Ben Carson's cringe-inducing foreign policy ignorance: Israel edition

Wannabe commander-in-chief clueless on basic facts about the country

Published March 24, 2015 5:28PM (EDT)

  (Jeffery Malet,
(Jeffery Malet,

Ben Carson is a living, breathing example of why being a celebrity among Fox News viewers doesn't qualify someone to be president of the United States. For starters, he has a tendency to say deeply insane things: That America in the Obama era is increasingly like Nazi Germany; that prisons prove homosexuality is a choice; and that gay people are akin to murderers, for instance. Over the last few weeks, the neurosurgeon-turned-2016 hopeful has also demonstrated an understanding of foreign policy that makes one pine for the sage cosmopolitanism of Sarah Palin. Carson appeared ignorant of the fact that the three Baltic states belong to NATO and argued, in an interview meant to combat the perception that he's unschooled on international affairs, that we should figure out a way to "just sort of slip" the Palestinian population down into Egypt. Can't you just see this guy strolling out to "Hail to the Chief"?

The April issue of GQ contains yet another Carson foreign policy blunder. While Carson touts himself as a stalwart defender of Israel, Jason Zengerle reveals in his profile of the Republican that Carson lacked even a rudimentary understanding of the country's basic political dynamics. As he waited to catch a flight to Tel Aviv in December, Carson struck up a conversation with his Israeli guide, asking her, "In the United States, we have Republicans, Democrats, and independents -- what do you have?" Zengerle relates that the guide explained the Likud, Labor, and other smaller parties that animate Israel's political scene and jockey for power in Israel's parliament, the Knesset.

"And what is the role of the Knesset?" Carson begged.

After his guide launched into a disquisition on the legislative body, Carson replied, "It sounds complex. Why don't they just adopt the system we have?"

Why indeed.

In the profile, Zengerle also reports that Carson:

  • Compared President Obama to a psychopath, after an aide mentioned that the president looked "elegant" on television. "Like most psychopaths," Carson shot back. "That's why they're successful. That's the way they look. They all look great."
  • Likened protesters in Ferguson, Missouri to Islamic terrorists. Discussing the Syrian civil war, an Israeli lieutenant colonel noted to Carson that many of the militants fighting there had streamed in from other countries. It's just like the troublemakers in Ferguson," Carson replied.
  • Thought that former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan was Secretary of the Treasury. Asked who his favorite Treasury secretary was, Carson replied, "Andrea Mitchell's husband," apparently unable to identify Greenspan by name. Greenspan, who helmed the Fed from 1987 until 2006, never served as Treasury secretary.
  • Left the GOP in disgust over Bill Clinton's impeachment. Once a leftist, Carson told Zengerle he became a conservative in the Reagan administration, but became an independent following the GOP's impeachment of Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair. Carson considered many of the president's less-than-maritally-faithful antagonists hypocrites, according to Zengerle. Carson said that he would have remained an independent if he weren't considering a bid for political office.
Read Zengerle's profile here.

By Luke Brinker

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