CHARLESTON, South Carolina -- Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker says the United States would aggressively confront what he describes as "radical Islamic terrorism" should he be elected.
The Wisconsin governor laid out his foreign policy agenda Friday, August 28th in a speech at The Citadel, a military college in Charleston, South Carolina.
The state hosts the South's first presidential primary next February, soon after Iowa and New Hampshire lead off the nominating contests.
In the speech, Walker accused President Barack Obama of making Americans "passive spectators while the world descends into chaos."
He also repeated his opposition to Obama's proposed nuclear agreement with Iran.
The speech does not detail whether Walker wants to commit more American ground troops to the Middle East.
NOTE: The entire text of Scott Walker's speech is posted below
"It’s a great honor to be with you – the cadets of The Citadel. Thank you. And thank you to The Citadel Republican Society for your help.
The United States faces some serious threats in the world today. There are some who would question whether our leaders are capable of rising to the challenges of our time and whether our country is capable of continued greatness. They suggest that our best days may have already come and gone.
I do not share that view of America. You see the greatness of America is certainly not determined by the politicians in Washington who merely follow while others lead, or spend all of their days discussing a problem but never acting.
The future leaders of this exceptional country are sitting in this room - and in similar places across America. Those of you who will join the military, like others on the front lines today, at their posts around the world and across our services, you are modern day patriots.
You will be sworn to defend our Constitution and keep danger from our shores. Willing to risk your lives for liberty, you will lead others into the maelstrom as they risk theirs.
You will not sign up to be nation builders or diplomatic pawns. You will be warriors for freedom. America need not fear when the select of the Corps of Cadets reports for duty.
When many of you take that oath, you will be making a solemn promise to the people of the United States of America. So today I will make one to you: If elected president I will send you into battle when, and only when, our national security is at risk, and I will send you with a plan for victory. If I have the honor of serving as your Commander in Chief: our forces will be strong, our weapons will be modern and America will be unintimidated.
Today, however, I have a simple question: Are we safer now than we were seven years ago?
Anyone who believes the answer to that question is yes should vote for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Sadly, I believe the answer is no, America is not safer. Since Secretary Clinton took charge of our nation’s diplomacy, we’ve abandoned American leadership in the world, forgotten that America is an exceptional country, and lost faith in America’s ability to influence world events.
The results speak for themselves.
Hillary Clinton tried to appease Vladimir Putin with a “reset” button.Sensing weakness, Putin today is redrawing the map of Europe with loaded guns. He is dismembering Ukraine, trying to destroy NATO, and threatening to use nuclear weapons.
Hillary Clinton announced a “pivot” to Asia that proved hollow and she downplayed China’s abysmal human rights record. This is the result: the Chinese are aggressively expanding their territory, building islands for military bases in the South China Sea.
Beijing conducts massive cyberattacks against the United States – stealing classified military data, stealing the personal information of millions of Americans, and stealing billions of dollars in intellectual property.
Sadly there is more. Hillary Clinton pushed for the war in Libya. Then she stood by the caskets of Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, (she stood by their caskets) looked into the eyes of their parents and pointed to a YouTube video she knew was not the cause of their deaths in Benghazi. Outrageous.
Today, Libya is officially a terrorist safe haven.
We continue to deal with these and other disastrous consequences of her decisions as Secretary of State. Everywhere in the world Hillary Clinton has touched is more messed up now than before she and the President took office.
Earlier this year, the Director of National Intelligence testified before Congress that 2014 was the most lethal year for terrorism in the 45 years they have collected data. The Obama/Clinton foreign policy of leading from behind is not 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.
You get fired.
Political rhetoric will not keep us safe. We’ve had enough of a President who proclaims that the greatest threat to future generations is climate change.
America can and must do better.
At the very least, you deserve a commander-in-chief who tells you the truth.
And here it is: we are at war with radical Islamic terrorism. It will not go away over night. This is a generational struggle. And these radical groups will continue to grow if we do not destroy them.
Yes, the world is complex, but some things are simple: there is good and there is evil.
America is a force for good in the world. Radical Islamic terrorists are agents of pure evil.
Next week is the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.
As we look back, this should remind us of our role as Americans, of our history of being called upon at times to confront fanatical evil.
Consider ISIS, the best-armed and best-funded terrorist organization in the world. It has carved out a caliphate and built a terrorist army in the heart of the Middle East. Each day it grows stronger, attracting tens of thousands of foreign fighters and jihadists from all over the world.
ISIS enslaves Christian minorities, targets the Jewish people and burns innocent Muslim victims alive in cages. ISIS militants rape girls as young as nine and sell women into sex slavery. The human toll of these evil, unthinkable actions is immeasurable.
