Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rick Perry: Like Dick Cheney, Only Dumber

Daniel Larison takes Rick Perry's foreign policy argument apart in The American Conservative.

Perry’s argument is the usual hawkish combination of threat inflation, fear-mongering, lazy references to “isolationism,” and stale Reagan nostalgia. He talks about a “profound” threat to the U.S. and the entire world from a jihadist group when it is no such thing, and hopes that his readers will be so alarmed by this that they won’t pay attention to how shoddy his argument is. Perry is engaging in the same behavior that the former head of MI6 recently criticized: he is helping to give groups like the Islamic State the attention they crave, and he is grossly exaggerating the danger they pose to the U.S. and its allies. The governor’s analysis relies on blurring the differences between competing jihadist groups and their goals to frighten the public into assuming that any similar group that emerges represents a major security threat to the U.S.

Since Perry’s assessment of the threat is wrong, it is no wonder that he wants the U.S. to respond to it by making unnecessary commitments. It goes without saying that Perry makes no attempt to persuade that the measures he proposes will have any desirable effect. In all likelihood, the “meaningful assistance” he demands, which includes airstrikes, will help to make the U.S. more of a target of the Islamic State than it currently is, and it will make the U.S. a party to a sectarian war on the side of an abusive government. That has nothing to do with defending Americans or U.S. interests, and it’s telling that Perry thinks he can dismiss this glaring flaw with standard bromides about “isolationism” and freedom.

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