The Emerging GOP War Platform

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at a training workshop for the New Hampshire state Republican Party in the auditorium at Concord High School Saturday, March 14, 2015, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
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It’s fascinating how, in addition to genuflection to the person of Benjamin Netanyahu, breaking off any nuclear agreement with Iran is quickly becoming a litmus test for GOP presidential candidates. If you look around, virtually everyone who doesn’t oppose any agreement or has strong ideological commitments that preclude support, is surprised at how tight the restrictions the US negotiated ended up being. (Examples one and two; Dennis Ross struggles to find quibbles.) There are real questions about how much latitude the next president would have to tear up an agreement within the bounds of international law. But Jeb Bush has already signed on: he’ll try to ditch it. And now Scott Walker says he will, too.

One way to look at this is that they will simply commit the country to war. But I don’t think that’s the most likely option. More likely, they will copy the policy most associated with George W. Bush’s first term, and ‘stand tough’ while Iran does whatever it wants.

Even more striking though is just how little grasp Walker has of any of the details about what’s involved, and how little his advisors have prepped him.

If elected president, Walker says that he’ll pull back on any nuclear agreement on day one. And revealingly, he says he doesn’t care if our trading partners aren’t willing to go along with us. He’ll have America go it alone.

This is a good encapsulation of Walker’s seemingly total ignorance of this topic. What brought Iran to the table and forced this agreement was a mix of crippling economic sanctions and a covert war of sabotage by the US and Israel. The sanctions have only worked because Europe, Russia and China have joined us in imposing them. Without them, they would be onerous, but simply not effective on the same scale.

The best argument of those saying we need a better deal is that we should leave the sanctions in place, let them become more painful and wait for the Iranians to offer an even better deal. I don’t think that makes sense for a number of reasons. But absent this scale of restrictive sanctions, there’s really no reason to think they’d be offering even this deal.

It simply makes no sense. To make this argument, you have to come up with an explanation to how you’d be able to reassemble the world powers to reimpose the sanctions and press for a new deal. If you don’t have that, you’re just saying, at best, that you’d threaten war so credibly that the Iranians would just give up their nuclear program. Or that you’ll actually launch a war that might set the program back a number of years but would make it impossible restrain after that.

All of this stuff is just talking out of a place that is not your mouth. About as dangerous as it is stupid.

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