The Cable

Scott Walker Fires Back at Obama’s Foreign-Policy Criticisms

Governor Scott Walker (R.-Wisc.) does not like to be called out on his foreign-policy credentials. Which could be unfortunate, because doubts about his foreign-policy expertise seem to be one of the constants in the early days of the jockeying for position in the GOP presidential field. President Barack Obama not-so-subtly questioned the possible presidential contender’s ...

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Governor Scott Walker (R.-Wisc.) does not like to be called out on his foreign-policy credentials. Which could be unfortunate, because doubts about his foreign-policy expertise seem to be one of the constants in the early days of the jockeying for position in the GOP presidential field.

President Barack Obama not-so-subtly questioned the possible presidential contender’s foreign affairs chops and called Walker’s pledge to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal “foolish” on NPR Tuesday morning. The governor pushed back immediately on Twitter.

Walker, who does not have a college degree, has good reason to be on the defensive about his foreign-policy prowess. He refused to talk international relations during a recent trip to London and made the unfortunate comparison of battling labor unions to fighting the Islamic State.

Walker, who cites former President Ronald Reagan as the biggest influence on his foreign-affairs thinking, also has called the Gipper’s decision to break up a 1981 strike of air traffic controllers “the most significant foreign policy decision of my lifetime” despite witnessing the war on terror, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the rise of China. He said Reagan’s actions illustrated toughness to adversaries around the world. Lee Edwards, a Reagan biographer, said Walker has a long way to go to get up to speed on foreign policy.

But misgivings about Walker’s knowledge of the world go far beyond a few badly placed words. A recent story in the Washington Post painted him as a complete novice when it comes to world affairs.

According to the Post, Walker recently underwent a foreign-policy crash course at a Washington hotel that recalls Sarah Palin’s failed tutorials during the 2008 presidential campaign. And while it’s not known whether Walker thinks Queen Elizabeth runs the British military, the Post quoted a major conservative foreign-policy fixture as saying he was not ready to talk global issues.

“I can pretty well guarantee you that he is not a subscriber to Foreign Affairs,” Elliott Abrams, a prominent neoconservative and senior official in recent administrations, quipped to the Post (Walker is welcome to take advantage of Foreign Policy’s 20 percent discount for new subscribers here).

Perhaps that’s why Walker was so fast to respond to the president’s slight. But a quick trigger finger can’t make up for the growing perception that when it comes to foreign policy, he’s an empty chair.

Photo Credit: Richard Ellis/Getty Images

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