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Clinton lands in Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan tomorrow

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tomorrow will visit the country that Herman Cain made fun of when he proudly declared that he wasn’t an expert on foreign policy. "Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is traveling to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan from October 22-23, 2011," the State Department announced today. "In Uzbekistan, Secretary Clinton will hold ...

Getty
Getty
Getty

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tomorrow will visit the country that Herman Cain made fun of when he proudly declared that he wasn’t an expert on foreign policy.

"Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is traveling to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan from October 22-23, 2011," the State Department announced today. "In Uzbekistan, Secretary Clinton will hold a bilateral meeting with President Islam Karimov and Foreign Minister Elyor Ganiev. Secretary Clinton will also tour the new General Motors Powertrain plant in Tashkent, where she will give remarks announcing the Central Asia Technology Entrepreneurship Program and Techno-Prize Competition."

In an Oct. 8 interview, Cain announced his strategy to combat what he called "gotcha" questions, such as who are the leaders of foreign countries.

"And when they ask who is the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan, I’m going to say, ‘You know, I don’t know. Do you know?’ And then I’m going to say, ‘How’s that going to create one job?’" Cain declared.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai brought up the comments to Clinton during her meeting with him Wednesday. Here’s the exchange, as reported by the New York Times:

"He’s a former pizza company owner," she said to Mr. Karzai.

"Is he that?" he replied in English.

"Oh, yes. He started something called Godfather’s Pizza," she said.

"Yes, I see, I see," Mr. Karzai said.

Mrs. Clinton then turned to the American ambassador, Ryan C. Crocker, and went on, laughingly. "The president was saying he saw a news clip about how Mr. Cain had said I don’t even know the names of all these presidents of all these countries, you know, like whatever …"

"All the ‘stans whatever," Mr. Karzai interjected, referring to the countries of Central and Southern Asia, including his.

"All the ‘stans places," Mrs. Clinton repeated.

Mr. Karzai did not seem to take offense, displaying what appeared to be an astute understanding of campaigning in a democratic country. "That wasn’t right," he said, "but anyway, that’s how politics are."

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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