Romney's superficial world view allows neocons slither back
OPINION:The Republicans’ foreign policy is being driven by the black-and-white neocon perspective
PAUL RYAN has not sauteed in foreign policy in his years on Capitol Hill. The 42-year-old congressman is no Middle East savant; until now his idea of a border dispute has more likely involved Wisconsin and Illinois.
Yet Ryan got up at the Values Voter Summit here in Washington on Friday and skewered the Obama administration as it struggled to manage the Middle East mess left by clumsily mixed US signals toward the Arab spring and the disastrous legacy of war-obsessed Republicans.
Ryan bemoaned “the slaughter of brave dissidents in Syria. Mobs storming American embassies and consulates. Iran four years closer to gaining a nuclear weapon. Israel, the US’s best ally in the region, treated with indifference bordering on contempt by the Obama administration.” US foreign policy, he said, “needs moral clarity and firmness of purpose”.
Ryan was moving his mouth, but the voice was the neoconservative puppet master Dan Senor. The hawkish Mitt Romney adviser has been seconded to manage the running mate and graft a Manichaean world view on to the foreign affairs neophyte.
A moral, muscular foreign policy; a disdain for weakness and diplomacy; a duty to invade and bomb Israel’s neighbours; and a divine right to pre-emption – it’s all ominously familiar.
You can draw a direct line from the hyperpower manifesto of the Project for the New American Century, which the neocons, abetted by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, used to prod an insecure and uninformed president into invading Iraq — a wildly misguided attempt to intimidate Arabs through the shock of overwhelming force. How’s that going for us? After 9/11, the neocons captured one Republican president naive about the world. Now they have captured another would-be Republican president and vice-president, both jejune about the world.
Senor is emblematic of how much trouble America blundered into in the Middle East – trillions wasted, so many lives and limbs lost – because of how little the US fathoms the culture and sectarian politics. We’re still stumbling in the dark. We not only don’t know who our allies and enemies are, we don’t know who our allies’ and enemies’ allies and enemies are.
As spokesman for Paul Bremer during the Iraq occupation, Senor helped perpetrate one of the biggest foreign policy bungles in US history. The clueless desert viceroys summarily disbanded the Iraqi army, forced de-Baathification, stood frozen in denial as thugs looted ministries and museums, deluded themselves about the growing insurgency and misled reporters with their Panglossian scenarios of progress.