I discuss Paul Ryan’s foreign policy in a bit more detail in my new column for The Week. Here’s an excerpt:
Three years ago, Ryan derided Obama’s foreign policy as “Nixonian” for its perceived indifference to human rights abroad, as if it were an insult to be compared to one of the more successful Republican foreign policy records of the postwar period. Ryan is most exercised by what he perceives to be the “moral relativism” of skeptics and realists counseling a less ideological and intrusive foreign policy for the U.S., and he normally criticizes diplomatic engagement as useless. In late 2009, he jumped on the opportunity to attack the burgeoning — and modestly successful — improvement in relations with Russia as “appeasement,” which suggests that Ryan sees no benefit in more constructive relations with other major powers, a belief he shares with his running mate.
During a 2009 speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, referring to the principles of “God-given natural rights, equality, liberty, opportunity, and popular consent,” he noted that, “it is always in the interest of the United States to promote these principles in other nations.” While this might be an admirable sentiment, there are trade-offs between U.S. interests and the promotion of our political principles in other countries. Pretending that this isn’t so simply ignores the tensions between the two ideas rather than trying to find the appropriate balance between them.