Rick Perry vs. Turkey: A rebuttal from Turkey

Rick Perry slammed Turkey, a US ally, as ruled by "Islamic terrorists." Turkey's ambassador to the US replies.

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, Pool
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, left, speaks as Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum, and Mitt Romney listen at the South Carolina Republican presidential candidate debate in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Monday night. (

Rick Perry lumped Turkey in with Iran and Syria during remarks at the most recent GOP debate, lambasting the country’s (democratically elected) government as “what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists.”

Perry did get quite the loaded lead-in from moderator and Fox News host Brett Bair:

Governor Perry, since the Islamist-oriented party took over in Turkey, the murder rate of women has increased 1,400 percent there. Press freedom has declined to the level of Russia. The prime minister of Turkey has embraced Hamas and Turkey has threatened military force against both Israel and Cypress. Given Turkey’s turn, do you believe Turkey still belongs in NATO?

Perry offered thus:

Well, obviously when you have a country that is being ruled by, what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists, when you start seeing that type of activity against their own citizens, then yes. Not only is it time for us to have a conversation about whether or not they belong to be in NATO, but it’s time for the United States, when we look at their foreign aid, to go to zero with it.

And you go to zero with foreign aid for all of those countries. And it doesn’t make any difference who they are. You go to zero with that foreign aid and then you have the conversation about, do they have America’s best interest in mind? And when you have countries like Turkey that are moving far away from the country that I lived in back in the 1970′s as a pilot in the United States Air Force that was our ally, that worked with us, but today we don’t see that.

Our — our — our president, has a foreign policy that makes our allies very nervous and emboldens our enemies. And we have to have a president of the United States that clearly sends the message, whether it’s to Israel, our friend and there should be no space between the United States and Israel, period.

The Turkish Ambassador to the US didn’t take kindly to such remarks, however, responding in a statement that while Perry’s remarks were “unfortunate,”

 we do hope this episode in last night’s debate leads to a better informed foreign policy discussion among the Republican Party candidates, one where long-standing allies are treated with respect not disdain.

The Turkish Ambassador’s point-by-point rebuttal attests that Turkey:

  • Foreign aid: Turkey receives no significant sums of foreign aid dollars from the U.S. Indeed, Turkey is a strong and growing trading partner with the U.S. in general, and with Texas in particular creating thousands of jobs throughout that state. 

This deserves another line of comment - about a dozen Texas state lawmakers have taken all-expenses-paid trips to Turkey for economic/cultural reasons.

  • That Turkey is going backwards: Turkey is obviously not the same country that Governor Perry visited in the 1970s. As an accession country to the European Union and a founding member of the Council of Europe, Turkey has been continuously reviewing and enhancing the rights of all its citizens irrespective of their ethnic or religious background. Moreover, Turkey is now the 16th largest economy in the world, and the 6th biggest economy in Europe enjoying one of the most robust growth rates in its region and beyond.
  • On NATO: “Turkey is a secular democracy that has for decades been an essential and trusted partner of the U.S. Our bilateral relations are based on the common values of democracy and respect for human rights, rule of law, and free market economy. Whether in the fight against terrorism or violent extremism, in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria or against the proliferation of WMD, we stand side by side to tackle the many common threats and challenges of our times.”

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