Do you know about Aleppo?
It is a city in Syria that has been much of the face of the war and refugee crisis in Syria.
Gary Johnson appeared recently on “Morning Joe” on MSNBC. Co-host Mike Barnicle asked Johnson, “What would you do if you were elected about Aleppo?”
Johnson responded, “About?” After having it repeated, Johnson responded, “And what is Aleppo?”
Barnicle responded, “You’re kidding.” He then explained that it is the epicenter of the refugee crisis in Syria.
After Johnson responded, he was pressed further on the fact that he was confused about the question. Since then, some are saying that his lack of knowledge regarding this question disqualifies him from being president.
Now I have been a pretty harsh critic on Gary Johnson in this campaign cycle. I wrote 10 reasons on why he is not a libertarian. But this latest story is absolutely ridiculous.
It was meant as a “gotcha” question. There is no reason the interviewer couldn’t have asked, “What would you do about the refugee crisis in Aleppo, Syria?” This would have been a clear question. And even if an interviewer assumes that the candidate will know what Aleppo is, he shouldn’t assume the listening audience knows. This just shows a lack of clarity or a lack of character on the part of the MSNBC hosts.
Johnson’s response since then has been decent, although still not as strong as I think he could be. He admits he was caught flat-footed and thought the co-host was using an acronym or something like that.
If I were Johnson, or working on his campaign staff, this is what I would say in response to this whole episode:
“The other day, I was asked about Aleppo and did not immediately understand what the interviewer was asking. He was referring to a city in Syria. Because I did not immediately recognize the name of the city in Syria, many people think this somehow disqualifies me from being president.
But knowing the name of a city which most Americans would not be able to locate on a map is not important to Americans or the people of Syria. What is important is good judgement.
The only reason that there is war and a refugee crisis in Syria right now is because of the reckless policies of the U.S. government trying to interfere in the world. The U.S. invaded and occupied Iraq, which led to a destabilization of the region. Then the U.S. government tried to overthrow Assad in Syria and is still trying to do so to this day. Hillary Clinton is directly responsible for these and other like policies of intervention, as are the Bush and Obama administrations, as well as many members of Congress.
Would you rather have a president who does not know the name of a city in Syria, or would you rather a president who uses corruption and poor judgement that results in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and the destruction of whole countries?
Would you rather have a president who uses sound judgement and promotes peace, or would your rather have a president that can memorize geography yet abuses power and shows little regard for human life?
These are the choices facing the American people. Do you really think that most Americans care about knowing the name Aleppo? They may care what is happening there, but only because the region has been destabilized by politicians using poor judgement and acting on behalf of their cronies instead of working on behalf of the American people.
If there are Americans out there who think that not knowing the name Aleppo disqualifies someone from being president, then that is their choice. But the majority of Americans are more concerned about peace and prosperity than winning a quiz contest in world geography. And if you are an American that supports peace and prosperity, then I am your choice.”
If Gary Johnson really wants to be a contender, he should not show weakness here. He should attack all of those who have caused these problems in the first place. If it weren’t for a massive interventionist U.S. foreign policy, there would likely be no crisis in Aleppo.