GARDINER: “Just as Reagan had defied the doom-mongers of the Carter era who warned that in the wake of the Vietnam War America was a spent global power, Ryan’s speech last Thursday was a sharp rejection of the idea that America’s leaders should accept the “inevitability” of US decline and an emphatic appeal for renewed, powerful US leadership on the world stage. In reference to America’s unsustainable debt-fueled economic crisis, Ryan declared:
Some hear these facts and conclude that the sun is setting on America… that our problems are bigger than we are… that our competitors will soon outrun us… and that the choice we face is over how, not whether, to manage our nation’s decline.
It’s inevitable, they seem to say, so let’s just get on with it…. Look – our fiscal problems are real, and the need to address them is urgent. But I’m here to tell you that decline is not a certainty for America. Rather, as Charles Krauthammer put it, “decline is a choice.”
A world without U.S. leadership will be a more chaotic place, a place where we have less influence, and a place where our citizens face more dangers and fewer opportunities. Take a moment and imagine a world led by China or by Russia.
No doubt in response to President Obama’s penchant for apologising for America’s past and his “leading from behind” foreign policy, Ryan also made a Reagan-like tribute to American exceptionalism, and a firm defence of Western civilisation:
Today, some in this country relish the idea of America’s retreat from our role in the world. They say that it’s about time for other nations to take over; that we should turn inward; that we should reduce ourselves to membership on a long list of mediocre has-beens.
This view applies moral relativism on a global scale. Western civilization and its founding moral principles might be good for the West, but who are we to suggest that other systems are any worse? – or so the thinking goes.
Instead of heeding these calls to surrender, we must renew our commitment to the idea that America is the greatest force for human freedom the world has ever seen; a country whose devotion to free enterprise has lifted more people out of poverty than any economic system ever designed; and a nation whose best days still lie ahead of us, if we make the necessary choices today.“
[READ Nile Gardiner’s “Paul Ryan has a touch of Ronald Reagan about him.” at the UK Telegraph]