Alaska is near Russia, and Gov Palin’s other foreign policy experience

This site discusses only geopolitical aspects of the election, esp those that tell about us — about America. This post discusses a “talking point” concerning geopolitics. We study these to learn how the candidates see us; our reaction to them shows if the candidates are correct.

From another perspective this meme marks the low level of debate we can expect during this extraordinarily important Presidential campaign. It will be a long time until Election Day. Please get involved. Vote. Donate time and/or money. Write and talk about the issues.


  1. Today’s talking point for the proles
  2. Even dumb memes can spread rapidly
  3. The big question for the 21st century
  4. For more information about Gov Palin
  5. Other FM posts about the candidates

1. Today’s talking point for the proles

Transcript of interview with Cindy McCain on ABC’s “This Week”, 31 August 2008 — See the video here. Excerpt:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But she has no national security experience.

C. MCCAIN: You know, she — the experience that she comes from is with what she’s done in the government. And, also, remember, Alaska is the closest part of our continent to Russia. So it’s not as if she doesn’t understand what’s at stake here. It’s also about making decisions and being targeted in what she thinks. She has a — she has a great mind. And she has a very serious direction in where she goes.

While we should not lean on the statements of the candidate’s wife, this talking point is appearing elsewhere — along with “Palin’s military experience as Commander of the National Guard” — around the Internet.

2. Even dumb memes can spread rapidly

Here are other examples of this talking pint spreading around the Internet.

Palin Will Be Welcomed by Social and Economic Conservatives“, Michael Barone, blog of US News and World Report, 29 August 2008 — Excerpt:

Foreign policy experience? Well, Alaska is the only state with a border with Russia. And it is the only state with territory, in the Aleutian Islands, occupied by the enemy in World War II. On the other hand, my recollection is that Geraldine Ferraro, who had far less experience especially in foreign policy than George H. W. Bush, held her own in the 1984 vice presidential debate.

Commander of the Alaskan National Guard, Cont’d“, Jonah Goldbert, National Review Online, 31 August 2008 — Excerpt:

Email to Goldberg:

Before you dismiss that Commander of the Alaska National Guard stuff. This came from a reader who plays the game and it jibes with my knowledge.

  1. Alaska is the first line of defense in our missile interceptor defense system. The 49th Missile Defense Battalion of the Alaska National Guard is the unit that protects the entire nation from ballistic missile attacks. It’s on permanent active duty, unlike other Guard units.
  2. As governor of Alaska, Palin is briefed on highly classified military issues, homeland security, and counterterrorism. Her exposure to classified material may rival even Biden’s.
  3. She’s also the commander in chief of the Alaska State Defense Force (ASDF), a federally recognized militia incorporated into Homeland Security’s counterterrorism plans.
  4. Palin is privy to military and intelligence secrets that are vital to the entire country’s defense. Given Alaska’s proximity to Russia, she may have security clearances we don’t even know about.

Oh I don’t dispute that she has more national security bona fides than the press is making it seem. I thought I posted on this the other day, but now I can’t find the link (posting from the car was not always successful and so history has lost some real brilliance!). Alaskan governors deal a lot more with international and national security issues than, say the Governor of Arkansas. There are all sorts of treaty issues, missile defense stuff, bases, etc up there. The military is a very big presence.

Also, while I think there are political drawbacks to the fact that Alaska’s government lives pretty much entirely off oil revenues, understanding of international energy markets requires a grasp of international affairs as well. …

As these memes spread out through the Internet, they get more bizarre. As in “YOU MSM IDIOTS, SARAH PALIN DOES HAVE FOREIGN POLICY EXPERIENCE.“, Greg Ransom, posted at Presto Pundit, 29 August 2008 — Note the pictures of Gov Palin with our troops. We will probably see many many more before Election Day.

3. The big question for the 21st century

As this campaign becomes increasingly surreal, so we might come to see it primarily as comedy (gallows humor?). Some are already at that point: Matthew Yglesias asks the big question for the 21st century:

What is at stake here? Are the Russians threatening Alaska? Even in Red Dawn that didn’t happen.

He gets answered in the comments.

joejoejoe Says: Kamchatka bitches! Everybody knows that Kamchatka is key to Asia. Palin is totally ready to kick your ass in Risk.

Tyro Says: It is true though: Alaska is the only American state that is quite close to the mainland of a major country that isn’t Canada or Mexico. Despite this, of course, Palin never seemed to have any need to or interest in getting a passport until 2007.

Alaska Trivia Says: Anchorage is only 130 miles closer to Moscow than is Boston. And Boston is 60 miles closer to Moscow than Juneau is.

