I don’t get it, but maybe there’s nothing to get. Watch his reaction when Krauthammer asks him about the NFZ. Reminds me of the slight but revealing hesitation when Wolf Blitzer asked Cain whether he’d follow Netanyahu’s example and trade every prisoner in Gitmo for one American POW. My hunch is that Perry is trying to “read” his interviewer for the correct answer, and since he’s sitting right next to Charles Krauthammer and Bill Kristol, the “right” answer must have seemed abundantly clear. Except, of course, it isn’t: Syria’s uprising is already the bloodiest of the Arab Spring and apt to turn into full-blown civil war, with a fair risk of spillover into neighboring countries. The longer it goes on, the greater the risk of it becoming a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia; even if Assad ends up being dislodged, there’s no telling how Iran and Hezbollah might lash out. Want to be in the middle of that, especially since Sunni hardliners are most likely to benefit if Assad is toppled? Also, bear in mind that most of the fighting in Syria is on the ground, not in the air, such that a no-fly zone probably wouldn’t help much unless we’re prepared to once again extend “responsibility to protect” into an all-out offensive against the regime and its forces. And where would this no-fly zone be staged, exactly? Carriers in the Mediterranean? If you’re thinking Iraq or Kuwait, remember that the Maliki government has been notably warm to Assad even as other Arab states have distanced themselves. Maybe you could get Turkey to let us use their bases, but would Turkey want to end up on the wrong side of Iran?
How are we going to pay for this? Stay tuned for the inevitable follow-up at tomorrow night’s debate!