Scott Walker Says He’d Nuke The Iran Deal Even If Our Allies Objected

Scott Walker's response to the Iranian nuclear deal is perhaps the most irresponsible so far.

2013 Conservative Political Action Conference

As I noted last week, the Republican response to the deal announced at the conclusion of the ‘P5 Plus 1’ talking in Switzerland regarding Iran’s nuclear program has been overwhelmingly negative. However, outside of Senator Mark Kirk’s statement equating the agreement with the agreement reached between Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler in Munich in 1938, perhaps the most vehement response has come from Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. In his initial comments after the agreement were reached, Walker stated that he would seek to undo the deal the minute he became President:

Add Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) to the list of Republicans voicing strong opposition to any deal the US would come to with Iran over its nuclear weapons program.

“Absolutely,” Walker said in response to a question on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show about whether he would “disown” such a deal. “On day one. I mean, to me…the concept of a nuclear Iran is not only problematic for Iran, and certainly for Israel, but it opens the doors. I mean, the Saudis are next. You’re going to have plenty of others in the region. People forget that even amongst the Islamic world, there is no love lost between the Saudis and the Iranians.”

Just a few days after this, the topic came up again during an interview with Charlie Sykes, a Wisconsin radio host:

SYKES: You have said that you would cancel any Iranian deal the Obama administration makes. Now would you cancel that even if our trading partners did not want to reimpose the sanctions?

WALKER: Absolutely. If I ultimately choose to run, and if I’m honored to be elected by the people of this country, I will pull back on that on January 20, 2017, because the last thing — not just for the region but for this world — we need is a nuclear-armed Iran. It leaves not only problems for Israel, because they want to annihilate Israel, it leaves the problems in the sense that the Saudis, the Jordanians and others are gonna want to have access to their own nuclear weapons…

It’s worth taking in what Walker is saying here. He’s saying that, if he became President, he would cancel the deal with Iran, which presumably would include reimposing any American sanction on Iran that had been repealed in the previous two years, even if America’s European allies, who have been working together with us to keep the international sanctions that brought Iran to the table to begin with in place, disagreed with him. Presumably, he also means that he would renege on the deal even if there was demonstrably evidence that it was working and that the Iranians were complying with their obligations regarding scaling back on the research that could lead to development of nuclear weapons and allowing the IAEA inspections to go forward. As Greg Sargent notes, Walker isn’t alone in taking this position, and even after a few short days it seems like a pledge to undue the deal with Iran regardless of whether its working or not is becoming something of a litmus test among Republican candidates for President.

On its face, this is of course an absurd position to take, especially at this early stage in the process. Just as was the case with the letter that Senate Republicans “sent” to Iran last month, pronouncements like this that a future American Administration will not comply with agreements entered into by its predecessor potentially serves to undermine the very framework of the agreement, guaranteeing that the predictions of failure coming from so many people on the right will come true. After all, if the Iranians truly believe that there’s a chance that the President that follows Obama might not live up to the agreement that was reached in Switzerland, then the incentive for them to comply with the agreement becomes considerably lessened. Better to continue nuclear research in secret and get closer to a nuclear weapon just in case that happened. So, effectively, Walker is taking a position that seems pre-designed to guarantee that the agreement will fail. It certainly isn’t likely to help it succeed.

Walker’s suggestion that he’d void the agreement even it was succeeding and even if America’s European allies objected to his position is similarly irresponsible. For one thing, scrapping an agreement that actually appears to be working at the time would quite simply be irrational, and guaranteed only to send the Middle East down the path toward a war that would make Iraq and the conflict with ISIS seem like a Sunday picnic. Moreover if a Republican-led United States actually followed through on this threat, it would likely cause serious harm to our relationships with our European allies. As it is, the coverage of the denouement to these negotiations have shown that the French, and to some extent the British, were quite skeptical of the idea that the Iranians could be brought to an agreement. Now that’s it has happened, and assuming the Iranians comply with it, does anyone seriously believe that they are going to be on board with the idea of reneging on the deal? And what about the Russians? As one Professor that Sargent quotes in his piece puts it, Vladimir Putin isn’t going away any time soon and an American move against Iran under those circumstances would likely cause Russia to become closer to Tehran, which of course would risk any confrontation with the Islamic State turning into something far more significant.

