Paul Ryan

Michael Barone says it looks like he is running. (Citing this.)

WAY cool.

I was starting to get bummed.

To brutally oversimplify, the lay of the land was looking like this to me:

1. Michele cannot do it.

2. Mitt sucks.

3. Rick is Mitt in a cowboy hat — my second impression, subject to further revision.

4. The race is over for the rest of them.

But Paul Ryan. Now, him (I think) I could get behind.

Back in June I was hoping he would get in.

I eagerly await the debate between Ryan and Obama.

61 thoughts on “Paul Ryan”

  1. I’ll vote for almost anyone against Obama. (I’m assuming that Republican primary voters this year will not tolerate an unprincipled or RINO.)

    That said, we’ll see whether Ryan, if he is running, has the stuff. He appears to be intellectually first-rate and has the right values. But he does not have executive experience and I’m not sure he is hard enough.

    Perry may be flawed but his record as a successful governor counts for a great deal. Romney was not a particularly successful governor, and his mandated-insurance scheme is a political millstone (as it should be).

    It is also possible that Palin will run. Another successful governor who appears to have the necessary toughness.

    It looks like we may have good choices after all.

  2. “…we’ll see whether Ryan, if he is running, has the stuff. …”

    There is only one way to find out — he gets in, and we see, one way or the other.

  3. As far as being hard or tough enough, anyone entering this race has to out front know that they will be slimed, smeared and belittled by the press from the moment they enter the race. I think they all have the stones for it or they wouldn’t be putting forth the effort.

    Frankly, this years R candidates impress me quite a lot compared to years past. I like Perry, Bachmann, Palin, Ryan and think they are all ready for the bigtime. They all think quickly on their feet, know how to steer the media and all are tough as nails. I still think that the zero will win, but hopefully a good candidate pairing will make it hell for him. And the bonus is that I look forward to seeing any of these debate Biden – even though it doesn’t matter for the election. It will be good for a few laughs.

    I am glad Pawlenty got out.

  4. As far as being hard or tough enough, anyone entering this race has to out front know that they will be slimed, smeared and belittled by the press from the moment they enter the race. I think they all have the stones for it or they wouldn’t be putting forth the effort.

    I don’t think it’s enough for them to be able to withstand abuse. They need to have the fortitude to attack Obama and not back down when they get called racists and haters. Most of the national Republicans so far have not been able to stand up to such attacks. Palin is able to. Maybe Perry is too. We’ll see about Ryan. So far he has been, IMO, weak in responding to Democrats’ personal attacks. For example, Obama lied about Ryan’s budget plan and Ryan didn’t call him out as a liar. I think this was a mistake. The Democrats use these personal attacks because they work, and they work because most Republicans don’t respond effectively or even respond at all. A Republican who can respond and go on the offensive, not via personal attacks but by relentlessly criticizing the Democratic record, can win.

  5. 1. Repeat after me: “I will vote for a syphilitic camel to stop Hussein Insane from having four more years in which to destroy our country.”

    2. I have a great deal of admiration for Paul Ryan and his work to date. I think he is on the right track politically. That being said, the President is not the wonk in chief. Ryan is 41 years old, he would be a lad of 42 in 2013 (born 1/29/70). I think the job of being commander in chief requires more grey hairs than he has. For a comparison read George Will’s column about JFK’s botched first year as president:

    or look at the current inhabitant who is still trying to figure it out. (leading from behind, hah). Only TR was younger and then only by a few weeks, and TR had come up through Executive positions, including NYC Police Commissioner, NY Governor, and Assistant Secretary of the Navy.

    3. I think the contest for the Republican Presidential nomination has shaped up. I think that Romney is now a 2:1 favorite for the nomination, Perry is trailing at 1:2 and Bachmann is the long shot at 1:9. Of those three, I will back any of them against BO, see 1. above. Do I care who the nominee is? only to the extent that I hope it is the person least likely to succumb to the media $#;+storm, and most likely to beat BO. Ryan entering the race now would be at a considerable disadvantage in fund raising and organizationally.

    4. I know that Lex and others detest Romney as a RINO, a country club Republican, and a squish. I am not sure they are wrong about him, and I am not sure that it is relevant. What is relevant is above in 3.

    5. Jonathan: “… Palin … Another successful governor who appears to have the necessary toughness.”

    They ran her out of Juneau. The old saying is not when the going gets tough, the tough get out of town.

  6. “Rick is Mitt in a cowboy hat — my second impression, subject to further revision.”

    I get that impression, too. He’d have the full support of the Natural Governing Class instead of Romney if he’d gone to the right schools and churches. This makes me cringe.

    Here’s a couple things that touch on my concerns about him:

    The Agitator

    Classical Values

    He’d be a better president than Obama, but I don’t think we’d see any reduction in the size or cost of government under him.

    It’s too bad someone like Gary Johnson doesn’t stand a chance.

