would constitute 100% of all democracies in the Muslim Middle East. So, yes, my position is changing as a result of the last two years.

2. Shortly after 9/11, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson said publicly that they thought the attacks were well-deserved retribution from God in response to moral decay — as personified by gays, feminists, the ACLU, and NOW. Do you worry that Falwell and Robertson are identified by many as the face of the Republican party? Do you think President Bush has sufficiently distanced himself from them and their followers?

Falwell and Robertson are kooks. They are no more the face of the GOP than Maxine Waters, Cynthia McKinney, Dennis Kucinich, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Ted Kennedy, and a dozen others I could name are the face of the Democrats. Indeed, much less so. How much did Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, Tom Daschle, and other Democrats do to distance themselves from their nuts?

3. Is democracy promotion really one of your core concerns? Just how far are you willing to go to demonstrate your credibility on this subject? Note: President Bush’s policy toward either Pakistan or Saudi Arabia would be excellent case studies to bring this question to life.

Democracy per se elsewhere is an incredibly tangential issue to me. It is, however, well established that democratic states, especially those that engage in extensive trade and other interaction with the West, are very peaceful and stable. So, democratization is a means to an end rather than an end in and of itself. Democracy–in the Western sense of limited government, not simply mob rule– in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia would be great. There are real trade-offs, however, in pushing too hard for it. One has to prioritize one’s foreign policy.

4. On a related note, which do you think is more important to the Bush administration in the short term: preservation of a stable oil supply from the Middle East or spreading freedom and liberty throughout the region? Would you be interested in seeing the records of Dick Cheney’s 2001 energy task force to verify this? Please be extra honest with this question.

The two goals aren’t mutually exclusive. Indeed, freedom and liberty would tend to stabilize the oil supply. I have no interest in reading the transcripts of meetings held by the Vice President. All that matters is the policy that flows from the staffing process, not the details.

5. A substantial part of the Christian right opposes any compromise with Palestinians because they believe that Jewish domination of the region west of the Jordan River is a precondition for the Second Coming. Is this a reasonable belief? Or do you think these people qualify as loons who should be purged from the Republican party?

How substantial a part of the GOP coalition are we talking about here? Is it more substantial than the segment of Democrats who believe the best way to end racial discrimination is to categorize people by race and allocate government contracts and educational slots according to numerical targets? Regardless, no, I don’t believe we need to purge any qualified citizen from the roles of voters.

6. Yes or no: do you think we should invade Iran if it becomes clear — despite our best efforts — that they are continuing to build nuclear weapons? If this requires a military draft, would you be in favor?

I know of no military expert that thinks invasion would be the best military solution. If a military draft is “required,” I would by definition be in favor. I can not conceive of a situation, however, given the speed of modern combat maneuver operations and the use of massive offset technologies, that would make a draft a feasible plan for a rapid invasion operation.

7. If President Bush decides to substantially draw down our troop presence in Iraq after the January 30 elections, will you support that decision? Please answer this question prior to January 30.

It would depend on the situation on the ground and the wishes of the elected government. My instinct is that a substantial drawdown will not be possible within the first three months or so but that we’ll begin a drawdown soon after that. All indications, however, point to the Administration planning to be in Iraq in some capacity for years.

8. Would you agree that people who accept Laurie Mylroie’s crackpot theories about Saddam Hussein’s involvement in 9/11 might be taking the threat of terrorism a little too seriously? What do you think should be done with them?

There’s no credible evidence of which I’m aware directly tying Saddam with 9/11, although there is some with respect to the first WTC attack. I’m not sure how one takes the threat of terrorism “too seriously,” though. And what’s with this sudden inclination toward purges and doing things with people?

Matthew Yglesias has some questions of his own.

[W]hat’s the deal with the too-small army? You guys are the hawks.

It’s mainly a logistical issue, as far as I’m concerned. Unless we’re going to need massive occupation forces for much longer, it’s just not feasible to build up the Army substantially. We need to increase the size somewhat but, mostly, reallocate the resources between the active and reserve components. We’re actually doing that, if too slowly for my tastes.

As to the religious question, I have my differences with the “fundamentalists,” too. I’ve found few of them who are actually in a hurry to die, though, Heaven or no.

Update (1708): Oliver Willis disagrees with my analogy between Falwell and Robertson versus the kooks of the Democratic Party:

Nobody in the DNC listens to Jackson or Sharpton. They were both failures as candidates, Sharpton abysmally so. Waters, McKinney, and Kucinich only have fan bases among the far left of the party. So far left that they are barely Democrats. On the other hand, Pat Robertson counseled the President in person right before we went to war. It doesn’t get to any higher level of influence than that. Falwell also has the ear of the evangelistic wing of the GOP, including his pal Robertson who he tag-teamed with as he claimed that we deserved 9/11.

Sharpton was given a prime time slot at the Democratic Convention; Robertson and Falwell weren’t. Robertson ran for president in 1988 and barely registered on the radar screen. Jackson ran in 1984 and 1988 and made a very respectable showing–winning several states, getting Ron Brown installed as DNC chair, and radically rewriting the rules for allocating delegates. Falwell hasn’t had a significant political following in years and is more known now as chancellor of Liberty University than anything else. Robertson is still popular as a television host but is hardly a major political figure these days. Certainly, an imaginery conversation with the president in Nashville hardly qualifies as being a major mover and shaker.

