Good Grief! I Have More Foreign Policy Experience Than Sarah Palin!


Mother Jones has unearthed official Alaska government records documenting Sarah Palin’s foreign policy experience over the 19 months she’s been governor. Including the time she spent with 10 foreign exchange high school students, attending a reception at the Italian embassy in Washington and a 15-minute taping of a video message shown at a trade fair in China, as governor she spent approximately 12 hours either talking to or meeting with people who could be loosely called a “foreign leader.” (See below)

I’ve never been in government and am not a politician but it turns out I have more experience in serious, substantive meetings with foreign leaders –real ones – than does a candidate for Vice President of the United States. I have the photos hanging in my office to prove it and my experience was acquired during a brief interlude when I worked in business.

May 1989 – Hosted a three hour dinner in Minneapolis with Boris Yeltsen, including a half-hour private meeting with the soon-to-be President of Russia in his limo en route to the dinner venue.

Nov. 1989 – Held a two hour meeting with Lech Walesca, about to become president of Poland, in his office in Gdansk to discuss building American business investment interest in Poland.

Jan. 1992 – With two other people, participated in a one-hour meeting with Michael Wilson, Canada’s Minister of International Affairs and Foreign Trade on China-Canada trade issues.

Feb. 1992 – Held a half-day meeting in Johannesburg with Nelson Mandella and the head of economic development for the African National Congress on building Canada-South Africa business ties as a precursor to a conference in Toronto.

April 1992 – Participated in a private, two hour dinner in Toronto for leaders of South African businesses and senior officials of the ANC.

April 1993 – With three other people, attended a one hour meeting in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People with Zhu Rongji, then Senior Vice Premier for economic modernization.

April 1993 – Attended a two hour lunch in Beijing with China’s Minister of Foreign Trade with six other people including Canada’s Ambassador to China.

May 1993 – Participated in a three hour private dinner in Toronto with Zhu Rongji.

June 1993 – Participated in a two hour negotiating meeting with Zhur Rongji in Beijing’s Jong Non Hi compound.

Sept. 1993 – Participated in a two hour private meeting with Chnia’s Foreign Trade minister, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and six Canadian executives.

My total experience in meeting with foreign affairs and international trade leaders: 21 hours; Sarah Palin: 12 hours, including the meeting with high school students in Alaska on a foreign exchange program.

Why wasn’t I picked to be someone’s vice presidential candidate?

Meanwhile, CNN checked out Palin’s claim that, because Alaska is close to Russia, she’s the nation’s first line of defence in the event “Putin rears his head.”

I’ll be entertaining offers throughout the three day weekend, except when the Red Sox playoff game is on television during which time I’ll be busy with Red Sox Nation.

Sarah Palin’s “Foreign Policy” Experience: 12 Hours Over 19 Months

Jan 19, 2007 – Palin meets with Fentie for 30 minutes, with Lloyd for 30 minutes, and with Bell for 30 minutes. She does not attend the PNWER dinner hosted that night by the Canadian government for Alaskan officials and business leaders.

Feb 24, 2007 – In Washington, DC, for a National Governors Assn. meeting, Palin attends a reception at the Italian embassy. She stays for 30 minutes before leaving for a dinner hosted by the Republican Governors Assn.

Mar 10, 2007 – Palin hosts the annual Fur & Ice reception in Fairbanks for about 30 diplomats and international tourism representatives. A Palin news release issued before the event noted, “Governor Sarah Palin will welcome members of Alaska’s diplomatic corps to Fairbanks to view the ice carvings of Ice Alaska’s 2007 World Ice Art Championship.” Following the afternoon reception, Palin attends the NCAA rifle championships.

Mar 19, 2007 – Palin meets with 10 foreign exchange students.

April, 3, 2007 –
Palin spends 15 minutes filming a short video message for a trade show in China.

April 4, 2007 – In Juneau, Palin meets with British Columbia’s premier Gordon Campbell and several of his aides for about 90 minutes.

April 16, 2007 – Palin meets with Taiwanese officials for an hour.

May 15, 2007
– Palin holds a “brief courtesy” meeting with Martin Uden, then the head of the British consulate in San Francisco. The calendar notes, “He’ll be visiting Juneau today off of one of the Cruise Ships.”

July 23-26, 2007 – Palin visits Kuwait to meet with members of the Alaska National Guard. (After Palin was selected as McCain’s running mate, her aides, referring to this trip, said she travelled to Ireland, Germany, Kuwait and Iraq. But on this visit, she did not go beyond the Kuwaiti-Iraq border and her “visit” to Ireland consisted of a refuelling stop.)

Aug 27, 2007 – David Akov, Israeli consul general for the Pacific Northwest, pays a 30-minute “courtesy call” on Palin.

Sept 12, 2007
– Palin holds a 15-minute-long “courtesy” meeting with Hideo Fujita, the new chief of Japan’s consulate in Anchorage.

Sept 13, 2007 – Palin holds a 15-minute long “courtesy” meeting with Peng Keyu, the head of the Chinese consulate in San Francisco.

Oct 15, 2007 – Palin meets Iceland’s president, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, for 30 minutes. Grimsson is in Alaska to attend the Arctic Energy Summit Technology Conference. (After she became McCain’s running mate, she was asked if she had ever met with a world leader. She said, no — forgetting this meeting.)

Jan 4, 2008 – Palin holds a 10-minute-long phone conversation with Canadian Minister of Industry Jim Prentice. Her calendar also refers to “Canadian officials phone calls” that day.

Jan 21, 2008 – Palin is schedule for a brief “stop by” visit with Joe Balash, a Palin aide, and Brian Mason, a member of the legislative assembly of Alberta, Canada. The calendar says, “Balash Office would like a picture w/GOV.”

March 8, 2008 –
Palin welcomes guests to the 2008 Fur & Ice reception for the diplomatic corps. Diplomats from the Philippines, South Korea, the Slovak Republic, South Africa, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Poland, Finland, Germany, and Egypt attend. Her calendar lists no separate meetings with any of them.

May 22, 2008 – At 7:15 am, Palin calls Yukon Premier Dennis Fentie; for ten minutes they discuss news that her administration will ask the state legislature to award a license for a 1,715-mile-long natural gas pipeline to TransCanada. (Her administration has turned down bids from other conglomerates, including ConocoPhillips.) Later, she has a five-minute-long phone call with Canadian Minister of Industry Jim Prentice.

charley-james.jpgAug 11-12, 2008 – Palin attends a reception and delivers welcoming remarks for the 8th Conference of Arctic Parliamentarians which includes delegates from Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States. This year, it holds panels on human health in the Arctic region, Arctic marine policy, adaptation to climate change, and energy resources in the Arctic. After welcoming the delegates, Palin leaves to attend a “dedication and blessing ceremony” for a cultural and visitors center in Fairbanks.

Data: Mother Jones

Charley James
The Progressive Curmudgeon

If you’re born in Milwaukee, you are born a Democrat. And so I gravitated naturally to liberal politics, first as journalist and then an activist. I’ve been writing since I was eight years old and, after working in newsrooms for far too long, I have devoted much of the past decade as an independent investigtative jouralist. When not writing about politics or George Bush, I scribble out essays on the peculiarites of modern times.

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  1. Heather says

    I’ve visited more foreign countries than Bulldog Palin! That’s a sorry comment since she’s a governor and I’m a student.

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