  7. Ryan is just a pretty boy from a rich family. He has only ever been a politician. He has never run anything. He was (and maybe still is) a BigGov/BigBiz GOPer. Only recently has he been presenting as a fiscal conservative.

    I don’t trust him. I do not understand why conservatives trust him. The media likes him because he is telegenic.

    I have no reason to think he would be a successful POTUS. If he ran for Gov or Senate I would have voted against him for anybody else.





  8. Whoa. Purpleslog smackdown.

    Well, it is up to his opponents to bring out the dirt on him if he runs.

    Let the games begin.

  9. I am very dubious of anyone lacking executive and private sector experience. Obama should have taught us that if nothing else.

    On the other hand, I’m not a big Perry fan either.

  10. I am very dubious of anyone lacking executive and private sector experience. Obama should have taught us that if nothing else.

    An guy without executive experience can do well, if he can delegate, pick guys to run things for him that he can trust. And doesn’t micromanage.

    Best manager I ever had didn’t know jack about PCs or LAN, or anything we did: he was an old mainframe guy.

    Paul knew how to tell bs from truth, how to and whom to delegate, and talk to senior management.

    He picked good team members, he knew he could trust us. We knew we could talk to him, and he had our back.

    On paper, Jimmy Carter is your man. Served in the military. Did well in running a private business for seventeen years. Successful term as governor of a middlin’ large state.

    Pretty much a disaster as President.

    Nice guy, though.

  11. Brian…”Best manager I ever had didn’t know jack about PCs or LAN, or anything we did: he was an old mainframe guy”…but that deals with the content of his *technical* experience. The question that would seem relevant here is did he have *management* experience??…even if it was with people using mainframes, or for that matter Jacquard looms??

    “Paul knew how to tell bs from truth, how to and whom to delegate, and talk to senior management. He picked good team members, he knew he could trust us. We knew we could talk to him, and he had our back.”

    These are all *management* skills (except possibly the “talk to senior management” one, which is also valuable to people with no management responsibility), and are generally learned by doing (although classes and reading can help somewhat, as can good role models.) Maybe Paul was a universal genius who was able to quickly develop these skills without previously having practiced them, but I think that’s a rare exception. More commonly, I think there’s truth (perhaps slightly overstated) in Peter Drucker’s assertion that if you don’t have significant management responsibility before you’re 30, you’re probably never going to really be much good at it.

  12. I don’t know much about Paul’s resume. Poor, from the wrong side of the tracks: his mother, he said, was far more comfortable in Spanish than English.

    He spent some time in the Navy, as a radio guy. Then years and years for an aerospace company.

    Then he got laid off just before retirement and started over with us.

    I’d ask him but cancer took him far too early, a decade ago.

    He sure didn’t have what I have always thought of as a ‘manager’ persona. But he moved and grooved with the best of them, so perhaps he did acquire management experience with Lockheed.

  13. Brian Dunbar,

    There are people out there who can be good executives without any serious previous experience…

    … but the presidency isn’t the place to test whether that is true for any particular individual or not. The job is to important and the consequences to dire if the individual doesn’t prove up to the task.

  14. So, the person has to have executive experience.

    So it has to be Romney or Perry.

    So, it’s Perry.

    Is that the analysis?

  15. I am a fan of Palin but I think she should run for the Senate first. That may be a problem in Alaska as she has burned her bridges with both parties there. Maybe she will end up an Arizona politician.

  16. I think Palin has played her hand well. What would she gain by being a Senator? She is already highly influential and makes a lot of money. She may still run for president, though her window of opportunity may be closing. If she doesn’t run this time, she will remain a political force, both directly and by endorsing and raising money for other candidates.

  17. She needs some more chops, if possible. I know why she resigned the governorship but most people do not understand that Alaska law left an opportunity for the Democrats to destroy her financially. I was sort of hoping she would run against Murkowski. I think she would have Stevens’ endorsement against the Democrat.

  18. One more time. I like Mrs. Palin, but she failed the first test when she could not complete her term as Governor of Alaska. If that was too much for her, running for President and being President are too much. That is OK.

    The heat in Alaska will be nothing compared to the scorched earth campaign that will be waged against her if she runs for President. If she couldn’t stand it up there what makes us think she can handle it in the White House.

    The task that faces the next President will be to dismantle the welfare leviathan that threatens to eat us all. They — the permanent government and their peg boys in the MSM — will die in the last ditch to preserve their phoney baloney jobs.

    Palin is a nice lady, with good political instincts, but she flinched once. We cannot afford to give her another chance.

    None of the Palin acolytes will go home and sit on their hands if the GOP nominates someone else. Repeat after me:

    “I will vote for a syphilitic camel to stop Hussein Insane from having four more years in which to destroy our country.”

    And you know it is true.

  19. “So it has to be Romney or Perry. So, it’s Perry. Is that the analysis?”

    Hmmm…I don’t know much about Perry. I am in the NotRomney camp. I think we need more choices.

    The GOP nominee really should be Gov Daniels. He seems to have been designed to handle this crisis.