If Walker had any real experience with or understanding of foreign policy, one would think he would realize this.

There is another possibility, of course. It’s possible that Walker is not serious when he says things like this, but that he knows that saying them curries favor with a Republican Party whose base is both incredibly anti-Obama, overly pro-Israel, and willing to believe just about anything bad anyone tells them about a nation like Iran. (That’s not to say the Iranians are saints, of course, but then there are no saints in international relations.) If Walker’s comments are really just pandering to the GOP base, though, then that just seems to make them more irresponsible. Foreign policy shouldn’t be a political football, and that’s what he and many of his fellow Republicans are turning it into when it comes to Iran.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, National Security, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed for too young in July 2021.

Comments

  1. SenyorDave says:

    In the modern Republican party, saying irresponsible things isn’t a negative, its a positive. And caring what our allies think – that would require nuance, which is about as dirty a word as possible to most Republicans these days. I can only imagine what these clowns would have been like if they were in charge during WW2.

  2. gVOR08 says:

    If Walker had any real experience with or understanding of foreign policy, and any shred of integrity, one would think he would realize this.

    FTFY.

    It’ll go over big with the base and it’ll keep him in line for Adelson et al money. The only downside is a possible war. What else would one expect from Walker?

    Good NYT article Saturday on Adelson et al funding GOPs..

  3. humanoid.panda says:

    There is a perverse but compelling logic in Walker’s idiocy on foreign affairs. Political scientists tell us that the public cares very little about foreign affairs. Still, candidates spend a lot of time and efforts in either studying about this issues, or pretend to study by cramming head with factoids. This inevitably leads to disasters (see Palin, Sara). Walker is taking a different tack: he is implicitly telling to the primary voters that they don’t care about any of that boring stuff, and neither does he, so he’s a perfect fit!

  4. michael reynolds says:

    1) The former head of Mossad supports the deal.

    2) The former head of Israeli Military Intelligence supports the deal.

    3) Every impartial observer has been amazed that we did so well in negotiating this deal.

    4) If the deal is killed, sanctions will end. There is no such thing as unilateral sanctions. The Iranians can get whatever they need from the Europeans, the Japanese, the Russians or the Chinese.

    5) Kill the deal and we automatically hand the Iranians an end to sanctions with zero concessions on their part. They will be free to pursue nuclear weapons.

    Walker and the rest of the GOP clown caucus are preparing to hand Iran a free pass. Why? Because they are motivated entirely by hate. The GOP base hates, hates, hates the black man in the White House.

    That’s what it’s been from the beginning. That’s what it is now. They would rather start a war and see a nuclear Iran than admit they were wrong and that Barack Obama was, as usual, right.

    If Iran gets the bomb, and if we end up in a war with Iran, it will be squarely the fault of the Republican Party.

  5. Rafer Janders says:

    As I noted last week, the Republican response to the deal announced at the conclusion of the ‘P5 Plus 1′ talking in Switzerland regarding Iran’s nuclear program has been overwhelmingly negative.

    Yes, it’s as big a betrayal as when the Democrat Ronald Reagan secretly and illegally sold weapons to Iran….

  6. C. Clavin says:

    The Party Full of Stupid just keeps proving how full of stupid it really is.

    @michael reynolds:

    6). Even if you somehow manage to keep sanctions in place, they only strengthen the hand of the extremists inside Iran. Our moderates got their moderates to the table and we got a moderate deal from them. Now the extremists in our country want to do everything they can to screw it up. They need to be called for what they are.

  7. al-Ameda says:

    Republicans are relentlessly toxic, however this is what the public voted for, so chalk another one up to ‘wisdom of the people,’ right?

  8. michael reynolds says:

    Democrats need to make it clear that a Republican president will mean war with Iran on behalf of Israel.

    Not sure if Hillary Clinton can make that case convincingly, but she’s married to a guy who can.

  9. gVOR08 says:

    @michael reynolds: You gave me a mental picture of the foreign policy debate between Hillary and whoever emerges from the Clown Car. Fish in barrel comes to mind.

