Texas Governor and GOP presidential hopeful Rick Perry finally laid out his foreign policy platform and, in doing so, attempted to set himself apart from both the neoconservative foreign policy of George W. Bush and the progressive realism (and corresponding embrace of multilateral institutions) employed by the Barack Obama administration.
Perry rejected the aggressive unilateralism of the Bush foreign policy, saying:
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 and we should always look to build coalitions among the nations to protect the mutual interests of freedom loving people.
But he shied away from the mulilateral coalition building proven effective by Obama in toppling Muammar al-Qaddafi in Libya and gaining U.N. Security Council support for Iran sanctions. Perry said, “We cannot concede the moral authority of our nation to multi-lateral debating societies.”
Perry is eager to distance himself from Bush’s foreign policy doctrine, which left the U.S. overextended in two wars. And he needs to steer his campaign clear of endorsing Obama’s foreign policy since a large swath of the GOP criticized the White House’s Libya strategy and predicted Obama’s “leading from behind” would lead to defeat for Libyan rebels.
But distancing himself from the Bush administration or the “military adventurism” exhibited in the invasion of Iraq might be difficult with Douglas Feith — a Bush administration official well known for leading the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans which was reponsible for cooking up faulty intel on Iraq’s WMD program — and Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld serving to advise Perry on foreign policy.
Indeed, advice from Feith might have been what led Perry to already contradict his position against military adventurism when asked about about preemptive military strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities. He said there are “a lot of different ways to deal with Iran,” and added:
I’m never going to take off the table our ability to have a military solution to a country like Iran.
Perry, much like George W. Bush in 2000, appears to be making campaign promises of a modest foreign policy and cautious use of military force all while surrounding himself with foreign policy hawks who will do all they can to keep the U.S. on a war footing.