Herman Cain’s Number-One Foreign Policy Priority is Impossible

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/6183942539/sizes/l/in/photostream/">Gage Skidmore</a>/Flickr

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Saturday night’s GOP presidential debate in South Carolina focused on foreign policy, which was bad news for Herman Cain. By his own admission, it’s a subject he doesn’t know much about. And it showed. Taking the first question of the debate, about how he would address the prospect of a nuclear Iran, he offered a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

Cain’s big point—one he’s made before—is that he would defeat the Iranian regime by choking their economy. Specifically, he would develop American energy sources (in the form of offshore oil drilling, among other things) so that we’re no longer reliant on hostile nations for resources. That sounds nice. He sounded confident enough as he rattled off his talking points.

But there’s a problem: The United States doesn’t currently get any oil from Iran. If a Cain administration would try to curb Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s power by increasing domestic oil production, that wouldn’t have any impact on the Iranian economy. In the long-term, domestic energy self-suffiency is a positive. But in response to the immediate threat of a nuclear Iran—a long-term energy plan doesn’t mean anything.

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