Coming off the debate where Texas Gov. Rick Perry had his infamous brain freeze, the expectations for the Texas governor were as low as could be for the foreign policy debate Saturday night. Fortunately for Perry, he greatly exceeded them.
In the first question asked, he suggested that the way to deal with Iran would be to make maximum use of sanctions to collapse the economy of that country, thus preventing it from creating nuclear weapons. Dealing with Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons has been a vexing problem in American foreign policy since the Bush administration. Perry’s strategy would be to attempt economic measures far greater than those thus far employed, thus hopefully avoiding the necessity of taking military action. Perry did not rule out military action either, though. Perry also criticized the Obama administration’s Afghanistan policy by advocating completing the mission in that country and not telegraphing when the United States would withdraw forces.
Perry made a little bit of news with the idea of starting every foreign aid program at zero and then evaluating on a country by country basis whether the aid it gets from the United States should continue. The idea is that if a foreign country works against the interests of the United States, it would be less likely to get aid than if a country were to ally itself with American interests. This is clearly directed at Pakistan, which has been playing a double game by supporting the United States on the one hand and at the same time supporting the terrorists on the other.
In response to a twitter question, Perry stated that even Israel would be included in the reevaluation. However he conceded that Israel, an American ally, is more likely to get aid money than countries who have not been as friendly as they should be to the United States.
Naturally he discussed the need for immigration control something that as a governor of a large border state he feels well qualified to discuss. He also touched on China, the need to enact cyber security, the use of “enhanced interrogation” (i.e. waterboarding), and the fiscal crisis in Europe. He regards China as much of a threat to American power as the Soviet Union was in the 1980s. Cyber security is a problem that needs an integrated response of both the government and the private sector. He is in favor of “enhanced interrogation.” He is confident that the Europeans can handle their fiscal crisis before it affects the American economy.
Hot Air suggests that Perry’s debate performance has saved his campaign from imminent death. However one solid debate performance is not going to eliminate the memory of all of those other debate, especially the infamous “brain freeze.” Perry will have to turn in a series of solid performances to prove that he has finally gotten his groove and can be trusted to go toe to toe with President Obama next fall.
Sources: Perry Brain Freeze Latest in a Long Line of Debate Gaffes, Mark R. Whittington, Yahoo News, Nov 10, 2011
CBS News/NJ debate transcript, CBS News, Nov 13, 2011
South Carolina debate wrap, Jazz Shaw, Hot Air, Nov 13, 2011