Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC’s Morning Joe was able to score an interview with President Obama that aired on Monday morning. Obviously, the interview centered around the situation in Iraq and the growing sectarian violence, led by extremist group ISIS, that has rocked that country. Brzezinski asked the President several questions regarding what we should do to help Iraq, any potential changes to the planned withdrawal from Afghanistan and if the US should have intervened more forcefully in Syria. The President pointedly stated that the United States will continue to withdraw from Afghanistan and tyhat this situation in Iraq does not change that. He also said that we cannot get caught up in chasing around different extremist groups in several locations, comparing it to ‘whack-a-mole.’
Below is video of a portion of the interview, courtesy of MSNBC.
The President made sure to highlight the fact that you can’t just stay in a country indefinitely to ensure that it remains stable. The neoconservative view is that tens of thousands of American troops need to be in Iraq and Afghanistan forever, making them occupied territories rather than sovereign countries. The President helpfully pointed out that these countries have to be able to take care of themselves. We can provide training, supplies and knowledge, but the United States cannot afford, nor has the will of its own people, to occupy these countries for an indefinite period of time. If problems arise in these countries, those countries’ military forces and elected governments need to handled them. The US can provide guidance and limited assistance, but was will not be an option.
Mika tried to get the President to sweat by questioning him on the stability of Iraq. She stated that the President had claimed in the past that Iraq was stable and that al Qaeda had been decimated. The President didn’t miss a beat. He retorted that Iraq was stable four and even two years ago. Just because something is stable at one point doesn’t mean it will remain so forever. He reiterated that we weren’t occupy Iraq forever. Also, we could not keep a residual force there due to the agreement reached with the country in 2008, prior to Obama taking office. Overall, Iraq’s military and government are ultimately responsible for the stability of the country.
Finally, the President got a dig at neocons who claim that we should have American troops all over the Middle East hunting down and fighting extremist factions. The President described that plan as ‘whack-a-mole’ and pointed out that it is a fruitless endeavor that will only lead to American soldiers being killed and do nothing to make the region safer or more stable. When pressed by Mika on Syria, POTUS let her know that the situation there is not black and white, as some on the right have made it to be. Basically, what you have is a ruthless dictator being opposed by several different factions, some of whom are quite extreme (like the aforementioned ISIS.)
What the President tried to convey in the interview is that the United States can’t intervene and bring peace to regions via firepower and an influx of occupying troops. It just doesn’t work like that. Essentially, the region is going through a lot of turmoil due to various religious sects and political movements trying to establish power and influence and perhaps change the landscape there. At a certain point, the US needs to only be concerned with its own national security and not about its influence in the region.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).