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Ben Carson's North Korea plan: put "one horse show" Vladimir Putin "in a box"

Zack Beauchamp is a senior correspondent at Vox, where he covers ideology and challenges to democracy, both at home and abroad. Before coming to Vox in 2014, he edited TP Ideas, a section of Think Progress devoted to the ideas shaping our political world.

During Tuesday night's Republican debate, Wolf Blitzer asked former neurosurgeon Ben Carson how he would deal with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Carson began by talking about how North Korea's over-spending on its military has contributed to its extreme poverty — which is indeed true — but then pivoted to an awfully strange point about Russia and Putin and oil sales and Europe. It is a bit difficult to parse:

I do believe he [North Korean leader Kim Jong Un] is unstable and China has more influence with him than we do. But we also recognize that North Korea is in severe financial straits and they have decided to use their resources to build their military than to feed their people and take care of the humanitarian responsibilities that they have.

We can capitalize on that. We can use that to keep Putin contained. He is a one horse show, energy. And we have an abundance of energy but we have archaic energy export rules. We need to get rid of those and make Europe dependent on us for energy, put him back in his little box where he belongs. And we need to do a lot of other things with the resources that we have. So that economic power works just as well as military power, perhaps better.

The military needs to be upgraded. You look at the Ohio glass submarines, the minuteman 3 missiles, the B-52 bombers, you know, if we don't get the military right nothing else matters.

Two weeks ago, Carson foreign policy adviser Duane Clarridge told the New York Times that "nobody has been able to sit down with him and have him get one iota of intelligent information about the Middle East." It doesn't seem like the Asia prep sessions went any better.

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