GOP presidential hopeful Scott Walker said Friday the United States is at war with radical Islam, calling it a “generational struggle” while vowing to defeat the Islamic State and curb Iran’s influence in the world. The Wisconsin governor sought to convince voters that he has the national security chops to serve as the next commander-in-chief.
Speaking at the Citadel in South Carolina, Mr. Walker said he shares former President Ronald Reagan’s goal of achieving “peace through strength” and said that confronting the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, and preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb are key to keeping the nation safe.
“But let me be clear: Defeating ISIS and rolling back Iran will require a greater investment of U.S. resources,” he said, before taking a shot at the Obama administration. “Sternly worded tweets and isolated airstrikes will not destroy this enemy.”
He said the Islamic State will not be defeated as long as Syrian President Bashar Assad “is still in power and Iran, his patron, has a base of operations in Damascus. “
“Therefore, we must do more to recruit and support fighters in Syria who oppose both ISIS and Assad,” he said.
“The Obama administration has only trained about 60 fighters — that is not going to cut it. A no-fly zone enforced by America and its allies would dramatically enhance this campaign on the ground,” he said. “Our efforts in Syria and Iraq must be part of a broader, U.S.-led, regional coalition, with real buy-in and iron-clad guarantees from our allies that they will help us shoulder the burden.”
Polling shows that Mr. Walker’s star is fading in the GOP nomination race. He is now running sixth nationally and third in Iowa, which kicks off the race with the caucus and is seen as crucial to his chances of capturing the nomination.
Mr. Walker has made the case that the leadership he showed in Wisconsin — including during his showdown with labor unions over collective bargaining rights — would carry over to his decision-making on the foreign policy front.
“With all of the challenges we face around the globe today, now is not the time for untested leadership. I have been tested like no other candidate in this race,” he said Friday.
Mr. Walker said that the United States could win the support of Sunni Arab states in their quest to defeat ISIS by pushing back against Iran.
On his first day in office, Mr. Walker promised to “terminate” the nuclear deal that the United States — along with the the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany — has agreed to with Iran that eases economic sanctions in exchange for limiting the scope of the Persian nation’s nuclear program.
“Then, I will immediately reimpose sanctions against Iran and work with Congress to impose even more crippling sanctions,” he said.
Mr. Walker said the nation must strengthen border security to prevent Islamic militants from entering the country undetected.
He also rehashed familiar GOP attacks against Mr. Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, blaming them for weakening the United States by “leading from behind” on global issues.
He said they bungled the response to Russia’s meddling in Ukraine, as well as China’s expansion in the South China Sea.
Mr. Walker said Libya is now a “safe haven” for terrorists and criticized the way Mrs. Clinton handled the attacks of diplomatic posts in Benghazi that led to the death of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans
“Everywhere in the world that Hillary Clinton has touched is more messed up now than before she and the president took office,” he said. “The Obama/Clinton foreign policy of leading from behind is now working — and we’re heading toward a disaster.”
“In the real world — the world outside Washington — when you fail at one job you don’t get promoted to another,” he said, alluding to Mrs. Clinton, the front-runner of the Democratic presidential nomination.