It seems as though Ben Carson has flunked the Hugh Hewitt primary.
In an interview with the conservative radio host Wednesday, Carson tripped up repeatedly during the discussion exclusively on foreign policy, including on the root causes of Islam and his foreign policy bonafides.
Carson claimed the root cause of Islam occurred “thousands and thousands of years ago” with Jacob and Esau and did not seem to know the Baltic states were part of NATO.
Hewitt compared his foreign policy knowledge to that of Sarah Palin’s during the 2008 campaign.
“What do you consider to be [Islam’s] tap root? What is the origin of their rage in your view?” Hewitt asked the potential 2016 candidate
“Well, first of all, you have to recognize they go back thousands and thousands of years. Really, back to the battle between Jacob and Esau,” Carson said. “It has been a land issue for a very long period of time. Possession is very important to them, and one of the things that we are doing, I think, incorrectly right now, is not recognizing that they are expanding their territory. Not only the land they’ve taken in Iraq, but what they’ve taken in Syria and creating an Islamic State.”
“We can bomb it all we want, but unless we can actually take the land back, we are really not doing them any damage,” Carson added.
“Uh, but Dr. Carson, Mohammad lives in 632 A.D., so it’s a 1300-1400 year old religion. How do you go back to Jacob and Esau, which are B.C.?” Hewitt asked incredulously.
Carson stuck to his answer, telling Hewitt again Islam goes all the way back to Jacob and Esau, which is documented in the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament.
“Ok. I would date it to 632 [A.D.],” Hewitt said, questioning the retired neurosurgeon. “But you’ve got a biblical connection that some people may share with you, but I think scholars may dispute.”
Carson bad start continued to snowball midway through the interview when Hewitt brought up the Russians and the U.S.’s contentious relationship in the wake of his move on Ukraine and Crimea.
“The Baltic states are very nervous, and we have troops in the Baltic states. Ought NATO be willing to go to war if Putin attempts in the Baltic states anything like what he’s attempted in Ukraine?” Hewitt asked after Carson intimated that former Soviet states, including the Baltic states (Estonia, Lativa and Lithuania) should become aligned with NATO.
“I think they would be willing to go to war if they knew that they were backed up by us. I think part of the problem in the world right now is that our allies cannot be 100 percent certain that we’re behind them,” Carson said, leading Hewitt into asking whether we should go to war if Putin moves on the Baltic states.
“Well if we have them involved in NATO. We need to convince them to get involved in NATO and strengthen NATO,” Carson said.
“Well, the Balts, they are in NATO,” Hewitt said affirmatively before moving to a commercial break.
Toward the end of the nearly 20-minute interview, Hewitt candidly told Carson that he’s worried the former neurosurgeon isn’t up to snuff on foreign affairs, likening him to Sarah Palin during the 2008 campaign.
“What I worry about as a Republican, as a conservative is that because you’ve been being a great neurosurgeon all these years, you haven’t been deep into geopolitics, and that the same questions that tripped up Sarah Palin early in her campaign are going to trip you up,” Hewitt told Carson. “How are you going to navigate that because — have you been doing geopolitics? Do you read this stuff? Do you immerse yourself in it?”
“I mean, you wouldn’t expect me to become a neurosurgeon in a couple of years and I wouldn’t expect you to be able to access and understand and collate the information necessary to be a global strategist in a couple of years,” Hewitt said before asking Carson if it’s “fair for people to worry” that he hasn’t been involved in world politics enough.
“I mean, we’ve tried an amateur for the last six years and look what it’s gotten us,” Hewitt told Carson.
Carson pushed back against the premise of Hewitt’s questioning, saying he would put together a good team to help him navigate the waters of foreign affairs.