During tonight’s GOP presidential debate in South Carolina, Fox News’s Bret Baier asked a question that seemed to give credence to the right wing’s anti-Turkey campaign. “Since the Islamist-oriented party took over in Turkey,” Baier said, the murder rate of women has increased, press freedom has declined, and the country has “embraced Hamas” and threatened military action against Israel.
Baier then asked Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) if “Turkey still belongs in NATO.” “Obviously when you have a country that is being ruled by what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists, when you start seeing that type of activity against their own citizens, then, yes,” Perry replied. Watch the clip:
In fact, Turkey is an important strategic partner of the United States. As White House national security aide Tony Blinken said a couple of months ago:
Turkey has been a longstanding ally to the United States through NATO. We have worked together closely throughout the decade in [many] theaters of conflict. We have Turkish soldiers in Afghanistan standing side-by-side with our troops. We have Turkish cooperation in Iraq. Turkey has taken a strong stand against the Asad government in Syria, and the Prime Minister has called on Asad to step down. Turkey is implementing Arab League sanctions. It played a very significant role in Libya in terms of supporting forces for progress there. And we’re seeing similar things in Egypt. So in many, many areas, as well by the way, as trade and economic ties, which have I think have increased twofold since President Obama has been in office. So in many, many areas we’re working very, very closely with Turkey.