  10. C. Clavin says:

    @michael reynolds:
    And that’s not even the scariest thing; a Republican President means at least one more Scalia/Thomas on the SCOTUS. Between the two…our Republic cannot afford for Dems to lose this race.

  11. dennis says:

    Well, now. Political/tribal ranks-closing is one thing. What these idiots are doing is way over the top of stupidity. Critical, long-term thinking is obviously not a tool in the GOP repertoire. Apart from the obvious problems these dolts are causing, has anyone considered the fact that:

    1) Russia and China may militarily pact with Iran against a U.S. or Israel (is there really a difference, at this point) military attack; and

    2) Our allies, in that scenario, may decide to just sit that one out?

    What are these blathering idiots going to do if Russia and China coalesce with Iran to counter a military strike? They can’t see the possibilities, because the possibilities are three feet in front of their faces. Idiots. Idiots all.

  12. lankyloo says:

    It’s always nice to see those who are always saying that Obama’s decisions are affecting the credibility of the US in the world really take a stand towards consistency and credibility. You just know with a Walker presidency that the US means what it says or what it does, so long as it fits whatever today’s hawkish position is.

  13. Scott F. says:

    @dennis:

    Considering facts is not a requirement anymore, dennis, that much is clear. The GOP response to this deal, all but unanimous, is upside-down-ism at it’s very worst.

  14. Tillman says:

    I’ll be charitable and dismiss it as red meat, if only because Republicans painting themselves as horny for an Iranian war is charity for Democrats. “Do unto others” and all that jazz.

  15. dennis says:

    @Scott F.:

    Sadly, Scott, you are correct.

  16. Terrrye says:

    I agree that foreign policy should not be a political football..however, it is ironic that Barack Obama, a man who came to office by savaging George Bush’s foreign policy should be in this position. What goes around, comes around.

  17. dennis says:

    @Tillman:

    I don’t know, Till; these idiots are starting to make me nervous. I wish I could blithely dismiss all this as partisan politics; but, I think they believe that they are truly right. I think they believe God is on their side; though, howdafuq they stretch their talking to themselves in prayer leads them to believe their God wants them to wage brutal war against other human beings leaves me absolutely dumbfounded.

  18. Scott F. says:

    @Terrrye:

    Let me see if I’ve got this right, Terrye.

    Obama criticizes a foreign policy that got us into two full-out wars and has most of our historic allies looking at the US sideways, then years later the Republicans criticize Obama’s foreign policy which has extracted us from two full-out wars and has brought our allies together on a treaty that will likely significantly deter Iran’s nuclear ambitions and this is all fine and dandy, because… um… payback’s a bitch?

  19. An Interested Party says:

    On its face, this is of course an absurd position to take…

    Well of course it is, as Scott Walker is an absurd candidate for the presidency of the United States…

  20. Ron Beasley says:

    Walker has never been more than a Koch Brothers sock puppet and not very bright. I doubt however he is getting his foreign policy stupidity from them.

  21. Jeremy R says:

    Walker repeatedly raises the Saudis, though the public reactions from that quarter have been relatively positive / muted:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/saudi-king-give-cautious-nod-to-iran-nuclear-deal/2015/04/03/aeb04901-e608-4735-8bf3-4dfd71c4c74d_story.html

    The framework, Netanyahu said, “would legitimize Iran’s nuclear program, bolster Iran’s economy, and increase Iran’s aggression and terror throughout the Middle East and beyond.”

    Saudi Arabia’s King Salman staked out less confrontational ground, telling President Obama that he hoped it would strengthen “stability and security” in the region.

    http://www.politico.com/story/2015/04/saudi-arabia-iran-nuclear-deal-116694.html

    Saudi Arabia released a cautious statement Monday endorsing the nuclear “framework” agreement reached last week between Iran and six world powers.

    “The council of ministers,” a top governing body within the Saudi system, “expressed hope for attaining a binding and definitive agreement that would lead to the strengthening of security and stability in the region and the world,” read the statement, first published by the Saudi state news agency.

    In its statement, Saudi Arabia expressed its hope that the agreement would lead to a “Middle East and the Arabian Gulf region free of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons,” a possible reference to Israel’s undeclared nuclear program.

