Dick Polman, 7/15/2015 [Archive]

Scott Walker's Delusion

By Dick Polman

When I heard the news about the nuclear deal with Iran, I decided to seek out the sage wisdom of Scott Walker. Because surely, with his vast national security experience - fighting unionizedworkers, lobbying for a Milwaukee Bucks arena, running a state that ranks 38th in the nation in job creation - he would know what's best for America on the world stage.

I'm being facetious, of course. Because here's what the Wisconsin governor said in advance of the deal, while formally announcing his Republican presidential bid: "We need to terminate the bad deal with Iran on Day One, put in place crippling sanctions, and convince our allies to do the same."

See, this is why Walker is a first-tier candidate. He articulates and echoes the delusional thinking that pervades the party's conservative base - especially in Iowa, the first state on the nomination calendar. The "Day One" riff is worthless as policy, but it makes for one helluva soundbite. It's red meat fit for chewing, a surefire vote-getter, but it outs Walker as a clueless newbie unfit to lead.

Nobody says the announced deal is perfect (in the real world, there is no perfect deal), but the basic terms are far better than anything we could've gotten by rattling sabers and threatening war. Among other things, we get international inspections, cuts in the centrifuges that are used to make nuclear fuel, cuts in the stockpile of nuclear material, and advanced warning - roughly a full year - if Iran were to try to dump the deal and produce enough fuel for one bomb.

But Walker vows that if he's commander in chief in 2017, he'll scrap the whole thing on "Day One." Presumably his foreign policy tutors know full well that his vow is mindless, but, just for fun, let's play it out and see what would actually happen in the real world if he were to take such a radical step.

Like other Republican candidates, Walker seems to think (or is being tutored to think) that America can throw its weight around as it sees fit, and that other nations will always quake in its wake. That delusion should've died with George W. Bush's disastrous Iraq invasion - which has destabilized the Middle East, strengthened Iran, killed nearly half a million Iraqis and 4,500 Americans and cost us several trillion dollars - but no. The GOP brain trust still persists in believing that our allies will bow to whatever Uncle Sam decrees.

But if a President Walker were to actually scrap the nuclear deal on "Day One," and seek to impose ever-tougher sanctions, here's what would likely happen. Our European and Asian allies - exasperated with Uncle Sam's feckless policy switch, and determined to preserve their economic ties to Iran (which they view as a promising trading partner) - would refuse to reimpose their own sanctions. Britain's ambassador to America stated two months ago that the international sanctions have already reached "the high-water mark," and that if diplomacy fails, we would see "sanctions erosion." Germany's ambassador has similarly warned that, absent a nuke deal, "the sanctions regime might unravel."

Worse yet, if a President Walker were to pull America from the deal, we'd likely wind up with nothing - no international inspections, no curbs on nuclear fuel, no leverage. And without leverage, or a new international sanctions regime, the only other option would be...a military attack.

Walker won't mention that in a soundbite. Odds are, he simply hasn't thought through all the implications of his "Day One" vow. He might want to check with Bush's CIA Director, Michael Hayden, who says that a military attack would make Iran more hawkish. In his words, it would "guarantee that which we are trying to prevent - an Iran that will spare nothing to build a nuclear weapon."

But Walker is the guy who says that his fights with unionized American workers have prepared him to battle ISIS, so I suppose that qualifies him to scrap an historic nuke deal on "Day One." Far more likely, it qualifies him to finish first in the Iowa Republican caucuses.

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Copyright 2015 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Dick Polman is the national political columnist at NewsWorks/WHYY in Philadelphia (newsworks.org/polman) and a "Writer in Residence" at the University of Philadelphia. Email him at dickpolman7@gmail.com.

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