Rick Perry calls Turkey's leaders 'Islamic terrorists': The fallout

The Texas governor raises eyebrows in the foreign policy community — and raises the hackles of a critical U.S. ally

Rick Perry
(Image credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

"It isn't often [that] a presidential primary debate causes an international incident," says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway, "but Rick Perry managed" to do just that at this week's South Carolina GOP debate — saying key U.S. ally Turkey is currently "ruled by what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists," and should be booted from NATO. Turkey is predictably furious: Its foreign ministry called Perry's "inappropriate" remarks ill-informed, Turkish newspaper columnist Mustafa Akyol tweeted that Perry is "an idiot," and Turkey's ambassador to the U.S. noted that his country is a "secular democracy" and U.S. partner against terrorism — not to mention "a strong and growing trading partner with the U.S. in general, and with Texas in particular, creating thousands of jobs throughout that state." Even as outrage grows, Perry is standing by his remarks. What is he up to?

This is a terrible insult to a critical ally: Let's get a few things straight, says Juan Cole at Informed Comment. Turkey's ruling party "is not even fundamentalist, much less terrorist," and the peacekeeping troops Turkey sent to Afghanistan are battling actual Islamist terrorists alongside U.S. forces. Maybe Perry is showing off his trademark "complete ignorance" on foreign policy, or maybe he's sucking up to the GOP's Israel-worshipping wing. Either way, it's a "profound insult to reward [Turkey's] friendship with the U.S. by this kind of trash talk." Americans should be "deeply relieved" that Perry has little chance of becoming president.

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