Political Correction

Herman Cain: "There Have Been A Lot Of Benefits That Have Come Out Of Iraq"

October 17, 2011 5:59 pm ET

Unlikely Republican frontrunner Herman Cain is getting flak after admitting to NBC's David Gregory that he's unfamiliar with neoconservatism, the ideology that guided the Bush administration's post-9/11 foreign policy. (An aide to Cain says he was misunderstood.) The apparent gaffe, however, isn't as telling as another statement Cain made during his Meet the Press interview yesterday.

GREGORY: Were the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan a mistake?

CAIN: I don't think the war in Iraq was a mistake because there were a lot of other reasons we needed to go to Iraq, and there have been a lot of benefits that have come out of Iraq. Now, that being said, I don't agree with the president's approach to draw down 40,000 troops and basically leave that, leave that country open to attacks by Iran. Iran has already said that they want to wait till America leaves.


We can laugh at Cain for being ignorant about neoconservatism or naïve in thinking that domestic drilling is the way to counter Iran's nuclear program, or even for not having a coherent policy on Afghanistan. Most Americans aren't very familiar with these issues and Cain is, if anything, someone who casts himself as a populist in tune with the common man. No doubt he wears his lack of knowledge as a badge of honor.

The Iraq war, on the other hand, is among the most important issues the country has faced in the past decade and nearly everyone — including many of the war's most enthusiastic supporters and most GOP voters — have by now accepted the fact that the invasion was a mistake that cost the country immense blood and treasure.

The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf dug up some of Cain's past comments about Iraq war and they confirm what many people assume of Cain: He is more a bomb-thrower than a policy-maker. He said in 2006, for instance, that "the liberals' propaganda machine has become the press operation of the Islamic terrorists who plot to destroy America, her military and western civilization." All that because others happened to disagree with his optimistic views of the Iraq war, a war that Cain erroneously believed was "retaliation against a worldwide Islamic terrorist network hell-bent on destroying Western civilization."

Remember, this is the guy who thinks the Obama administration's foreign policy is "dumb."

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