Republican presidential candidate and former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain on Sunday criticized President Obama’s withdrawal of troops from Iraq, saying he would be open to leaving American troops on the ground beyond the Dec. 31 withdrawal deadline agreed upon by the Bush administration and the Iraqi government.
During an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, Cain said he doesn’t agree “with the president’s approach to draw down 40,000 troops and basically leave that country open to attacks by Iran. Iran has already said that they want to wait until America leaves.” He added that he would “leave American troops there if that was what the commanders on the ground suggested, and I believe that that’s what they are saying.”
Cain said he does not 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.”
On the war in Afghanistan, Cain declined to offer a firm definition of what victory would look like.
“In Afghanistan, victory is, can we leave Afghanistan in a situation where they can defend themselves?” Cain said. “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 go into determining whether or not there is a definition of victory in Afghanistan.”
Asked whether he believes the alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States is an act of war, Cain said he does not have enough information to make that decision.
”President Cain would first make sure that he’s making the right decisions based upon all of the information,” Cain said. “I, as a candidate, don’t have all of the information, so at this point I can’t say how I would respond. If -- if it’s an act of war, and the evidence suggests that, then I am going to consult with my advisers and say, what are our options?”
Cain said his foreign policy thinking is influenced by the writings of John Bolton, the former ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, as well as former secretary of state Henry Kissinger and ex-Pentagon official K.T. McFarland. However, he said he is “not familiar with the neoconservative movement.”
The former CEO described his foreign-policy philosophy as “an extension of the Reagan philosophy — peace through strength, and clarity.”
“It’s not clear who all of our friends are,” Cain said. “It’s not clear who our enemies are. I believe we need to clearly define who our friends are, clearly define who our enemies are, and then let the rest of the world know, we will stand by our friends.”