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John Edwards’ Foreign Policy

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"John Edwards’ Foreign Policy"

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Commenter Otto asked with regard to my post on the difference between the Clinton and Obama groups of national security advisors, “And how does MY-annointed Edwards fit into this discussion? Can we meaningfully characterise his foreign policy staff on the same criteria?”

This is tougher. The bulk of national security people have viewed this as a Clinton-Obama race and affiliated either with one of those campaigns or else with no campaign and a lot of the people who Edwards has signed on don’t have very large public profiles. Two people in Edwards’ circle whose work I am familiar with are Michael Signer and Derek Chollet whose views I’ve disagreed with in the past and who — combined with Edwards’ very hawkish positioning in 2004 — made me kind of skeptical of Edwards’ foreign policy at the get-go. Now, either they’ve changed their minds since then, or else I misunderstood what they were saying previously, or else Edwards is listening to someone else, because he’s eventually rolled out a foreign policy agenda that seems great. On every point where he’s said something different from the competition — mostly notably on the question of a “war on terror” — he’s differentiated himself in a good way.

Now, I think it’s pretty clear that these issues are not at the heart of what John Edwards is all about, either emotionally or intellectually. He likes to talk about how he’s spent his whole life fighting powerful corporations, his service on the Intelligence Committee wasn’t especially distinguished, etc. This is what keeps drawing me back to Obama who has a more impressive team and more engagement with these issues, but he’s never sealed the deal and as Edwards keeps saying things I agree with, it feels dumb to object at a certain point.

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