Jon Huntsman will have more than his share of obstacles to overcome in his ongoing bid for the Republican nomination, and ultimately, the presidency of the United States. A former Democrat and ambassador to China under President Barack Obama, he provokes some wariness from the elite of the Republican voters.
Huntsman also served as a staff assistant for President Ronald Reagan, as well as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Ambassador to Singapore under George H.W. Bush. In addition, he was Deputy United States Trade Representative under George W. Bush. He once was also the Republican Governor of Utah with a 90% approval rating, and at the Republican National Convention in 2008, Huntsman delivered a speech for the nomination of Sarah Palin, candidate for the Republican vice presidency.
As this week began, candidate Huntsman spoke at Southern New Hampshire University in Hooksett, outlining his foreign policy positions, providing insights as to how those policies will impact the growing economic crisis, and how that crisis may be remedied.
Huntman is erudite and specific; we must, he said, “…right-size our current foreign entanglements, and rethink our strategy” in those parts of the world where “American blood and treasure” are at risk. He called for a scaling back of U.S. involvement in international military engagements, including those in Afghanistan, and for a cut to military spending. Huntsman would alter the emphasis from an iron-handed display of military force, as recently proposed by candidate Romney, to an expansion of “America’s competitiveness and engagement in the world, through partnerships and trade agreements,” but listed one exception: “I cannot live with a nuclear-armed Iran,” he said. “If you want an example of when I would use American force, it would be that.”
In direct opposition to the Mitt Romney plan for foreign policy, Huntsman affirmed, “Simply advocating more ships, more troops and more weapons is not a viable path forward.” Additionally, he called for a re-examination of defense spending, a reduction of the post-Cold War military infrastructure, and a greater concentration on counterterrorism and intelligence gathering. We must “…end nation-building, engage our allies and fix our economic core. This is how we will fight the enemy we have and renew American exceptionalism,” he said.
Huntsman would pass pending trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. He would continue negotiations and pursue agreements with Japan and Taiwan, and he would open markets in Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
As Ambassador to China, Huntsman worked closely with the Chinese leaders. While Mitt Romney decries those in power in China as enemies, and speaks his determination to subdue China through greater military technology, Huntsman says the two powerful countries should work together on developing clean energy technology, combating global pandemics, and fighting ocean piracy. He voices his opposition to congressional legislation that would penalize China for keeping the value of its currency low. On that important matter, China has expressed the position that such legislation is in violation of World Trade Organization rules, and that its passage would “Severely damage the U.S.-China economic relationship.” Huntsman warns of the potential for a trade war between the two nations, and he advocates “More agility, more intelligence and more economic engagement with the world.”
We mentioned that Jon Huntsman has obstacles to overcome in his fight for the presidency. In today’s news we read that critics and pundits have not hesitated to make reference to his and Romney’s Mormon religion, and to the view that Mormonism is not a Christian religion. In a world in which the evangelical Christian vote has increasing importance, this could become a critical issue.
Huntsman has been vocal regarding his beliefs and his background. He told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, in May of 2011, “I believe in God. I’m a good Christian. I’m very proud of my Mormon heritage. I am Mormon.” But he states, “These presidential nomination contests aren’t about religion; they’re about leadership.” In late 2010 he said that the Mormon Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has no monopoly on his spiritual life. He avows he is “more spiritual than religious. I was raised a Mormon; [wife] Mary Kaye was raised Episcopalian, our kids have gone to Catholic school, I went to a Lutheran school growing up in Los Angeles. I have an adopted daughter from India who has a very distinct Hindu tradition, one that we would celebrate during Diwali. So you kind of bind all this together.” Huntsman rejects the creationist dogma and believes in evolution. He has warned that the Republicans shouldn’t become the “anti-science” party.
Finally; Huntsman calls for pulling most troops out of Afghanistan. “It is cultural arrogance, he says, “to think we can make tribal leaders into democratic leaders.” He would expand relationships with Mexico and other Latin American countries, and India. He promotes a “more judicious approach” in dealing with Israel and the threat from Iran.