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  • Rep. Paul Ryan: America Exceptional at Home and Abroad

    Paul Ryan (R-WI), the champion of necessary but unpopular fiscal reform, spoke this month about America’s exceptional political ideas and how they should be reflected in our foreign policy. In so doing he rejected isolationism and reinforced the Founders’ commitment to making America an indispensable nation for the cause of freedom, by maintaining American independence abroad.

    “America is an idea,” he said. “And it was the first nation founded as such. The idea is rather simple. Our rights come to us from God and nature. They occur naturally, before government.” For Ryan, this understanding has necessary implications for U.S. foreign policy, but must be guided by prudence:

    Now, if you believe these rights are universal human rights, then that clearly forms the basis of your views on foreign policy. It leads you to reject moral relativism. It causes you to recoil at the idea of persistent moral indifference toward any nation that stifles and denies liberty, no matter how friendly and accommodating its rulers are to American interests.

    This raises an important question: What do we do when our principles are in conflict with our interests? How do we resolve the tension between morality and reality?

    According to some, we will never be able to resolve this tension, and we must occasionally suspend our principles in pursuit of our interests. I don’t see it that way. We have to be consistent and clear in the promotion of our principles, while recognizing that different situations will require different tools for achieving that end.”

    He went on to reject the notion of isolationism:

    Today, some in this country relish the idea of America’s retreat from our role in the world. They say that it’s about time for other nations to take over; that we should turn inward; that we should reduce ourselves to membership on a long list of mediocre has-beens.

    This view applies moral relativism on a global scale. Western civilization and its founding moral principles might be good for the West, but who are we to suggest that other systems are any worse? – or so the thinking goes.

    Instead of heeding these calls to surrender, we must renew our commitment to the idea that America is the greatest force for human freedom the world has ever seen; a country whose devotion to free enterprise has lifted more people out of poverty than any economic system ever designed; and a nation whose best days still lie ahead of us, if we make the necessary choices today.”

    Congressman Ryan’s remarks reveal statesmanship and principled leadership, which are sorely lacking in today’s foreign policy debates. The full text of the speech is available here.

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to Rep. Paul Ryan: America Exceptional at Home and Abroad

    1. chris says:

      I disagree with the articles characterization that his fiscal reform is unpopular. That is the media's characterization. I believe our country is hungry for Paul Ryan's type of leadership. If he were to run for president the american people would support him.

    2. George Colgrove, VA says:

      "Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the champion of necessary but unpopular fiscal reform." Reform that will put America deeper into debt by $1 trillion in FY12.

      As for what Ryan said in the quotes. It all sounds good. However where is the money to back up those statements? I see that we need to have an international role. I wont debate that. But where are the dollars?

      What about this article?


      We need to be careful about grandiose statements when we do not have any backup for it. The world is in chaos because rouge nations know we do not have the financial might for the fight. They see us as a nation who fails to make the hard choices even in our own federal buildings. We are weak, not in military might, but financially as well as in moral leadership and honesty in DC. Everyone, even Ryan lacks the fortitude to be honest with America about where we are going. Everyone lacks the strength to do what is necessary to get DC under control.

      Ryan is very good with words. We all feel good drinking his Kool-Aid. But in the end, look at the numbers. His FY2012 budget is only $200 billion less than Obama's AND will put is in debt by another trillion dollars if all goes well. I am not interested in his 10-year plan. We are currently engaged in numerous 10-year plans that have failed or are failing. A 10-year plan is what placates us into accepting high current spending. Then when "conditions change,” we get hammered with continual high deficit spending and another 10-year plan – which is why we are where we are!

      If Ryan really wanted to be courageous, then he would take the lead in reducing the size and scope and ultimately the cost of government today. He would use his wonderful words and poise to:

      - start his initial proposed set of cuts totaling $300 billion or rather the Heritage Foundation’s $300 billion cuts;

      - he would cut out the GAO exposed $100 billion in annual waste;

      - he would address the $100 billion in Defense Department waste as exposed by the Heritage Foundation;

      - he would look at the work the Cato Institute has done in exposing much more waste in the defense budget;

      - he would start work equalizing the federal workforces extremely high pay and benefits to be equal to the people they derive their incomes from (the private sector);

      - he would take on government unions;

      - he would go much further in healthcare reform by removing the federal government in its entirety from the industry.

      - There are billions that can be cut by consolidation of similar programs throughout the government.

      This all can be done now – just by doing what he does well – intelligently articulate the severity of the times and how the solutions will counter the dire consequences of not doing something.

      Ryan can do a lot in the next four months to get FY12 prepared for a balanced budget. That would be American Exceptionalism. What we are doing now – sorry – it does not rise up to that. We are in debt by $14.3 trillion. We added $1.5 trillion this year and we are planning to add another trillion next year (not including unpaid debt service). We have unfunded obligations of $61 trillion. We are in 3 unfunded wars and shopping around for new ones. How is this exceptional?

    3. Roger, Boise Idaho says:

      @ George- Ryan has taken the lead in trying to reduce the size and scope of government. His plan that was passed by congress and failed in the senate was just such a plan. Many say that his plan is not aggressive enough, and I heard him, in an interview, agree to that statement. He said that it was what they could get with current members of congress.

      So point all your concern at the extreme lack of leadership in the senate and in the white house who refuse to address our budget crisis and want to delay it until after the 2012 elections.

      Also- stating that America should be a leader in promoting freedom in the world does not equate to shopping around for new wars. That is a silly leap in logic…

    4. George Colgrove, VA says:

      @ Roger –

      Ryan has been out front discussing the deficit/national debt problem. I give him kudos for that. I also give him kudos as well as the Heritage Foundation for at least coming up with a plan to balance the budget in 10 years! Since no one else is doing any better, then I guess we all can collectively say OK – lets go for it. It is better than NOTHING! But I apologize, I just feel like it is so far off the mark. In negotiating a price for a used car, I feel if Obama, the master used car salesman, is asking for $5,000 for a used 1982 Chevy Chevette when it is only worth 1,500 bucks at best we should be starting with an offer of 500 bucks. Instead, I feel Ryan or the HF is offering $4,500! No matter which plan, Ryan’s or the HF, we are spending far too much, for what little we get out of it all.

      And the reason why I say “shopping” for wars is we seem to like some but not others. Iran, wo has historically been a far greater danger for freedom and global security so far has got a pass. Though I did read an article that suggested that the results of a war with Iran would be military occupation for an indefinite period. Sorry soldiers – you will not be seeing your families for quite some time! Sudan, after they did their number on us seems to be given a free pass, Darfur and so many other places where massive atrocities are happening get ignored, but then out of the blue, Libya gets nailed. I do not (nor does many global security experts) understand the strategy. We have spent over $7 trillion on Iraq and Afghanistan for what? Finally getting OBL after realizing he was in the same place for 6 years? The world is far less secure today with over 4,000 precious lives and $7 trillion of our treasure lost!

      My feeling is if we end up blowing the bank to the point where we financially cannot even protect our own borders yet alone other countries borders, then freedom as we have come to love it is gone! I am not sure we are promoting freedom with endless wars. It just does not seem to be happening. Inspiration through entrepreneurial ventures and through innovation is what we have done well for centuries. The globe is at war primarily because the US economy is centered around war.

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