    As for Palin…my heart says yes, my brain says no. The media and the USGOV “establishment” type destroyed her reputation.

  20. You don’t have more choices. You aren’t going to get more.

    If you are NotRomney then it is Bachmann or Perry, unless Ryan gets in.

    I am about ready to support Ron Paul, at this point.

  21. Unless Ryan gets in, unless Palin gets in. Palin is either not running or is running a brilliant above-the-fray Internet campaign. We don’t know yet.

    The Democrats and MSM will try to destroy any Republican candidate. It’s naive to think that not picking Palin or whoever will insulate Republicans. More likely, not picking Palin would encourage Democrats to continue using scurrilous personal attacks, since scurrilous personal attacks may have worked to remove Palin from consideration. Dick Cheney came into office as an avuncular technocrat and left as Dr. Strangelove. Watch how Perry gets redefined from popular conservative governor to gun-toting fundamentalist wacko. Any popular Republican gets this treatment.

    Ron Paul would make a great Treasury secretary but his nonchalance about Iranian nuclear weapons is a deal-killer. Obama could run to his right on foreign policy.

    Robert, I think most of us agree that almost any Republican would be better than Obama.

  22. From what I have read, Palin has no organization. So, figure on that not happening.

    Ron Paul is absolutely right about Iranian nuclear weapons. No matter who is president (1) Iran will get them, and (2) we won’t do anything about it. He was also right about Iraq.

  23. “So it has to be Romney or Perry. So, it’s Perry. Is that the analysis?”

    There is that Gary Johnson fellow.

    Business experience: start-up to profitability. Two-term governor.

    Politically he’s Ron Paul without the baggage.

  24. It does not seem likely that Palin will run, but it is still possible.

    Lex, I think you are minimizing Paul’s position. He is not merely saying that Iran will get nukes. He is saying that we should understand (i.e., accept) the mullahs’ reasons for acquiring nukes and should not interfere in Iran’s “internal affairs”. This is not a promising position for a would-be US president to take. Nor was Paul’s statement that we should “talk to” Cuba, another country run by gangsters who would gain at their subjects’ expense by such attention from us, encouraging.

  25. We should normalize relations with Cuba today. William F. Buckley, Jr. said so right after the Wall came down 22 years ago, and that was the correct course then and it still is. We should talk to, trade with and otherwise deal with Cuba like the rest of the world does. For one thing, it would bring down sugar prices and we’d have less high fructose corn syrup in our diets.

    As to Iran, Paul goes a little farther than I would, but not much. But of course the Iranians want nukes. They would be crazy not to. That is the only way to secure themselves from us. Libya abandoned its nuke program, and look what happened to them. Bottom line, we are not going to use force to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons, and they are going to get them. They will be deterred, just like Russia and China and everyone else. If deterrence fails, the USA and Israel destroy them. That is all baked into the cake. I also agree that the internal affairs of foreign countries is none of our business. There is no reason to put the term “internal affairs” in quotes.

  26. When Santorum, responding to Paul, pointed out that Iran has been at war against the USA for decades, Paul’s response was to blame the USA for overthrowing Mossadegh and supporting the Shah. That is like citing Versailles as a reason not to oppose Hitler.

    Normalizing relations with Cuba without political reforms means more money for the ruling gangster elite that takes a cut of all international commerce. Nothing productive is likely to happen there until the gangsters are gone. If normal relations and trade were enough there would long ago have been improvements, since many countries have normal relations with Cuba.

    We should not respect the “internal affairs” of hostile countries with illegitimate governments. Paul is foolish regarding such matters.

  27. Paul is right. The best thing for the Iranians is for us to stay out of their business and let the people there deal with their own problems. We set up puppet governments there for decades and are not liked or trusted. Once a reform movement gets going, it should not be tainted by association with the USA.

    The Hitler analogy does not hold up well. Iran is a mess, barely able to keep its own regime in power. It can bluster and engage in pinprick levels of terrorism.

    Wrong about Cuba. The best thing to do to bring down the regime there would be to flood the place with American tourists and business people and make the contacts and connections that will help us influence the outcome when Castro’s regime goes away.

    In any case, the whole rest of the world trades with Cuba so sanctions are a waste of time. We should at least make money there.

    We should stay out of other people’s business unless there is a clear threat to us. Otherwise foreign governments and the people of foreign countries are on their own.

    Paul is right, and his history is sound. There is a great video of him talking to Hannity, and Hannity is so ignorant about the historical record it is embarrassing.

  28. We should not respect the “internal affairs” of hostile countries with illegitimate governments.

    From a moral point of view I agree, but is being “hostile” enough? If we hadn’t supported the Shah it’s impossible to argue that a more humanitarian, representative government would have come to power; so, IMHO, we might as well have benefited from our man being in power. The question is not the legitimacy (after all, 4/5 of the world is ruled despotically) it is more like “will we benefit from taking strong action pre-emtively on the illegitimate?”.

