By Mike Martin
Speaker Paul Ryan and Presidential nominee Donald Trump don’t see eye to eye on a range of issues, among them, national security. Indeed, when it comes to American security, the speaker and the presumptive nominee propose markedly different approaches. Take, for example, the Speaker’s recently released GOP agenda for national security. While there is some overlap between Ryan’s new campaign treatise on foreign policy and those of Trump’s “America First” pronouncements, there is plenty that separates the two. This includes:
Trump has suggested on several occasions that the best way to counter the nuclear threat from North Korea is to allow nearby countries, including Japan and South Korea, to develop nuclear weapons of their own. Speaker Ryan’s agenda prefers the use of efforts to “shore up our defense arrangements” to bring together Japan, South Korea and our other Asian allies. In his agenda, the Speaker claimed that this will be the best way to deter North Korea or China from “tilting the global balance toward autocracy,” and he didn’t mention arming our allies or allowing them to develop nuclear weapons of their own.
Response to Russian Aggression
Trump wants to work with Putin and has said that he believes the two could work very well together. The Ryan report, by contrast, echoes the GOP’s position on the need to counter conventional threats from a resurgent Russia. In his report, the Speaker stated that the United States should stand up to Russian aggression while bolstering the Ukrainian government, because he claims Putin’s militarism “poses a threat to the United States and our allies.”
Nuclear Deal with Iran
Both Ryan and Trump agree that the Iran nuclear deal was terrible for the United States. That said, Trump has stated that one of his first actions as president would be to dismantle this disastrous deal. Speaker Ryan, however, stops short of this, even though many Republicans favor terminating the deal as well. Speaker Ryan favors negotiating a new deal between the two sides, and he believes that America needs to tighten the sanctions imposed on Iran, and then “confront any regime hostility” that stems from the sanctions. Ryan believes that imposing these sanctions on Iran will ultimately stop Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization Issue
Both Trump and Speaker Ryan agree that American allies need to be pressed to increase their funding contributions to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), but the two differ on their views of the organization in other respects. Trump believes that it would be fine to break NATO apart, because it is obsolete and because America pays in “a disproportionate amount” compared to other countries. Because of this, he has stated that, as President, he would reassess U.S. membership in the organization.
Conversely, Speaker Ryan’s agenda states that organizations like NATO are critical. The Speaker feels that we need to strengthen this organization and its presence in Europe, instead of thinking about ways to break it apart. The agenda claims that we can do this by providing training and assistance to East European member states, and by asking these countries to increase their own domestic military readiness and spending.
Ryan disagrees with Trump’s idea of building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to stop illegal immigration. Instead, the report calls for a “multi-layered approach” involving an increase in Border Patrol agents, aerial surveillance and radar protection to prevent people and weapons from entering the U.S. illegally.
The Speaker does agree with Trump on certain points, including battling overseas terrorism and reversing the Obama administration’s cutbacks on spending and military manpower; but the differences in ideology still loom above the two men. Because of this, there is no doubt that in the coming months, Speaker Ryan will try to reconcile these differences and align Trump with his national security ideology.
How that will work out remains to be seen, as Trump doesn’t seem likely to budge on his stances. To be sure, this will create an interesting build up to the GOP’s platform for this year’s election, and something we will be able to follow closely from here on out.
Michael Martin is a Juris Doctor candidate at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. He is also pursuing a specialization in cyber and homeland security through Maryland’s new cyber-security certificate program, and he is pursuing a career in the field of homeland security.