Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said Thursday that Georgia and Ukraine should be admitted to NATO and that the U.S. should be prepared to go to war if Russia invades Georgia again, according to The Wall Street Journal."I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you`re going to be expected to be called upon and help," she said in an interview with ABC News. It was her first interview since being chosen as Sen. John McCain`s running mate, aside for an interview with People magazine about her family.
Gov. Palin also defended her national-security experience by citing her knowledge of energy issues. She said she hadn`t traveled to foreign countries except Canada and Mexico until last year, when she went to Kuwait and Germany. She said she has never met a head of state and dismissed others who have.
"We`ve got to remember what the desire is in this nation at this time," she said. "It is for no more politics as usual, and somebody`s big, fat résumé maybe that shows decades and decades in that Washington establishment, where, yes, they`ve had opportunities to meet heads of state."
Gov. Palin has proven to be extremely popular, ginning up enthusiasm on the trail and helping to lift Sen. McCain`s poll numbers. But critics have questioned whether Gov. Palin is experienced enough to step into the Oval Office should she need to. And until Thursday, she hadn`t appeared publicly in anything but scripted settings.
On the Russian-Georgian conflict, her comments appeared to go further than Sen. McCain has in the past. When asked in August whether he would consider using military force to defend Georgia against Russia, he said, simply: "The answer to your...question is no." He has also emphasized that while he strongly supports Georgia, he isn`t trying to reignite the Cold War. But his national security adviser, Randy Scheunemann, said Thursday that like Gov. Palin, Sen. McCain believes that U.S. military action would be needed if Georgia was a member of NATO and Russia invaded.
"If John McCain were asked, `would we act to defend another NATO member that was invaded?` the answer would be yes. That is the core of NATO -- the Article 5 security guarantee that an attack on one is an attack on all."
Gov. Palin cited her state`s proximity to Russia in explaining her understanding of the international issues. That prompted Mr. Gibson to ask her what insight that gave her into what Russia is doing in Georgia. Gov. Palin replied with warmer comments toward Russia.
"Well, I`m giving you that perspective of how small our world is and how important it is that we work with our allies to keep good relation with all of these countries, especially Russia," she said. "We will not repeat a Cold War. We must have good relationship with our allies, pressuring, also, helping us to remind Russia that it`s in their benefit, also, a mutually beneficial relationship for us all to be getting along."
The Bush administration has criticized the Russian invasion, but hasn`t offered to help Georgia rebuild its military. Instead, it has announced a $1 billion plan to help rebuild civilian infrastructure.
In the interview, Gov. Palin appeared unfamiliar with the Bush doctrine, the term used to describe the administration`s policy that the U.S. has the right to pre-emptively strike nations that pose national security threats, even if that threat isn`t imminent. Asked by ABC News anchor Charlie Gibson if she agreed with it, Gov. Palin replied: "In what respect, Charlie?" He replied by asking for her interpretation. She said:
"I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell-bent on destroying our nation. There have been blunders along the way, though. There have been mistakes made. And with new leadership...comes opportunity to do things better."