23 October 2012

Mitt Romney - Iran's way to the sea is Syria. On what planet?

During the 3rd presidential debate on Monday, 22 October 2012, Mitt Romney told the viewers that Syria is Iran's way to the sea. That claim is wrong.

Presidential debates are held to enable the viewer to make up her/his mind about which candidate to vote for. They are an opportunity to asses the candidates' knowledge and to get an insight into what and how they think.

In the last of the three presidential debates in preparation for the presidential elections of 6 November 2012, which was held on 22 October 2012, the two candidates, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, talked about foreign policy. One of the subjects was Syria.

This is part of what Mitt Romney said:
Well, let’s step back and talk about what’s happening in Syria and how important it is. First of all, 30,000 people being killed by their government is a humanitarian disaster. Secondly, Syria is an opportunity for us because Syria plays an important role in the Middle East, particularly right now.

Syria is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world. It’s their route to the sea. It’s the route for them to arm Hezbollah in Lebanon, which threatens, of course, our ally, Israel. And so seeing Syria remove Assad is a very high priority for us. Number two, seeing a — a replacement government being responsible people is critical for us. And finally, we don’t want to have military involvement there. We don’t want to get drawn into a military conflict.
Did you see anything odd about this? Did you spot it?

It is the first two sentences in the second paragraph:

Syria is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world. It’s their route to the sea.

Who is an ally of whom is open to interpretation, but it seems that not everyone agrees with Romney's assessment that Syria is Iran's only ally in the Arab world. Wikipedia does not agree, for example.

This is not as harmless as it may sound. In foreign policy, it is important to know who is an ally of whom, in order to avoid mistakes when creating and implementing that policy. One does not want to alienate one's own allies by endorsing or rejecting the wrong countries.

In the second sentence, Romney claims that Syria is Iran's route to the sea. Romney is a Mormon. Mormons deal with planets outside of our solar system, such as the planet Kolob. There are therefore two possibilities:

1. Mitt Romney was talking about a different planet
2. Mitt Romney is ignorant as to the geography of our own planet

Which one do you think it is?

In order to help you with your choice, look at the map above. Here is a direct link to the Mitt Romney's declaration: see (Direct links do not always work. Romney's declaration can be seen at 16 minutes 19 seconds into the video).

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