President Joe Biden raised eyebrows on Sunday when he repeatedly mixed up the names of two countries during a news briefing at a summit of world leaders in the United Kingdom.
Biden referred to Syria as Libya three times in the span of 90 seconds while speaking about potential areas where the United States can partner with Russia despite the countries’ fraught relationship.
“In Libya, we should be opening up the passes to be able to go through and provide ... food assistance and economic ― I mean vital assistance ― to a population that’s in real trouble,” Biden said during his speech, which capped the three-day Group of Seven (G-7) summit in Cornwall, England.
“The rebuilding of Syria, of Libya ― you know, this is, they’re there and as long as they’re there without the ability to bring about some order in the region, you can’t do that very well without providing for the basic economic needs of people,” he added. “So I’m hopeful that we can find an accommodation that where we can save the lives of people in, for example, in Libya.”
National security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters later Sunday aboard Air Force One that Biden had mixed up the two Middle Eastern countries.
“Jake, can you clarify what the president said when he talked about there being a dilemma for Russia as it relates to Libya?” one reporter asked during the flight to Belgium. “Presumably he was referring to Syria. Is there more clarity?”
“Syria,” said Sullivan, adding that Biden had meant Syria when he said Libya.
Biden has been forthcoming about his verbal slip-ups, calling himself a “gaffe machine” on the campaign trail in December 2018. Still, his critics were quick to scrutinize him over the G-7 blunder.
“This is horrible,” tweeted Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce. “At some point his cognitive disfunction has to be considered a natl security threat if only because of the confidence it must give our enemies.”
Others were quick to point out the many gaffes of Biden’s predecessor, former President Donald Trump.