Herman Cain has stumbled into a number of foreign policy gaffes. But in a Meet The Press interview with David Gregory, Cain found himself revealing that his foreign policy vision is largely formed by neoconservatives while claiming that he was “not familiar” with the neoconservative movement. The exchange read:
DAVID GREGORY: What about foreign policy advisers? Who has shaped your view on the U.S. in the world and foreign policy?
HERMAN CAIN: 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.
GREGORY: Would you describe yourself as a neoconservative then?
CAIN: I’m not sure what you mean by neoconservative. I’m a conservative, yes. Neoconservative, labels sometimes put you in a box. I’m very conservative.
GREGORY: But you’re familiar with the neoconservative movement?
CAIN: I’m not familiar with the neoconservative movement. I’m familiar with the conservative movement and let me define what I mean by the conservative movement. Less government. Less taxes. More individual responsibility.
While Cain may choose not to identify with neoconservativism, two out of the three individuals listed by Cain as shaping his foreign policy views are closely tied to the neoconservative movement.
One was John Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who briefly served as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. under the George W. Bush administration. Bolton promotes many neoconservative policy positions, and served on the board of directors for Project for the New American Century, a neoconservative pressure group which openly pushed for war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq since 1998.
Another foreign affairs inspiration was Kathleen Troia ‘KT’ McFarland, who worked in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations and now serves on the advisory board of the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies. She writes a weekly column for Family Security Matters, a project launched by Islamophobe Frank Gaffney’s think tank.
Both Bolton and McFarland have embedded themselves within neoconservative institutions in D.C. In John Bolton’s case, this included advocating for an aggressively hawkish foreign policy at every turn. The lack of familiarity with neoconservatism could stem from Cain’s ignorance of foreign policy or perhaps it’s a savvy move to distance himself from the movement that spearheaded the campaign to start the unpopular Iraq war. But looking at those who inspire his worldview, Cain’s foreign policy seems to clearly lean into the neoconservative camp — whether or not he understands or admits it.