Scott Walker’s foreign policy confidant is bad news

Scott Walker’s biggest perceived weakness in his bid for the 2016 Republican nomination, to say nothing of the presidency, is that he doesn’t know anything about foreign policy. And it’s not like the media came up with the idea out of thin air. Walker has never had to address issues outside of the state of Wisconsin. And despite his attempts to convince the public that being a governor of a midwestern state totally prepares you to take the reins of the world’s lone superpower — because he’s fought unions and gone on a few trade missions — no one really believes him.

Which is why it’s particularly concerning that Walker’s go-to guy for foreign policy advice is a man named Kevin Hermening.

As Murtaza Hussain at The Intercept reported yesterday, Hermening, a former US Marine who was held hostage in Iran in 1979, appears to hold a foreign policy worldview that, if lent credence in the White House, could have destructive, destabilizing effects the world over. He has called for the deportation of undocumented immigrants — particularly those of “Middle Eastern descent — along with the destruction of the capital cities of Muslim-majority countries — possibly with nuclear weapons:

In 2001, Hermening wrote an op-ed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel calling for a response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks that would include “the destruction of the capitals of Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan and Yemen,” unless the governments of those countries unequivocally agreed to help kill Osama bin Laden. “Every military response must be considered, including the use of nuclear weapons,” he wrote. In his commentary Hermening also called upon the United States to erect security fences “along the entire perimeter of the United States,” as well as deport “every illegal alien and immigrant, with a focus on removing those of Middle Eastern descent.”

Scott Walker, via Gil C / Shutterstock.com

Scott Walker, via Gil C / Shutterstock.com

Hermening clarified to The Intercept that he is not a formal foreign policy adviser to Walker, and that while the United States needed to send a “strong message” after 9/11, nuclear weapons would not have been his “first resort.”

But while Hermening may not be on Walker’s formal campaign staff, Walker has publicly cited him as a man who he turns to for foreign policy advice on a regular basis, with the Associated Press having previously called him “the face of Walker’s foreign policy,” due to their close friendship and Walker’s seeking of his council.

So Walker can distance himself from Hermening all he wants — as he has since done — but the association is still there. And until Walker’s own words on foreign policy resemble something more thoughtful than ISIS being no big deal compared to a firefighters union and Iran being a possible target for military action on “day one” of his presidency, we don’t have any reason to believe that he’s listening to anyone more sane.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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  • And with much better judgment and taste in one’s advisers and associates.

  • Badgerite

    Now you can see the absolute inanity in policy that this state ( Wisconsin) has endured under the Walker administration. Sometimes you actually want leaders with an education beyond high school.

  • The Golden Rule for not only private industry, but also politics and government:

    Don’t dump trash in someone else’s lap; throw the trash out the door.

  • Bill_Perdue

    What US Democrat leader invaded, attacked, supported right wing terrorist governments, or renewed the attack or occupied Ukraine, Libya, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan? Republicans would have if they ran things but it was Obama.

    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” HL Mencken

    It seems that every election brings with scare tactics to frighten people into voting for warmongers, in this case Hillary Clinton. She’s not better than her Republican rivals.

    Democrats always pretend that they’re lesser evils and that Republicans are somehow worse. LBJ and Nixon proved they’re the same. Bill Clintons, with is mass murder of children and George Bush with his invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan proved they’re the same. The left and the antiwar movement will continue to oppose both just as we have since the Gulf of Tonkin ‘incident’.

  • Bill_Perdue

    I think what I said is perfectly clear. Democrats are warmongers. Republicans are warmongers.

  • I have literally no idea what point you are trying to make, save that you seem to think there isn’t a worthwhile human on the entire planet.

  • Yeah, I know… there’s another parallel with Huckabee’s equating a nuclear arms control deal with Iran with the Holocaust, and that parallel is saying that Democratic leaders’ positions on the economy are morally equivalent with a guy who clearly wants to turn most of the Middle East into a sea of irradiated glass.

    Hyperbole isn’t limited to just the Republicans.

  • FLL

    The bloggers—Jon Green and the others—are capable of using the terms “better,” “worse” and “the same” just as fluently as the rest of the English-speaking world. Using those terms in a sane manner is setting the bar very low. Is Hillary equivalent to Hitler’s foreign minister, Ribbentrop, (and Obama, therefore, equivalent to Hitler)? I would rather let Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and the Tea Party folks have a monopoly on that type of silly false equivalency. And the Baltic countries—which are NATO members—have been scared out of their wits by events in eastern Ukraine. They have begged for some security against a Russian invasion. Wouldn’t it be blaming the victim to condemn their request?

