Daniel W. Drezner

Rick Perry inspires a new foreign policy award

Rick Perry inspires a new foreign policy award

So I see Rick Perry gave a quasi-foreign policy speech at the Veterans of Foreign Wars 112th National Convention.  Here’s the gist of the foreign policy section: 

[A]  president should never send our sons and daughters into war without a plan to win, and the resources to make that possible.

In the dangerous world we live in today, our enemies often don’t wear a uniform or swear allegiance to a particular flag, but instead to an ideology of hatred.

As the tenth anniversary of the attacks of 9-11 approaches, we must renew our commitment to taking the fight to the enemy, wherever they are, before they strike at home.

I do not believe 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.

And we should always look to build coalitions among the nations to protect the mutual interests of freedom-loving people.

It is not in our interests to go it alone. We respect our allies, and must always seek to engage them in military missions.

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.

And when our interests are threatened, American soldiers should be led by American commanders.

I say this because we owe to them, and to their loved ones, to make sure any war we wage is led by the country with the most advanced military technology and the best training.

We have the finest fighting force the world has ever known.

We have a generation of heroes who love their nation, and who willingly sacrifice all that we may always be free.

The men and women of the United States Military are the greatest ambassadors of freedom this nation has ever sent abroad.

That’s why, when we send them to war, we must give them every weapon and every resource to help them succeed.

James Lindsay analyzes the content over at CFR, concluding that, "There is something in it for every significant foreign policy constituency in the GOP," although "any mainstream Republican or Democratic presidential candidate could have given Perry’s speech."  This is likely because, "while Perry’s speech was heavy on foreign policy bromides it was short on specifics."

Lindsay is being kind — this speech is ninety-eight percent concentrated pablum (contra Lindsay, the "multilateral debating society" crack does signal it being a GOP speech).  Seriously, I hereby challenge my friends at Shadow Government who might be Perry-friendly to find something of interest in this speech.  It’s the foreign policy equivalent of this scene from The Distinguished Gentleman


Now, to be fair to Perry, this San Antonio News-Express news story suggests that he had some constraints on what kind of speech he could deliver.  So, really, I’m not sure that anything of consequence can be divined from this…. er…. assemblage of cliches that maybe, just maybe, passes the Turing Test

Still, what Perry said is such pure, unadulterated boilerplate that, as a foreign policy commentator, one must step back and gape in wonder.  Reading it, the absence of anything interesting kept nagging me as hauntingly familiar. 

And then I realized — Rick Perry had just delivered the Wolf Blitzer of foreign policy speeches!!  It’s familiar, yet utterly devoid of interesting content!! 

And for that, Rick Perry is the distinguished inaugural nominee of the Wolf Blitzer Award for Foreign Policy Boilerplate.