You’ve probably heard that line again and again. That Sarah Palin lacks any “significant foreign policy experience”, or that she’s never met with a head of state?
It’s a lie.
Looking around the Internet, and I came across an article in the The Anchorage Daily News:
Palin defends Alaska-Russia foreign policy remark
NEW YORK – Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin defended her comment that the proximity of Russia to her home state of Alaska gives her foreign policy experience, explaining in a CBS interview aired Thursday that “we have trade missions back and forth.”
Palin, the 44-year-old Alaska governor, has never visited Russia and had never traveled outside North America until last year. She also had never met a foreign leader until her trip this week to New York. In the interview, she did not offer any examples of being involved in any negotiations with Russia.
Palin’s foreign policy experience came up when she gave her first major interview, on Sept. 11 to ABC News. Asked what insight she had gained from living so close to Russia, she said: “They’re our next-door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.”
The comment met with derision from Palin’s critics and was turned into a punch line for a “Saturday Night Live” skit featuring actress Tina Fey. Appearing as Palin, she proclaimed, “I can see Russia from my house!”
In the interview with CBS News anchor Katie Couric, Palin said: “It’s funny that a comment like that was, kind of made to … I don’t know, you know? Reporters …”
Couric said, “Mock?”
“Yeah,” Palin said, “mocked, I guess that’s the word, yeah.”
When Couric asked how Alaska’s closeness to Russia enhanced her foreign policy experience, Palin said, “Well, it certainly does because our … our next-door neighbors are foreign countries.” Alaska shares a border with Canada.
Palin didn’t answer directly when Couric inquired about whether she had been involved in any negotiations with the Russians.
“We have trade missions back and forth,” she replied, although Russia is not among the state’s top 20 export partners. As she continued, Palin brought up Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
“It’s very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where – where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border. It is – from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to … to our state,” she said.
Palin has two trade specialists working for the governor’s office. The top countries receiving Alaskan goods are Japan, Korea, China, Canada and Germany, according to 2006 export data, the most recent figures published, with seafood accounting for 50 percent of exports.
Palin spokesman Bill McAllister said she met with Iceland’s president, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson last fall, and they discussed energy issues. She also has met with various trade delegations during her two years in office.
Asked why she only obtained a passport last year, Palin said, “I’m not one of those who maybe came from a background of, you know, kids who perhaps graduate college and their parents give them a passport and give them a backpack and say go off and travel the world. No, I’ve worked all my life. In fact, I usually had two jobs all my life until I had kids. I was not a part of, I guess, that culture.”
Earlier Thursday, Palin held a rare exchange with reporters outside a ground zero firehouse in New York, and declined to endorse the candidacy of indicted Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens. On trial for seven counts of making false statements stemming from allegations that he concealed gifts on Senate financial documents, Stevens is running for re-election to keep the seat he has held since 1968.
Asked if she supports Stevens’ re-election, Palin said: “Ted Stevens’ trial started a couple of days ago. We’ll see where that goes.”
Outside the firehouse just across from the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Palin took just a handful of reporters’ questions. She has yet to have a news conference in the month since Republican presidential candidate John McCain chose her to be his running mate, and has submitted to only three major interviews – with ABC, Fox News Channel and CBS.
Palin was asked if she thought the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan was helping to mitigate terrorism.
“I think our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan will lead to further security for our nation. We can never again let them onto our soil,” she said.
Wrapping up a trip to New York, the governor toured a visitors center dedicated to those who died in the attacks. She later walked past a bronze memorial built into the wall of a firehouse, which commemorates the 343 firefighters who died on Sept. 11. She touched the wall several times.
“To come here and see these good New Yorkers who are not only rebuilding this area but rebuilding America, it’s very inspiring,” she told reporters.
During the tour, Palin asked several questions about progress rebuilding the trade center site, victims’ families and particularly the health problems suffered by ground zero workers, said Jennifer Adams, CEO of the tribute center. Health advocates believe thousands of people became ill from exposure to toxic dust from the ruins of the trade center site.
Palin’s parents went to New York in January 2002 to help control the rat population in Staten Island’s Fresh Kills landfill as part-time contract workers with the Agriculture Department, her mother, Sally Heath, told The Associated Press on Thursday.
Their task for two weeks was to control the rats so that they did not disturb the debris from the World Trade Center that was being brought there and searched by forensic teams for human remains.
(Emphasis added by me.)
So here we have, in a single news report, evidence that Sarah Palin may have more genuine foreign policy experience than Barack “The Nazarine” Obama.
Negotiating trade and international good will are two large components of any foreign policy. One might remember the notorious “Most Favored Nation” trading status that the US often employs for various political purposes. In military matters – and this is true of all of the candidates – only a former president could tout such experience.
But this is nothing new. Most border-states governors have a vast amount of foreign negotiation experience, especially these days. Michigan, in fact, has frequent dealings with Sweden, Germany, Japan, China, India, Canada, and so on. Jennifer Granholm is always traveling to these nations to try and drum-up some business for the state.
Ineffectively of course, but she tries nonetheless.
Canada is a HUGE trading partner with the US, and the US has agreements for oil exports. In fact, Canada may be one of our most important trading partners in the world.
How many trading agreements has Obama negotiated? How many countries has Obama worked with to attract business to the country?
These questions, of course, will remain unanswered.