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Three Dangerous Speeches by McCain, Rice, and Ryan

The three main speeches tonight by McCain [1], Rice [2], and Ryan addressed foreign policy issues to different degrees. The substance of their foreign policy remarks was about as bad as could be expected. Through their presence on the convention stage and their speeches, McCain and Rice linked Romney and Ryan to Bush-like policies.

McCain relied on grossly exaggerating contemporary threats:

We are now being tested by an array of threats that are more complex, more numerous, and just as deeply and deadly as I can recall in my lifetime.

This is some of the basest and most misleading fear-mongering imaginable. Security threats to the U.S. are fewer and less dangerous than they have been in more than half a century. We all know that McCain is a hawkish interventionist who has rarely ever seen a conflict he didn’t think the U.S. should enter in one way or another, and by raising him up as one of the main speakers on the night dedicated to national security the Romney campaign indicated that it generally approves of McCain’s militarism. That is what we should have expected all along from Romney, and perhaps now we can start to set aside the feigned confusion about what Romney’s foreign policy will look like.

Among other things, McCain was agitating for U.S. involvement in Syria, and Rice took a more indirect route to hint that she favored a generally more activist U.S. abroad. She asked, “Where does America stand?” and she made it clear that she wants much more activism. As she said, “We cannot be reluctant to lead – and one cannot lead from behind.” Here as elsewhere, “leading” is synonymous with entangling the U.S. in other nations’ affairs. After spending most of the convention avoiding much discussion of foreign policy, the Romney campaign opted to promote the two people most closely identified with everything that was wrong with Bush’s foreign policy.

Not surprisingly, the one with the least experience, Ryan, had the least to say, and he kept his remarks as vague and brief as possible. He nonetheless managed to make an extraordinary statement that he should be required to explain. Ryan said that Romney would be “on the side” of every people that rises up against its government. Ryan’s exact words [3] were these:

Wherever men and women rise up for their own freedom, they will know that the American president is on their side.

It seems unlikely that Ryan really means this, because it would commit the U.S. to siding with popular uprisings all over the world. If Ryan is serious, this is not a workable or affordable policy. If being “on the side” of these uprisings just means that Romney will give them some rhetorical encouragement, we can dismiss this as bluster. Taken together with the remarks McCain and Rice delivered, I am not so sure that this is just an idle boast.

10 Comments (Open | Close)

10 Comments To "Three Dangerous Speeches by McCain, Rice, and Ryan"

#1 Comment By TycheSD On August 29, 2012 @ 11:47 pm

And Americans are tired of the U.S. intervening all over the world. It’s old just like that “ship sailing on yesterday’s wind” that Ryan talked about.

#2 Comment By cecelia On August 30, 2012 @ 1:59 am

Is Romney on the side of Americans who would rise up against their government? Idiotic statement on Ryan’s part.

#3 Comment By Leo On August 30, 2012 @ 6:54 am

To make these speeches beneath the deficit ticker may be particularly useful to a future Gibbons’ imagery. But hold on a little bit. Romney is going to win. The American people will not re-elect proven failure( I speculate) and Obama’s Imperialism-Lite foreign policy was mostly failed and wasteful. His watch in Afghanistan is a moral disgrace…”decent interval” anyone. It’s also been the same endless American scolding, except substitute “gay rights” for “abortion”. So, McCain is clearly insane and only a danger to his loved ones. Rice is Bush admin wash-out and not getting invited back to fail some more. And Ryan will be tied up with the extraordinary deficit. Three bad speeches on foreign policy that will be forgotten? I hope…

#4 Comment By CD File On August 30, 2012 @ 7:26 am

So Romney is going to back the popular uprising here?

#5 Comment By John E_o On August 30, 2012 @ 7:57 am

Aren’t the Taliban rising up for their own freedom? The Muslim Brotherhood also?

#6 Comment By Mark On August 30, 2012 @ 9:32 am

@ Leo 6:54am —

i submit, in the interests of objectivity, it’s more likely — about twice as likely — than not Obama will win. [4] may blog for the Times, but Nate Silver was harrowingly accurate in 2008 and his methodology is about as accurate a distillation of state and national polling data as can be managed. i followed Silver at Baseball Prospectus before he started modeling polling data, and he is rigorous and careful. if nothing big happens between here and November, it’s very probably four more years.

#7 Comment By The Dean On August 30, 2012 @ 9:48 am

Personally, I find it very interesting how these politicians are so brave with other American’s sons. You want to stop foreign intervention? Start the draft. You’ll see Washington DC go up in flames….literally!

#8 Comment By Andrew On August 30, 2012 @ 10:56 am

It has to be handed to McCain–the guy is a definition of consistency.(sarcasm)

Wherever men and women rise up for their own freedom, they will know that the American president is on their side.

This is so XXIV (or XXV, for that matter) Congress of CPSU, in fact, it is–I see no difference whatsoever!!!

#9 Comment By Seth Owen On August 30, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

“The American people will not re-elect proven failure … ” asserting a fact not in evidence. They managed to do that not so long ago, in 2004, in fact.

#10 Comment By Nathan On August 30, 2012 @ 1:31 pm

Well again take Ryan at word. If Ryan/Romney had been in power when you had a million people in the streets of Cairo seeking the removal of the kleptomaniac human rights violating Mubarak, a clear case of people rising up for their own freedom, then based a literal reading of Ryan’s line, Romney would have to be on the side of those protestors and throw America’s “trusted” ally under the camel regardless of the geopolitical consequences. In a similar situation is that what he’s REALLY going to do?