The corporate media’s focus on how presidential candidate Gary Johnson asked, “What is Aleppo?” during an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” provides a unique opportunity for the mainstream media to ignore all the ridiculous things the other presidential candidates have said — including frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
Thankfully, we have independent media.
As Democracy Now! reported on Thursday, Clinton made the bold and equally ludicrous statement that she would never put boots on the ground in Syria (and Iraq):
“We are not putting ground troops into Iraq ever again, and we’re not putting ground troops into Syria. We’re going to defeat ISIS without committing American ground troops.”
There’s just one problem: the number of American troops deployed to Iraq has been rising steadily in the past few years and will most likely continue to for a long time. In Syria, the U.S. has made no secret of the fact there are special operations forces on the ground now, some of whom recently came under fire from Syrian warplanes.
It could be the case that Clinton is referring to a specific kind of troop because, as we have learned in recent times, “There are no boots on the ground” actually means “There are some boots on the ground but we aren’t going to discuss it.” This was the case in Libya in 2011, when commandos on the ground helped rebel groups capture and execute Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Either Clinton is rewriting the rules of what it means to have troops on the ground in the Middle East, or she genuinely thinks Iraq and Syria have no troops on the ground.
Regardless, why is it that the media can let Clinton off scot-free with such a blunder yet insists on focusing on Johnson’s minor gaffe? If you watch Johnson’s interview on MSNBC, it is quite clear that contextually, he wasn’t sure what his interviewers were asking when they referred to Aleppo. Once they clarified it for him, he was able to provide an answer better than what Clinton and Trump have offered regarding the Syrian crisis. Further, it didn’t appear the pundits were able to answer his inquiry about Aleppo without first hesitating, then merely saying Aleppo is in Syria – the epicenter of the refugee crisis.
Some people say that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Indeed, the media outlets attempting to mock Johnson are putting him on the map. If the public takes the time to listen to the interview, they might realize he has a better understanding of American foreign policy than the rest of the presidential candidates — not to mention the New York Times.
As Johnson said right after he asked his fateful question:
“Well, with regard to Syria, I do think that it’s a mess. I think that the only way that we deal with Syria is to join hands with Russia to diplomatically bring that at an end. But when we’ve aligned ourselves with — 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 this is — it’s just — it’s just a mess. And that this is the result of regime change that we end up supporting. And, inevitably, these regime changes have led a less-safe world.”
Further pressed about his gaffe, he added:
“Well, no, I do understand Aleppo, and I understand the crisis that is going on. But when we involve ourselves militarily — when we involve ourselves in these humanitarian issues we end up — we end up with a situation that in most cases is not better, and in many cases ends up being worse.”