  29. I have zero belief or trust that the political leadership in the USA is qualified to decide what is or is not a “legitimate government.” If you ask most political leaders worldwide to name an illegitimate government, the first word out of their mouth would be “Israel.” Many people around Mr. Obama would do the same. Some such person may be president one day. The term “legitimate government” does not have any legal meaning beyond simply a “recognized government.” It has nothing to do with the moral quality of the regime.

    About 100 years ago, before Woodrow Wilson and the League of Nations, then its successor the United Nations, there was a legal concept of sovereignty which was strictly empirical, not moral, or worse, moralistic. Governments were recognized not as a result of any moral character they had, but simply based no the objective “recognition” that they possessed and exercised control and had to be dealt with. This system worked better than what we have been doing ever since. Since then we have had a lot of “make believe” sovereigns, such as in Africa, and we have had a lot of posturing about whether some government should be recognized or not based on whether we liked it, not based on whether it in fact exercised political control. Both of these were shaped by the era of decolonization and the Cold War and we should stop doing it and return to a more practical and objective notion of legitimacy.

    “If we hadn’t supported the Shah it’s impossible to argue that a more humanitarian, representative government would have come to power.”

    This cannot be what you mean. We overthrew an elected government and installed the Shah. So, it is not only not impossible, that is exactly what happened.

    The rationale was that it was a chess move in the Cold War. Mossadegh was going to nationalized the oil in Iran. The USA did not want that to happen, particularly since Mossadegh was apparently going to ask the Russians to assist him, to fend off the Americans and British, whose oil companies were going to lose the money. So Eisenhower had him assassinated. We will never know if he would have been more or less humanitarian than the Shah, but he was certainly more representative.

    With the Cold War over, the usefulness or morality, or either, of overthrowing foreign governments, diminishes sharply.

    We should stop doing it. It costs too much, it does not work, and it does not advance our interests.

  30. “Many Americans who are not ignorant about history would disagree.”

    With what?

    The merits of starting a fourth war with Iran?

    (Does Libya count, or did we already lose that one and leave?)

    How many trillion will that cost? For what?

    What will the cost be to the world of closing the Gulf to tanker traffic? For what?

    We are not going to do it. We are not going to attack Iran. And we are not going to prevent them from getting nukes, no matter who is elected. Ron Paul says so, the others pretend they are going to do something. They are not.

    Iran wants nukes to defend itself. That’s all they are good for. If they use their nukes, we destroy them.

    Deterrence and containment worked with the massively more dangerous Soviet Union. It will work with these idiots.

    Israel alone, which is stronger and safer now than it has been before, with all of its enemies in turmoil, could probably deter Iran from using a nuke all by itself.

    Now, Pakistan, there you have a real problem. But we can’t do anything about it while we have troops in Afghanistan.

  31. I notice we have gotten far afield from Paul Ryan.

    Whether you like it or not, Ron Paul’s approach is not in the mainstream. Obama is a seamless continuation of the Bush Era NeoCon foreign policy and whoever wins in 2012, and so will whoever gets the GOP nomination, so nothing will change. O = W.

  32. Lex, I wonder exactly what benefit Eisenhower (administration) saw in facilitating the Shah’s coup. Perhaps, 1-stop the spread of communism? 2-keep oil flowing (and out of the hands of Islamists?)? It was British oil companies being nationalized, not U. S., right?

    Creepy photo; back on topic, O=W=PR.

  33. The Shah had quite a history with the US and I think it a tragedy that Carter “Threw him out like a dead mouse” as one of his generals said. The Shah’s father was pro-Nazi and was deposed by the US and Britain. Iran was the major land route for Lend Lease to Stalin. The Tehran Conference was held there for his convenience. When the war ended, there was an issue about whether the Russians would leave the northern half of Iran as that is the route to a warm water port for them. The Shah participated in a three power agreement that asked everyone to leave and Truman stood up to Stalin to get the Russians to leave.

    The Shah also supplied Israel with oil during the embargoes around the 1973 war. He was a good friend. Unfortunately, he was not a gifted ruler but he probably could have held on if we had supported him.

  34. “… he probably could have held on if we had supported him.”

    Agreed. And we should have. The Shah had blood on his hands, but he was our bastard, and the alternatives were worse, and we should have seen that.

    Similar to Mubarak. When Egypt becomes an Islamist state, people will compare it to the Shah and ask why Carter II = Obama learned nothing from Carter I. In both cases the popular mass demonstrations made the American people think something good would happen. It didn’t in Iran and the so called “Arab Spring” is likely a similar mirage preceding a new, hostile despotism.

