As the governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker could be forgiven for knowing very little about foreign policy. But now the Tea Party Republican has White House ambitions. On Sunday, Martha Raddatz, a Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent at ABC News, pressed Governor Walker to defend his qualifications in a prospective race where many of his GOP rivals will have more foreign affairs experience. "You talk about leadership and you talk about big, bold, fresh ideas," she said, dispensing with his boilerplate. "What is your big, bold, fresh idea in Syria?"
The question should've prompted an admission that many geopolitical problems are unavoidably thorny—that there often isn't a "big, bold, fresh idea" that would solve them.
Instead this exchange followed:
WALKER: Well, I think - I go back to the red line.
RADDATZ: Let's not go back. Let's go forward. What is your big, bold idea in Syria?
WALKER: I think aggressively, we need to take the fight to ISIS and any other radical Islamic terrorist in and around the world, because it's not a matter of when they attempt an attack on American soil, or not if I should say, it's when, and we need leadership that says clearly, not only amongst the United States but amongst our allies, that we're willing to take appropriate action. I think it should be surgical.
RADDATZ: You don't think 2,000 air strikes is taking it to ISIS in Syria and Iraq?
WALKER: I think we need to have an aggressive strategy anywhere around the world. I think it's a mistake to -
RADDATZ: But what does that mean? I don't know what aggressive strategy means. If we're bombing and we've done 2,000 air strikes, what does an aggressive strategy mean in foreign policy?
WALKER: 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, because I think, you know--
RADDATZ: Boots on the ground in Syria? U.S. boots on the ground in Syria?
WALKER: I don't think that is an immediate plan, but I think anywhere in the world--
RADDATZ: But you would not rule that out.
WALKER: I wouldn't rule anything out. I think when you have the lives of Americans at stake and our freedom loving allies anywhere in the world, we have to be prepared to do things that don't allow those measures, those attacks, those abuses to come to our shores.
Let's look past the absurdity of suggesting that "be aggressive" is a "big, bold, fresh idea." Walker's answer suggests that while he positions himself as a Washington, D.C. outsider in domestic affairs, his foreign policy views are as Beltway as they come. Like John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and the establishment wings of their respective parties, he believes that the safety of Americans is directly proportional to our willingness to intervene militarily in Middle Eastern countries. He distinguishes himself only insofar as he avows that the degree of U.S. intervention in Syria should perhaps include "boots on the ground" at some future date.