Obama to Maliki: Step Up or Step Down Before U.S. Air Power



By Mark Green

Shrum and Matalin agree it's the definition of insanity for the president to reinsert U.S. into centuries-long religious war when likeliest conclusion a tripartitioned Iraq back to pre-1919. Cheney/McCain versus Obama, Petraeus, Beck, Ruddy, Frum, MKelly and Americans by 3-1. Also: how's Hillary's "talking tour" going?

*On Iraq Redux. We listen to 'Michael Corelone' explain how his family "pulls me back in"... and to JFK say how ultimately it's up to Vietnamese themselves to repel the Communists. The more things change...

Mary and Bob agree that the rapidly deteriorating situation in Iraq is largely due to a dysfunctional, exclusionary Iraqi government/military leading Sunni soldiers to wonder why they're fighting for Maliki. They agree that A) it would be the classic definition of insanity were Obama to just again militarily intervene in a centuries long religious (not very) civil war; and B) it was Iran and Maliki who refused to give immunity to remaining American soldiers thereby scuttling a residual American presence there.

The two stipulate that they disagree about Bush's invasion/occupation though Mary acknowledges that the 2003 attack and aftermath demolished the needed governing institutions of the country. Matalin tries for both-sides evenhandedness by saying that "Bush got Putin wrong and Obama has gotten Islamic jihadists wrong"... the second part of which Shrum dismisses.

Lessons of Vietnam and two Iraq wars so history doesn't repeat itself? More consensus: the U.S. military can't nation-build when a nation doesn't want to... so Iraq will eventually have to sort itself out after a lot of blood-letting and probably end up being tri-partitioned like pre-1919, as then Senator Biden originally predicted.

We listen to Senator McCain bitterly denounce the president as playing golf, fundraising and fiddling while Iraq burns. Question: What's his problem? And what's happened to him and the tradition of bipartisanship beyond the water's edge during crises? Mary doubts many are still listening to him while Bob thinks that he's bitter and isolated after his losses to W and O and his own war-time experiences.

Host: McCain sadly seems to have gone from hero to crank over the past 50 years.

In the 'Reality Bites' file, Shrum and Matalin worry that the situation is insolvable but perhaps manageable once religious combatants sort it out so the U.S. can act rationally rather than just dance to the beat of war drums again.

As for all the I-told-you-sos now flying around: it would appear that Obama here has the edge since it was he who ran on no more "dumb wars" like Iraq and who said in his West Point address last month that we have less to worry about al Qaeda central and more from local offshoots -- that means more drones than troops and counter-terrorism rather than counter-insurgency.

As for the phenomenon of watching repudiated hawks like Cheney, Bolton, Wolfowitz, Bremer, Feith, North lecturing TV viewers on Fox and the Sunday Shows about best next approaches, it's probably best to cite two humorists: Bill Maher wondered whether the media should assign OJ to cover the Oscar Pistorius trail and Andy Borowitz tweeted that 'in an unusual development, Sunni and Shia have agreed that Cheney should just shut up.'

*On HRC "Book" Tour. Mary thinks it's gone badly with HRC showing that she's rusty and is attracting more criticism than book-buyers. Bob thinks that's whistling by the graveyard. "She's strong, the Republicans know it, which is why they attack her at every opportunity. But don't worry Mary, she'll invite you and James to a White House State Dinner."

They agree that often a candidate gets more effective once they realize they may lose, like Bush after McCain won New Hampshire in 2000 and Kerry in the Fall of 2003 after Dean's surge. Will that happen again to Hillary? Shrum thinks either that'll happen or -- like FDR, Ike, Secretariat -- she's a wire-to-wire winner.

Bob looks at two specific interviews among so many: he agrees that her "broke' line was ill-advised but believes that Clinton45 handled NPR's Terry Gross on gay marriage just fine and showed an admirable incaution when she blasted the NRA on CNN as "a minority terrorizing the majority."

*Quick Takes: Washington Redskins? Wisconsin's Walker? Although Mary hates the use of trademark law to force owner Dan Snyder's hand, both agree that in the long run the Redskins should and will change its name (can't wait until Heritage and the Tea Party suggest alternatives -- Washington Pirates, Spenders, Bureaucrats, Tyrants...).

Finally there's a clash over Governor Scott Walker, who's up in 2014 for reelection in Wisconsin, a presidential hopeful and being criminally investigated for campaign finance violations when he was mayor of Milwaukee. Mary is so fond of his performance/record that she brushes off the probe. Bob, however, thinks it may disqualify him from even seeking the office, as such problems knocked out Gov. McDonnell in Virginia and may yet Governor Christie in New Jersey.

Mark Green is the creator and host of Both Sides Now.

You can follow him on Twitter @markjgreen

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