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Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Jon Huntsman

  • Former 2012 Republican Presidential Candidate
  • Former Governor of Utah
  • Former U.S. Ambassador to China

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Jon Huntsman, a millionaire scion of the Huntsman chemical empire, is a former Utah governor who served as Barack Obama’s first ambassador to China and later as a candidate for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. In 2017, Donald Trump appointed Huntsman ambassador to Russia.[1]

Huntsman’s 2012 presidential campaign was short-lived and many speculated that the primary goal was to position the candidate for future campaigns.[2] During the 2012 campaign, Huntsman often endeavored to position himself as the moderate Republican in a crowded conservative field, famously tweeting that “I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”[3]

While Huntsman is often described as a centrist on foreign policy he has sought to distance himself from Democrats and pushed a hardline a numerous national security issues. A key focus has been promoting free trade deals, in contrast to the protectionist rhetoric of Donald Trump. He once criticized the Obama administration for stifling trade deals “unless the measures were coupled with expanded funding” for union-backed entitlement programs.[4]

Huntsman also criticized President Obama for his record on Afghanistan, telling the right-wing National Review, “The future of the United States is not going to be determined by firefights on the Hindu Kush.”[5] Huntsman opposed the Obama administration’s intervention in Libya, saying: “With all of our deployments and all of our engagements abroad, we need to ask a fundamental question: Can we afford to do this? That should be driven by the second point, which is whether or not it’s in our national security interest. I felt from the beginning that Libya was not in our core national security interest.”[6]

Huntsman has pursued a hawkish stance on Iran’s nuclear program. “I cannot live with a nuclear-armed Iran,” he once said. “If you want an example of when I would use American force, it would be that.” After the Iran nuclear deal was concluded in 2015, Hunstman co-authered with John Lieberman a blistering criticism of the agreement.

Huntsman has stressed the importance of the U.S. relationship with Israel, calling it the “most meaningful relationship in the Middle East”[7] and loudly criticizing President Obama’s “misguided” Middle East policies, which he wildly claimed “directly contributed to a breakdown of the peace process.”[8]

Huntsman accused the Obama administration of weakening the United States: “Once the United States vacates leadership responsibilities, others will be reluctant to turn to us in the future. These events do not unfold in a vacuum and the world watches closely how we carry ourselves. There is increasing talk and more speculation about our country’s trajectory. The administration’s actions portray us as a disengaged country in decline rather than a leader, and countries around the world will begin to discount the United States as a factor in their respective futures.”[9]

During his 2012 presidential campaign, Huntsman argued that the United States was “in many parts of the world that don’t make sense for our national security or our budget. He would also work to open more foreign markets for American businesses. In this economy, we should be aggressively pursuing more and greater free trade, not reverting to protectionism or waiting for sign-off from the unions.”[10]

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Sources

[1] Team Huntsman, “Welcome to Jon Huntsman for President!,” jon2012.com, August 25, 2011, http://jon2012.com/blog/Aug-25-2011/Welcome-Jon-Huntsman-President.

[2] Jonathan Chait, “Jon Huntsman’s Long Game,” The New Republic, May 20, 2011, http://www.tnr.com/blog/jonathan-chait/88780/jon-huntsmans-long-game.

[3] Jon Huntsman, Twitter.com, August 18, 2011, https://twitter.com/#%21/JonHuntsman/status/104250677051654144.

[4] Jon Huntsman, “Take It From Me: Obama’s Failed on Trade,” jon2012.com, August 22, 2011, http://www.jon2012.com/blog/Aug-22-2011/Take-It-Me-Obamas-Failed-Trade.

[5] Elise Jordan, “The World According to Huntsman,” National Review online, August 1, 2011, http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/273196/world-according-huntsman-elise-jordan.

[6] Jeff Zeleny, “Huntsman Criticizes Obama on Libya,” The Caucus, New York Times, May 20, 2011, http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/20/huntsman-criticizes-obama-on-libya/.

[7] Elise Jordan, “The World According to Huntsman,” National Review online, August 1, 2011, http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/273196/world-according-huntsman-elise-jordan.

[8] Jon Huntsman, “Palestinian Statehood Bid: Sign of a Larger Problem,” National Review online, September 22, 2011, http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/278089/palestinian-statehood-bid-sign-larger-problem-jon-huntsman#.

[9] Jon Huntsman, “Palestinian Statehood Bid: Sign of a Larger Problem,” National Review online, September 22, 2011, http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/278089/palestinian-statehood-bid-sign-larger-problem-jon-huntsman#.

[10] Jake Suski, “National Security for the 21st Century,” jon2012.com, June 28, 2011, http://www.jon2012.com/blog/Jun-28-2011/National-Security-21st-Century.


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Jon Huntsman Résumé

Affiliations

  • Huntsman Cancer Foundation: Former executive
  • Envision Utah: Affiliate

Government

  • U.S. Ambassador to China (2009-2011)
  • Governor of Utah (2005-2009)
  • Deputy U.S. Trade Representative (2001-2003)
  • U.S. Ambassador to Singapore (1992-1993)

Business

  • Huntsman Corporation: Former executive
  • Huntsman Family Holdings Company: Former CEO

Education

  • University of Pennsylvania: B.A.

Related:

Jon Huntsman News Feed

Ambassador Huntsman: US-Russia estrangement ‘has gone on too long’ - PRICan Paul Huntsman Save The Salt Lake Tribune? - The New York TimesJon Huntsman Jr. discusses Russian aggression with Navy officials in Mediterranean - Deseret NewsVike profile: Billionaire Jon Huntsman Sr. started his success at Paly - palyvoice.comChief of staff with 'Midas touch' stepping down, likely to run ex-boss' gubernatorial campaign - KSL.comHuntsman family pledges $12 million for new professorships at Utah State University - Salt Lake TribuneLetter: Huntsman should become governor again - Salt Lake TribuneHuntsman Jr. talks Mueller report; America's religious freedom ambassador; stresses of U.S. youth sports - Deseret NewsLetter: Huntsman Jr. not a career politician, but one with formidable knowledge - Deseret NewsTop Utah House staffer to depart later this year, and a Salt Lake Chamber vice president will take his place - Salt Lake TribuneCox's run for governor in 2020 could make Utah history - Utah PolicyWhy The Salt Lake Tribune Wants To Become A Nonprofit - WBURThe Salt Lake Tribune is transitioning to a non-profit organization - Utah PolicyHead of US naval forces in Europe and US ambassador to Russia talk great power competition - DefenseNews.comGehrke: Spencer Cox is the front-runner in Utah's 2020 governor's race. Here's how to beat him. - Salt Lake TribuneHuntsman: End of Mueller Probe 'Slightly Improved Environment' for US-Russia Relations - NewsmaxSurprise! New York Times profiles Paul Huntsman, owner of Salt Lake Tribune, and religion is key - GetReligionMeet the 11 Utah educators who won $10000 each from the Huntsman family for being among the best in the state - Salt Lake TribuneHow "The View" became a political force - QuartzHuntsman lays out how the Tribune's move to a non-profit may work - Utah Policy

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Right Web tracks militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy.

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