Juliette Kayyem thinks Perry’s idiotic comments on Turkey last week were designed to tap into anti-Islamic sentiment:
Perry surely knows some of this and would have corrected his statements if he had wanted to. And not a single candidate seems terribly willing to defend Turkey. Perry’s assertions were left to linger, a broad-brush stroke of stereotypes and Islam-bashing that filled the air with inaccuracies.
Kayyem is partly right, but it’s impossible to separate the insults Perry lobbed at the Turkish government from his overzealous “pro-Israel” views. Indeed, Perry’s answer on Turkey concluded by affirming that there should be “no space” between Israel and the U.S., which is what informed his hostility towards Turkey. Until Turkish-Israeli relations started collapsing in the last three years, you would have never heard national Republican figures making hostile statements about Turkey. After Erdogan’s Davos blow-up with Peres and even more so after the flotilla incident, it became common and practically expected for Republicans to deride the same government that just a few years before the Bush administration was lobbying the EU to accept as a member. Perry was just taking the existing talking points to their logical extreme.