Sarah Palin: The New Face of Neocon Foreign Policy?

Last night, vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin gave a speech at the Republican National Convention which served as the first major address by a candidate who only a week ago many Americans had never even heard of. And while much of the speech was dedicated to introducing herself and her family to the American public (particularly her son Track who is being deployed to Iraq next week), it also provided the first serious glimpse at what turned out to be an unadulteratedly neoconservative position on foreign policy: a year old video of her declaring the Iraq War a task from God notwithstanding.

Twice in her speech, she declared victory in Iraq to be “within sight”, and praised Senator McCain for having the “sheer guts” to defend the unpopular war though many predicted it would cost him voter support. She likewise lauded McCain’s war experience and chastised her Democrat opponents for their lack of military service. She also claimed that McCain had been granted special wisdom and compassion from his service and detention “by the grace of God”.

Beyond Iraq, the Alaska Governor appeared to see threats everywhere, cautioning the crowd against “dangerous foreign powers” who don’t have America’s best interest at heart. She accused Russia of “wanting to control a vital pipeline in the Caucasus,” presumably referring to the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, though the recent war with Georgia did not leave Russia in control of any territory near this pipeline. She also said Russia was “using energy as a weapon,” in a segment of her speech focused on energy independence.

She also promised “to confront the threat that Iran might seek to cut off nearly a fifth of world energy supplies,” though Iran has only threatened to do this if they are attacked. Presumably also referring to Iran, she spoke of “terrorist states” which are “seeking nuclear weapons without delay,” and condemned Democratic presidential nominee Barrack Obama for saying he would meet with them without preconditions.

Finally, she warned that terrorists may disrupt Saudi Arabia’s oil supply, and warned that al-Qaeda “still plot(s) to inflict catastrophic harm on America,” while mocking Obama for being “worried that someone won’t read ’em their rights”.

Between her eagerness to confront these “dangerous foreign powers,” her disdain for unconditional diplomacy, and her dismissive attitude toward very legitimate concerns about the treatment of detainees in US military custody many are left wondering: is Sarah Palin the new face of neoconservative foreign policy?

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.