Perry-Paul row reveals Republican foreign policy divide

Texas Governor Rick Perry. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Senator Rand Paul mocks Texas Governor Rick Perry's new glasses in a Politico Magazine opinion piece

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Two Republican presidential hopefuls are waging a very public war of words over competing foreign policy visions for their party.

It all started on 19 June, when US Senator Rand Paul penned a scathing critique in the Wall Street Journal of increased military involvement in Iraq.

Not all politicians were pleased with Mr Paul's preaching of non-interventionism, most notably Texas Governor Rick Perry.

"Many people are tired of war, and the urge to pull back is a natural, human reaction," Mr Perry responded a few weeks later in the Washington Post. "Unfortunately, we live in a world where isolationist policies would only endanger our national security even further."

Such isolationism, Mr Perry writes, ignores the menacing rise of the militant group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis). "This represents a real threat to our national security - to which Paul seems curiously blind."

Mr Perry does not stop there, however. He questions Mr Paul's interpretation of former President Ronald Reagan's foreign policy - fighting words for any Republican politician.

"Paul conveniently omitted Reagan's long internationalist record of leading the world with moral and strategic clarity," Mr Perry says. "Unlike the noninterventionists of today, Reagan believed that our security and economic prosperity require persistent engagement and leadership abroad."

It didn't take Mr Paul long to return fire, penning a heated response in the Monday issue of Politico Magazine (headline: "Rick Perry is dead wrong").

"Governor Perry writes a fictionalised account of my foreign policy so mischaracterising my views that I wonder if he's even really read any of my policy papers," he says.

While defending his ideas of non-interventionism, Mr Paul paints the Texan governor as a war-hungry hawk whose newly adopted glasses "haven't altered his perception of the world or allowed him to see it any more clearly".

"The let's-intervene-and-consider-the-consequences-later crowd left us with more than 4,000 Americans dead, over 2 million refugees and over trillions of dollars in debt," he says.

"Tough talk like Perry's might inspire some for the moment, but when bombast becomes policy it can have long and disastrous consequences."

Mr Paul also writes off Mr Perry's Reagan critique: "Reagan was stern, but he wasn't stupid. Reagan hated war, particularly the spectre of nuclear war."

Mr Rand says that US foreign policy architects have to assess what has worked and what hasn't.

"This basic, common sense precondition is something leaders in both parties have habitually failed to meet," he concludes. "The governor of Texas insists on proving he's no different."

Although the 2016 presidential election is still a long way off, the back-and-forth over foreign policy between Mr Paul's libertarian wing of the Republican Party and Mr Perry's internationalists reveals an ideological fault line that likely will be on full display in the days ahead.

Vietnam

Balance of power in the South China Seas - With China and Vietnam continuing to wrestle over territorial power in the South China Seas, sociologist Tuong Lai believes that Vietnam needs to build better strategic alliances to combat Chinese encroachment.

"Political isolation in a globalised world is tantamount to committing political suicide for Vietnam," Mr Lai writes. "And the key ally for Vietnam today is the United States."

If Vietnam is unable to develop better alliances, Mr Lai says that his country's island territories could be "gobbled up by China."

"Vietnamese leaders need to move decisively by taking claims against China before international courts and once and for all relegating the idea of an ideological bond with China to the dustbin of history," he concludes.

Nigeria

The comparison of Nigeria and the US - Why is Nigeria poor and the US rich? In the Vanguard, Alex Akpodiete recalls the obvious answers that he saw when he travelled to the US. In the ensuing months, he says, the situation may have gotten worse.

There are four key reasons why Nigeria's economic state falls behind that of the US, Akpodiete writes. First, Nigeria's sense of federalism pales in comparison to the US.

Nigeria also lacks accountable leadership as well as accountable followership. "Concerning the elections, I have stated in the past that the Nigerian electorate has a responsibility to make sure elections are not 'do or die'," he writes.

And finally, Nigeria continues to export its raw materials, rather than processing them and selling them for a profit.

Australia

Standing in the dark on climate change - As global leaders prepare to convene in 2015 to develop a new climate change treaty, Australian politician Bill Shorten cautions that his nation must step up and contribute to the effort or face embarrassment.

"Our world is moving forward on climate change," he writes for the Guardian. "If Australia goes backwards, we will be going alone."

Mr Shorten warns that Prime Minister Tony Abbott is "sleepwalking his way to a major climate policy disaster."

To properly address climate change, he says that Australians "deserve a government that represents their moderate, informed views on climate change - not one that delivers pre-Enlightenment, science-sledging nonsense."

Brazil

Brazil's beautiful game turned ugly - In the aftermath of Brazil's devastating loss to Germany in the World Cup, politicians could face repercussions, writes Antonio Sampaio for Foreign Policy.

"The beautiful game is at the centre of an agonised national rethink, a mass, middle-class movement against outdated infrastructure and failing services," he says. "And the crushing 8 July defeat is giving new momentum to the demands for reform."

Although the World Cup defeat will not necessarily disturb the political status quo, it could accelerate the current dissatisfaction already brewing within the Brazilian middle class.

BBC Monitoring's quotes of the day

Afghan commentators react to the agreement reached by the nation's two presidential candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, to recount the ballots and form a unity government regardless of the outcome.

"A government of national unity will involve all sides in the political scene. They will consider themselves responsible. In this way we can overcome all future problems.'' - Editorial in state-run Anis.

''Taking into consideration the acute tension created between the electoral camps, the agreement is regarded as a significant breakthrough." - Editorial in the Daily Afghanistan.

"We praise John Kerry's efforts in breaking the election deadlock and welcome the decision that all votes will be re-counted in the presence of international observers and observers of the two candidates, and that the two candidates will happily accept the election results." - Editorial in state-run Hewad.‎

Have you found an interesting opinion piece about global issues that we missed? Share it with us via email at echochambers (at) bbc.co.uk.

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