  35. The Iranian and Cuban govts are illegitimate. They rule by force. They are unpopular with their own people. Iran has been at war with us since 1979. You and Ron Paul may not acknowledge that war but that doesn’t mean it isn’t real. The Iranian regime has killed many Americans over the years, both directly and via proxies, including recently in Iraq. They do it because they bear little cost for their actions, since we avoid responding effectively, for what I think are poorly considered reasons. I suspect that Ron Paul would say that we brought it on ourselves by interfering in Iranian affairs, but you are smarter than that. What is the justification for our complacency about such attacks against us? Straw-man arguments against invading Iran won’t cut it. Arguments that if we hit them militarily they will engage in more terrorism against us or will try to block oil traffic won’t cut it, because the underlying assumption of such arguments is that we should allow our policy to be controlled by the mullahs. Iranian terror attacks are only pinpricks if you ignore the attacks against our people in Iraq, the Beirut Marine barracks bombing, etc. And once Iran gets nuclear weapons the mullahs will be able to do much more damage, with less concern about retaliation. Iran may be economically weak but it is a large country with a highly competent population. It is run by shrewd members of an apocalyptic sect, the most ruthless survivors of decades of brutal internal power struggles, who seek to recreate an Iranian empire. My impression is that most Americans see them as a threat to us, and I don’t see why that is wrong. That is why Paul, with his ostrich-like foreign policy views, has and will continue to have limited support as a presidential candidate.

    WRT Cuba, you and Paul are both looking at the situation from a position of naive abstraction. If we do as you suggest and “flood Cuba with tourists and business people” we will mainly enrich the regime. You can’t do business in Cuba without having the regime as a partner. They are literally gangsters whose wealth is stolen. Contracts mean little and a substantial percentage of the dollars flooding in will go into the gangsters’ pockets without doing much for ordinary Cubans. That is what happens now. The Cuban regime isn’t like Gorbachev or even the Chinese. They will not allow real reforms that might threaten their control, they continue to suppress dissent brutally, and they have a long history of conning gullible western businessmen and governments. Among people who understand and care about Cuba, mainly in the Cuban-American community, there is great controversy about what US policy should be, because a lot of people are reasonably concerned that proposed changes in US policy would cause more harm than good.

    On both of these issues Ron Paul comes across as both naive and recklessly overconfident in the wisdom of his ideas.

  36. “The Iranian and Cuban govts are illegitimate. They rule by force. They are unpopular with their own people.”

    All governments rule by force. Some submit to occasional elections. Not all bad governments are unelected, not all good ones are elected. Lots of governments are unpopular. Mr. Bush was very unpopular, and Mr. Obama is heading in the same direction. I would not want the Chinese assisting armed revolutionaries and using that as an excuse. Attacking a foreign country is the surest way to make its government popular. People will rally to it. Iran and Cuba are no different.


    “… seek to recreate an Iranian empire.”

    They better start having babies. You can’t have an empire without infantry. There is zero prospect of an Iranian bid for empire.


    Even if everything you say is true, we are the only people not trading with them. The only thing that does is prop up US sugar prices. I see no utility in denying our people business opportunities the entire rest of the world has. If they have moral qualms about going there, they don’t have to.

    I simply do not see either Ron Paul or myself as naive. I am as knowledgeable about this stuff as almost anyone.

    An endless series of belligerent gestures toward Iran does not do much for us. We should ratchet down the rhetoric, and either ignore them, or work quietly to undermine the current regime.

    I’m done. Go last if you want.

  37. Jonathan and Lex:

    This is a conversation worth having. The old Cold War containment alliances (Israel-Saudi-Pakistan-US) against Russia and Iran don’t work post 9-11, yet our national security apparatus is still geared toward that bloc of nations. Given that the Taliban were an engineered Pakistani proxy and OBL was found in Abbottabad, this is insanity.

    The Shia bloc led by Iran has American blood on its hands but NOTHING like the Sunni bloc led by Saudi Arabia. And that too on our own soil. Our double standard regarding these two nations is well noted by peoples in the region. When we talk of democracy, nobody listens to us. It is no longer a NATO-Eurocentric world where the grand rhetoric of that era works. It just doesn’t and even if we speak out against Assad there is Saudi and Bahrain.

    “The Iranian and Cuban govts are illegitimate.” So is the Saudi government and the Pak Mil/ISI that essentially runs Pakistan behind the scenes. Yet we have no problem working through those two countries as one cornerstone in our “war against terror.” Madness. The world laughs. Who would take us seriously? We’ve just shown them how to kill Americans and then get rewarded for it.

    At any rate, Ron Paul missed a debaters point and he should have made it: Rick “Musharraf is my BFF” Santorum has little credibility on this issue.

    The former Pakistani president has been booked by Rick Santorum and the Ethics and Public Policy Center next week to speak in Washington about U.S.-Pakistani relations.

    So in order to block Iran, Rick Santorum works with the military dictator formerly in charge of Pakistan during the time OBL and the Taliban became embedded in Afghanistan? The ISI nurtured and trained the Taliban. Who is he to say anything against Ron Paul and his comments on Iran?

    Does anyone in American life do complicated anymore? The Pakistan handlers and advisors in the Bush administration screwed up. I understand some of what they did and perhaps it was the best option at the time. But the execution was sloppy and they got gamed. And trust me, those advisors will not admit they got it wrong.

