Paul Ryan indulges reckless clients and grossly inflates threats all in one speech:
“We are focused on the Iranian threat. This is existential threat to you, this is an existential threat to Saudi Arabia [bold mine-DL]. And I want you to know that we see this issue the same way you do,” the top Republican in the US House of Representatives said.
It isn’t news that the Republican leadership in Congress shamelessly panders to the Saudis and our other Gulf clients. This is the same leadership that torpedoed H. Con. Res. 81 that would have put U.S. involvement in the war on Yemen to a vote and possibly forced an end to U.S. support, so I am not surprised by Ryan’s obsequiousness here. I was nonetheless struck by the absurdity of describing Iran as an “existential threat” to the Gulf states. This not only greatly exaggerates Iran’s capabilities, but it encourages the paranoia of the Saudi and Emirati governments whose destabilizing behavior in recent years has only grown worse.
As long top American officials continue to propagandize on behalf of these clients and exaggerate the size and nature of the threat from Iran, those governments will understandably assume that they have carte blanche to do whatever they like in the name of “countering” the threat that our officials blow out of proportion. Ryan is still a novice on foreign policy whose grasp on these issues is unsurprisingly poor, but because of his position his words give encouragement to reckless clients to continue the destructive and dangerous policies that have already caused immense suffering in several countries. His speech also feeds into the constant exaggeration of foreign threats that distorts and plagues our foreign policy debates.