Lindsay: Rick Perry backs a no-fly zone over Syria
November 22nd, 2011
03:57 PM ET

Lindsay: Rick Perry backs a no-fly zone over Syria

Editor's Note: Dr. James M. Lindsay is a Senior Vice President at the Council on Foreign Relations and co-author of America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy. Visit his blog here and follow him on Twitter

By James M. Lindsay – Special to CNN

The GOP presidential candidates meet tonight in Washington, DC, for a CNN-sponsored debate on national security policy. It will be the eleventh debate this year, with two more scheduled before the Iowa caucuses on January 3. The unusually high number of debates hasn’t hurt viewership. The debate that Fox News sponsored in September drew 6.1 million viewers—nearly twice the audience of the most popular debate four years ago. The debate ten days ago in Spartanburg, South Carolina drew more than 5 million viewers. To put those numbers in perspective, last week’s episode of NBC’s The Office drew 5.5 million viewers.

One question that could come up tonight is what to do about Syria. Rick Perry was asked that question last night on Fox News. His answer? Impose a no-fly zone. Unlike President Obama in Libya, however, a President Perry “would not spend a lot of time waiting for the UN” before deciding to act. Perry didn’t say whether he expected other countries to join the U.S. effort, how the no-fly zone would operate, or why the United States would want to become involved in yet another military conflict in the Arab world.

Jon Huntsman writes on today that the United States needs to rethink its defense policy in the wake of the super committee’s failure to craft a long-term deficit reduction deal. He proposes shifting attention to the Asia-Pacific region, scaling back the number of active duty troops, and reducing America’s global footprint:

We must also transform our orientation. By almost any objective measure–population, economic power, military might, energy use–the center of gravity of global human activity is moving toward the Asia-Pacific region. Embracing this reality may bring a dramatic change to the look of our military.

If we simultaneously transform our capabilities and posture while enhancing our Guard and Reserve, our active duty army could be reduced to around 450,000 troops, from the approximately 565,000 we now have. Our Department of Defense civilian work force can also be cut by 5 percent to 7 percent of its current size.

At the same time, we should conduct a global posture review with the goal of closing at least 50 overseas military installations. The U.S. military maintains more than 700 installations outside the United States, the vast majority of which were opened during the Cold War. With a more mobile and flexible force, we simply don’t need as many facilities overseas.

Newt Gingrich announced his national security team this morning. The marquee names are former Reagan national security adviser Robert McFarlane and former Clinton CIA director R. James Woolsey. Gingrich says he plans to rely on his advisers:

as we assert our vision of an exceptional America that, contrary to what President Obama may believe, will continue to be both the world’s leading power and most assiduous defender of freedom for generations to come.

We should hear a lot tonight about Obama’s purported failure to believe in American exceptionalism. On that score, the Pew Global Attitudes Project reports that its most recent poll found that just 49 percent of Americans either completely or mostly agreed with the statement “Our people are not perfect, but our culture is superior to others.” That’s down from 60 percent in 2002 and 55 percent in 2007.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of Jim Lindsay.

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Topics: 2012 Election • Syria

soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. GOPisGreedOverPeople

    Just think. When the GOP regain power, they will start a war with Iran (totally unfunded of course). Then they will draft all the poor people to fight(die) in the war (just like the GOP wants) and give "no bid" contracts to the rich people. Killing two birds with one stone!!! Then we can use Iran's oil to pay for the war. And when the war is over, Iran will sell us cheap oil!!! Just like Iraq........Oh wait........Never mind.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      No, first with Syria! Rick Perry would impose a No-Fly-Zone there. Unlike Obama with Libya he wouldn't want to wait for the U.N. Security Council to pass such a resoultion!

      November 22, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Reply
  2. pmacdnald

    "that of".

    ..."our culture is superior to that of others". It doesn't make sense to compare 'culture' with 'other' people. You should compare culture with their culture.

    So...a culture of individualism, selfishness, greed, ignorance, aggression, arrogance and violence versus another culture.

    November 22, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Reply
    • Phil

      @ pmcdnald: I don't suppose you mean a culture of freedom (of expression, assembly, belief, speech, movement and action) against a culture of dictatorial oppression. Western culture (whether European or Anglo-Saxon) can be considered superior simply because it allows people to fulfill their dreams and aspirations, as opposed to crushing those same dreams under cultural and political "standards". I would be interested if you could name another country in the world where similar standards apply.

      November 23, 2011 at 5:27 am | Reply
  3. K2K

    Nothing worth watching on Wednesday or Saturday nights.
    CNN is competing tonight for whoever is not amongst the 23+ million adults watching NCIS. New episodes tonight! Last week, the NCIS team saved schoolgirls in Afghanistan, followed by the NCIS-Los Angeles team finding mass graves on the border of South Sudan, at which point, I switched to USANetwork's "Covert Affairs" only to find a Mossad agent in Washington, DC to avenge a palestinian terror attack on the Golan Heights in 2002.

    I shall watch the CNN repeat at 11 p.m. to see if anyone utters the words "Responsibility to Protect" in the same sentence as "United Nations" and "Syria" or "Libya". I know, too much to expect from Wolf Blitzer...

    November 22, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Reply

    yes please , he is correct, syria and hizboallah are the evil arms of iran, cripled syria and hizboallah we will criple iran motive and terrorist deal. IRAN IS EVIL GET RED OF THEM BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE, WE MUST VOTE REPUBLICAN IN USA. AND CANADA IF WE WANT TO STOP IRAN FROM DOING EVIL IN THIS WORLD.

    November 23, 2011 at 9:48 am | Reply
  5. bingo

    sure, a no flight zone is really what is going to bring assad down.

    November 24, 2011 at 8:33 am | Reply

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