Rick, we hardly knew ye
Rick Perry’s presidential campaign, which is ending today, will almost certainly be remembered best years from now for the infamous "oops" moment, but he had some notable foreign-policy highlights as well. Here’s a look back at the governor’s greatest hits: On his (not necessarily the smartest) team: There’s not a person that’s been born yet ...
Rick Perry's presidential campaign, which is ending today, will almost certainly be remembered best years from now for the infamous "oops" moment, but he had some notable foreign-policy highlights as well. Here's a look back at the governor's greatest hits:
Rick Perry’s presidential campaign, which is ending today, will almost certainly be remembered best years from now for the infamous "oops" moment, but he had some notable foreign-policy highlights as well. Here’s a look back at the governor’s greatest hits:
On his (not necessarily the smartest) team:
There’s not a person that’s been born yet that knows everything that’s going on, but you better have the ability to identify really good people. That’s how I’ve run Texas. For ten years. I’ve had very, very wise… They may not be the smartest ones. President Obama has got some really smart people around him; I just don’t know how wise they are.
On sending the military to Mexico:
“The way that we were able to stop the drug cartels in Colombia was with a coordinated effort,” Perry said. “It may require our military in Mexico working in concert with them to kill these drug cartels and to keep them off of our border and to destroy their networks. I don’t know all the scenarios that are out there but I think it is very important that we work with them, to keep that country from failing.”
On what he would do if the Taliban obtained a nuclear weapon:
“Well, obviously, before you ever get to that point, you have to build a relationship in that region. And that’s one of the things that this administration has not done. Just yesterday we found out through Admiral Mullen that Haqqani has been involved with — and that’s the terrorist group directly associated with the Pakistani country — so to have a relationship with India, to make sure that India knows that they are an ally of the United States.”
“For instance, when we had the opportunity to sell India the upgraded F-16’s, we chose not to do that. [This was factually wrong. It was India that rejected the U.S. fighters.]We did the same with Taiwan. The point is, our allies need to understand clearly that we are their friends, we will be standing by there with them. Today, we don’t have those allies in that region that can assist us if that situation that you talked about were to become a reality.”
“Listen, there are some people who made the statement that the 21st century is going to be the century of China and that, you know, we’ve had our time in the sunshine. I don’t believe that. I don’t believe that at all. As a matter of fact, you think back to the 1980s, and we faced a similar type of a situation with Russia. And Ronald Reagan said that Russia would end up on the ash heap of history, and he was right. I happen to think that the communist Chinese government will end up on the ash heap of history if they do not change their virtues. It is important for a country to have virtues, virtues of honesty. And this whole issue of allowing cybersecurity to go on, we need to use all of our resources. The private sector working along with our government to really– standing up to cyber-command in 2010 was a good start on that. But fighting this cyberwar I would suggest is one of the great issues that will face the next president of the united states and we must win.”
“Listen, I think we’re havin’ an interesting conversation here, but the deeper one that the speaker makes a reference to is the whole issue of foreign aid…. The foreign aid budget in my administration for every country is gonna start at zero dollars. Zero dollars. And then we’ll have a conversation. Then we’ll have a conversation in this country about whether or not a penny of our taxpayer dollar needs to go into those countries.
On marines urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban:
Listen, as — you know, I volunteered to wear the uniform of our country. And what bothers me more than anything, is this administration and this administration’s disdain all too often for our men and women in uniform. Whether it was what they’ve said about the Marines — now these young men made a mistake. They obviously made a — a mistake.
BAIER: You’re talking about urinating on the corpses?
PERRY: They — they made a — a mistake that the military needs to deal with. And they need to be punished. But the fact of the matter — the fact of the matter is this, when the Secretary of Defense calls that a despicable act, when he calls that utterly despicable. Let me tell you what’s utterly despicable, cutting Danny Pearl’s head off and showing the video of it.
PERRY: Hanging our contractors from bridges. That’s utterly despicable. For our president for the Secretary of State, for the Department of Defense secretary to make those kinds of statements about those young Marines — yes, they need to be punished, but when you see this president with that type of disdain for our country, taking a trillion dollars out of our defense budget, 100,000 of our military off of our front lines, and a reduction of forces, I lived through a reduction of force once and I saw the result of it in the sands of Iran in 1979. Never again.
PERRY: And you go to zero with foreign aid for all of those countries. And it doesn’t make any difference who they are. You go to zero with that foreign aid and then you have the conversation about, do they have America’s best interest in mind? And when you have countries like Turkey that are moving far away from the country that I lived in back in the 1970?s as a pilot in the United States Air Force that was our ally, that worked with us, but today we don’t see that.
All in all, given the high expectations and money spent, the Perry campaign was pretty disappointing. (Although you have to be somewhat impressed with a politician who can earn condmenation from officials of two foreign governments without even winning his party’s nomination.)
To give credit where it’s due, aside from the non-starter idea of sending U.S. troops into Mexican territory, Perry had much more realistic and humane rhetoric on border security and immigration than many of his counterparts. It’s unfortunate that in the current political climate, that was considered a liability.
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating
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