5 Quotes That May Define Ben Carson's Foreign Policy Agenda

Created: 15 September, 2015
Updated: 18 October, 2022
3 min read

One of the Republican presidential candidates rising in polls is neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson. Never holding political office nor serving in the military, Dr. Carson has admitted he is a foreign policy "novice" and is learning a lot of material. He also indicates he will be able to overcome his deficiencies by "being able to listen to experts on foreign affairs and a variety of other subjects and utilize that information in the appropriate way is much more important than being able to regurgitate facts."

However, Dr. Carson has commented on several topics already. Here are 5 quotes that may end up defining Ben Carson's foreign policy agenda.

1. War and Interrogation

Appearing on Fox News earlier this year, Dr. Carson criticized the Obama administration's strategy for battling the Islamic State:

"We have people trying to manage the military who know nothing about the military, know nothing about military strategy. And our military needs to know they're not going to be prosecuted when they come back because somebody has said, 'You did something that was politically incorrect. . . . If you're going to have rules for war, you should just have a rule that says 'no war.'"

During the first GOP debate in August, Carson also talked about what he terms as "politically incorrect" with regard to the banned practice of waterboarding, "What we do in order to get the information that we need is our business... There is no such thing as a politically correct war."

2. Russia

Carson said in May that he would not go to war with Russia over Ukraine, although the eastern European country should be provided arms and protected if aggressed against. However, he also refused to rule out military force against Russia by saying he would consult with "competent generals and people more knowledgeable in that area":

"If the interest and the existence and the safety of the people of the United States was at stake - and that was the only way to protect them - of course, I would do whatever was necessary."

On a related topic, Carson told Bloomberg that President George W. Bush's goal of adding Georgia to NATO, an alliance Russia considers confrontational, was a "good idea."

3. Surveillance

Agreeing with a U.S. Court of Appeals decision that mass collection of data is unconstitutional, in a June op-ed, Carson proved more nuanced on surveillance in general. Calling the Constitution "a community of rights and that some rights have to be circumscribed to assure other rights," he called for a framework for legally collecting information and a "counterbalancing oversight responsibility within the US judiciary," but one more independent than the FISA Court.

4. Guantanamo Bay

Despite a reputation as a location for torture, force feeding, suicides, and indefinitely detaining inmates without charge or trial, Carson argues for keeping open the detention facility in Cuba. His campaign website states:

"Radical terrorists captured in countries all over the world must be detained safely while awaiting trial by military commission. Gitmo is, by far, the single best facility for this dangerous job."

5. Israel and a Palestinian State

Saying "I don't have any problem with the Palestinians having a state," Carson suggested Egypt as a possible solution:

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"Right below Israel, they have some amount of territory, and it can be adjacent. They can benefit from the many agricultural advances that were made by Israel, because if you fly over that area, you can easily see the demarcation between Egypt and Israel, in terms of one being desert and one being verdant. Technology could transform that area."


Check out more quotes on foreign policy and more from other presidential candidates:

Hillary Clinton

Bobby Jindal

Scott Walker

Photo Source: Reuters

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