Cain Stumped by Foreign Policy Question at Debate
In a blog entry at Mother Jones, Adam Serwer says that GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain highlighted his lack of foreign policy knowledge during Tuesday night's debate when he tried to answer a hypothetical question about whether he would negotiate with insurgents for the release of prisoners if elected president. Cain's reply was yes. Besides the obvious, it was a political gaffe because his party has spent years opposing the transfer of detainees to U.S. federal court for trial, let alone allowing their outright release.
At Tuesday's debate, Herman Cain was asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer, whether, like Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who recently negotiated the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit from Hamas in exchange for setting a thousand of Palestinian prisoners free, he would be willing to make a similar decision. He said yes:
BLITZER: Could you imagine if you were president -- we're almost out of time -- and there was one American soldier who had been held for years, and the demand was Al Qaeda or some other terrorist group, you have got to free everyone at Guantanamo Bay, several hundred prisoners at Guantanamo? Could you see yourself, as president, authorizing that kind of transfer?
CAIN: I could see myself authorizing that kind of transfer, but what I would do is, I would make sure that I got all of the information, I got all of the input, considered all of the options. And then the president has to be the president and make a judgment call. I could make that call if I had to.
This was a pretty disastrous answer, and not an entirely hypothetical possibility: US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has been held by the Afghan Taliban since 2009. Despite the fact that few of the remaining detainees at Gitmo have even had a trial, let alone been convicted of a crime, much of the country regards them all as guilty as a result of a decade of politicians asserting without qualification that they're all guilty. That's part of why Obama couldn't close Gitmo even when there was a Democratic majority in Congress. Cain tried to explain away this answer in last night's debate.
Read Adam Serwer's entire blog entry at Mother Jones.