The Void in GOP Debates: Foreign Policy

CNN GOP debate (Getty Images)
CNN GOP debate (Getty Images)

In his Washington Post column, Eugene Robinson doles out important advice to Republican presidential candidates about foreign policy: Pay attention. He especially calls out Herman Cain, who recently bragged about his lack of knowledge about international affairs.


… This advice is aimed most urgently at Herman Cain, who wears his ignorance of international affairs as a badge of honor. "When they ask me who is the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan, I'm going to say, you know, I don't know," he boasted recently. "And then I'm going to say, 'How's that going to create one job?' " For the record, Uzbekistan is a strategically important Central Asian nation whose president is Islam Karimov.

In the umpteen debates held thus far, foreign policy hasn't even been elevated to the status of an afterthought. The only nations that reliably come up are China, which we somehow have to "beat," and Mexico, which all the candidates except Rick Perry and Ron Paul want to quarantine with an impregnable fence.


Cain said repeatedly that his proposed fence would be electrified. Then he said those remarks were in jest. Then he said the fence might be electrified after all. Sorry for the digression, but I’m just trying to keep up.

What's no joking matter is that, to the extent that the Republican candidates deal at all with international affairs, it tends to be in a way that's shockingly vapid and unsophisticated. It is likely that domestic issues, especially the parlous state of the economy, will dominate the election. But it's also likely that one or more foreign crises will arise between now and Election Day — and that the contrast can only work in President Obama's favor.

Read Eugene Robinson's entire column at the Washington Post.

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