Sunday, September 25, 2011


As governor of Texas, he wants to be president of the United States. He has no foreign policy experience. He believes in American exceptionalism meaning we can act unilaterally and damn the consequences. He runs against Washington and supporters say he will surround himself with the best and the brightest to fill in any gaps in his resume. He loves corporate America and doubts global warming and evolution. He got mediocre grades in college and Texas is at the bottom in everything from infant mortality to education funding. It is easy to think this is a trip in the wayback machine to the campaign of 2000, but the reality is Rick Perry is the mirror image of George Bush and once again an intellectual homunculus is asking the American people to let him lead this nation.

Perry gave a speech in New York that showed he learned nothing from the massive failure which was the Bush foreign policy. Even worse, Perry appears to be channeling the Project for a New American Century. The only thing missing form his speech was a reference to the axis of evil. He accused President Obama of advocating a policy of appeasement in the Middle East. (Interesting choice of words given he was surround by Jewish supporters.) Obama is appeasing the Arab street at the expense of Israel according to Perry. He, and regressives in general, see a chance to peal off Jewish voters from Obama by supporting Israel unconditionally even at the expense of American national security. (In 1992, Paul Wolfowitz wrote a paper arguing for an invasion of Iraq to take out Saddam Hussein and strengthen Israel's Likkud party. George H. W. Bush fired him over it. In 1998, the paper turned in to a document signed by the majority of Bush's national security team supporting an invasion of Iraq in order to use Iraq as a "strategic pivot" to put pressure on the entire Arab world and force concessions for Israel. The result was an American tragedy.)

Perry's speech could have been given by Bush or Cheney. He attacked Obama while surrounded by Jewish supporters. Obama had been too quick to pull support from Mubarak and Gaddafi and the regime in Tunisia. He had been too slow to support revolution in Syria and Iran. Perry came off as a toady to Israel and totally lacking in any sophistication or nuance in his view of Middle East policy or foreign policy in general. He is another Texas governor willing to waste American blood and treasure for dubious if not immoral reasons. The only question he has to be wondering about is whether or not he can conjure up another September 11th to use for cover.

It was frightening to think after 8 years of foreign policy disasters, the only lesson Perry absorbed was to march in lockstep with Likkud and offering intellectually vapid critiques of the Arab Spring and its implications for Israel's future. No one asked Perry how his policy would be different or what he would do as president to foment revolution in Iran. Perry showed no understanding of how U.S. overt interference could backfire and strengthen the Iranian rulers and allow them to label all opposition as tools of American foreign policy. Was Perry willing to go to war with Iran like Bush and Cheney threatened? What would he do to stop their nuclear proliferation different than what Obama is doing? If Assad steps down or is thrown out in Syria, who will replace him? If there is civil war how does that affect Lebanon and Israel and Iraq? Does Perry think there are military solutions to these problems and what does he do with a military that is broken, some say irreparably?

Obama has actually built coalitions in contrast to Bush's ersatz "coalition of the willing". He waited to go after Mubarak until other Arab countries were on board. In Libya, Obama refused to take the lead and insisted NATO and the Arab League shoulder the biggest roles. In Syria, Obama has let Turkey and Saudi Arabia attack Assad and call for an end to the violence and for political reform. He has been able to get Europe and China to support strong economic sanctions against both Syria and Iran. Bush could not get European support for any initiative. Perry wants to go back to a policy which was an unmitigated disaster for this country.

To quote Santayana has become a cliché, but even clichés contain an element of truth. The Bush policy in the Middle East will go down as one of the worst foreign policy mistakes in history. He allowed Netanyahu to run roughshod over the Palestinians and watched the peace process disintegrate. Even as Israel expanded illegal settlements, built a wall through Palestinian land and invaded Lebanon again, Bush had nothing to say and no roadmap to offer. By invading Iraq and Afghanistan, he played right into the hands of Osama Bin Laden and made recruitment of terrorists a snap. While we attacked Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran sat back and, without firing a shot, emerged as the new power in the region. Today they have undo influence in Iraq and Syria and Hezbollah controls much of Lebanon and Iran had been fomenting problems in Bahrain and other Gulf states.

Perry appears not to have learned any of these lessons. He is as tone deaf on foreign policy as he is on Social Security, global warming, evolution, homosexuality, separation of church and state and the economy. It is truly frightening to envision him as commander in chief. He is an intellectual baby pool...30 feet wide and an inch deep.

Supporters of Israel do themselves no favor hitching their wagons to Perry. America was severely hurt by the foreign policies of George Bush and so was Israel. As the Arab Spring takes hold, Israel is more isolated than ever. Perry wishes to compound the problem. He is not unique. Other than former Utah governor John Huntsman, none of the Republican candidates have articulated any coherent vision of the world or offered any specifics as to how they would operate differently than the President. Is it possible none of them has learned anything from the Bush debacle?

Is Rick Perry to stupid to be president? No. However, if you asked me if he has the wisdom to lead this nation, my answer would be quite different.


  1. Bernie, is an irony of ironies that Bush and Perry are of the same party as Theodore Roosevelt. For all of his faults was the diametrical opposite of these two. The politics of the 1900-1912 as presented in Edmund Morris's "Colonel Roosevelt" makes for worthwhile reading as a mirror for happenings of this last decade.

  2. I don't believe that Perry will get far. Looks like it's coming down to Mitt and Rick and I think principally because each can raise money. But that's today ...