Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Paul Ryan should probably just shut up about foreign policy

By Michael J.W. Stickings

In addition to saying that the Middle East currently "reminds you of 1979 Tehran," which is ridiculous and indicative of a lack of perspective and historical understanding, Paul Ryan took a page out of Mitt's "No Apology" smear campaign and launched into President Obama's handling of foreign policy, saying that America is failing on the world stage:

We've lost four of our diplomats. And what is the signal that our government is sending the rest of the world? We're being equivocal on our values, we're being slow to speak up for individual rights, for human rights, for democracy. We're seeing countries stifle freedom in Iran, in Russia, and all these other areas. And we're saying we're going to gut our military -- that projects weakness.

Ryan's all over the place here, but let's trudge through the sludge:

First, yes, four diplomats were killed in Libya. That's terrible. But just like Romney, Ryan is trying to use that tragedy, the result of a complex, volatile situation, to score political points. It was shameful then, and it's shameful now.

Second, the message that President Obama sent in response was clear and decisive but also without the sort of ignorant, knee-jerk jingoism that characterizes Republican foreign policy these days. And, contrary to Romney's blatant dishonesty, no one, least of all the president, was apologizing for America.

Third, no one is "being equivocal on our values," and certainly not President Obama. But of course it depends what you mean by "our values." If you think it means pushing everyone around, threatening bloodshed, and demanding, like petulant children, that we get our way, America uber alles, then, fine, Romney and Ryan might well be to your liking. But if you think it means operating with responsibility and maturity in a leadership role in the global community, understanding the nuances and challenges of international crises and that reform takes time, that "our values" can't simply be imposed on everyone else at the end of gun, then you might fine Romney and Ryan to be a dangerously ignorant pair who would threaten peace and stability at every warmongering turn, in stark contrast to Obama and Biden, who both offer the sort of leadership that builds America's standing and credibility in the world, much to the benefit of "our values."

Fourth, the line about individual rights, human rights, and democracy might well have come from Bush's Second Inaugural. It meant nothing then and it means nothing now. Ryan's party has a terrible record on all three, violating individual rights at home (e.g., voter suppression), violating human rights everywhere (e.g., torture), and promoting democracy only when it suits them, which is doesn't now in the Middle East, and so Republicans are freaking out over the (relatively moderate) Muslim Brotherhood and longing for the return of fascist dictators like Mubarak, just like they support such dictators wherever they can serve as American puppets, no matter the brutality they unleash on their own people. Democracy promotion is far more complicated than just calling for it, and, again, Obama and Biden get it, Romney and Ryan obviously don't.

Fifth, yes, it's very troubling what's happening in places like Iran and Russia, but what are you going to do about it? Threatening to bomb Iran only strengthens the Iranian theocratic regime by ramping up anti-Americanism (and anti-Israeliism), and calling Russia America's #1 enemy, a throwback to the dark days of the Cold War, doesn't do anything to warm relations with Putin and encourage reform. The sort of global bullying Romney and Ryan stand for is not just counter-productive but dangerous.

Sixth, cutting some of the fat out of the military isn't the same as gutting it. And while Ryan may think that Obama is projecting weakness, pursuing diplomatic solutions instead of just saber-rattling isn't a sign of weakness but an expression of leadership. And I'm not sure how killing Osama bin Laden and waging a massive drone campaign to take out al Qaeda, Taliban, and other anti-American leadership is weakness. One can criticize that campaign on any number of grounds (international law, human rights, etc.), but the projection of weakness is not one of them.

I've written a number of times recently that the new narrative for Romney is "unqualified, unprepared, and unfit for the presidency." The same applies to Ryan. He's obviously not vice presidential material. Conservatives think he's their wunderkind, but he's just too stupid for the job.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share


  • Ryan should stop talking about anything at all. He could just bring his mom to events and have her talk, "My son won't end Medicare. See how nice he is to me?"

    When speaking about foreign affairs, he strikes me as especially young and, as you say, stupid. I don't like to say that but there isn't much there there.

    How was this guy was ever considered serious at anything at all? He is a straight up Movement Conservative. And frankly, that's all he is.

    By Anonymous Frankly Curious, at 11:05 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home