Gary Johnson defends himself after ‘Aleppo moment’

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson is defending himself after he couldn’t name a single world leader he respects last week in a town hall-style event moderated by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews.

Speaking to Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC ahead of the vice presidential debate, Johnson suggested that broad knowledge of world affairs only makes it more likely for a leader to get involved in foreign conflicts.

“We wonder why our service men and women suffer from [PTSD] in the first place,” Johnson said. “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.”


When pressed by Mitchell on what level of conflict should be present before US intervention became necessary, Johnson said the US should defend itself if attacked.

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“If we are attacked, we are going to attack back,” he said.

But the former New Mexico governor argued that US military intervention only makes conflicts worse.

“We always go in because there are atrocities being committed, genocide being committed. These are horrible situations, but I can’t think of one example where we get involved, where we make that horrible situation any better,” Johnson said.

Johnson has frequently been asked about his views on foreign policy since he responded, “What is Aleppo?” when asked in September what he would do about the war-torn Syrian city.

Christina Prignano can be reached at christina.prignano@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @cprignano.

Correction: An earlier version of this story gave the incorrect name of the state where Gary Johnson served as governor.