While the Weinering of Herman Cain continues apace, the electorate is still trying to figure out what he stands for aside from "nine-nine-nine" and not being Mitt Romney. Since the President of the United States has more control over foreign policy than domestic affairs, one is naturally curious about his stance when it comes to the question of war and peace and yet his self-professed ignorance on the subject has simply added to the suspicion that the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza isn't quite ready for prime time.
In reality, however, Cain does indeed have some very strong views when it comes to America's overseas commitments: he just doesn't want to call too much attention to them, for reasons that should become obvious as we explore his publicly available writings on the subject.
Thanks to the Daily Caller, which has compiled the foreign policy related aspects of columns written by Cain over the years, we can get a glimpse inside the mind of Herman Cain, the warmonger. This characterization is confirmed by his comment that the "war on terrorism" is a conflict that "will be fought forever." Not even George W. Bush, nor even the most wigged-out neocon, was willing to concede that: according to the most pessimistic scenarios, the conflict was projected as taking place over an entire generation. This is considerably less than forever but you have to give Cain points for his honesty, if nothing else.
In that same column, Cain promotes the views of Pastor Rod Parsley, an evangelical nut-job who not only teaches Islam is an "anti-Christ religion" based on "deception," and that the prophet Mohammed was a "demon spirit," but also claims "America was founded in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed." That's not in my copy of the Constitution, however, and I don't see any reference to it anywhere in the Declaration of Independence. During the 2008 campaign, John McCain was forced to disassociate himself from Pastor Parsley and his extremist views: "I believe that even though he endorsed me, and I didn't endorse him, the fact is that I repudiate such talk, and I reject his endorsement."
Cain's militantly anti-Muslim views, which recall the rhetoric we found in mass-murderer Anders Breivik's manifesto, are well-known. Less well-known, however, is his belief that "World War III" has already started. In a July 26, 2006 column, the would-be occupier of the Oval Office takes his cue from fellow presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, who was bloviating about the "World War III" meme at the time. According to Cain, however, this world war is a little bit different:
"In WW III, our enemy is the irreconcilable terrorist wing of a religion Islam and a handful of nations that harbor terrorists and fund their activities. Those nations include Iran, Syria, Venezuela and North Korea.
I'm sure Hugo Chavez will be very surprised to learn he's been lording it over a Muslim country rather than a staunchly Catholic one and I can only imagine the look on Kim Jong Il's face when he he hears the muezzin's call to prayer ring out over the streets of Pyongyang.
All of which raises the question: is Cain just plain stupid? Based on this kind of muddled thinking, unthinkingly committed to print, our answer must be an unequivocal yes.
This is not necessarily a deal-breaker in a Republican presidential primary: after all, look at Rick Perry, and his doppelganger, George W. Bush. Indeed, ignorance in a candidate is a strength as far as the neocons are concerned: all the better to ensnare him (or her) in a web woven by ambitious advisers. Hiding a candidate's stupidity from the general electorate is not an impossible job, given the right public relations team and the passive complicity of key media outlets, but there is a limit as Perry is discovering.
Cain's level of idiocy, however, has so far been successfully masked by two factors: his impeccable delivery, worthy of a Hollywood actor, and his endearing personality. These are characteristics we might find desirable in a television talk show host one wonders if Fox has already offered him a contract but one likes to think Americans demand more of their chief executive. Or maybe they don't….
Comparisons with Reagan, however, don't do the Gipper justice. Whatever his shortcomings, at least Reagan showed some evidence of both knowledge and conviction. Cain's public pronouncements are a series of slogans strung together somewhat haphazardly on a thin string of sheer verbal momentum. Derived from the air itself, in this case the somewhat turbulent and bellicose air of a remarkably unsettled Republican presidential primary campaign, these slogans reflect the lowest common denominator of whatever Cain perceives to be a popular trend. Over-the-top religious hatred directed at Muslims check! Mindless support for two failed wars that are bankrupting us check! Ominous references to traitors within check!
The "traitors within" theme is repeatedly sounded throughout the body of Cain's foreign policy oeuvre. After pointing to the danger of the Venezuelan-North Korean-Iranian axis of evil, he darkly warns "The terrorists wage their warfare and disrupt western civilization from within target countries, rather than by attacks from without." Alone among the candidates, Cain is alerting us to the dangers of Venezuelan terrorism, although I'm sure Rick Santorum will want to get in on the act.
November 4, 2011
Justin Raimondo [send him mail] is editorial director of Antiwar.com and is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard and Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement.
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