A US presidential nominee has been roasted after revealing what some media have called a “shocking ignorance” of the Syrian war, by failing to realise that Aleppo was the besieged city at the centre of the crisis.
Appearing on Morning Joe, Libertarian Gary Johnson, a two-term Governor of New Mexico, was asked by panelist Mike Barnicle what he’d do, if elected, about the battle in the ancient city.
Johnson was dumbfounded. “Aleppo”, he asked, “what is Aleppo?”.
Barnicle replied: “You’re kidding?”
Barnicle then explained. “Aleppo is in Syria, it is the epicentre of the refugee crisis.”
And the penny dropped. Johnson began his response: “With regard to Syria”.
He then concluded that the solution to the “mess” was to “join hands with Russia to diplomatically bring this to an end”.
Johnson was subsequently interviewed about the gaffe... but ended up making it worse.
“When you recognise what’s going on in Syria. When you recognise that Aleppo is in the epicentre. Aleppo... not knowing there is a city in between the two forces at the epicentre, or not remembering, or identifying that, that is Aleppo...”
Johnson later conceded he was “incredibly frustrated with myself” over the interview.
During a follow-up interview with MSNBC Johnson was asked to justify his ignorance: “Do you really think foreign policy is so insignificant that some one running for President of the United States shouldn’t even know where Aleppo is and what it is so important?” he was asked.
Johnson said, “I do understand Aleppo”.
He continued: “I do understand the crisis going on, but when we involve ourselves militarily, these humanitarian issues, we end up in a situation that is not better and in many cases ends up being worse.”
Commenters were quick to ridicule Johnson.