Paul Ryan: Middle East allies worried by Trump, Obama

Last week Paul Ryan visited several U.S. allies in the Middle East. Thursday, Ryan told foreign policy reporters he heard a lot of worry from them about statements made by Donald Trump and President Obama. Politico reports:

Asked if leaders in the countries he visited last week — Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia — had raised qualms about Trump, Ryan said: “Sure, I got it.” Ryan said that Arab officials cited his condemnation in December of Trump’s call for halting Muslim immigration into the U.S.

“People over there knew about it and thanked me for doing it,” Ryan said. “I didn’t realize people paid this close attention to it.”

But not all of the concern shared with Ryan was about Trump’s statements. Some of it was about President Obama’s recent statements in an Atlantic magazine interview:

He said anxieties of Middle East allies were stoked by a recent Atlantic magazine article in which Obama complained about “free riders” who enjoy U.S. protection without contributing more to global security, and said that arch-rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran “need to find an effective way to share the neighborhood.”

“I can’t tell you how often I heard about that Atlantic article,” Ryan said. “It was quoted to me verbatim by heads of state…. It’s rattled our allies.”

Asked to describe his approach to foreign policy, Ryan told Politico, “I am not a neocon.” He also said his view of the use of U.S. military power had been changed by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan saying, “We are really good at winning the front end of these things, but the back end is a huge tail that you have to be really committed to.”

But Ryan also rejected the other extreme, criticizing what he saw as Trump’s “Fortress America” approach. “If we just pull back and think our oceans are going to save us, the evidence of the last couple of decades disproves that theory,” Ryan told Politico.