  • Bill_Perdue

    Keep in mind, Becca, that Obama is moving heavy weapons into eastern Europe, taunting the Russian bear and risking nuclear war. HRH HRC, like Obama, Bill Clinton and the Bushes, is mad for power and will do the same.

    Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

    I’m reminded of the LBJ ad in 1964 and who it was that murdered a million or so Vietnamese and tens of thousands of GIs and risked nuclear war by his air attacks on Soviet vessel in Haiphong Harbor. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDTBnsqxZ3k

    People thought Goldwater was the only madman in that campaign. How wrong they were.

  • I don’t know, Bill. Neo-liberal and anti-union, plus Hillary Clinton’s other character flaws…versus a guy who vehemently urged the U.S. to commit mass murder with nuclear weapons, launching total war with any or all of six different nations if they declined to help kill one terrorist leader?

    I’d say that’s worse. One of those is bad, but fixable if we were to elect the right kinds of leaders. A nuclear war though? That can never be fixed.

  • moniss

    Agreed. Most people in media and on blogs are still not seeing the Klown Kar for what it is for most of the candidates. Simply announcing a run brings hundreds of thousands if not millions rolling in that you have control over. You can now hire family and pay them well. You can also hire “consultants” for large sums and when you drop out they will “hire” you for a portion of those large sums. Now you see what a scam this is? Meanwhile that money can also be pledged back into the system to keep the money train rolling. Once you drop out think of all of the paid appearances on cable news shows to be a “contributor” to the network for their political coverage. Look how well it worked for Palin.

  • The_Fixer

    You got that right.

    His budget defunded bike trail contributions from the state, and even repealed a law that helps bicyclists travel more safely on roads (the “Bicycles Can Use Full Lane” regulation).

    No coincidence that his last opponent ran Trek Bicycle, I’m sure.

    Yup, petty little guy, ain’t he?

  • moniss

    And take one we will. Walker has a long history of petty vindictiveness when he doesn’t get his way or when anybody has criticized him. Look for him to ravage Wisconsin in ways that have no reason other than to just do it.

  • The_Fixer

    And that’s the stuff we know about. Imagine what he’s been able to keep quiet.

    He seems to have a persistent M.O., doesn’t he? He (or his designee in the legislature) comes up with some proposed law that is either a blatant abuse of power or just designed to screw people. There is a public outcry, and he pulls back. As soon as the dust settles, he’s right back at it. Eventually, he pushes it through.

    The only time it didn’t work out that way was when he tried to eliminate “The Wisconsin Idea” from the mission of the UW system. But don’t count him out when the next budget cycle comes long, he’s likely to try it again.

    This guy is a menace. I feel bad that Wisconsin has to “take one for the team” by him returning to the governorship when his ill-fated Presidential run comes to a close.

  • Bill_Perdue

    How could Hemening be worse than Hillary Clinton who also fought unions.

    HRH HRC, an advanced graduate of the WalMart School of Scabbery and union busting, played Ribbentrop for most of of the Obama regime’s racist wars of aggression in Libya, Egypt, Palestine, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere.

  • 2karmanot

    Yep. I hear Lindsey G. has convened an exploratory committee to investigate the Trumpster and demand to see the birth certificate of that thing on his head.

  • 2karmanot

    Don’t worry about Godwin’s Law. It is an absurdity constructed by the Spectacle to quell legitimate criticism. Godwin’s Law is merely philosophical troll.

  • So did Hermening have anything to say when George W. Bush said that Osama Bin Laden wasn’t a terribly high priority?

    Bush: “Who knows if he’s hiding in some cave or not. We haven’t heard from him in a long time. The idea of focusing on one person really indicates to me people don’t understand the scope of the mission. Terror is bigger than one person. He’s just a person who’s been marginalized. … I don’t know where he is. I really just don’t spend that much time on him, to be honest with you.”

    Does this mean Hermening would’ve favored nuking Washington D.C., since obviously the leadership there failed to ‘unequivocally agree’ to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden?

    But yeah… suggesting that the capital cities of not just one but six nations be destroyed utterly, committing mass murder on a horrific scale, is not a policy position but the ravings of an unhinged and damaged mind. It’s also somewhat ironic that Hermening didn’t include the capital of the nation where all but one of the 9/11 terrorists and Bin Laden himself came from.

