Where’s Stalin When You Need Him?

When you have suddenly been vaulted into a presidential campaign–as sort of a retirement hobby after a very successful career in another field–by expressing the unmediated Id of the Tea Folk, you have a tendency to say things that don’t bear much scrutiny. So it is with Dr. Ben Carson, who’s been getting some unfriendly scrutiny over his lack of knowledge about, well, the rest of the world. Dave Weigel gave Carson a chance to speak at length about foreign policy beyond the constraints of “gotcha” questions, and he promptly showed why he’s reminding people of Sarah Palin in September of 2008:

Carson, like other potential Republican candidates, was cheered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election this week, and thinking anew about how Palestinians could establish their own state.

“We need to look at fresh ideas,” said Carson. “I don’t have any problem with the Palestinians having a state, but does it need to be within the confines of Israeli territory? Is that necessary, or can you sort of slip that area down into Egypt? Right below Israel, they have some amount of territory, and it can be adjacent. They can benefit from the many agricultural advances that were made by Israel, because if you fly over that area, you can easily see the demarcation between Egypt and Israel, in terms of one being desert and one being verdant. Technology could transform that area. So why does it need to be in an area where there’s going to be temptation for Hamas to continue firing missiles at relatively close range to Israel?”

Yes, that’s a “fresh idea,” all right: uprooting millions of people from territory they’ve lived in for many centuries and shipping them to the desert region of a nearby country. Aside from the rather questionable politics of such ethnic cleansing projects, you’d probably need the devilish efficiency of a Stalin (famed for his amazingly rapid and complete relocations of various non-Russian “nationalities” in the USSR) to pull it off.

But you have to hand it to Carson: he’s not dodging the tough questions, although clearly he should. Is there some way to have a “two-state solution” without challenging Israel’s conquest of the West Bank? Sure: Let ’em eat Egypt.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.