And what percentage of Republicans believes that we deserved 9/11 because of our decadence? I’d wager it’s even lower than the percentage of Democrats who believe we deserved 9/11 because of our foreign policy adverturism, support for Israel, and failure to kowtow to the UN.

Both parties have fringe elements that have strong appeal to certain segments of the population. That’s the nature of a two party system. While it’s admittedly an amusing debate tactic, it’s rather silly to present these people as if they represented either party’s core.

Update: Frequent OTB guest blogger Steve Verdon gives a much shorter answer to the quiz. Scott “Smash” Koenig has a longer one.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. John says:

    Michael Doran, of Princeton, has a good article up at the Wall St. Journal ($$). He argues that any serious evaluation of the war on terror must gauge the balance of power between the US and its enemies, not the level of American popularity with the Arab public. It’s a fatal miscalculation to treat the war as a zero-sum game, with every mistake by the Bush administration somehow translating into a victory for UBL.

  2. Bithead says:


    Falwell and Robertson are kooks. They are no more the face of the GOP than Maxine Waters, Cynthia McKinney, Dennis Kucinich, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Ted Kennedy, and a dozen others I could name are the face of the Democrats. Indeed, much less so. How much did Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, Tom Daschle, and other Democrats do to distance themselves from their nuts?

    With great respect, James… Here’s where we differ…. That you can’t find anyone willing to seperate the Democrats from their kooks, suggests they are far from being the finge of the party, are instead the leadership of it.

  3. Two Cents says:


    GREAT responses! Especially to the (Christian) religion questions. Drum and the left obviously have absolutely no clue about how evangelical/conservative Christians’ faith affects (and does not affect) political opinions. I confess to a special sense of respect and affection for Israel and the Jewish people, as the root and foundation of my faith. (That and they’re a functioning democracy that has produced an amazing volume of scientific and technological innovations!) However, it’s ridiculous to say that we oppose any compromise with the Palestinian people on that basis. Let’s just say that the Palestinians have made it perfectly clear over the last 30 years that their “compromise” space starts at the extermination of Israeli Jews and the takeover of every inch of Israel’s land. Drum’s interpretation of Christian beliefs about the future is ludicrous. Part of me wants to set him and his lefty cohorts straight so they will stop thinking we’re all stupid, and part of me just says, a)don’t bother to try to teach a pig to sing (a democrat to understand conservative/classic Christian theology), and b) the dumber they think we are, the easier we can continue to hand them the thumping defeats at the ballot box they so richly deserve.

  4. M. Murcek says:

    Kevin Drum’s army of straw men…

  5. Steve says:

    My question is WTF does Falwell and Robertson have to do with being a Hawk or not? Gotta love DrumLogic.

  6. Steve says:

    James the link to Matt’s site leads to the WordPress editing window, might want to fix it when you get a chance.

  7. DANEgerus says:

    Mhore in the Presidential box at the DNC… his rants parroted by Kedwards and TayReeZa…

    The Clinton’s still controlling the money.

    The differences are profound and you need look no further then the (D)’s leadership to find their “kooks”.

  8. Anjin-San says:

    Afganistan is a country largly controlled by warlords & devoted to opium/heroin production. Karzai has little influence outside the capital and takes his life in his hands ever time he travels. I am not sure this constitutes a democracy, in spite of the recent elections.

  9. LJD says:

    The Democrats have done nothing to distance themselves from their “kooks”. In fact, the closeness of the last Presidential campaign led them to embrace them…

    The war on Terror and the problems in the Middle East (and elsewhere in the world) stem from the lack of a clear definition of what our foreign policy should be. Not definition by the administration, but by the opposition that is making so many baseless claims and accusations. There are no hawks, just weasels…

    It’s relatively simple. We are the big kid on the block. We have a responsibility to support the U.N. (Well, what it’s SUPPOSED to be), and the rule of law in the world. Since the U.N. cannot be trusted, is dysfunctional, and cannot execute its mission, do we continue to support what is right?

    There is really no debate on what is right. Ethnic cleansing and genocide are wrong. Forced (or imposed) starvation. malnutrition, and disease are a form of genocide. Intentionally killing civilians, including women and children, even for a cause you believe is right, is completely wrong. The subject is relatively black and white.

    So what do we do when the U.N. is part of the problem. Their inaction aggravated the pain of Bosnia, Kosovo, Somalia, Sudan… Do we shut our doors, say enough is enough, and keep to ourselves? Literally, close the borders, stop immigration, keep the money here for the spoiled-rotten Americans, plight of the world be damned. Will the left be able to live with this isolationist policy?

    Or do we continue to sacrifice our best and brightest, our talented young men and women. When we know they will be treated with injustice, criticized, smeared… All the while more people come to the U.S. for a better life, contributing nothing to the country or world. Their sense of entitlement undermining our very way of life.

    “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
    -Bishop Desmond Tutu

  10. Knemon says:

    Anjin-San: But did the recent elections move it further from or closer to that goal?

    Three years ago, Afghanistan was one of the most war-ravaged, impoverished and disconnected-from-modernity spots on the globe. What little security and government it had was provided by a clerical-fascist minority, and it sheltered notorious terrorists.

    Have the last 36 months been, on balance, an improvement? (I don’t have enough info. to be really sure – but it *seems* so).

    Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.