Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry discussed foreign policy Monday, telling the nation’s oldest major veterans organization that U.S. forces must be led by American commanders rather than “multilateral debating societies.”

Addressing the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ annual convention in San Antonio, the Texas governor urged the United States to renew its commitment “to taking the fight to the enemy before they strike at home,” as the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches.

He drew sustained applause from the hundreds of veterans in a cavernous, concrete-floored convention hall when he said no one but U.S. brass should be leading American troops in missions abroad.

“It’s not our interest to go it alone. We respect our allies and we must always seek to engage them in military missions. But at the same time, we must be willing to act when it is time to act. We cannot concede the moral authority of our nation to multilateral debating societies, and when our interests are threatened American soldiers should be led by American commanders.”

Perry did not elaborate on what kinds of world bodies he was referring to, but the Obama administration has backed NATO-led airstrikes in Libya.

The Libya operation is being run by a Canadian general from a NATO headquarters in Italy, but an American officer is the top NATO commander — and always has been.

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