Hearing gut-wrenching stories of Americans held hostage, tortured, raped and executed by these radicals makes my blood boil. By the grace of God, and by the strength of men and women like you, America can and will defeat this threat and eradicate this evil.
ISIS is a radical perversion of Sunni Islam, but there is another face of Islamic extremism, and that is the Shiite regime in Iran.
Today, the Islamic Republic of Iran remains the world’s leading state-sponsor of terrorism. Iran is not a country we should be doing business with.
I still remember tying ribbons with my brother around the tree in front our house during the 444 days Iran held 52 Americans hostage. Iran has not changed very much during the past three and a half decades. Even as we speak, Iran is holding four other Americans.
Tomorrow marks the fourth anniversary of the capture of former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati. I met with Amir’s family in Michigan and heard the anguishing story of a son and brother held captive.
It is a stain on our nation’s honor that our countrymen languish in Iranian prisons while we are freeing up billions of dollars for the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism and legitimizing its massive nuclear program.
It’s not just the hostages whom President Obama has abandoned in this deal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is right when he says the deal “puts us all in danger.” Iran will expand its destructive influence in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon, and increase support to proxies like Hamas and Hezbollah, which strive to destroy Israel.
Confronted by these two forms of evil, President Obama and Hillary Clinton seem to believe they can sit on the sidelines, hoping Iran will defeat ISIS for them. They fail to realize that, in the prevailing anarchy, the two sides feed off of each other, growing stronger at the expense of our Sunni and Shia allies trapped in the middle.
Over the last seven years, we have seen far too much of this delusion and wishful thinking. To believe that a stable and lasting Middle East can be built by working with Iran, any more than by working with ISIS, isn’t statesmanship. It’s pure fantasy.
The threat from radical Islamic terrorism is real and it is not limited to the Middle East. We have already seen traces of it on American soil in the attacks on Fort Hood, Boston, and Chattanooga.
I have a plan to keep our children and grandchildren safe from the threats of radical Islamic terrorism.
First, we need to secure our homeland. To do that we need to admit that our southern border is riddled with holes.
Islamic extremists and other terrorists are most likely using the same trails into our homeland as the drug cartels, weapons smugglers and human traffickers.
We must secure the border at any cost.
In addition, we must provide the personnel and technology to maintain it. But there is still more.
The FBI is investigating ISIS in all 50 states. We need to restore counterterrorism and surveillance programs, invest heavily into cyber tools and improve intelligence and law enforcement cooperation to catch terrorists before they strike.
Next, we must fight terrorists abroad before they come to America. Since many of you cadets will be part of that fight, I want to assure you that we will fight to win.
Far from beating ISIS, President Obama is barely disrupting it. His actual goal is to contain ISIS until he leaves office, all the while accommodating Iran. My goals will be to defeat ISIS and rollback Iran’s influence in the region.
These strategic objectives will guide our military commanders, but let me be clear: defeating ISIS and rolling back Iran will require a greater investment of U.S. resources. Sternly-worded tweets and isolated air strikes will not destroy this enemy.
As we learned in the surge, embedded American advisors are key to training and motivating Iraqi, Sunni tribal, and Kurdish allies. They can provide good intelligence, logistical resources, and call in close air support to direct devastating strikes that will bolster our partners on the ground.
Today, however, the Administration is tying up our troops with political restrictions, preventing them from doing what is necessary to defeat ISIS. These restrictions must be lifted immediately and all options should remain on the table.
We need to stop micromanaging the military and broadcasting our limits to our enemies.
As Commander-in-Chief, I will make decisions that are in the best interest of our national security. I will make these decisions based on sound military counsel – rather than political or bureaucratic advice.
It was a political decision for the president to back away from his red line. And as long as ISIS has a safe haven in Syria, it will continue to be a powerful force in Iraq. Because the administration ran away from its red line, Syria’s tyrant Assad remains in power and is a magnet for radical Islamic terrorism. No strategy to defeat ISIS can succeed while 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. 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. 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.
Which brings me to the next step for defeating radical Islamic terrorism. We need to stand with our friends. There is a reason why the President of the United States is referred to as the leader of the free world. Our allies are among our greatest source of strength. As Winston Churchill once said, “there is only one thing worse than fighting with allies, and that is fighting without them.” Adding the support from our allies strengthens our position.
To defeat radical Islamic terrorism, we need to restore frayed alliances across the Middle East. Our traditional allies—Israel and the Sunni Arab states—are divided on many issues. But one thread unites them all, the threat from Iran and its proxies.
