GOP frontrunner Herman Cain has made a number of comments about specific foreign policy issues, but he hasn't yet spelled out his doctrine for restoring U.S. leadership abroad ... until now.
In order to fix what he referred to as America's "foreign foggy policy," Cain told a packed house at the National Press Club today that he would apply the lessons he learned as CEO reviving Godfather's Pizza to U.S. national security issues. Cain noted that Godfather's was about to go bankrupt in 1996 when he joined the organization.
"I had never made a pizza, but I learned. And the way we renewed Godfather's Pizza as a company is the same approach I would use to renew America. And that is: If you want to solve a problem, go to the source closest to the problem and ask the right questions," he said, while the audience dined on cupcakes decorated with pictures of pizzas and the numbers 9-9-9 -- a reference to his much-celebrated plan for tax reform.
Cain went into more detail, explaining that he talked with customers, young workers in the restaurants, managers, assistant managers, the office staff, franchisees, and suppliers. He asked them all why they thought Godfather's Pizza was failing as a business. He then concluded that Godfather's had lost its status as an industry leader because it had tried to do "too much with too little, too fast" -- it lost its focus.
"That's what I believe is America's problem, we have lost our focus. In order to renew that focus, we must address its most pressing problems boldly."
Cain then said his second guiding principle would be to use "foreign policy common sense," which for Cain would mean not announcing the troop withdrawals from Iraq or Afghanistan, and not "send[ing] an e-mail to the enemy about what you are going to do."
He also said he would "listen to the commanders on the ground because they are the closest to the problem." One assumes that this would be the pizza makers?
Cain preempted accusations that he lacked an understanding of U.S. foreign policy. "I don't believe you need to have extensive foreign policy experience if you know how to make sure you're working on the right problems, establishing the right priorities, surround yourself with the right people, which would allow you to put together the plans necessary to solve the problem," he said.
"We have an economic crisis, a national security crisis. We've got an energy crisis, a spending crisis, a foreign foggy policy crisis, a moral crisis, and the biggest crisis we have is a severe deficiency of leadership, in my opinion, in the White House," the GOP presidential hopeful noted. "This is why I believe we need to renew America by fixing the stuff that is broken."
Cain also said that if elected president, he would change the way America doles out foreign aid.
"We need to clarify who our friends are, clarify who our enemies are; and I happen to believe we must stop giving money to our enemies," said Cain.
The only country he identified as a "friend" was Israel. He didn't name any "enemies."
John Hudson reports on national security and foreign policy from the Pentagon to Foggy Bottom, the White House to Embassy Row, for The Cable.