The skirmish between Haley Barbour and Tim Pawlenty on defense spending and Afghanistan is more enlightening for what it says about GOP 2012 politics than for what it says about the substance of foreign and defense policy.
Barbour's comments, at a GOP dinner in Iowa, were ... comments—and certainly didn't constitute any kind of serious presentation of a foreign policy agenda. His case for cutting defense spending was more political than substantive—"We can save money on defense and if we Republicans don't propose saving money on defense, we'll have no credibility on anything else,"—and not very smart politics, either. What's more, according to Kasie Hunt's report, "After the speech, Barbour told reporters that he couldn't identify specific programs that should be cut from the Pentagon budget." Barbour's only substantive argument seemed to be this: "Anybody who says you can't save money at the Pentagon has never been to the Pentagon." This is a) childish, b) slightly offensive, and c) raises the question of how much time Barbour has spent at the Pentagon—apart from time spent lobbying for defense contractors or foreign governments.