    We should have national hearings on this topic and a second 9-11 commission to reexamine findings post Abbottabad. Those that died on 9-11 are owed that. I don’t want to play “gotcha” or ruin careers. I only want to understand and use that understanding to make us safer.

    I left the left after watching some cover for Clinton during the Lewinsky handle and I now have the same feeling post Abbottabad. I think I’m done with the right, too. Oh, I’m not talking about anyone in particular and I will still happily campaign for the main opposition candidate to Pres. Obama. Foreign Policy is in flux now and the old Guard need to move on. It’s not 1985 anymore.

    Well, I don’t know where I am going with any of this except Rick Santorum is so single minded and lacks such mental agility that he can’t understand Pakistan is already everything he worries Iran will be, and worse. And the threats from that region remain.

    We look like jerks to the rest of the world because of our “afpak” policy. We look like fools who can be gamed.

    – Madhu

  38. One more point: a nuclear armed Iran could cause problems in the Gulf and with the flow of oil, but the main threat to the homeland continues to be Sunni inspired radicalism via the internet, the “propoganda of the deed” in places like Afghanistan and the Pakistani tribal areas, and India is as threatened by nuclear weapons as Israel is.

    We need an America first foreign policy and we need a third way.

    This is not good enough.

    – Madhu

  39. I don’t buy it. The current administration has not made belligerent gestures towards Iran. They have made slavish gestures. Their failure to support the 2009 protests was a scandal. The problem with Paul is that if we allow Iran to go nuclear, we must forge even closer military ties with Israel. I would advocate an American base in the Negev.

    Republican Jewish Coalition Expresses Concern about Ron Paul Candidacy.

    Not only that but there are a range of tactics that can be used against the mullahs. There are ethnic and religious minorities that do not care for the Persian mullahs and which can be stirred up. Nor, would I be adverse to bombing their nuclear installations.

    As far as Cuba goes. The original sin was Kennedy’s. Cuba is an anomalous case. It is inside our territorial waters, and you can draw lines between American cities that enclose it. Allowing a communist regime to rule it was a first class error. But that was then and this is now. We need to arrange for the transition of Cuba from the Castro thugocracy into an acceptable to US regime, and to ensure that it never falls into enemy hands again.

  40. I’m going to add this to the conversation, too. To be honest, I’m still working this all out:

    For all the claims that U.S. foreign policy has been stripped from the hands of the neoconservatives and given over to adults steeped in the principles of old-school realism—people like Secretary Rice—what we are watching here is a possible meltdown of U.S. strategic interests that is comparable to Iran’s 1978 Islamist revolution. Granted, Pakistan is not a Gulf security pillar, as Iran was, but the shah didn’t have nukes. The Bush White House has prioritized Iran’s nascent nuclear program because our confidence in Musharraf has given us the luxury to ignore an active nuclear program within the reach of Islamist fanatics.

    Lee Smith in Slate

    Well, I don’t know about that. I just don’t know. I understand the thinking but the confidence included pouring money into a country and not monitoring any of it. And the rapidly built a ton of missiles and increased the numbers of nuclear weapons. We always get gamed. It should have been a stricter quid pro quo arrangement. Also, our troops are dying and having their limbs blown off because of these guys and Musharraf’s removal of Pakistani ISI from Afghanistan during Operation “Evil Airlift”. Thanks for that, VP Cheney. If it happened as it supposedly happened….

    As for Iran, our foreign policy is so convoluted it doesn’t just include the administration’s actions. State, DOD, CIA, Congress, etc. Other countries pay attention to all of our statements in sum and we have continued to put pressure on Iran via blocking the buying of oil and stuff like that. So it is a mixed bag, and I wouldn’t call it slavish.

    But what is the third way? Perhaps something more low key in public, continued economic pressure, and perhaps some quiet funding of internal dissident groups. I’m always nervous about this, though. We tend to screw these things up and get blow back of some kind.

    Why haven’t the Iranians been able to develop nuclear weapons as of yet? Pakistan was able to do it eventually. I’ve always wondered about that. I guess having China as a patron helps. And having old Cold Warriors ignore your pursuit of nuclear weapons so long as you pointed your army toward the Soviets and innocent Afghans and Indians.


    – Madhu

  41. “Pakistan is already everything he worries Iran will be, and worse.”

    Right on, Doc.

    “Nor, would I be adverse to bombing their nuclear installations.”

    Never happen. They have conventional deterrence. They can raise Hell in Iraq, they can close the Gulf. We won’t do it. Stuxnet was maybe the best we could do. Sabotage with deniability, maybe. No president from either party is going to get into an open war with Iran. Despite all the talk, this issue is already decided and over. It is a matter of when not if. So sayeth Lex. If Obama attacks them tomorrow, I was wrong, Ha.

    “… having old Cold Warriors ignore your pursuit of nuclear weapons …”

    Pakistan gamed us. Plus we probably did not try very hard to stop them. vBut I am guessing. The whole thing is very murky and the truth will likely never see the light of day.

