Herman Cain’s top foreign policy adviser J.D. Gordon’s track record of espousing a progressive view on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and his consulting work for the scandal plagued Atlantic Bridge offers a confusing view of a man advising one of the least foreign policy-fluent candidates. But an examination of Gordon’s columns from the past year show a track record of inaccurately predicting outcomes in the Arab Spring and criticizing efforts to protect civilians in Bahrain, Yemen, and Egypt.
Gordon’s dismissal of democracy and human rights first emerged in a February 2011 column about the democracy movements in Yemen, Bahrain, and Egypt. He wrote:
Tanks rolling through the Pearl Square protest camps in Bahrain’s capital of Manama, and violent clashes between armed Yemeni government loyalists and thousands of protesters in Sanaa may make attractive targets for pro-democracy criticism, but we need to take a deep breath and think carefully before making the same type of miscues made in Egypt.
From the start of mass protests that erupted late last month in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the Obama administration waffled, sending weak yet mixed signals.
The administration did change its message in making increasingly explicit public statements calling on Hosni Mubarak to resign but the White House, since the beginning of the protests, urged Egyptian authorities to respect the rights of protesters. Ultimately this policy decision proved effective as Mubarak faced increasing pressure and the U.S. maintained close relations with Egypt’s transitional government.
In a March 2011 column for AOL News, Gordon argued the U.S. shouldn’t intervene militarily in Libya. He predicted:
U.S. intervention in Libya would inflame the anti-American sentiment already prevalent in the Middle East, North Africa and other regions.
Gordon was wrong again. There has been no evidence of an anti-American backlash and Libyan rebels welcomed American and NATO air support when a U.N. no fly-zone was imposed over Libya.
Gordon slammed the White House in a March column for committing U.S. forces without “a clear exit strategy.” Gordon’s Arab Spring predictions were proven wrong, once again, when NATO missions concluded at the end of October with no U.S. military casualties.
Gordon’s trend of preferring strongmen over the rights of pro-democracy demonstrators offers a simplified, if not naive, view of U.S. foreign policy interests. But this dumbed-down approach took an even stranger turn in another March column in which he used actor Charlie Sheen’s catchphrase, “Winning,” to illustrate that radical Islamists were the true winners in the Arab Spring. He wrote:
Actor Charlie Sheen’s “Winning” already stands out as one of 2011’s most memorable catchphrases. Perhaps it’s also a fitting term to analyze the Arab Spring of 2011. […]
Let’s hope that President Barack Obama starts paying closer attention to who is Duh, Winning.
Charlie Sheen’s catchphrase is probably not a “fitting term” to analyze the Arab Spring but Gordon’s misreading of the recent unrest in the Arab world and his oversimplification of U.S. foreign policy does offer some intriguing insights into the Cain campaign’s muddled foreign policy positions.