Editor's Note: This is the third of a three-part series that began with "Ben Carson uncorks on what's wrong with America." The second installment was "Rescuing America's health care from Obama."
Dr. Ben Carson is sounding and acting a lot these days like a man primed for a run at the presidency.
He travels the country, hitting several states every week, speaking to crowds of adoring fans and promoting his new book, "One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America's Future."
But when WND founder Joseph Farah asked the former brain surgeon point blank about his personal future, Carson said he would wait until after the November mid-term elections to make that decision.
Despite his reticence on that issue, he did not avoid even the stickiest foreign policy questions about Iraq, Benghazi and the possibility of terrorists entering the wide-open southern border.
He said the 2012 terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, displayed a "complete lack of understanding of security," on the part of the administration of President Barack Obama.
But the worst part about Benghazi, he said, was the message the administration sent to future military commanders on the ground.
"The Navy SEALs that rushed over there, tried to save lives – and they did save lives – they were up on top of that compound with their machine guns. What would they have thought if they knew our leaders were saying 'nah, that's too dangerous, it's OK, never mind'?" Carson asked.
"What message does that send to our military from this point forward? It says, are you willing to take a risk? 'Well, if I get in a mess, maybe they won't come for me.' That's really going to hurt us. The morale in our military right now is at a very low ebb. I have this from many sources. I think that's the worst thing about it, right there."
Carson was no less critical of Obama's response to the situation in Iraq, where the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, has been allowed to gobble up huge swaths of territory and threaten the borders of Jordan.
Farah said it "looks like the expansion of the 8th century, which was one of the fastest expansions in the history of the world." He asked Carson, "What's going on there, and what can we do about it at this point?"
"Our foreign policy is nonexistent, or terribly chaotic," Carson responded. "It began to really hit me back in 2009 when the Iranian people were in the streets trying to overthrow the government and we did nothing to help them. That could have changed the entire complexion of the Middle East, drastically, in our favor and in the favor of the people there, but we did nothing. That told me right there, that we had no concept of what we were doing. But, the reason everything catches us by surprise is because we don't have a policy, we just react to what's going on."
Carson accused the Obama administration of "blowing the peace" that had been established in Iraq and advocated a more proactive foreign policy in the Middle East. He said the U.S. government had intelligence several months ago that could have wiped out ISIS but failed to act on that intelligence.
"That's water under the bridge, we can't do anything about it now. Now we're in this horrendous situation," he said. "We have to understand what the danger of the ISIS is. What do they want to do? They've already declared that they want to come to America. They want to make 9/11 look like a walk in the park. If they are able to establish a whole new state, in which they have control, in which they have the potential to develop nuclear weapons, obviously we're not doing anything about Iran developing their nuclear weapons … Lord help us, is all I can say."
He warned against "taking a bystander approach at this stage of the game," saying groups like ISIS "want to destroy us. They want to destroy Israel."
"And we need to be very proactive about that. We had opportunities in the last several months to destroy this embryo as it was happening. We had intelligence to tell us that it was happening. Did we do anything? Eh ... Nah. And, we're not going to do anything, probably, that's reasonable, with the current administration."
Carson said he's hoping the damage doesn't turn out to be irreversible.
"I'm just hoping that things can last long enough that we get people who actually understand world history, understand world events, understand how to use our tremendous innovation, understand how we need to bring our factions in this country together to use our collective intellect, because we have serious problems going on out there," he said.
On energy independence
He said America's vast natural resources should be developed to maximum potential, which is also key to a smart foreign policy.
"We are rich with natural resources in this country and we should be using the EPA not to suppress the development of those, but to work with academia and industry, to find the safest and cleanest, most effect ways to use those, while we’re still preserving our environment," he said.
"The two things are not mutually exclusive by any stretch of the imagination. And using those natural resources in the whole geo-political chess game, we can make Europe dependent on us for energy, not Russia. Put Putin back in his little box and lock the doors. We need to be thinking along those lines, globally. We need to know how to infiltrate, we need to have people in every society, blending in, feeding us information, and we need to know how to use those resources effectively to do things."
Carson said the porous southern border has become a political issue when it should be a matter of national security.
"This is a problem. It's a huge problem. And we've allowed it to become a political football, instead of solving it. Could we seal the border? Of course. We have all kinds of technology, including drones," he said.
Carson said there is "no question" that some foreign workers are needed in America to do jobs that Americans don't want to do, such as in agriculture.
"We need people that are willing to do that work, but they need to be legal, and what I have proposed is legislation allowing them to be guest workers, like in Canada, but they have to register from outside the country. They have to leave," he said. "And the jobs that they are offered have to be jobs that Americans will not do."
Carson said he would also "remove all the inducements" to illegal immigration, such as free health care and free education.
"As long as you've got all the candy, if I were down there I'd come, too," he said. "People will find their way back out of the country if those inducements are not there. I think you have to hold employers accountable. I think after the second infraction it should be considered a criminal offense, and if we did that, this problem would be solved."
Carson said Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release in exchange for five top Taliban commanders needs to be looked at from two distinct perspectives.
"I was actually in Hailey, Idaho, where he's from (several) days ago so there was a lot of conversation going on about it. But to me, the whole Bergdahl situation is two different conversations," he said. "Should we be trying to get our people back? Of course we should try to get our people back. To me that's a separate issue from should we be releasing, you know, dangerous terrorists, particularly at this point in time when there is an intense war going on. It defies any kind of logic and any kind of common sense."
On running for president
Carson played coy on whether he was planning to launch a campaign for president or any other elected office, saying he had imagined other, less stressful things for his retirement.
He was going to learn to play the organ, learn to speak new languages and improve his golf game.
"Obviously my life has gone in a bit of a different direction. And I don't know what my role will be going forward," he said. "I don't particularly want to go into the public arena, considering how stressful it is. But at the same time, even less do I want our country to continue to deteriorate. If there is a role for me that will keep our country from deteriorating, and the people of the nation really have a strong desire, I would subjugate my own desires."
He said a lot depends on what happens in November. He'll be watching closely to try to pick up clues to what American voters are thinking.
"People will have opportunity to make a very public statement: Do they want to continue down the road of big government, nanny state? Or, do they want to return to a country for, of and by the people, a country where personal responsibility is important, where the Constitution is put on the top shelf and we don't try to dismantle it, to a place where we treat everybody equally, to a country where we know that the way to expand business and to reactivate the most powerful economic engine in the history of the world is to take the heavy foot of government off the neck of business and industry and to reform the tax code to where you incentivize rather than dis-incentivize people, a country where we provide people with a ladder to move up, rather than pat them on the head and keep them in a dependent position … and a whole host of other things, this November," Carson said. "If the indication is the latter, that would certainly make me think more seriously about getting into the public sector in one way or another."
And if he does jump into the public realm, it comes with a caveat.
"I've always said I don't really fit the mold because I do not believe in political correctness. I will never submit to the P.C. police, under any circumstances," he said. "And I also would never get in the bed with a bunch of special interest groups. I'll be working extremely hard to eliminate the influence of special interest groups."