While the media analyze last night’s vice-presidential debate to decide who won, a serious situation is developing in the Middle East and nobody in the press seems to be paying much attention. In the debate, Paul Ryan lambasted the Obama administration for … well, I’m not quite sure what his problem was exactly except that he believes everything the president has done so far is totally wrong.
Most of Ryan’s diatribe was, as Joe Biden observed, “malarkey.”
If Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan has a real solution to Mideast turmoil, it would be helpful to tell us what it is. But they spend all their time and energy criticizing President Obama instead. And, just as they do with their goofy budget proposal, they provide no details about the way they would handle the Mideast crisis.
Ryan had no answer when he was asked what he would do about Syria, for example.When Joe Biden asked him if he would send American troops to Syria, he hemmed and hawed and finally had to admit that he didn’t think that would be such a good idea. What he wanted to talk about, of course, was what Romney would have done in Obama’s place. It’s so easy to be a Monday morning quarterback, isn’t it?
The Syrian civil war is no joke. By making it a political football, Ryan is playing with fire.
Inexorably, the conflict is escalating, with Turkey on the brink of joining the fray in full force.
The implications of that are scary. As you probably know, the Syrian regime is a client of Iran – and a Russian ally. Turkey is an American client. It doesn’t take much imagination to see the region engulfed in a spreading conflict that leads to World War III.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to prod the Obama administration into a tougher stand on Iran’s nuclear program. How tough? Tough enough to include bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities without much further delay, it seems.
Naturally, Ryan was all over that crisis, too. He echoed the Romney complaint that President Obama’s strategy of arranging severe international sanctions against Iran is too little and way too late. So what would Romney do now if he were in the White House? Ryan’s lips were moving but nothing that made sense to me came out of his mouth. All I got was that he was mad at the president for enlisting the international community and working through the United Nations to contain Iran.
Ryan didn’t actually spell it out but his ideas sounded a lot like George W. Bush’s go-it-alone strategy that mired America in Iraq for the better part of a decade. Americans have been down that road once. I doubt they want to go there again.
Does Romney really want to bomb Iran? Sometimes it sounds as if that’s his plan, but then with the Etch-a-Sketch candidate you never know. Maybe he would and maybe he wouldn’t. Ryan wouldn’t say one way or another last night.
I think Romney revealed his secret strategy when he told those $50,000-a-plate donors that the Israeli-Palestine quarrel is too complex for him to bother with, that as president he would just let the situation work itself out without his interference.
And that’s just what Ryan was (quite unfairly) accusing Obama of doing in last night’s barrage.
It seems a shame that we have to endure the sound and fury of a general election , with its attendant debates and other theatrical events when the nation’s leaders should be focusing full-time on those extremely dangerous developments in the Middle East.
The sooner this campaign season is over the better for the nation – and the world.
Photo above shows members of the Free Syrian Army in Aleppo REUTERS/Zain Karam