Gary Johnson: I Can't Start Wars With Places if I Can't Find Them on a Map
Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson on Tuesday defended his lack of knowledge of world affairs, suggesting on MSNBC that foreign policy expertise, or even an understanding of where international leaders are from, is what leads to military conflict.
“You know what? The fact that somebody can dot the i’s and cross the t’s on a foreign leader’s geographic location then allows them to put our military in harm’s way,” Johnson told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell.
The former New Mexico governor has been widely panned for a pair of foreign policy gaffes that have weighed down his long-shot candidacy. First, Johnson responded to a question on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” about the ongoing civil war in Syria by asking his questioner, “What is Aleppo?”
His inability to recognize Syria’s largest city, and the epicenter of its humanitarian crisis, was compounded last week in another MSNBC appearance when host Chris Matthews asked Johnson to “name one foreign leader that you respect and look up to.” Johnson could not name one and admitted that he was having another “Aleppo moment.”
“Five days after the interview, Andrea, I still can’t think of a world leader that I respect,” Johnson said Tuesday. “I mean, having never been involved in politics before, I will tell you I held a lot of people in this country on pedestals thinking they were role models. I got to meet them up front and personal and found out they were empty suits. They weren’t about issues. They weren’t about doing what was best. They were about getting reelected.”
Johnson, like most Libertarians, supports noninterventionist foreign and military policies. He suggested that U.S. involvement has almost always made international conflicts worse, not better. Under a President Gary Johnson, the United States would use its military might only to retaliate when attacked, he indicated.
“We put our military in this horrible situation where we go in and support regime change. They get involved in civil wars where hundreds of thousands of innocent people are in a crossfire. We’re literally shooting at ourselves because we support both sides of conflicts, Syria as an example,” he said. “We wonder why our men in service and women suffer from PTSD in the first place. It’s because we elect people who can dot the i’s and cross the t’s on these names and geographic locations as opposed to the underlying philosophy, which is let’s stop getting involved in these regime changes.
“You should have a working knowledge of what is going on, and what is going on are politicians that beat their chests, that claim to know about what we should be doing,” Johnson added. “And because you put them forward as being knowledgeable, that we then put our trust and faith in politicians that put our men and women, service men and women, in harm’s way. They’re getting killed. They’re getting maimed. They’re getting injured. They’re getting psychologically damaged for the rest of their lives.”