As the debate turned to wars in the Middle East, it became apparent that Donald Trump has the sort of grasp on military matters that can be gained from watching old movies, but little idea of the geopolitical realities of the situation.

In a discussion of the current Iraqi government offensive to retake Mosul — the country’s second-largest city — from ISIS, Trump repeated his frequent lament that the U.S. no longer engaged in sneak attacks, like those he said the American generals Douglas MacArthur and George Patton would have favored.

He then claimed that the offensive to recapture Mosul was driven purely by a desire to help Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

“I’m just amazed that he seems to think the Iraqi government and our allies and everybody else launched the attack on Mosul to help me in this election,” Clinton replied.

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19:  Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) debates with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight is the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images


When the moderator, Chris Wallace, noted that Trump said in the previous debate that the Syrian city of Aleppo “has basically fallen,” even though it had not, the candidate interrupted, saying “Its a catastrophe — have you seen it? Have you seen what happened to Aleppo?”

As the back-and-forth progressed, it became clear that Trump seemed to have no idea that the word “fallen,” in this case, means that the city had been taken over by one of the two warring factions. Instead, he appeared to think the word was simply a way of saying that bad things are happening there.