  • Some insight into the values, viewpoints and mentality of Scott Walker and the Wisconsin GOP legislators:

    7-4-15: A recent gambit of Scott Walker and the Wisconsin GOP lawmakers: adding a measure to the proposed budget bill that weakens Wisconsin’s open records laws by exempting nearly everything created by state and local government officials.

    Update 7-4-15: It seems Scott Walker and the Wisconsin GOP lawmakers have abandoned plans to change Wisconsin’s open records laws.

    Update July 23, 2015: The public and political outrage over Walker and friends’ attempt to gut Wisconsin’s open records laws died down, and Scott Walker’s administration now says the public has no right to some records on key issues.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-bottari/to-celebarate-the-fourth_b_7726644.html
    http://www.jsonline.com/news/scott-walker-calls-for-open-records-overhaul-to-be-completely-removed-or-changed-b99532073z1-311638151.html
    http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/robin-vos-pushed-for-open-records-overhaul-records-show-b99543456z1-318294111.html

  • Indigo

    I was trying to do an end run around Godwin’s Law but there ya go. My concern is real, though, because we’re the self-identified Power Players on the planet right now and ka-bang, one really stupid move and everybody’s going to be on our case. We’ve already learned how vulnerable we can be just because a damn fool in a cave in Afghanistan can roil up enough people to slam airplanes into major buildings. I shudder to think how it would go if actual nations with actual military decided to turn against us for real.

  • The_Fixer

    There isn’t a sane one among them, it seems.

  • The_Fixer

    Well, that, too. But there’s always a religious motivation – the unwashed shall suffer. After all (and here’s Godwin’s Law at work), the Nazis believed that they were righteous that their God had blessed them specially, and endorsed all that they did.

  • Indigo

    I hadn’t really thought about that part of it but, now that you mention it, I can see Walker attempting to bring on Armageddon. He might succeed but I’m concerned that what he’d really do was bring Götterdamerung down on our heads.

  • Indigo

    I think Trump would be more entertaining.

  • emjayay

    Only a whole lot more dangerous. Meanwhile, Jeb!’s advisers are the old neocon crowd, so basically the same thing. All the R possibilities are either hard to imagine (Rand, Marco, Dr. Ben) or horrifying. Where is the new Nixon when we need him?

  • FLL

    McCain 2008, Romney 2012, Walker 2016… the Republicans have maintained a consistent obsession with starting a war with Iran. During the present campaign, Republican candidates are trying to discredit Obama’s peace deal with Iran, declaring that they will scrap it the moment they are elected to the presidency. I think the vast majority of Americans are repulsed by the thought of a cataclysmic war with the largest regional power in the Middle East, repulsed at the thought of massive casualties on both sides. Of course, there are a few who hope for disaster—either secretly or openly —and who would be snickering as the American servicemen start coming home in coffins.

  • The_Fixer

    It’s clear that Hermening has some, let’s say, “unresolved issues” from his time as a hostage in Iran. I think that’s understandable, but you’d think by now he would have had some time to address these issues.

    Another thing that is abundantly clear is that he has no business in any position of influence as it relates to policy, particularly foreign policy. His experience, and his inability to compartmentalize and come to terms with that experience, obviously makes him unable to see the big picture.

    The same can be said of his buddy Walker. He can’t see the big picture, and has no business being in a position of influence, let alone running the country and making foreign policy decisions. But of course, we knew that already and I didn’t need to point that out.

    I don’t believe for a second, in spite of his pretend throwing of Hermening under the bus, that this son-of-a-preacher-man is not anxious to bring on Armageddon. We need an adult in charge, not someone who childishly believes that we’d be so much better off if the worthy ones were whipped up into heaven via the rapture and the rest of us were left to duke it out among the smoldering, radioactive ruins of the world.

    The possibility of idiots like Walker running the country has to be swatted down like a bothersome fly.

  • 2karmanot

    We in these late great days of Empire, have embraced debt as asset, The Constitution as ‘that’ paper, Christianity as moral, and the depravity of Republicans as a viable political choice. Congratulations! The America Klown Kar mediocrity has become a national value of great consequence. If we thought lil Dub has a laughing stock can you just imagine Donald Trump of Walker in the While House?

  • Indigo

    Walker doesn’t strike me as the type who has a firm grasp on what a “foreign policy” might be or why he would bother with one. After all, he’s got unions to bust and universities to dismantle.

  • Torinir

    Hermening must be using Emperor Palpatine’s Guide to Diplomacy.

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