Ed Marshall Says: That did happen in Red Dawn. They came across the Bering Strait and cut the Alaskan pipeline and tried to link up with the great Cuban/Honduran reconquista but they “stopped their butt cold” somewhere.

BruceMcF Says: Clearly, McCain has been studying foreign policy by playing Risk, and is worried about the Chinese breaking into Yakutsk while we have all our armies in Iraq and neighboring Afghanistan.

Kent Says: As a former Alaska resident I can tell you this is pretty bogus. The Bering Straight and far western Aleutian Islands might be geographically close to far eastern Russia. But that doesn’t mean you can get there. On occasion a few Russian airlines have attempted weekly summer service between Anchorage and Patropavlovsk and Vladivostok but they usually drop the service when passenger volume doesn’t justify the route. Currently if an Alaskan wants to visit Russia they must take Alaska Air from Anchorage to Seattle, then from Seattle (back over Alaska) to Seoul, Korea on Northwest. From Seoul, the flight goes to Yuzhno. It takes about 20 hours, and includes an overnight stay in Seoul.

5. For more analysis of McCain’s choice of VP

  1. Zenpundit — who has collected many links on the topic!
  2. Also drop by Sic Semper Tyrannis, the blog of Patrick Lang (Colonel, US Army, retired) — esp note the comments, which typically run from good to excellent.
  3. What is McCain Thinking? One Alaskan’s Perspective.“, by AKMuckraker, posted at Mudflats, 29 August 2008 – A seemingly fair look at Palin.
  4. Most esp, see National Review Online’s The Corner — a stream of wildly enthusiastic posts.
  5. Palin the irresponsible choice?” David Frum, National Post, 29 August 2008 — A conservative dissents from the enthusiasm about Palin.
  6. Palin touts stance on ‘Bridge to Nowhere,’ doesn’t note flip-flop“, Anchorage Daily News, 31 August 2008 — IMO a fair review of her record as Gov.
  7. No Experience Necessary“, Michael Kinsley, Slate, 31 August 2008 — “How Sarah Palin made the GOP change its mind about presidential qualifications.” Best article so far, IMO!

Skimming #4, the NRO site, is fascinating. Pure identity politics: she’s one of us, we love her. They like her for who she is, not what she can do. Almost zero discussion of her training, experience, or ability to function as President. Strange, very strange for conservatives. And it show the moral bankruptcy of the Republican Party.

Not about Palin, but useful analysis: “Foreign Policy and the President’s Irrelevance” by George Friedman on Stratfor, 5 Feb 2008

Please share your comments by posting below (brief and relevant, please), or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

6. My Posts about the Candidates

1. How the Iraq and Vietnam wars are mirror images of each other (7 February 2008) — Now we have McCain, the leading Republican Presidential candidate, talking of an open-ended commitment to victory in Iraq.

2. What do blogs do for America? (26 February 2008) — As our problems reach critical dimensions and our economy sinks into what is (at best) a severe recession, our national leadership will likely move into the hands of someone with astonishingly little capacity to govern.

3. A look at the next phase of the Iraq War: 2009-2012 (1 March 2008) — What is next in Iraq? None of the leading candidates have expressed any intention of leaving Iraq – except in the distant and vague future. McCain intends to fight so long as (or until) we suffer few casualties, then stay for a long time (perhaps a hundred years, as McCain said here and here) ). On the other hand, Obama has been quite explicit…

4. Our metastable Empire, built on a foundation of clay (3 March 2008) — We can elect leaders with vast ambitions (foreign for McCain, domestic for Obama), but can no longer afford them.

5. How long will all American Presidents be War Presidents? (21 March 2008) — The Presidential campaign rolls on in the seventhyear since 9/11, with the only debate about the Long War being in which nations America should fight. We see this even the speeches of the most “liberal” candidate, Senator Barack Obama.

6. American history changes direction as the baton passes between our political parties (18 May 2008) – Importance of the November 2008 political landslide.

7. President Obama, an Muslim apostate? (2 June 2008) — Nope.

8. Is Obama running for the office of Chief Shaman? (6 June 2008) — Weirdness from our next President.

9. Does America need a charismatic President?&

Originally published at Fabius Maximus and reproduced here with the author’s permission.

One Response to "Alaska is near Russia, and Gov Palin’s other foreign policy experience"

  1. politicjock   September 13, 2008 at 10:25 am

    In running the sleaziest campaign since South Carolina in 2000 and standing by completely debunked lies on national television, it’s clear that John McCain would rather lose his integrity than lose an election.