By Jordan Helton, GlobalPost
Herman Cain's view on international affairs has been a mystery to many GOP debate followers, and his interview on "Meet the Press" this Sunday did little to clarify any of his previous murky statements on issues ranging from China to Afghanistan.
But with the latest CNN poll showing Cain tied with Mitt Romney just a few months before the first primary, Cain has made an effort to address some of the problems the world is facing, even when the answer is that he really doesn't know.
Here is a list of Cain's top five notable foreign policy stances.
1. "The Cain Doctrine"
Confused about his viewpoint? Cain has already created his own doctrine to follow during his hoped-for presidency. During an interview with Fox News contributor KT McFarland, Cain described his stance on foreign affairs:
The Cain doctrine, as it relates to foreign affairs and foreign relations, is an extension of the Reagan philosophy. Reagan's philosophy, as you know, was peace through strength. My philosophy is peace through strength and clarity. We need to clarify who our friends are, clarify who our enemies are, stop giving money to the enemies and make sure that our enemies know who our friends are, that we are going to stand solidly behind.
Cain is blunt about his focus on building up the economy and adding more jobs to the U.S. market. In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Cain said he couldn't be troubled by "insignificant countries" like Uzbekistan, saying "I don’t think that is something that is critical to focusing on national security and getting this economy going."
The interview continued:
BRODY: Are you ready for the ‘gotcha’ questions that are coming from the media and others on foreign policy? Like, who’s the president of Uzbekistan?…
CAIN: I’m ready for the ‘gotcha’ questions and they’re already starting to come. And 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. Do you know?
And then I’m going to say how’s that going to create one job?
But Uzbekistan is not as “insignificant” as Cain thinks it is, according to PBS opinion writer Joshua Foust.
Both presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have worked for a stable relationship with Uzbekistan because of its vital importance to the war in Afghanistan. Bush wanted to use an Uzbekistan airport to send U.S. troops into Afghanistan during his tenure, and Obama wants to see another “transit corridor” in the country to reduce dependency on Pakistan.
The GOP presidential hopeful caught a lot of flak recently for his hardline views on illegal immigration, according to ABC News.
In a speech to a campaign audience he said:
I just got back from China. Ever heard of the Great Wall of China? It looks pretty sturdy. And that sucker is real high. I think we can build one if we want to! We have put a man on the moon, we can build a fence! Now, my fence might be part Great Wall and part electrical technology…It will be a twenty foot wall, barbed wire, electrified on the top, and on this side of the fence, I’ll have that moat that President Obama talked about. And I would put those alligators in that moat!
Cain added that there would also be a sign written in English and in Spanish in front of the fence that said, “It will kill you — Warning,” according to The New York Times. The view was highly criticized by immigration activists and Hispanic leaders as "insensitive."
He initially apologized for the comments during a campaign stop in Arizona and said, "it was a joke." But Cain later took back his apology and said he still thinks it's a good idea to have an electric fence that could kill people trying to enter the U.S. illegally, according to CBS.
During one of the first Republican debates in May, Cain claimed not to know enough about Afghanistan to form a clear opinion on U.S. involvement in the country.
He was the only candidate present to not have a plan for the future of the U.S. in the war-torn country, according to Raw Story. There was too much classified information to know the real story, he said.
“There are dozens of experts and military leaders I would need advice from before I could make an informed decision about a real clear plan for the USA’s involvement in Afghanistan,” he clarified in a statement following that debate.
Five months later, Cain has stuck to that explanation in almost all questions relating to Afghanistan.
On “Meet the Press,” Cain said he would need to consult with presidential advisors before making a plan.
In Afghanistan, victory is, can we leave Afghanistan in a situation where they can defend themselves? I don’t know if that’s possible right now because, here again, what do the commanders on the ground say? What does the intelligence community say? A lot of analysis needs to into determining whether or not there is a definition of victory in Afghanistan.
Apparently Cain doesn't play favorites when looking for advice on international affairs. He gave a confusing answer to moderator David Gregory on "Meet the Press" Sunday when asked about his foreign policy influences.
“I’ve looked at the writings of people like Ambassador John Bolton. I’ve looked at the writings of Dr. Henry Kissinger. KT McFarland, someone who I respect,” Cain responded.
He has also named neoconservative Charles Krauthammer and "critic of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars," George Will, according to Washington Post, though Cain said later in the interview that he was unfamiliar with the neoconservative movement.
The grouping of influences are almost complete opposites of each other, however.
Washington Post writer Jennifer Rubin said in a blog: "It is sort of like picking Justice Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg as your favorite Supreme Court justices. It suggests a lack of understanding of the diametrically opposed views they present."
But while he is open with his influences, Cain insists on keeping mum on the names of his campaign's foreign policy advisors, according to CBS.
He said: "When I come up with my foreign policy philosophy, they said, 'Well, who are you consulting with on foreign policy?' I'm not going to tell you. They want to know everything so they can have more ways to try to attack you."