- By Ty McCormickTy McCormick is the Africa editor at Foreign Policy. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, he has reported from more than a dozen countries in Africa and the Middle East, including Egypt, Lebanon, Somalia, South Sudan, Burundi, Uganda, Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He was the bronze medal recipient of the 2016 Elizabeth Neuffer Memorial Prize from the U.N. Correspondents Association and a finalist for the 2015 Kurt Schork Award for international journalism. Prior to joining FP in 2012, he was a freelance Cairo correspondent. He has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, and National Geographic, among others. He received his bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and master’s degrees from Oxford University and the Queen’s University Belfast, where he held Clarendon and George J. Mitchell scholarships, respectively.
In last night’s debate with President Obama, Gov. Mitt Romney ran into trouble when he suggested that "Syria is Iran’s…route to the sea." The remark unleashed a torrent of geography sticklers (see here, here, here, and here) who pointed out that Syria and Iran don’t share a border (Iraq is in between) and that Iran has 1,500 miles of its own coastline along the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman.
The comment wasn’t Romney’s first geography flub. In the infamous video of a Florida fundraiser released by Mother Jones in September, Romney suggested that a Palestinian state in the West Bank would border either "Syria at one point or Jordan." This, as FP blogger Daniel Drezner pointed out, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense because "Whatever contours a possible Palestinian state would have, it won’t border Syria."
Of course, Romney isn’t the only one with creative geography. In a campaign stop in Oregon in 2008, Obama famously said, "I’ve now been in 57 states? I think one left to go."
So Romney’s in good company, and hey, at least he didn’t try to diagnose the "situation on the Iraq-Pakistan border" like Sen. John McCain did in 2008.