Foreign Policy's Ty McCormick tries to ferret out Ryan's "foreign policy" and finds, pretty much, that the record is "sparse." But Paul Ryan is an old-timey free trader, for sure, and if you're trying to get a handle on what that means, try neo-con and George W. Bush and (sign) that old "free trade insures democracy."
Tired of that worn-out con? Don't vote Republican.
...History has exposed some serious flaws in the Bush administration's worldview. First, Bush himself abandoned the "freedom agenda" when it became clear that democracy might not always be good for American interests -- Hamas won the 2006 legislative elections in the Palestinian territories, and the Iraqi government that the United States expended blood and treasure to support looked to Tehran rather than Washington for guidance.
But more importantly for Ryan, the problem with his free-trade "carrot approach" is that it simply doesn't work. Free trade might have boosted U.S. exports to Bahrain, for example, but it did not prevent King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah from brutally crushing protests in his country during the Arab Spring. Nor has it stopped Saudi Arabia, which has strong, though not free, trade ties with the United States, from beheading suspected sorcerers or quashing political dissent, especially in the Shiite-heavy Eastern Province. Likewise, Singapore and Hong Kong are far from democratic, but perennially top the World Bank's "ease of doing business" ranking.
Promoting free trade, it turns out, reliably leads to more trade. The idea that it improves human rights in the process or makes democracies out of dictatorships is at best inconclusive, and at worst wishful thinking. ...Foreign Policy
This isn't just about theory, about ideas, about profit. Human lives are and should be in the picture, and not just as a wished-for outcome of "economic liberty." Put life first, as in "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
The issue is that his ideological commitment to free trade appears to blind him to the possibility that such initiatives might have any unintended consequences, or indeed, that foreign policy almost always has unintended consequences. "I'm suggesting that free trade is pro-human rights," he said when asked whether free trade could contribute to human rights abuses, as it arguably did in Colombia and Peru. "They go hand in hand...economic liberty is a component of human rights."
It is this kind of willful aversion to nuance that characterized George W. Bush's "with-us-or-against-us" approach, and one that tells us a lot about Paul Ryan -- even if his record on foreign policy is remarkably short. ...Foreign Policy