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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

As the 2016 presidential campaign gets started, victory-minded Republicans have a problem: The thriving economy is leaving their favorite attack against President Obama increasingly out of touch. Any Republicans who still hoped that the Mitt Romney playbook — unceasing criticism of the Obama economy — could be recycled against presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton must begin searching for a new angle of attack.

As Jonathan Martin and Jeremy Peters report in The New York Times on Tuesday, many within the GOP have responded by shifting their focus to more treacherous territory for the president and his former secretary of state: foreign policy, and specifically the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

In theory, this should be a great thing. Dealing with ISIS is an urgent foreign policy and humanitarian challenge, and it deserves a rigorous debate. No matter what form it takes, the battle will continue during the next president’s administration, and it should be a major factor in who America elects as its next commander-in-chief.

But in practice, the dialogue seems unlikely to be very productive. Republicans may want to shift the campaign’s focus to foreign policy, but as of yet they have very few concrete ideas to contribute.

Although every major GOP presidential contender has complained about President Obama’s “disastrous” foreign policy, most of them seem to more or less agree with his approach to fighting ISIS. And so far, none has proposed a detailed alternative to the White House plan.

That has gotten the Great Foreign Policy Debate of 2016 off to a vague start, to put it lightly.

“We have to develop a strategy, that’s global, that takes them out,” former Florida governor Jeb Bush declared during his first big foreign policy speech. “First, the strategy, you know, needs to be restrain them, tighten the noose, and then taking them out is the strategy.”

“I think we need to have an aggressive strategy anywhere around the world,” Wisconsin governor Scott Walker said during an appearance on ABC. “I think anywhere and everywhere, we have to be — go beyond just aggressive air strikes. We have to look at other surgical methods. And ultimately, we have to be prepared to put boots on the ground if that’s what it takes.”

The governor quickly clarified that he doesn’t actually want to send American troops into battle in Syria, just that he “wouldn’t rule anything out.” Good to know.

These vague non-answers actually represent the best of the right’s present rhetoric on ISIS. At the other end of the spectrum lie congressmen like Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ), both of whom have suggested that the United States is doing nothing to fight the terrorist group, and seem genuinely unaware of the massive bombing campaign that has severely hampered ISIS’ advance through the region.

Americans of all political stripes should welcome a serious debate about how to fight ISIS. But if this type of empty, uninformed rhetoric characterizes the Republican argument — and, given Walker’s recent suggestion that his union-busting record in Wisconsin would prove his toughness to jihadists, it very well might — then that’s not the kind of debate we’re going to get.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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Copyright 2015 The National Memo
  • fortunev

    Poor brainless rethugs. SOL. Shyte out of ideas. Shyte out of brains. Good riddance, morans.

  • Budjob

    Scott Walker IS,one dangerous,ignorant,NAZI LUNATIC!!!

  • pmbalele

    I have told you not to blame Walker for becoming Wis governor and may be president of USA. But blame college graduates who shy away from such positions-it leaves a void which college drop-outs like Walker fill. Americans are now discovering Walker had 2.59 (B-) GPA and dropped out of college. People around the world will not respect America if Walker is elected. In England Walker will not be allowed to talk at universities. I believe Walker is avenging himself for not having college degree. He has cut funding for the UW-system. As a college drop-out Walker has inferiority complex; and therefore pretends not see college education necessary- especially when he can become county-executive, governor and president. Walker prefers importing doctors, nurses and others professionals to pay them cheap than training local kids for such college professions. Women are in trouble too. You read Walker secretly signed a law allowing CEOs to pay women less than men doing the same job. I do not know why women are quiet. I believe women are becoming less progressive-minded too. Walker also wants to alter the judiciary. This is especially as for chief justice. I am told he will introduce a bill to limit chief justice tenure and may remove Chief Justice Abrahamsen. If Walker succeeds to revise the judiciary, he may also attack DOJ and DPI and declare himself above the law. During his first term Walker wanted Wisconsin out of USA which would have enabled him to declare all Blacks in Wisconsin as aliens; and ship them to other states. Walker failed. If we elect Walker as president he will close all government 4-year universities. The blame should be on college graduates who do not want to be bothered with political positions. That is what we are getting.

  • FT66

    What GOP contenders to be are talking is nonsense. Being aggressive and put boots on the ground? To fight who? Are ISIS have a sign on their faces? They are like civilians like any other. They don’t wear any uniform. How US troops are going to distinguish between ISIS and normal civilians if not being slaughtered in both sides with no end. It looks like no one has learned anything since the Iraq war started in 2003.

  • Dominick Vila

    I can’t wait for a GOP primaries debate over foreign policy, with emphasis on knowing exactly what Putin has in mind since he is clearly visible on across the Behring strait when fashionable Japanese made glasses are worn. Fast forward to 2015 and we are likely to learn more about Wisconsin’s Sharp Cheddar exports than we ever wanted to know. I can see a twist in our ISIS strategy, involving the use of cheese burgers to obliterate the evil Caliphate once and for all.

    • itsfun

      Makes more sense than fighting ISIS via twitter.

  • highpckts

    Walker is nothing but a pretty boy who thinks he can do anything since he weathered his recall! I hope, for our sakes, people are smarter than they look!!

  • Louis Allen

    What this guy Decker (who never plays with a “full deck”) forgot was that we can turn the foreign policy 2016 debate into an enormously interesting one, …. by letting our VP Biden tell us what his ideas are ….