Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Belligerent Ignorance

In an interview last week Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, who is actually leading some early polls of Republican primary voters, was asked in an interview last week how America should act in Syria. He said:
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.
The problem here is that 1) Walker is completely ignorant of the subject, and 2) his default response is "be more aggressive." What recent U.S. president does this remind you of?

As Daniel Larison explains:
If a governor understandably knows little about foreign policy because it is not relevant to his current job, and if he has given little thought to the issues at hand, it is even more irresponsible for him to support aggressive action. Ignorance would be bad enough, but in Walker’s remarks we have the marriage of ignorance with the willingness to escalate a foreign war. Walker won’t rule anything out because he hasn’t thought through his position, but the default position for someone who has given so little thought to the matter should be one of much greater caution.
Just what America needs, more belligerent ignorance.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

Now here's an actual case of a politician caring about swaying voters, rather than simply paying out pork or turning in owed favors.

The average voter is essentially clueless about ISIS, only really knowing that A) they're Islamic and B) they're Terrorists. In the minds of Joe and Jane Taxpayer, that means the American government "should do something" about ISIS.

In comes Mr. Walker to prey upon the ignorance of the masses.

First, when asked about a single specific concern, he expands his response to cover an entire hypothetical category of vague potential concerns across the whole global. Ya know, just in case things don't play out the way we think with ISIS specifically, we've got our bases covered.

Second, in the very same breath he drums up fear by stating - with zero real knowledge, evidence, or expertise on the matter - that an attack in not only absolutely inevitable, but immediately imminent.

Third, he employs the classic tactic of making backhanded statements about a need for leadership and for clarity of message, indirectly implying that the current administration is lacking in such and that his administration could provide it.

Fourth, again expanding the scope of the topic to cover all bases, this time invoking "our allies". It's a clever double effect - it creates a sense that our allies are somehow obligated to help us (remember when "French Fries" became "Freedom Fries" for a while when the French weren't on board with our military agenda?), and it also gives us a potential excuse to meddle in our allies' affairs in the future. Once again, just in case things don't play out the way we think with ISIS specifically.

Fifth, make a decisive sounding but safely hedged statement of determination and gumption. "We're willing to take action! But uh... appropriate... action! Whatever that might end up being. And I think we should take surgical action! Because that's both decisively aggresive and safely restrained at the same time! And it's also still entirely vague, and could end up being essentially anything at all! And I expressed that as my personal opinion, which means whether we do something or not, and whether it works or not, I can either take the credit or blame others for disagreeing with me accordingly! Or even change my mind entirely later!"