5 Things You Need to Know About Scott Walker’s Foreign Policy

As a governor, Scott Walker may have an advantage over some of his non-executive rivals and in his own words has said, “governors bring tremendous experience.” However, as a state politician, it has not been necessary for him to speak on international issues. Yet, as the nomination process continues, his announcements and debate answers will be increasingly scrutinized.

The following are 5 Scott Walker foreign policy quotes and positions:

1. Iraq

In May, Walker wrote on his Facebook page:

“Any President would have likely taken the same action as President [George W.] Bush did with the information he had, even Hillary Clinton voted for it, but knowing what we know now, we should not have gone into Iraq.”

When Walker was later asked about Sen. Lindsey Graham’s recommendation to send 10,000 U.S. ground troops back to Iraq, the governor disagreed with that particular assessment. However, he followed up by saying, “I think we shouldn’t rule anything out.”

2. Iran

Walker criticized the Iran nuclear deal during the first Republican debate, arguing that it has bad implications for the entire region:

“This is not just bad with Iran, this is bad with ISIS. It is tied together, and, once and for all, we need a leader who’s gonna stand up and do something about it.”

The governor didn’t clarify what he meant by Shiite Iran and the Sunni Islamic State being “tied together.” Middle Eastern scholar Juan Cole questioned whether Walker knew Daesh, another name for ISIS, “[i]s a hard line Salafi Sunni terrorist organization that kills Shiites on sight? And that Iran is a Shiite country that has been the most effective force in opposing Daesh?”

3. Syria

In an interview in which he also praised former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright, Walker explicated a Syria policy by asserting:

“Anywhere and everywhere, we need to go beyond aggressive airstrikes, we have to look at other surgical methods. And ultimately, we have to be prepared to put boots on the ground.”

Then saying “boots on the ground” in Syria was “not an immediate plan,” Walker also said he “wouldn’t rule anything out.”

4. Russia

While discussing Russia at the debate, Walker outlined an aggressive plan to defend Ukraine, a country that is not a member of NATO, and which could escalate U.S.-Russia tensions:

“I would send weapons to Ukraine. I would work with NATO to put forces on the eastern border of Poland and the Baltic nations, and I would reinstate . . . the missile defense system that we had in Poland and in the Czech Republic.”

5. Leadership in Foreign Policy

In February, Walker said foreign policy is about “leadership” and “not just about having a Ph.D. or talking to Ph.D.’s.” The governor buttressed his opinion by pointing to President Ronald Reagan’s 1981 decision to fire striking air traffic controllers as “the most significant foreign policy decision of my lifetime.”

One Walker critic noted:

“Even if one grants that Reagan’s decision to fire the striking workers had some effect on the way he was perceived by other governments, it is just painfully ignorant to call a purely domestic decision the ‘most significant foreign policy decision’ of the last five decades.”