On Wednesday I wrote about how Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), does not adhere to his supposed limited government principles when it comes to civil liberties and social issues. But there is another major policy area in which Ryan is a doctrinaire Republican rather than a libertarian: foreign policy and national security. Ryan is a full supporter of interventionist, imperialist foreign policies and the national security state’s encroachments on individual liberty.
Ryan subscribes to extreme, cruel-hearted economic theories, but he is no Ron Paul Republican. Neoconservatives are rejoicing over his selection as Mitt Romney’s running mate. Neocon weathervane William Kristol of The Weekly Standard wrote that Ryan’s selection reminded him of John F. Kennedy’s famous inspirational inaugural address. His colleagues at The Weekly Standard have lavished slobbering coverage on Ryan, calling him “the ideal running mate,” and fawning over his “electric campaign appearences [sic].” They’ve even praised his ability to catch a baseball and earnestly reported that the current president of his former college fraternity says they are “good guys, fun guys.”
Ryan is a hawk’s hawk. As Eli Lake reports on The Daily Beast, “The selection of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s choice for vice president tilts the ticket closer to the neoconservatives on key questions about America’s role in the world and the size of the military. In recent months, Ryan has been receiving briefings from Elliott Abrams, George W. Bush’s former Middle East director at the National Security Council, and Fred Kagan, one of the architects of the military surges in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
It should come as no surprise that Ryan would turn to the war-mongers behind Bush’s foreign policy. As Daniel Larison demonstrates in The Week, Ryan’s views are basically identical to Bush’s: he supported the Iraq War and every extension of the occupation and he expresses no misgivings about its failures, or the thousands of lives lost due to lies about nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.
Even Ryan’s supposed great passion, reducing the size of government, takes a back seat to enlarging the military industrial complex. Like most of his co-partisans in Congress, Ryan has duplicitously and hypocritically decided that the very same defense cuts he agreed to as part of a deal to reduce the deficit while raising the debt ceiling are now unacceptable. And Ryan’s 2011 budget actually proposed to increase defense spending. Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign and defense policy at the American Enterprise Institute, summarized Ryan’s more-guns-no-butter priorities in an interview with Lake: “Unlike a lot of fiscal conservatives, one of the great things about Paul Ryan is he is not omni-directionally a budget cutter,” said Pletka. “He understands the primary role of the federal government is the national defense and not the handing out of food stamps.” Pletka articulates exactly the myopia of Ryan’s ideology: that feeding hungry children is completely unrelated to, even at odds with, national defense. Apparently they’ve never bothered to ask whether the nation might need well-nourished teenagers when it goes to war.