- By Ty McCormickTy McCormick is Africa Editor at Foreign Policy. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, he has reported from across much of Africa and the Middle East, including Egypt, Lebanon, Somalia, South Sudan, Burundi, Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He was a finalist for the 2015 Kurt Schork Memorial Award for International Journalism. In addition to FP, he has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and National Geographic. Ty received his bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, and a master’s from the University of Oxford, where he was a Clarendon Scholar. He received a second master's degree from the Queen's University Belfast as a George J. Mitchell Scholar.
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.