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Walker the Untested and Unready

A Scott Walker foreign policy adviser is very excited about Walker:

Walker’s resolve differentiates him from not only Obama and Clinton, but also other Republican candidates. When Governor Walker boldly stated that he would terminate the terrible Iran nuclear deal on day one of his presidency, one of his leading GOP competitors demurred, claiming that he would first need briefings and a secretary of state confirmed before he could take any action.

Walker didn’t need to be advised that the Obama-Clinton Iran deal is a disaster for America and our allies. His stand was a Reaganesque and Churchillian response to craven appeasement that would rally our nation and our allies.

O’Brien’s argument is tendentious in the extreme, but that is what we would expect from one of the candidate’s top advisers. The article is mostly just a restatement of Walker’s speech at the Citadel last week, so it doesn’t tell us anything new about Walker’s preferred policies. There are two things that stand out in the piece: the religious devotion to the fantasy that “resolve” is the key to solving all policy problems, and the fiction that Walker has been meaningfully “tested” in a way that is relevant to the conduct of foreign policy. The repeated, paired invocations of Reagan and Churchill are an embarrassing rhetorical flourish that remind us just how ill-prepared for the presidency Walker is by comparison.

It’s important to note that the evidence of Walker’s foreign policy “resolve” that O’Brien provides is limited to the candidate’s embrace of hard-line and impractical positions. Walker’s pledge to tear up the nuclear deal on “day one” is the foolish boast of an inexperienced and ill-informed politician, and it is one that he clings to now because he thinks it makes him seem marginally more hawkish than his competitors. Promising to strain relations with major allies isn’t proof of boldness or “resolve,” but reflects the candidate’s arrogant presumption that the U.S. can force its allies to act against their own interests. No genuine allies would rally behind such a dimwitted move, and it would telegraph to the rest of the world that Walker is desperately overcompensating for the fact that he doesn’t know very much about foreign affairs by engaging in absurd posturing.

The notion that Walker has been “tested” for future foreign policy crises because he prevailed in a political fight with public sector unions in Wisconsin is silly, but it is the only thing Walker has to fall back on and so he keeps using it as a crutch. The problem here is not just that Walker is making a ridiculous claim in an attempt to revive his political fortunes, though he is, but also that he seems to believe that the experience of facing off against domestic political opponents is sufficient preparation for dealing with an international crisis. That not only confirms that he isn’t ready to be president, but it also suggests that he doesn’t grasp that he isn’t ready and so won’t do much work to make up for his lack of preparation.

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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