    “We should have national hearings on this topic and a second 9-11 commission to reexamine findings post Abbottabad.”

    I don’t see anyone in politics interested in turning these particular rocks over.

  42. Yes, US policymakers mishandled Pakistan. So what. The question is what to do next. It is a terrible problem because Pakistan has nuclear bombs. It’s nice that none of the bombs has been used, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the people with the bombs are being deterred. It may be that we have been lucky.

    Pakistan is Iran in a few years. That is why it’s important to oppose the mullahs while we still have leverage. It goes without saying we should have been supporting the political opposition. Iranians are generally pro-American, and the opposition might have prevailed in 2009 if we had shown them some public support. Water under the bridge. At this point we should support the opposition anyway. And it’s insane that we won’t do there what we do in Pakistan, namely pursue our enemies. We send drones and commandos into Pakistan as needed. So why do Iranian forces who attack Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan get a pass? Why do we tolerate Iranian proxies in Latin America? We have political leverage against the countries that tolerate the proxies. If, after the next time Americans got attacked by Iranian operators or weapons, we bombed some Iranian military facilities in Iran, would that be so bad? The Iranians might threaten ships in the Gulf, BFD. They are going to do it anyway when they have nukes and feel untouchable. And then it won’t even have to be explicit.

    Our leaders allow themselves to be pushed around by gangsters who manipulate our ignorant fears of oil embargoes. But we have plenty of oil of our own if we would only produce it. And if Iran stops shipping oil it cuts off its revenue. And if Iran says it’s embargoing oil shipments, and cheats, the price effect of any embargo will be limited. Iran probably wants to shut down non-Iranian oil flows in the Gulf and threaten the Saudis into cutting production. Why shouldn’t we do what we can to stop them. It’s only going to get more difficult for us with time.

  43. You have been advocating open warfare against Iran for a decade.

    Question to you: Why is that position not catching on with almost anybody but you?

    Maybe you are the only guy who gets it. That does happen.

  44. I’m saying we should fight back when attacked, and not talk ourselves out of it or assume the problem will go away if we ignore it.

    I don’t know why this isn’t a popular view. Maybe it is popular but most people who agree with it lack influence or have given up on trying to convince other people. Maybe Americans think we are too big to be defeated and can therefore brush off threats from weaker countries. Maybe Americans are sick of war and don’t want to consider expanding our military involvement in the ME and SW Asia. Maybe I’m wrong.

    The popularity of an idea is not always a good indicator of its validity.

  45. My 2 cents. The existing wars have exhausted the American public’s tolerance for war. We went to war with the wrong country. Iran is a more serious foe than Iraq ever was, but we spent our war making capacity in Iraq, and created a window for Iran to continue on its path toward a nuke unhindered.

  46. “This here’s Kundalini. He wants his hand back.”

    But you can never go back.

    The severed extremity is gone.

  47. It does boggle the mind to think that we attacked the run-of-the-mill despot in Iraq and (more or less) ignored what I imagine is a more ideologically cohesive and dedicated threat in Iran. Or is it just hindsight?

  48. Uh oh. What did I stir up? :) Last post on this thread for me because I am a bore on this subject….

    1. I’m sorry but I’m done with the foreign policy adventurism. Enough already. We really suck at it. Our execution always stinks and we ought to factor that in. I’m not a Pakistan hawk. I want to disengage from the region and I’m ambivalent about any kind of relationship with India, too, outside trade and narrow overlapping interests. I don’t want us dragged into a regional competition between Russia, China, India, and the rest.

    2. While I stand by the substance of my comments about Rick Santorum, my tone was excessively mean. I didn’t have to make fun of his intelligence. Don’t know why I went there. Really wrong. Apologies all.

    3. Yes, US policymakers mishandled Pakistan. So what. – Jonathan.

    Oh, I think it’s a big “what.” Where was OBL found again? Not Tehran. Not Baghdad. Not even Afghanistan. And who almost blew a big whole in Times Square in 2010? The CT folks say this one was likely traceable to the TTP – Pakistani Taliban.

    But for reasons that elude me, this sort of thing never really sinks into the American public’s mind. Likely because we’ve been lied to our entire lives via a compliant press, a State Dept. eager to keep its favorite “we have to save you with our USAID money” client, a White House and DOD used to using Islamabad as a proxy army no matter how many of our people get killed in the process, and the “get Russia” and “get Iran” crowds who don’t much care about Pakistan one way or the other.

    The other “what” is this:

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry met Tuesday with former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to exchange ideas about improving the economy and discuss the strained relationship between the U.S. and Pakistani governments.

    Musharraf has been critical of the White House’s recent suspension of $800 million in U.S. aid to the Pakistani military, saying the decreased aid will hurt his country and hinder its fight against terrorism. Perry did not directly criticize the federal decision, but he said he hoped the two governments could work their way through the conflicts and get “on the same page of the hymnbook.”

