Foreign policy “experience”

Thomas Sowell puts it well:

…Democrats have…suddenly discovered that [Palin’s] lack of experience in general — and foreign-policy experience in particular — is a terrible danger in someone just a heartbeat away from being President of the United States.

…this is an incredible argument coming from those whose presidential candidate has even less experience in public office than Sarah Palin, and none in foreign policy.

But the big talking point is that the Democrats’ vice-presidential nominee, Senator Joe Biden, has years of foreign policy experience as a member, and now chairman, of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

That all depends on what the definition of “experience” is.

…Senator Joe Biden’s years of service on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is even further removed from foreign-policy experience. He has had a front-row seat as an observer of foreign policy. But Senator Biden has never had any real experience of making foreign policy and taking the consequences of the results.

The difference between being a spectator and being a participant, with responsibility for the consequences of what you say and do, is fundamental.

You can read books about crime or attend lectures by criminologists, but you have no real experience or expertise about crime unless you have been a criminal or a policeman.

…As for Senator Obama, his various pronouncements on foreign policy have been as immature as they have been presumptuous.

He talked publicly about taking military action against Pakistan, one of our few Islamic allies and a nation with nuclear weapons.

Barack Obama’s first response to the Russian invasion of Georgia was to urge “all sides” to negotiate a cease-fire and take their issues to the United Nations. That is standard liberal talk, which even Obama had second thoughts about, after Senator John McCain gave a more grown-up response.

We should all have second thoughts about what is, and is not, foreign-policy “experience.”

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