For Ignorance on World Affairs Among GOP 2016 Candidates, Ben Carson Takes the Cake

Dr. Ben Carson, a pioneering neurosurgeon, is considering a run for the presidency of the United States on the Republican ticket.


In a new profile out in GQ Magazine, he reveals that he is almost completely ignorant about two major foreign policy issues the next president will have to deal with: Israel and Syria.

First, the reporter describes Carson buzzing an Israeli woman earlier this year with questions about the Israeli political system. Carson apparently does not even know what the Israeli parliament's role is or what political parties it has:

"In the United States,we have Republicans, Democrats, and independents. What do you have?" Carson asked. It was about a month before the president's State of the Union speech, and Carson was in the first-class lounge at the Newark airport, waiting for a flight to Tel Aviv. He'd never been to Israel before, but a trip to the Holy Land has become, in recent years, a prerequisite for presidential aspirants. When Governor George W. Bush went in 1998, he was given a helicopter tour by Ariel Sharon. Ten years later, Senator Barack Obama met with the Israeli prime minister as well as the leader of the Palestinian Authority. Now, as Carson sat across from the young Israeli woman who'd be his guide, he was getting a head start on what he called his own "fact-finding mission." The more basic the facts, the better.

The woman answered Carson's question about political parties, telling him that there were Labor and Likud and a host of other factions in the Knesset. "And what is the role of the Knesset?" he interjected. This prompted a tutorial on Israel's legislature. Carson is a tall, dignified-looking man with a placid, almost sleepy face. As he tried to concentrate on his Hebrew Schoolhouse Rock primer, he seemed even more fatigued. "It sounds complex," he finally said. "Why don't they just adopt the system we have?"

Next, Carson tries to dissect the Syrian civil war. He concludes that it's “just like the troublemakers in Ferguson”:

"Perhaps we can move over here," the lieutenant colonel suggested, steering Carson's group to a quieter spot to discuss the nearby Syrian civil war. He claimed that most of the Islamist fighters weren't Syrian but came from Morocco and Europe. "It's just like the troublemakers in Ferguson," Carson said, betraying a habit of wedging the unfamiliar into a context he understands.

There is really little to be said about these remarks except they seem to prove that Carson has little to no grasp on the major foreign policy issues facing the United States.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close