Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Herman Cain on Foreign Policy

Herman Cain is fading in the polls. First there were the sexual harrassment allegations, and then there was the Libya gaffe, which was reported widely as Cain's not being ready for prime time. These things take their toll.

Today, though, a friend sent me an email with Herman Cain's response to the foreign policy question (the text can be found here), and I was impressed. Here's some of what he said:

A few days ago, after coming under criticism for my answer to a question about Libya in an interview, I made a lighthearted comment that reflected all this – that I’m not supposed to know everything (most of the media quoted me as saying “anything”) about foreign policy.

Bizarre things happen when you run for president, one of which is that statements like this go viral, with people claiming I had somehow made the case that no knowledge of world affairs is required for the job.

I obviously don’t think that, but I’m also quite willing be honest about my strengths. My background is in the business world, and my greatest strength concerns the economy. My motivation in running for president is to apply my leadership skills to all issues – foreign and domestic. But clearly, as I have met with foreign policy luminaries like John Bolton and Henry Kissinger, I have done a lot more listening than talking – because they know a lot more about it than I do, and it would be absurd for me to claim otherwise.

That said, a man taking the oath of office for the presidency must have a sense of America’s place in the world, and must have a clear idea of the challenges, threats and opportunities that present themselves. Otherwise, success on the economic front likely goes for naught, as mistakes in the international arena tend to be costly both in the short term and in the long term.

My approach to foreign policy is to apply a general set of principles to each situation we face, and I have summarized these principles as peace through strength and clarity.


What does this mean?

In a broad sense, it means that I would not retreat on initiatives that strengthen America’s strategic standing in order to buy some sort of accommodation with those who do not have an interest in our security. For example, I would not have welched on America’s commitment to install a missile defense system in Eastern Europe because the Russians didn’t like it. The security of the U.S. and our allies would take precedence over the concerns of a nation whose strategic interests are often contrary to ours.


Peace through strength and clarity means there is no doubt about where we stand, for what we stand and with whom we stand. We stand in support of free nations who respect the rights of their people and do not threaten their neighbors. And we treat our allies like allies.


The most effective application of strength is that which is rarely used. Our troops are already overstretched and our financial resources are limited. An America that is capable and ready, and backs up what it says, won’t have to take action all that often. The world’s bad actors will know we are serious.

I think it’s clear by now that I am not going to score the best of all the candidates on media pop quizzes about the details of current international events. Some have claimed that I take some sort of perverse satisfaction in not knowing all these details. That is not true. I want to know as much as I can. But a leader leads by gathering all the information available in a given situation, and making the best decision at the time based on that information, and in accordance with sound principles. As president, I would not be required to make decisions on the spur of the moment based on a question from a reporter. I would make them the way I made them as a CEO – based on careful consideration of all the facts and the best advice of the best people.

But it is crucial to understand that my foreign policy decisions will always be based on the principles I have laid out here. That will not change, because these are the principles that best represent America’s heritage, and best advance our interests, as well as the interests of all freedom-loving nations and peoples.

I don't know if Herman Cain is even going to be in the running when Primary Season comes around, but I love his guiding principles for foreign policy. This is where I want the eventual GOP nominee to stand, and if he or she does, then I will be able to vote for that person and not just plug my nose and vote against the other guy the way I did in 2008.

America has been a great nation, but President Obama has hung a giant "Kick Me" sign around her neck. With a foreign policy like the one spelled out by Cain, America can go a long way toward removing that sign and having her greatness restored.

1 comment:

Malott said...

My problem with Cain is on social issues, particulary abortion. His original comments from an interview were troubling, though his later explanation was more comforting.

Still, the two taken together paint him as a politician who first spoke his heart, then adjusted his views to satisfy his conservative base.

But I do like his explanation of how he would handle foreign policy issues. Every president has advisors, and it is the president's philosophy that matters most.