Former neurosurgeon Dr Ben Carson had a meteoric rise in the polls but has recently started slip back down the pecking order. Carson had to make a splash at the debate in order to put himself back into the frame as a potential presidential candidate. He did not do this. He drifted into the background and when I was going through the list of candidates for these pieces I forgot that he was there. This shouldn’t take long.
The first thing of note that Carson said was on the topic of terrorism. At first he complained about the lack of time he was receiving, which was a fair criticism, however at the time it make it sound like he was whining. He continued by saying that it was a culture of political correctness that was stopping people from monitoring terrorists. This is false, what he incorrectly calls ‘political correctness’ is what everyone else calls racial stereotyping.
Carson then drifted into the background for a while before being asked by Hugh Hewitt whether he would be willing to kill thousands of children by attacking ISIS. His response was that it is merciful to finish the job of killing ISIS than to let it persist, before reiterating his view that the job of the president is to keep Americans safe. Unsurprisingly such an obvious statement about the nature of the presidency led to the right-wing crowd erupting in applause.
Later in the evening Carson spoke more specifically about his strategy to deal with ISIS in which he said “destroy the caliphate, take ISIS’s oil, shut off supply routes into Raqqa and Mosul, and use special forces on the ground”. I don’t want to give Donald Trump credit here but the part about taking the oil was originally his idea, even though it is still a stupid idea.
Carson’s plan, much like all the Republicans plans, is that it makes America the main player in any international action which is ludicrous because that’s literally the opposite of what should be done. If America goes into Iraq and Syria with special forces and tries to extract all the oil that ISIS has control of, it will not be difficult for ISIS to portray the West as crusaders in Muslim lands.
On a more practical point, “taking the oil” might be quite difficult. According to organisations such as OPEC, Syria has around 2.5 billion barrels of oil in known reserves. In addition, Iraq has around 140 billion barrels of oil yet to be extracted. How long does Ben Carson and Donald Trump think it will take to extract all this oil? Considering that global demand will soon begin to decline because countries across the world acknowledge that man-made climate change exists, this will mean that the US would be spending billions of dollars extracting a resource that fewer and fewer people want.
Admittedly that first point is a bit far down the road but the second point is pure economics. If these Republicans succeed in getting all the oil out of the area in a relatively short amount of time, what will happen to the price of oil if the market is flooded with another 142.5 billion barrels of the stuff? The price will plummet, thus meaning that all the money that the US would hope to gain from this illegal action would evaporate.
The only other things that Carson said were done briefly. He asked for people to look at his record as a brain surgeon as a man who could deliver under pressure. He said that the US should look at using economic power just like military power against rogue states like North Korea. Carson said that he believes that the military should be strengthened, that citizens should be the president and not a member of the “political class”, and that he said he would only leave the Republican Party if there was “subterfuge”.
Overall Carson’s performance was verifiably terrible. His responses could have come from any other Republican on the stage and he said nothing that was especially memorable. This debate was supposed to be something Carson used to boost his profile in order to reverse his recent decline in the polls, however he clearly failed to make an impression.