Is Rick Perry the anti-Bush?

Rick Perry is on the conservative right. He’s got the T-shirt on fiscal policy, gun control, abortion and evolution. But what about the foreign policy of the Republican presidential contender?

Here he is addressing the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Monday: America should not engage in “military adventurism.” We should only risk shedding American blood and spending American treasure when “our vital interests are threatened.” We should “build coalitions among nations.”

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You could be forgiven for thinking it was Barack Obama speaking. It’s all the more surprising when you learn that Perry has reached out to some foreign policy advisers of George W. Bush — who was not known to be among his greatest fans. There have long been tensions between the Bush and Perry wings of the Texas Republican Party in Austin, where both men have served as governor.

But before you conclude that Perry is the anti-Bush candidate, hear this, from the same speech: the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks should mean a renewed commitment against America’s enemies, “wherever they are, before they strike at home.” That sounds more like Bush’s preemptive doctrine. And when he says “we cannot concede the moral authority of our nation to multilateral debating societies,” he echoes Bush’s visceral dislike of the United Nations.

What were his thoughts on Syria and Libya? He didn’t say. So I guess we’ll have to wait and see. But right now, I’m confused.