Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Speech of a Future President?

Paul Ryan spoke to the Hamilton Society this week--a group of foreign policy experts.  Not generally considered to be Ryan's territory, he delivered up this wonderfully framed speech.  It is worth reading--all of it.

I would like to see Ryan get in the race.  He's so closely associated with GOP prescriptions for improvement that his forceful advocacy thereof on the Presidential stump would be a natural.  But I doubt he will.

Someday, however, he will be our President.


"The Hammer" said...

I personally think he's Reagan's love child. And if he ain't he oughtta be.

PK said...

That "someday" can't get here soon enough!

Sally said...

I really hope he does not get in the race. We're all so (rightly) besotted with the guy but he could lose and be forever tarnished. He's much more valuable where he is.

Mudge said...

Without question we need more like him. If the voters of Wisconsin ever go completely out of their minds and eject him as their representative, I invite him to move to Virginia and become one of our Senators.

Bryan said...

I agree it was a good speech, but not any more insightful than others I have heard from other talented legislators like Mike Pence, Mac Thornberry, or Mike Crapo. Ryan was spot on regarding the importance of our economy to our national power and security and the challenges China faces in a similar vein. I think his comparison of the U.S. to Britain, though, is flawed. Friedberg’s assessment that Britain chose to cede leadership to the U.S. before WWI is an outlying view among historians and doesn’t seem to be supported by the facts, which indicate Britain ceded leadership after its disastrous experience in WW I and the depression. A more apt comparison may be Britain post-WW I and how the legacy of Iraq and Afghanistan challenge America’s ability to maintain its leadership role.

Ryan’s statements on America pursuing its principles also seemed muddied and partisan. America has always accepted that its principles were aspirational. Today we accept infringements on our freedom that Hamilton might accept, but Jefferson would not. The constitution itself accepted slavery and limited suffrage because it was politically necessary to allow progress in line with the nation’s principles of freedom and democracy. Similarly, we accept Saudi Arabia’s slow pace of reform because they are making progress and instability would be worse than that progress. Ryan chooses to criticize the current Administration because they walked that line different than he would in the context of the “Arab Spring.” This seems a little partisan and disingenuous.

Lastly, regarding our allies, Ryan would have us maintain a leadership role while simultaneously shifting more burden to them. This sounds good in theory and rhetoric, but as we saw in the Libya campaign it is messy in practice. The allies won’t initiate action on their own and if America does so the allies will quickly dissipate to only a token contribution. The only way to get allies to stay with an operation is for them to nominally “lead” it, but this also means America gets criticized for taking a back seat to Europe.

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