For starters I will restore our alliance with Israel, the shining example of democracy in the Middle East. There should be no daylight between our two countries.
In contrast, White House officials insult the Prime Minister of Israel. Sadly, they never seem to criticize the Iranian Supreme Leader and the Revolutionary Guard commanders who have oppressed the people of Iran and helped kill thousands of our soldiers in Iraq.
In fact, President Obama recently compared critics of his deal to these murderers. This is disgraceful. It ignores the very real opposition to the deal with Iran from people around our country and across party lines.
Hillary Clinton was instrumental in launching the administration’s short-sighted overtures to Iran and now she strongly supports this bad deal. Her disregard for Top Secret, classified and sensitive information on her email server shows that she cannot be trusted as commander-in-chief. Her support for the Iran deal shows she cannot be trusted to support Israel.
If this deal goes forward, it will be remembered as one of the greatest foreign policy failures in U.S. history. So let me be clear, if Congress fails to stop the nuclear deal, I will terminate it on Day One.
Then, I will immediately re-impose sanctions against Iran and work with Congress to impose even more crippling sanctions. Unlike others, I don’t need months or years to mull this over. I don’t need to appoint a cabinet or consult a committee. Anybody who doesn’t know today the Iran deal is a bad deal is not ready to be commander-in-chief. I am ready to be the commander-in-chief on Day One.
I will also work to convince our allies to follow my lead on Iran. So we are clear, I have no illusions that this will be easy, but when did America shrink from the big challenges? I reject the Obama-Clinton false choice between this bad deal and another war. I vow to turn up pressure across the board on Iran. I refuse to live with a deal that threatens our safety and that of our closest allies.
Iran’s nuclear program is part of it’s broader effort to dominate the region threatening our Sunni Arab allies. Once we show them we’re committed to rolling back the power and influence of Iran, it will encourage our allies to join in our efforts against ISIS.
President Obama and Hillary Clinton refused to support those inside Iran who spoke out about the oppression of the regime, worrying it would undermine their outreach to the Supreme Leader. This is wrong. America must always be a bright and steady beacon of hope for freedom.
Next, defeating ISIS and rolling back Iran will require us to rebuild and reform the tools of American power. Many of you cadets will enter a military that has been decimated by politicians. Shockingly, the finest military force ever assembled is being dismantled at a time when the threats to the United States are growing everywhere.
As an American, this angers me. Not just as a candidate for President, but as an American. Many of you are getting ready to put your lives on the line for us. You deserve better. As Commander-in-Chief, I will make sure you have the resources you need to keep us safe from enemies foreign and domestic And I will make certain that you are armed on American soil so you and other service members are safe here too.
A strong military is important not because we want to fight, but so we don’t have to. When President Ronald Reagan rebuilt our Armed Forces, it led to one of the most peaceful times in modern American history. Our enemies feared us not because we were eager to go into battle, but because they knew we could – and we would if it were necessary to protect our national security interests.
President Reagan believed in achieving peace through strength. I do too, and I will follow his example.
The policy of a Walker administration will be to confront radical Islamic terrorism using the full range of statecraft options. We must give our intelligence professionals the legal and constitutional tools they need to keep us safe.
We must use economic instruments to deny ISIS and Iran the money they need to fund their acts of terror. And we must identify and speak out against radical forms of Islam that incite it.
We cannot afford to lose the fight against radical Islamic terrorism. The rest of the world is watching how we confront the challenge of the Middle East. How can we deter our sophisticated adversaries in Eastern Europe and competitors in the South China Sea if we cannot defeat the barbarians of ISIS and roll back the theocrats in Tehran?
Clearly, we can no longer afford to be passive spectators while the world descends into chaos.
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.
As President, I will send the following message: the retreat is over. American leadership is back and, together with our allies, we will not surrender another inch of ground to terrorists or any other power that threatens our safety.
America will not be intimidated. And neither will I.
America must be, not only the land of the free, but the home of the brave. An America that is unintimidated.
Thank you. God bless you. May God bless our men and women in uniform. And may God continue to bless the United States of America."
Mordecai Lee, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee says Walker is trying to walk the line of being and sounding tough, while also laying out a way to govern, should he win the presidency.
"What I think Governor Walker was trying to do was, he was trying to convey principles and philosophy even though principles and philosophy aren't very sexy when it comes to campaigning and so he had to marry that along with sort of bumper sticker slogans. I think what we should do is not focus exclusively on the substance in the sense of here's specifically what he'd do about ISIS, but rather to focus on what is his general philosophy about foreign policy -- what is his general orientation," Lee said.