Rick Perry established a new gold standard for hawkish foreign policy at Saturday night’s GOP debate in New Hampshire. Not only is he mad President Obama withdrew US forces, he wants to put them back on the ground there immediately.
“I would send troops back into Iraq,” Rick Perry told a New Hampshire audience at Saturday night’s GOP debate, warning that without yet another military operation in Iraq it would fall under the influence of neighboring Iran.
“I think it’s a huge error for us,” he said. “We’re going to see Iran in my opinion, move back in at literally the speed of light. They’re going to move back in. And all of the work we’ve done — every young man that has lost his life in that country will have been for nothing. Because we’ve got a president that does not understand what’s going on in that region.”
US forces were withdrawn at the request of the Iraqi government, who signed an agreement with the Bush administration in 2008 legally requiring them to leave by the end of this year. Perry insisted that Obama could have renegotiated the deal to keep troops there.
Update: TPM checked in with Perry foreign policy adviser Victoria Coates on the candidate’s Iraq plan. She said that troops returning to Iraq would be brought in by renegotiating a new Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government. While she insisted Perry would not budge on the issue of granting soldiers’ immunity from Iraq courts, the problem that tripped up the Obama administration in negotiations about whether some soldiers would remain, Coates said Perry’s superior leadership skills would bring about a new deal to return to Iraq.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.