So Rick Perry decided to give a speech about foreign policy today. As long as you don’t try to read closely and use logic, there is a little bit of everything for everyone:
I do not believe that America should fall subject to a foreign policy of military adventurism
We should only risk shedding American blood and spending American treasure when our vital interests are threatened
Pretty much Bush Doctrine neoconism, depending on the definition of threatened!
we should always look to build coalitions among the nations to protect the mutual interests of freedom loving people.
Some Obama-flavor foreign policy! Mixed with a dash of Texas twang.
It’s not our interest to go it alone. We respect our allies, and we must always seek to engage them in military missions.
What a pussy!
At the same time, we must be willing to act when it is time to act. We cannot concede the moral authority of our nation to multi-lateral debating societies
Oh nevermind! He didn’t really mean what he said about allies. He just kind of sort of meant it because it sounds nice but we can ignore it when we feel like it!
Daniel Foster at NRO’s The Corner reacts:
Like I said, I know there are ways of cashing out these concepts so you get something consistent (e.g. defining our “vital interests” broadly enough to support preemptive war; have a conception of multilateral legitimacy that includes ad hoc “coalitions of the willing” but is agnostic about the U.N.). But the debate on the Right at the moment is, very roughly speaking, between the Bush Doctrine and good ol’ fashioned realism, and Perry certainly sounds like he’s trying to help himself to both.
There is a great female writer/blogger out of Texas named Erica Grieder who has been writing about the inner personality of Rick Perry for a little while. Her main argument is that Rick Perry is primarily a politician at heart, and his purported extremism should be largely ignored because it is a facade.
It is an interesting point of view, even if it is both comforting and scary at the same time. On the one hand, he isn’t batshit insane. On the other hand he is very mold-able, willing to defer to his advisors and/or public opinion for political positions and policies. That sort of thing got Bush in a lot of trouble. Not politically, but in terms of governing. He seemed to trust those around him more than he trusted himself, and people like Rumsfeld and Cheney, who had both been players in Washington since the early 70s, were largely free to pursue the things they had dreamed of accomplishing many decades ago. And that didn’t turn out so great.
To get back on point, Perry’s speech on foreign policy is probably the clearest sign yet that he is not only a too malleable politician but also one that doesn’t have a clear vision about the world, yet. Can one be formed (or coalesced from his consciousness) before the campaign season gets serious? Probably. He’s going to have to do a lot better than “we want coalitions except when we don’t and we want to avoid wars except when we need to go to war”.