Herman Cain’s Israel Doctrine

Ron Kampeas flags a segment of the Washington Post profile of GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, in which the former pizza entrepeneur says he’s reading an unspecified book on Israel.

Eyebrows were raised about Cain’s foreign policy chops after he exhibited ignorance of the issue of the right of return as a key part of the Israel-Palestine peace negotiations. From the Post:

In a Fox News interview with Chris Wallace on May 22, the day after he announced his bid, Cain seemed ignorant of the notion of the “right of return,” a centerpiece issue in the Middle East peace process.

“It would have helped if he would have said Palestinian right of return,” said Cain, adding, “Return to the bar? Return home?” Cain said he was focused in the interview on pronouncing Benjamin Netanyahu’s “name right.” He is currently reading a book on Israel.

This is not a surprising reaction from Cain, who is known as a Tea Party favorite but also draws affection from the religious right.

Here’s Cain, campaigning in New Hampshire, telling his audience that the “Cain Doctrine” would be “if you mess with Israel, you’re messing with the United States of America”:

After declaring the unrest in the Middle East “complicated,” Cain proceeds with his singularly uncomplicated doctrine: that, as president, he would determine who are our friends, and who are our enemies. Done!

As I noted last week, the seminal Bible verse for evangelical “supporters” of Israel is Genesis 12:3 — which they claim dictates that God will curse the United States if it doesn’t “support” Israel. In this view, the right of the return would unquestionably be a curse-worthy act, as these true believers insist that God gave that land to the Jews exclusively. I can’t emphasize this enough: in these circles, the idea that Palestinians are human beings with rights is never part of the discussion. A two-state solution is itself considered contrary to God’s word.

Cain is no doubt drawing on this theology, but adding a bit of a macho twist: that as president, he would not only bring God’s blessing to America by being Israel’s “friend,” but that he would bring America’s might (presumably backed by God’s wrath) on anyone that “messed” with Israel.

That’s all there is to the Cain Doctrine. He might hone it a bit more for particular audiences on the campaign trail (and may learn to pronounce Netanyahu’s name). I wouldn’t expect much more, although I am curious about which book on Israel he’s reading.

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