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Kasich’s Foolish Hawkishness

John Kasich finally dropped out of the race yesterday. Foreign Policydescribes his departure this way:

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the most experienced Republican on national security remaining in the 2016 election, suspended his campaign Wednesday — leaving one of the least experienced presidential candidates to the GOP presidential nomination.

Kasich was the most experienced Republican in the race on foreign policy and national security, and that was true throughout the campaign. His candidacy was also a reminder of how inadequate experience alone can be when it comes to making good policy judgments. On virtually every major current issue, Kasich reliably adopted some of the most hawkish and irresponsible positions of the entire field. He talked about“punching the Russians in the nose,” supported creating a “no-fly zone” over Syria and would shoot down Russian planes if need be, and he seemed unable to give an answer on foreign policy without pivoting to talk about sending weapons to Ukraine. Kasich even toyed around with the idea of regime change in North Korea, but hardly anyone in the media seemed to notice the crazy things he said during the debates. If foreign policy experience is ideally supposed to make a candidate better-informed and more capable of making sound decisions, Kasich proved that it doesn’t have to work that way. We’ve seen that with many other candidates before him, but Kasich offers us a clear example of how experience and good judgment sometimes have nothing to do with each other.

Perhaps Kasich thought he needed to compensate for his perceived moderation on domestic issues with excessive hawkish rhetoric on foreign policy, or perhaps he is just this reckless. Whatever the reason for his foolish hawkishness, it guaranteed that at least some of the Republican voters that might have gravitated towards him later in the campaign wanted nothing to do with him. On paper, Kasich was arguably the candidate best-qualified to be president. By the start of March, he may have been the only Republican candidate who was qualified at all. But his consistently dangerous hawkishness showed us why we should be glad that Kasich’s campaign languished in obscurity for all these months.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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