Sarah Palin, Local Foreign Policy Activist (Maybe Not)
Sarah Palin in last night’s debate:
America is in a position to help. What I’ve done in my position to help, as the governor of a state that’s pretty rich in natural resources, we have a $40 billion investment fund, a savings fund called the Alaska Permanent Fund.
When I and others in the legislature found out we had some millions of dollars in Sudan, we called for divestment through legislation of those dollars to make sure we weren’t doing anything that would be seen as condoning the activities there in Darfur. That legislation hasn’t passed yet but it needs to because all of us, as individuals, and as humanitarians and as elected officials should do all we can to end those atrocities in that region of the world.
She’s not out on any legal limb with this, in the wake of last year’s federal legislation authorizing Darfur-related divestment. Interesting nonethless, as evidence of how far down foreign policy activism has trickled. If she gets it, everyone does!
Update: Andrew Sullivan says it’s not so!
On her other foreign policy fronts, check out the state of Alaska’s annual trade report. Turns out that Palin had met a head of state before her whirlwind UN tour last week: on page 24 there is a photo of the governor with the president of Iceland (must have forgot about that one during the Charlie Gibson interview). Maybe it was pushing the constitutional envelope, but she signed an “intergovernmental accord” with the Canadian province of Yukon in 2008. Also check out this photo of Governor Palin surrounded by a gaggle of diplomats at the “Alaska Fur and Ice 2008.” (Piper was there, too!) Perhaps Palin was behind the sister city arrangement between Wasilla and Mirniy, Russia?
As Julian has described, governors do have foreign policies these days, and I think that would extend to pretty much all of them. But obviously the experience level is going to vary with the size of the state and the length of the tenure. Palin’s is slight on both counts, although Alaska’s foreign involvements are likely to be greater than, say, Wyoming’s, by virtue of its geographic placement (not that seeing Russia or airspace have anything to do with it). As governor of Minnesota, for instance, also-ran Tim Pawlenty had led some sizable trade missions to India and China. If a governor of California were in the mix for a national ticket, no one would have any cause to question the candidate’s international experience, even if it didn’t involve any nukes. As along other dimensions, it’s too bad that Palin is giving a bad name to the good (or at least necessary) thing of gubernatorial foreign policy.