Israeli soldier Galid Shalit returned home today five years after Hamas fighters captured him during a military conflict with Israeli Defense Forces in 2006. In exchange, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to release more than 1,000 Palestinians prisoners.
Today on CNN, host Wolf Blitzer asked now-GOP frontrunner Herman Cain — who’s not exactly a student of foreign policy — if he thought Netanyahu made the right choice. While Cain said he doesn’t know all the facts of the case, he said, “On the surface, you would say ‘one for hundreds, doesn’t make any sense.’” Blitzer then asked if he’d make a similar deal if he were president, and Cain said he would:
BLITZER: Could you imagine if you were president…and there were one American soldier who had been held for years and the demand was al Qaeda or some other terrorist group, “You got to free everyone at Guantanamo Bay” – several hundred prisoners at Guantanamo. Could you see yourself as president authorizing that kind of transfer?
CAIN: I could see myself authorizing that kind of transfer but what I would do is I would make sure that I got all of the information. I got all of the input, considered all of the options. And then, the president has to be the president and make a judgment call. I can make that call if I had to.
Watch the clip:
As Matt Yglesias noted, the Galid Shalit case is a uniquely Israeli one:
The contrast between Mahmoud Abbas getting nothing from Israel through international law and advocacy for two states, and Hamas getting a lopsided deal through kidnapping, violence, and unreasonable demands must be palpable.
But what Herman Cain is saying here is that he would negotiate with a terrorist organization. But not only that, he’d agree to release every prisoner at Guantanamo Bay — regardless of their danger to the national security of the United States — in exchange for the release of one American in captivity. Be on the look out for a sharp increase in al Qaeda kidnappings in a Cain administration.