Speaking of Dog Whistles: Rick Perry Talks Crazy About Turkey

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(See two updates below.) This should go without saying, but since I haven't yet seen it elsewhere on our site:

For the record, Rick Perry during last night's debate showed his trademark command of details, and owes the government and people of Turkey an apology, for calling Turkey, a U.S. ally through NATO:


"...a country that is being ruled by, what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists..."

Here is a temperate statement in response just now from the Turkish ambassador to the United States. At the moment, the United States has its disagreements on some issues with the Turkish government, as it does with most of its other allies. And in Turkey as in many parts of the world the role of Islam in secular government is an ongoing political issue. (Turkey has a longer record of wrestling with this question than just about any other modern state. See: Kemal Ataturk, career and thoughts of.) But "Islamic terrorists"???

As the Turkish ambassador puts it:
Contrary to statements during the debate, 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....

While it was 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.
I call that a glass half-full perspective! Maybe this episode got no notice because of Perry's past debate record and the fact that he's not going to win the nomination. Still I thought it deserved mention.

Update. A reader on what might have happened:
My guess would be that he thought he was talking about Pakistan, and mixed up the countries. The argument about being governed by terrorists can be made about Pakistan, and there has been a fair amount of comment recently.  Mr. Perry just blanked on the country and grabbed the first one he could find in the "Middle East" category in this head.
 
Of course, this may be giving him too much of the benefit of the doubt....

Update-update Another reader offers another hypothesis:

Perry wasn't mixing up Turkey and Pakistan. He was responding to the following question:

"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?"

Bret Baier loaded the question to such an extent that Perry had to choose between either defending Turkey or agreeing with the premise of the question. Of course, he chose a third way by doubling down with the word "terrorist."
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

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