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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