Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Walker and Foreign Policy

Walker has given antiwar conservatives and libertarians no reason to think that he is any different from the hawkish crowd.

Jim Antle sees an opportunity for Scott Walker on foreign policy, but points out some of the potential pitfalls:

The first is that less interventionist conservatives feel burned by Bush’s “humble foreign policy” talk in 2000 and would likely want assurances of the kind that would get Walker in trouble with his party’s hawks, which is probably a no-go. The second is that candidates polling where Walker is, even a year out, usually lose the Republican nomination. It’s not entirely clear he’s even a likelier nominee than Paul.

Antle is correct that Walker has so far “said the least that will automatically repel realists, libertarians, and others on the right looking for a more cautious and restrained approach to military force abroad,” but that’s mainly because he has had so little so say on these issues. Insofar as he has said anything about foreign policy, he has given antiwar conservatives and libertarians no reason to think that he is any different from the hawkish crowd. Worse, he seems to rely excessively on buzzwords and tired Reagan nostalgia when he does talk about these things, which is usually a sign that a candidate hasn’t given it much thought. The best that can be said about his position on using torture on detainees is that he has pathetically dodged the question in the past. It doesn’t help that his ghostwriter remains one of the top defenders of the use of torture.

Based on the reaction to his speech in Iowa over the weekend, Walker appears to have had the broadest appeal of any of the attendees, but then it also helped him that many of his policy views are unknown. Other would-be 2016 candidates encounter more resistance within the party because they have taken at least one or two high-profile positions that split Republicans. Walker appears to be a “consensus” candidate because he has been focused thus far on issues that don’t create these divisions. Perhaps he will be able to sneak through a crowded field by being the least polarizing candidate in a contest that is full of them, but it is also possible for a candidate to be so generic and dull that few people see any reason to prefer him. Walker hasn’t given Republican voters strong reasons to oppose him as the nominee, but there isn’t a very strong argument for why they should want him more than any of the others. That is a problem that dogged another Midwestern governor touted as a “consensus” alternative in 2012, and it didn’t work out very well for him.



Become a Member today for a growing stake in the conservative movement.
Join here!
Join here