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Ryan Rejects ‘Neocon’ Label, But Keeps Hardline Foreign Policy

John Hudson reports on Paul Ryan’s recent foreign policy remarks:

When asked to elaborate on his own foreign policy doctrine, Ryan pointed to a speech he gave to the Alexander Hamilton Society in 2011 warning about the dangers of a “world without U.S. leadership.” The address was originally plucked from obscurity when the Wall Street Journal’s hawkish columnist Bret Stephens heralded it as a masterful “neocon manifesto.” But on Thursday, Ryan made clear the neoconservative banner is not something he’d like to fly behind.

“Now neocon is singularly seen as AEI or whatever,” he said, referring to the American Enterprise Institute. “We have to be realistic about how far those values can be pushed and asserted on a case by case basis and we have to be realistic about our expectations of the promotion of those values.”

It’s interesting that Ryan doesn’t want to be considered a neoconservative, but considering how awful his foreign policyviewshave beenin the past I’m not sure how much it matters. Ryan is still preoccupied with the importance of U.S. “leadership” in the world, he echoes hawkish boilerplate lamenting that Obama has “chosen” American decline, and he has predictably denounced diplomatic engagement as “appeasement.” Ryan may not be a neoconservative, but he’s still a reliable hard-liner on most foreign policy issues.

I wrote a column on Ryan’s foreign policy views when he was named to the Republican ticket four years ago, and I think the conclusion still holds up:

Ryan gives every indication that he favors exporting our political principles abroad and using strongly moralizing rhetoric to berate other governments that reject them. Yet Ryan seems remarkably uninterested in funding diplomacy and development aid, and seems to conceive of U.S. power abroad mostly in terms of military strength. On foreign policy, Paul Ryan truly is a product of the era of George W. Bush.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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