‘Foreign policy dumb,’ redux

A few weeks ago on Fox News, Herman Cain insisted he’s “been studying” foreign policy, “consulting with a group of foreign policy advisers.” Cain added that his critics may “think that I’m foreign policy dumb,” but he’s “not as foreign policy dumb as they think.”

With that in mind, Cain talked to PBS’s Judy Woodruff about his belief that China is “a potential military threat to the United States.”

“[Y]es they’re a military threat. They’ve indicated that they’re trying to develop nuclear capability and they want to develop more aircraft carriers like we have. So yes, we have to consider them a military threat.” [emphasis added]

For the record, China has been a nuclear power for more than four decades, and is one of the five nuclear-weapon states under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Cain, like all presidential candidates, should know this. He should also know what neo-conservatism is, but he doesn’t. Cain should also know not to call Uzbekistan “Ubeki-beki-beki-stan-stan.”

Dan Drezner recently summarized the problem nicely when he said that the presidential hopeful “hasn’t the faintest clue what to do when it comes to American foreign policy.”

That seems more than fair. I wouldn’t expect Cain, who’s never worked in government at any level and has no background in international affairs, to dazzle audiences with his expertise in international affairs. But he’s now been a presidential candidate for several months, presumably long enough time to, say, read a book about contemporary foreign policy, or at least hire some advisers who could walk him through the basics.

Foreign Policy‘s Joshua Keating added last week, “Rather than fake knowledge about this world, he by and large simply expresses contempt for it.”

Between this and other recent events, those looking for Cain’s disqualifying qualities as a presidential candidate have plenty of options to choose from.