“Here’s what I would have – I would have done a better job of determining who the opposition is and I’m sure that our intelligence people have some of that information. Based upon who made up that opposition, OK, based upon who made up that opposition, might have caused me to make some different decisions about how we participated. Secondly, no, I did not agree with Qadhafi killing his citizens. Absolutely not. So something would have had to been – I would have supported many of the things they did in order to help stop that. It’s not a simple yes-no, because there are different pieces and I would have gone about assessing the situation differently, which might have caused us to end up in the same place. But where I think more could have been done was, what’s the nature of the opposition?”
—–Republican Presidential hopeful Herman Cain, responding to a reporter’s question asking for his opinion of President Obama’s handling of Libya. The comment followed an eleven second pause and one false start, as Cain appeared confused and unprepared for the question.
The ethical problem with Cain’s answer was not that he fumbled it, but that like his stated position on abortion, it is unethical and intellectually lazy.
I know that there are prominent voices on the right who argue—disgracefully—that the U.S. should not have assisted in the overthrow of a brutal and quite possibly insane dictator in Libya by a popular uprising because the opposition was not necessarily in accord with American goals and policies. Cain’s answer echoed their anti-democratic and un-American sentiments, as did his recent comments endorsing water-boarding, another un-American and unethical position.
“The nature” of the Libyan opposition was absolutely irrelevant to the question of whether the United States should support the people of any nation when they revolt, as Thomas Jefferson said they must, against a tyrant…especially a tyrant as unequivocally brutal as Gaddafi. Of course we should, and it shouldn’t take even eleven seconds for a qualified presidential candidate to come up with that answer.
To take eleven sentences and come up with this answer shows to my satisfaction that pizza ethics don’t translate into foreign affairs.