By Paolo von Schirach
January 17, 2012
WASHINGTON – The only mildly reassuring thing about Texas Governor Rick Perry running for the Republican Party nomination is that his chances are slim. How this misinformed man managed to become the Governor of a large state is a mystery. His latest really, really stupid statement is about Turkey’s Justice and Development Party that according to Perry established a Turkish Government that may perceived as run by “Islamic terrorists”. Was this some kind of slip, an unfortunate misstatement? Did Perry mean to say something else?
Turkey run by Islamic terrorists?
Well, no. Wolf Blitzer of CNN in a January 17 interview gave Perry ample chance to correct this outlandish claim. But no, Governor Perry repeated it. And he supported it on the basis of the fact that there are many “honor killings” in Turkey: homicides that are treated with leniency because the killer supposedly acted to defend the family’s honor. Perry finds this abominable. And, quite frankly, so do I.
But what do “honor killings” have to do with “Islamic terrorism”? Perry went on talking about Turkey’s support for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip who are governed by Hamas. And we know that Hamas engages in terrorism. But does all this amount to a Government in Ankara being run by “Islamic terrorists”? Is Turkey al Qaeda on steroids? Is this another version of the most militant Taliban?
Not a NATO member in good standing
In the CNN interview Perry also opined that the US should review Turkey’s NATO membership and cut down the billions of foreign aid dollars that Turkey gets from USAID. And so, in just a couple of minutes Perry managed to call Turkey a terrorist country, while he recommended the review of its status as a NATO country, at the same time manufacturing the fact that Turkey gets billions of US foreign aid dollars –a complete fabrication, as Turkey is barely mentioned as a US foreign aid recipient, with just a few million dollars, while Egypt, Israel, Afghanistan and Pakistan get billions.
Ron Paul says silly things, Perry makes stuff up
Look, one thing is to have outlandish foreign policy positions, as Congressman Ron Paul does. Paul would like to do away with most US foreign engagements, having adopted a very restrictive view of the US national interest. Paul, a fellow Texan, also says silly things, (something in the water down there?), but usually he does not manufacture his own facts.
Governor Perry does. Look, there is plenty to criticize about any Government run by people who openly profess to be inspired by their religion, be it Islam or Christianity. I am very much in favor of secular governments. But to say that, since Ankara is governed by an Islamic Party, Turkey is now run by terrorists is really too much. And again, even assuming that the religiously inspired leaders do treat ”honor killings” with leniency, (something they should be openly criticized for), this does not make them terrorists.
Governor Perry is ignorant
Governor Perry is a clumsy fool, terribly ignorant about truly basic facts. He extrapolates and makes connections that are totally meaningless. In doing so, he managed to carelessly offend a key NATO ally, prompting a resented Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey to issue a sharp statement, followed by another statement by the US Department of State that unequivocally reaffirmed Turkey’s critical role as a key US ally. Nice work, Governor.
People running for president should know be knowledgeable about the world
And, worse yet, apparently Perry does not even have anybody around advising him to rephrase silly utterances that only show how ignorant and misinformed he is. Sure enough, Turkey does not loom large as an issue in the forthcoming South Carolina Republican primary. But Perry is running for president of the United States. Certain standards should apply. Or may they do not.
Lacking any standards, and the US presidential contest having turned into amateur hour, the only reassuring thing in all this is that Governor Perry, for other reasons, is at the bottom of the polls. Let’s hope he stays there.