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Santorum’s Terrible Foreign Policy Record and Hopeless Campaign

Rick Santorum still can’t take a hint that his political career is over:

As he continues to lay the groundwork for a potential second presidential bid, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum will deliver a foreign policy address at Northwestern University on Wednesday, RealClearPolitics has learned.

The speech will outline Santorum’s perspective on what he calls “the mounting conflict between the Western civilized world and radical Islamists” and is part of his continuing effort to push back aggressively against the Republican Party’s noninterventionist faction.

Coming on the heels of a previous foreign policy address at Liberty University earlier this month, Santorum’s speech will also seek to boost his profile in advance of a possible presidential run, making the case that he has the most extensive foreign experience of anyone in the GOP field.

It’s true that Santorum spent a full twelve years in the Senate, but it would be a mistake to think that this experience qualifies him to be trusted on matters of foreign policy. Though he was obsessed with supposed foreign threats while in the Senate, he proved to be a very poor judge of them. During his time in office, Santorum distinguished himself by being one of the most unreasonable and fanatical hawks of the Bush era. Like other hard-liners then and later, he faulted the Bush administration for being insufficiently aggressive and for being too accommodating to “the enemy” that he claimed Bush was too afraid to call by name.

An early adopter of the nonsense phrase “Islamic fascism,” Santorum claimed that Iran was bent on world conquest. He also claimed during his failed re-election campaign that Iran was “the greatest enemy we will ever face,” and throughout that campaign he trafficked in the most desperate fear-mongering. In addition to all this, Santorum had a history of hallucinating threats that didn’t exist in Latin America, and perceiving a worldwide “authoritarian axis” for which there was no evidence.

There is probably no other recent member of the Senate other than McCain, Graham, and Lieberman who has been wrong more often on so many foreign policy issues in such a short period of time as Santorum. The fact that he could have ever been considered a suitable candidate for president on the basis of such an embarrassing record remains an indictment of the GOP and a mockery of our foreign policy discourse. Fortunately, there are good reasonsto expect that another Santorum campaign would go nowhere, which is just where it deserves to go.

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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