When it comes to the topic of the ongoing war in Afghanistan, Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain has kept his commentary on what he would do, if elected, very limited on the campaign trail. Most of the time, he points out that he lacks the information necessary to devise a strategy, and promises to reach out to the best possible people, sit 'em down, and come up with a plan. This can be maddening for both the reporters who cover campaigns and the citizens evaluating the candidates, because -- let's face it! -- the conflict in Afghanistan isn't going away, the war in Iraq is still winding down, there is a new engagement in Libya, and limited military involvement in Yemen. A lot of America's future hangs in the balance.
Nevertheless, I'm sympathetic to Cain's dilemma. Pizza delivery moguls don't get to meet with the Joint Chiefs. They don't get classified CIA briefings. They don't have notable access to military experts. It's just a fact of life: most of the Americans who are constitutionally eligible to run for President don't have the means to construct an informed policy on Afghanistan. By promising little and saying less, it's arguable that Cain is treating the matter as responsibly as he can.
If only he'd stick to that! Here's a scene from Cain's appearance in Council Bluffs, Iowa, as documented by Dave Weigel:
Cain takes the stage again, and tells a short story about the way he would consider military decisions. When he ran Godfather's Pizza, a reporter pitched a "gotcha" question and asked why the chain didn't deliver to some black neighborhoods of Omaha. It was simple, he said. Delivery drivers were getting beat up.
"If I wouldn't send my own child there, I wouldn't send your child there!" says Cain. "And that's the same way a President Cain will make decisions about our military."
Okay, well, that's a novel way of approaching military engagments: don't send the military anywhere that's dangerous. I look forward to our pending conquest of the Crocheted Armies of Amigurumistan! But this position makes me wonder why it is that Cain says that he "[doesn't] know yet" how much he would cut from the defense budget. Presumably, a lot, if we won't be going to unsafe places anymore. It also makes me question his commitment to Israel. When he says, "If someone attacks Israel, and Herman Cain is President, you have attacked the United States of America," it sort of commits Cain to sending the military somewhere where they may encounter danger.
Naturally, my assumption is that a President Cain would be just as committed to military engagement in Afghanistan as we are right now. It does concern me a little bit, though, that he doesn't realize how stupid he sounds when he asserts that he will use the "Omaha Pizza Delivery Doctrine" in making "decisions about our military." It's a promise he can't possibly keep!