    “All of us are concerned … any time there’s conflict between these historic friends,” Perry said, as the two men and their wives met for a private lunch at an Austin hotel. “I’ll leave it to the administration and the diplomats to continue to work on this.”

    Musharraf said he requested the meeting with Perry, who is considering a run for president in 2012, to “exchange notes” about the economic success in Texas under the Republican governor’s leadership.– Politico

    Seriously? Infuriating. I don’t trust any of our foreign policy mandarins to keep us safe. Who the hell was in charge of Pakistan in 2001 again? I mean, really.. The Bush foreign policy advisors are swirling around Gov. Perry, so watch your step sir. Tread carefully, Gov. Again, for reasons that elude me, American President’s are complete fools for the Pakistani elite. They have our number, and how. The Iranians are dopes. They should take lessons from Pakistan. They’d have their bomb and State Dept. cash by now and American congressman and generals would be making excuses for their bombs in Iraq. It’s practially criminal.

    4. And finally, Commentary (their site is freaking out on me so I can’t find the link) has a blog post about how we should push Assad out, but that the newest research shows that the Muslim Brotherhood is extremely popular with the anti-Assad protestors, but State should come up with a mixture of carrots and sticks to ensure that a post-Assad Muslim Brotherhood future is no in the offing. Just like Egypt. How, exactly, the commenters at Commentary Magazine (I don’t think it was Max Boot but I don’t remember the exact poster) didn’t exactly say. Just: make it so.


    Okay, I’m done now :)

    But good people can disagree and nobody is going to listen to me or Rand Paul. We will make foolish mistakes and screw up and pour money into unstable parts of the world and engender blow back. That’s our history and that’s our future.

    Okay, now I’m done :)

    – Madhu

  49. You know what? I think I’m going to do some art blogging from now on. I am getting weird on this topic. Seriously, it’s weirding me out.

    Ugh. Foreign policy. That’s what the past decade has done to me. Ugh, foreign policy.


    – Madhu

  50. We are on the wrong side of almost everything over there.

    We should be hoping Assad can survive. The only alternative is a hardcore Islamist regime. Fortunately, he is crushing the opposition pretty efficiently, so he may make it. The Muslim Brotherhood will take over in Egypt, now that we have cleared the way for them. Just like we should have told the Shah to send the tanks into the street and shoot anything that moves, we should have done the same with Mubarak. Instead we discarded a loyal client and told the whole world, for the umpteenth time, not to trust us. We destroyed Saddam, for no reason, a secular ruler and a bulwark against Iran, installed a Shia government, and we are surprised that it is pro-Iranian and Pro-Assad in Syria. We are on the wrong side in Libya. Khaddafy gave up his nukes and was a secular opponent of the Islamists, but we are half-assedly supporting the people who are trying to drive him out. Thankfully, British and French weakness and Obama’s incompetence may spare Khaddafy. The oldest Islamic fundamentalist regime in the region is the Saudi regime, which has some kind of odd relationship with the Bush family. It finances jihad against us worldwide, it corrupts our universities and our politicians, it produced the 9/11 hijackers, and we went to war on its behalf — as the Saudis call us, we are their white slaves — twice against Iraq. And the heart of darkness is Pakistan, which we pretend is our ally. If the evil ghost of Sayyid Qutb himself had somehow taken possession of the US Government, we could scarcely be doing worse.

    Detaching ourselves from the region would be good.

    Israel is stronger now than ever, its enemies are in disarray, and it would have a freer hand diplomatically and politically if it were less dependent on the USA.

  51. Maybe you are the only guy who gets it.
    No he is not.
    I, for one, share his opinion. And masses of people (here and worldwide) with family’ or friends’ ties or generational memories of the regions around Iran certainly do not underestimate the threat.
    You talk and listen to wrong people, Lexington. Paul is unpopular exactly because of his ostrich-like isolationist foreign policy, particularly regarding Middle East boiling pot.

  52. To bring the post back to Paul Ryan …

    This is not going to be a foreign policy election.

    The American public cares about jobs.

    The American public has zero trust in its politicians to start optional foreign wars.

    Obama has been indistinguishable from late-model Bush, and a GOP president in 2012 will be more of the same. We will still be in Iraq and Afghanistan, with a diminishing presence, and we are not going to invade anybody else. We are going to have major cuts in defense spending due to the budget so we will soon be in no position to invade anybody, even if we wanted to.

    Attacking Iran is not on the table unless they are stupid enough to initiate something overt and major. Odds are they will continue as they have been, with terrorism and proxies and nothing big enough to provoke a massive response.

    Rick Santorum keeps trying to bang the drum for more conflict with Iran. It does not seem to be helping him any.

    Ryan will be a plausible candidate, if he runs, only because of a perception that he is serious about the budget.

    On foreign policy all the GOP candidates are indistinguishable, except Ron Paul, who will not get nominated.

    And Obama is not all that different from any of them.

    It is all the same vanilla.

    The US is a taker not a maker of history at this point because we are out of money.

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