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Tea Party Pentagon? How a Rick Perry Win Could Sweep Neo-cons Back to Power

No surprise that Perry is consorting with left-over neocons from the Bush administration.
 
 
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The following article first appeared on the Web site of The Nation. For more great content from the Nation, sign up for its e-mail newsletters here. 

No one seriously believes that Republicans will nominate the wild-eyed, certifiable Michele Bachmann for president, and Romney the Robot isn’t setting Tea Party hearts aflutter. So it looks like Rick Perry, the Bible-thumping, secessionist hawk—who’s already assembling a team of neoconservative advisers—will get the nod to challenge President Obama in 2012.

Were Perry to win, his victory—especially if the GOP, as seems likely, conquers the Senate—will speed the United States down the merry path to oblivion at least a couple of decades before the rise of China and India do anyway. Worryingly, Perry might be exactly the know-nothing hawk who decides to use US military power to forestall America’s inevitable decline by force, even if it leads to World War III. Like Tea Party fanatics who courted financial Armageddon by insisting that reneging on US debt obligations wouldn’t be so bad, Perry’s own Tea Party Pentagon, staffed by neoconservatives, might decide the nuclear Armageddon wouldn’t be so bad, either, as long as it makes the world understand how exceptional American exceptionalism is.

Indeed, as James Lindsey points out for the Council on Foreign Relations, in his screed, Fed Up: Our Fight to Save America from Washington, a book that he allegedly wrote, Perry declares that “exceptional” America has to be prepared for war with China and India:

We are now confronted with the rise of new economic and military powerhouses in China and India, as well as a Russia that is increasingly aggressive and troublesome to its neighbors and former satellite nations that are struggling to maintain their relatively newfound independence. There is no reason to believe that armed conflict with any major power is imminent, but the world is rapidly changing, and the United States must be prepared for the ramifications of shifting balances of power.” 

And Perry adds, concerning the “reset” in relations with Russia:

“It was a slap in the face to a number of our allies. As a Wall Street Journal article put it, ‘Some prominent figures in the region, such as former Polish President Lech Walesa, worried the new US administration was turning away from its traditional allies in Central Europe to placate Russia’.… Surely we can’t be serious?”

In his speech proclaiming his candidacy, in which he said elegantly that “we don’t need a president who apologizes for America,” and he added: “What I learned in my 20’s traveling the globe as an Air Force pilot, our current president has yet to acknowledge in his 50s—that we are the most exceptional nation on the face of the earth.”

No surprise, of course, that Perry is consorting with left-over neocons from the Bush administration, as National Review reported in July, such as Douglas Feith, the ¨uber-hawk who oversaw the war in Iraq, and Bill Luti, Feith’s compatriot in the Bush White House, who joined with Vice President Cheney to persuade Bush that an unprovoked attack on Iraq was the right thing to do, and Dan Blumenthal, another Bush veteran who’s taken up residence at the American Enterprise Institute. Though the Tea Party types who support nut-libertarian Ron Paul oppose wars such as Iraq and Afghanistan and want to reduce the size of the Pentagon, Perry appeals to the other side of the Tea Party and to traditional Republican hawks who oppose the libertarians’ outright isolationism. Indeed, a source close to Perry told National Review that Perry does not exhibit “the neo-isolationism that you might expect from certain people [close to] the Tea Party.” (According to Politico, Donald Rumseld is setting up Perry’s encounters with the neocons.)

 

Robert Dreyfuss is the author of "Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam" (Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books).
 
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