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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 9, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 37
What is Aleppo?

Libertarian Gary Johnson commits political suicide on morning news
Section One
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What is Aleppo?

Libertarian Gary Johnson commits political suicide on morning news

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

September 8, 2016. That's the day Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson ended all hope of being taken seriously as a potential president.

In front of a largely friendly panel on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' TV news show, Johnson betrayed stunning ignorance of a major foreign policy problem facing the United States.

Asked by reporter Mike Barnicle 'What would you do, if you were elected, about Aleppo?' Johnson looked blank and asked 'And what is Aleppo?'

'You're kidding,' Barnicle replied incredulously.

'No,' Johnson said, shaking his head. He shrugged at the camera.

'Aleppo is in Syria,' Barnicle explained. 'It's the epicenter of the refugee crisis.'

'OK, got it, got it,' Johnson replied. He then launched into a barely coherent answer that seemed to align him with Donald Trump's pronouncements on the Syrian crisis.

'With regard to Syria, I do think that it's a mess. I think that the only way we deal with Syria is to join hands with Russia to diplomatically bring that at an end,' Johnson said.

'But when we've aligned ourselves, when we've supported the opposition of the Free Syrian Army - the Free Syrian Army is also coupled with the Islamists - and then the fact that we're also supporting the Kurds, and it's just a mess,' he added.

Host Joe Scarborough, who in the past has touted Johnson as a potential alternative for fellow Republicans disenchanted with Donald Trump, was dumbfounded by Johnson's ignorance.

'Aleppo is the center of a lot of people's concerns across the planet about the terrible humanitarian crisis that is unfolding,' Scarborough told Johnson.

'You asked, 'What is Aleppo?' Do you really think that foreign policy is so insignificant that somebody running for president of the United States shouldn't even know what Aleppo is, where Aleppo is, why Aleppo is so important?' Scarborough asked.

'Well, no, I do understand Aleppo and I understand the crisis that is going on,' Johnson responded.

'My god, can you believe it?' Scarborough asked co-host Mika Brzezinski after a commercial break. 'It would be like asking, 'What is Sarajevo?' in 1991 [during the civil war in Bosnia]. It is stunning!'

Aleppo (Halab in Arabic) is Syria's largest city and has been the site of ongoing battles between Syrian government forces and rebels since July 2012. Both sides have been accused of targeting civilians with chemical weapons and indiscriminate bombings.

'I'm incredibly frustrated with myself,' Johnson confessed to MSNBC panelist and Bloomberg reporter Mark Halperin just after the interview with Barnicle and Scarborough.

The implosion could not have come at a worse time for Johnson. He needs to reach 15% in national polls to qualify for the presidential debates that begin later this month, and he has been increasing his showing recently to 10-12%.

On September 7, past GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who - like Scarborough - has been flirting with Johnson as an alternative to Trump - called for him to be included in debates. Now it would seem to be impossible to make the case that Johnson is a serious candidate.

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