Scott Walker is ready to start a war with Iran. In fact, he’s so ready to attack Iran that he’s openly discussing the possibility of initiating hostilities within hours of taking the oath of office as the next president of the United States. Here’s what the Republican governor of Wisconsin and 2016 candidate said over the weekend at a press conference in Iowa:
WALKER: It’s very possible – God forbid, but it’s very possible – that the next president could be called to take aggressive actions, including military action, on the first day in office. And I don’t want a president who is not prepared to act on day one. So, as far as me, as far as my position, I’m going to be prepared to be president on day one.
You really can’t get more hawkish than to float the possibility of launching a war before the inaugural ball. This wildly bellicose rhetoric from Walker is part of his campaign to be the most aggressively irresponsible critic of the new multilateral diplomatic framework to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Walker’s already promised to withdraw from the deal immediately upon taking office and instead pursue sanctions that will “cripple” Iran. He hasn’t convincingly explained how he’d do that (withdrawing from the deal would alienate every partner and ally we’d need to impose a “crippling” sanctions regime) but “having a coherent plan” is less important to Walker than demonstrating his unshakeable opposition to this Obama legacy item.
Walker is also trying to lay down a marker for opposition to the Iran deal and make the case that other Republicans in the 2016 field are insufficiently committed to its demise. As Jim Newell noted this morning, Jeb Bush – who is no fan of the Iran deal – broke with some of his fellow candidates by taking the (relatively sensible) position that he would wait until his national security and diplomatic teams are in place before moving to unwind a major international agreement and putting us on the path towards yet another war in the Middle East. In response, Walker’s team is blasting Jeb as an indecisive squish.
Here’s an actual statement Team Walker put out from former U.S. delegate to the United Nations Robert O’Brien:
The next president must terminate this disastrous deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran on Day 1, as Governor Walker has repeatedly pledged to do. In fact, the process of undoing this deal begins right now. We don't need more information, we don't need to wait to confirm the next Secretary of State, we need decisive leadership and we need it now. This won't be easy, but when America leads, and has a strong president with clear priorities who believes in American strength, the rest of the world will follow.
We don’t need a plan, we don’t need information, we don’t even need people in key posts – we just need “decisive leadership” and everything will turn out okay. And if you think otherwise, well then you’re basically on Team Obama.
The Iran debate is shaping up to be a replay of the neverending fight over Obamacare repeal. The only acceptable position for a Republican to hold is “repeal as soon as is humanly possible.” If you pull back from that position, or suggest that maybe it might be a good idea to actually have a replacement healthcare plan ready to go before throwing the country back to the mercies of health insurance underwriters, then you’ve sold out and committed the unthinkable heresy of putting Republican “fingerprints” on Obama’s hated law. Ted Cruz perfected this sort of all-or-nothing, slash-and-burn politics when he led the government shutdown over the ACA; he argued that voting to fund the government was “a vote for Obamacare.” Walker is doing much the same thing with Iran – if you’re not ready to back out of the deal the precise microsecond you become president, then you’re essentially endorsing the deal’s continued existence.
The irony is that by defining themselves solely as being against Obama on issues like these, Republicans are actually playing into the hands of the administration and its allies. On Iran, the White House has been framing the debate by arguing that the president’s critics’ only alternative to diplomacy is war. It’s tough to say they’re wrong when Scott Walker is out there attacking other would-be Republican presidents as weak for wanting to wait a few hours before dropping bombs on Iran.