Paul Ryan tells Mark Levin that he is unhappy with international law:
The Obama foreign policy is to subjugate ourselves to the United Nations, which gives Russia and China a veto power at the Security Council. So we are giving these two countries you mentioned — these two powers who do not share our values — undue, needless unnecessary clout because we’re running everything through the security council.
This may make for an audience-pleasing line on a talk radio show, but it isn’t much of an answer. As a description of what Obama has done, it isn’t all that accurate. Except for diplomatic efforts related to Libya and Syria, the U.S. under Obama has done very little through the Security Council. Russia and China have used their veto power on Syria resolutions, but they haven’t been using them otherwise. As a criticism, this is entirely procedural, unless Ryan wants to argue that going through the Security Council is preventing the U.S. from taking some action that he favors. Ryan seems to be implying that the U.S. ought to be doing something that it isn’t doing now, and the only place where this complaint is relevant is Syria, but he isn’t willing to say that he wants the U.S. to become more involved in Syria.
That’s politically smart, since two-thirds of Americans don’t want greater U.S. involvement in Syria, but it renders Ryan’s criticism meaningless. Are Americans supposed to be upset that Russia and China are opposing actions that the American public doesn’t want the U.S. to take? Are Americans supposed to be unhappy that the U.S. is respecting international law? Are they supposed to view Obama as a failure because he isn’t going out of his way to intervene in a foreign conflict in which the U.S. has nothing at stake? No, they aren’t. That raises another question: what is the point of making this one of his main objections to Obama’s record?
Update: As James Lamond pointed out earlier this week, Ryan recently said a lot of nonsensical things about the “reset” in an interview with Carl Cameron:
There may be no criticism of the “reset” more mindless than the one Ryan makes. It requires ignoring the wreckage of U.S.-Russian relations in the Bush era and their subsequent improvement since 2009. Ryan pretends that Russian opposition to intervention in Syria is proof of the “weakness” of the U.S.-Russian relationship, when Russia was always very likely to oppose any outside intervention in Syria’s conflict. If the U.S. had been as antagonistic towards Russia since 2009 as Romney and Ryan would have preferred, the bilateral relationship would be in shambles. Ryan’s incoherence on Russia policy is a function of wanting to have things both ways. He would evidently like to have a needlessly confrontational policy towards Russia, but somehow not have any of the negative consequences that would necessarily follow from such a policy.