Home/Daniel Larison/The 2016 Republicans’ Foreign Policy Experience, Or Lack Thereof

The 2016 Republicans’ Foreign Policy Experience, Or Lack Thereof

Earlier this week, someone suggested the idea of a Rubio-Fiorina ticket, and I made this comment:

Dan Drezner disagreed with that judgment, but I think it holds up fairly well. One can argue about how much foreign policy experience matters, but I don’t think it’s debatable that the current Republican field is filled with candidates that don’t have much at all. If it’s true that Rubio and Fiorina have the “most international experience” among the top Republican contenders, that just underscores how little the entire field has. Of the eleven candidates that were in the main debate last week, there were three that have never held elected office, three one-term senators, and five governors or former governors. Among the last five, only one (Kasich) has had any significant foreign policy experience from his time on the House Armed Services Committee. He arguably has more experience with these issues from that part of his career than Rubio and Fiorina combined.

Fiorina cites her role as an outside adviser for the CIA, Pentagon, and NSA, which is more than nothing, but it is still pretty meager. Rubio talks a lot about foreign policy, and he’s clearly very interested in it, but it doesn’t change the fact that he’s been on the Foreign Relations Committee for the same length of time that Obama was when he was running for president. While Obama could claim to have a little foreign policy experience because of that, it was a given that he didn’t have much. Obama’s argument against Clinton and McCain was that judgment mattered more than experience, and he used his opposition to the Iraq war as proof of having better judgment, but by making that argument Obama was conceding that he lacked experience. Since Republicans are mistakenly eager to make 2016 a foreign policy election, it would be odd to put forward a ticket with two candidates with less experience than the Obama-Biden ticket that they derided not that long ago. The GOP did that in 2012, so it would be even stranger for them to do it twice in a row.

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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