Paul Ryan’s Neocon Manifesto
By Bret Stephens @ WSJ (August 14, 2012)
What Mr. Ryan’s speech really tells us, however, is that he knows how to think.
Most foreign-policy speeches by American politicians take the form of untidy piles of verities and clichés. Here, for example, is Barack Obama on China: “As we look to the future, what’s needed, I believe, is a spirit of cooperation that is also friendly competition.” Here he is on the U.N.: “The United Nations can either be a place where we bicker about outdated differences or forge common ground.” Here he is to the British Parliament: “The time for our leadership is now.”
Mr. Ryan doesn’t have the president’s reputation for eloquence. Nor do his speeches ride on the windy drafts of “Yes We Can.” But unlike Mr. Obama, his speeches communicate ideas and arguments, not pieties and emotions.
Thus this speech begins not with a cliché but with a contention: “Our fiscal policy and our foreign policy are on a collision course.” It proceeds, briefly, to demonstrate the point quantitatively: Defense spending in 1970 consumed 39% of the federal budget but takes only 16% today. In the proverbial guns-to-butter ratio, our veins are already clogged.