  22. dennis says:

    I’m watching Michael Rubin of American Enterprise Institute on ‘Hardball’ and this guy is completely unhinged. I’m serious. This guy is the archetypal Republican nowadays – whether rank and file or elite masters of the universe – that is ruining every-frikn-thing. His overarching argument is ‘Obama bad.’ No credible argument or alternative whatsoever. Incredible.

  23. LaMont says:

    @James P:
    Yep – Before, I simply figured that you were just delusional. However, after that comment, I am now thoroughly convinced that you are the prototypical troll.

  24. Tillman says:

    @dennis: Well, the beauty of our system is it doesn’t matter if you’re actually right if you can’t convince other people to vote for you. 🙂 My bet is the American people are not willing to countenance another war in the Middle East, but I’ve been wrong before.

  25. Neil Hudelson says:

    I”m really bemused at what the Republican’s campaign is going to be:

    Hilary: Under Democratic leadership we have had some of the strongest economic growth in history, troops home, a reduction in Iranian nuclear capability, no ground wars, a Cuba open to our businesses, and more Americans have health care than any time in our history.”

    Republican: “I know, right? Join me and I promise to repeal every part of this.”

  26. de stijl says:

    If Iranian hardliners welch on the deal, it is a casus belli.

    If US hardliners welch on the deal, it is internal politics.

  27. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @LaMont: not only is it a troll, it is one that refuses to leave despite having been banned by the site owner. He’s had to resort to deleting the troll’s comments. For a supposed conservative, this troll has zero respect for the property rights of others.

    The only appropriate tactic is to report him and not respond to him in any way.

  28. de stijl says:

    @michael reynolds:

    If Iran gets the bomb, and if we end up in a war with Iran, it will be squarely the fault of the Republican Party.

    Why would you call war with Iran “the fault of the Republican Party” when that is what they desperately desire?

  29. Ken says:

    @James P: This sham of an agreement clearly is designed to ensure that Iran acquires nuclear weapons.

    The real pisser here? You’re lazy. I mean, it’s not even good trolling. Go away

  30. Paul Hooson says:

    Not ready for primetime foreign policy talk from this not ready for primetime politician…A politician who begs the question: What’s wrong with this picture?

  31. Scott says:

    What I find ironic (if that is the right word) is that one of the problems with the Iran deal is that Iran is an unreliable partner and can’t be trusted. The Republicans, by their words, everyday prove that the US is unreliable and can’t be trusted.

  32. gVOR08 says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Been that way since Reagan. From FDR’s first term, through WWII, the fifties, and on into the seventies, the U. S, became the wealthiest, most powerful nation on Earth. And Republicans have wanted to reverse every single thing we did to get there.

  33. Barry says:

    @Terrrye: “… a man who came to office by savaging George Bush’s foreign policy should be in this position. What goes around, comes around.”

    You mean when a large number of Democratic Senators, after receiving classified material from a foreign intelligence service, wrote a letter to a government with which the US was negotiating, for the purpose of undermining those negotiations?

    Because that didn’t happen.

  34. C. Clavin says:

    @Neil Hudelson:
    Brilliant.

  35. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Folks, PLEASE IGNORE James P. He’s been banned by Joyner, and since this guy is too rude to take the hint, Joyner has been deleting his comments. Responding to him in any way is likely to leave you looking like you’re talking to air.

  36. Barry says:

    @lankyloo: “It’s always nice to see those who are always saying that Obama’s decisions are affecting the credibility of the US in the world really take a stand towards consistency and credibility. You just know with a Walker presidency that the US means what it says or what it does, so long as it fits whatever today’s hawkish position is.”

    The right’s position is 100% Freudian projection – they are physically incapable of accusing others of anything which they themselves are not doing.

  37. Barry says:

    @Neil Hudelson: “I”m really bemused at what the Republican’s campaign is going to be:

    Hilary: Under Democratic leadership we have had some of the strongest economic growth in history, troops home, a reduction in Iranian nuclear capability, no ground wars, a Cuba open to our businesses, and more Americans have health care than any time in our history.””

    Remember the Onion article when Bush II was installed?

    ‘US Ends It’s Long Nightmare of Peace and Prosperity’