Paul Ryan: Diplomacy like a ‘Stallone’ movie

Nicholas Garton, Staff Writer

Maybe we’ve all had it wrong the entire time. Ever since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, our focus as a nation has been on preventing another assault on our soil and bringing the perpetrators to some kind of justice. We have had the Patriot Act imposed upon us. We have fought two wars for eleven years. We have engaged in diplomacy, economic sanctions, governmental apologies, drone strikes and killed Osama Bin Laden, questioning whether or not those things have been right.

Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan has an even further-reaching solution:  flex our muscles. During the Vice Presidential debate, Ryan lambasted President Obamaʼs approach as making America look weak. He asserted, that if America is to stay safe in times of global crisis, we need to grow our military and not take compromising positions in regards to foreign policy.

As Vice President Joe Biden sat aghast, Paul Ryan laid out his plan that basically entailed the idea that might, makes right. Tossing diplomacy and care aside, the Romney/Ryan ticket would have us believe that the only way to prevent future war is to look invincible to the rest of the world. Ryan said that relaxing extreme, dehumanizing sanctions on Iran would only embolden their efforts towards nuclear capability. When asked to elaborate on precisely how he and Mitt Romney would execute their plan of avoiding things like a nuclear Iran, he merely reasserted his belief that we must not appear weak. Diplomacy, apparently, is the weakest possible strategy.

Let us reason together for a moment here. If we as a nation take up arms, build our military to new heights and take a standoffish position towards our enemies, we will not succeed. We will feel strong. We will use tough language. But, ultimately, we will be weaker than ever.

It does not take strength to take up arms. It is not tough to threaten countries that already fear us. It is certainly not a representation of our moral authority or righteous indignation to impose horrific economic sanctions against another nation – sanctions that do nothing but harm the poor of that country and strengthen the resolve of its leaders against us.

A quick look at Americas history shows us what true strength is. Rather than start a second Civil War, men like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. decided to reveal the content of good character by being firm, but peaceful, in the face of those threatening to use extreme violence. In doing so he showed us all that the weak ones were the people committing the violence, not those being victimized by it.

President Kennedy, when threatened with nuclear attack, did not go on the offensive but drew a line in the sand (or ocean rather) and said, “donʼt cross it”. Every single member of the Joint Chiefs opposed him saying he was pathetically weak. But he stood firm, and as it turns out, if he had listened to any of them, we would be dead. Paul Ryan would have rushed in, guns blazing.

More recently, President Obama portrayed the meaning of a true leader’s power. He inherited America at a time when the country faced daunting poverty, joblessness, security concerns abroad, soldiers dying in not one but two foreign lands and disgusting racially motivated backlash against his Presidency. At any point during the past four years President Obama would have been well within his rights to have a massive chip on his shoulder and, as the commander-in-chief of the most powerful military in world history, take it out on some poor unsuspecting Middle Eastern soul. We know Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney would have applauded his display of strength, values and power. But he did not. He chose to embrace a doctrine of inclusion, compromise, coolness and control.

As things began to melt down in Egypt, Libya and Syria, President Obama took a deep breath and allowed things to play out. He offered apologies to Muslims for any perceived slights on the part of the American government. He refused to escalate the situation with Iran even as Benjamin Netanyahu became ever more agitated. Deep breaths.

In between those deep breaths President Obama shattered Al Qaeda. He brought the Taliban to its knees. He killed Osama Bin Laden. He put Iran on an island isolated from the rest of the world. He ended the war in Iraq and prepared an exit strategy for Afghanistan.

It takes more strength to win a staring contest against someone than to just punch them in the face. Obama wins staring contests. This takes self-control, self-esteem and moxie. When you add up those qualities they form a word called strength.

Insecure, feeble-minded, weak people talk tough and loud and rush into fights. Thatʼs how Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney would govern.

So, America, which one of those people do you want holding your life in their hands? This isnʼt a Sly Stallone movie where we can just flex testosterone, grunt really loud and just beat everyone up. Big guns and steroid muscles arenʼt scaring Al Qaeda. People who have those things are just itching for a reason to use them. That may work in Hollywood but in foreign affairs itʼs a good way to end up dead.

President Clinton said he wants a President who is cool on the outside but burns for America on the inside. Thatʼs what we have now in Barack Obama. The alternative, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are all heat on the outside. But, rest assured if they are elected America will burn from the inside.