Foreign policy isn’t Perry’s strong suit

Texas Gov. Rick Perry gave a speech in New York this morning, beginning to offer some hints about his approach to foreign policy. Nearly all of the Republican presidential candidate’s remarks focused on Israel, with a perspective that featured some mainstream and some non-mainstream ideas.

But if Perry is going to present himself as credible on foreign policy, he has a very long way to go.

As of this afternoon, Perry’s campaign website still doesn’t include the words “Afghanistan,” “Iraq,” or even “terrorism.” And when the governor does address the issue, he seems hopelessly lost.

Looking at the Texas governor’s statements on foreign policy over the past month on the campaign trail and in two debates reveals a foreign policy that is inconsistent, muddled, and sometimes contradictory. […]

Perry made extensive remarks on foreign policy Aug. 29 before the VFW National Convention. There, he spoke out against multilateralism…. But yesterday, Perry seemed to suggest the opposite when he talking about engaging allies. […]

In his VFW speech, He also has seemed to be for muscular interventionism — “We must renew our commitment to taking the fight to the enemy wherever they are, before they strike at home.”

But then in the very next sentence, he seemed to be against it — “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.”

Perry distanced himself from military “adventurism,” and then struggled to explain what he thinks that means. Later, he said “it’s time” to withdraw from Afghanistan, only to add that it’s “really important for us to continue to have a presence there.”

It seems like a safe bet that the 2012 presidential election will be focused far more on the domestic economic than foreign policy and national security, but for voters who take this issue seriously, Perry isn’t even remotely credible. This morning’s take on Israel doesn’t change that.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.