NBC's Andrea Mitchell, on the syndicated Chris Matthews Show over the weekend, claimed that the United States' wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have not helped in the fight against terrorism, going as far as to say "They've hurt," and "we have inspired more Jihadis against us." Mitchell also played defense for Barack Obama on his terrorism policy as she hailed the President's recent speeches on the issue have been "strong" and "substantive," and "he's now trying to...take the reins and be the CEO," in the fight against al Qaeda. [audio available here]
The following exchanges were aired on the January 10 edition of The Chris Matthews Show:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Our Matthews Meter question this week is a fascinating one. We asked the Meter, 12 of our regulars, "Were the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan a help or a hurt, in this regard, when it comes to defeating al Qaeda?" Close one here. Seven say the wars have helped our cause in defeating al Qaeda. Five say Iraq and Afghanistan taken together have hurt the war against al Qaeda. Two of you here were in that Meter poll, and they split. Andrea you think the wars altogether, on all the casualties we lost and all the casualties we inflicted, haven't helped our fight against al Qaeda.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: I think they've hurt. And I agree it's a close call, but I think that we have inspired more Jihadis against us.
MATTHEWS: Joe you disagree?
JOE KLEIN, TIME: Well I think, yeah I do disagree. Even though I think that the war in Iraq was terrible. Was a, was a bad, bad historic mistake, it also gave us a much better sense of the limits of the possible with al Qaeda. The fact that they don't have that much appeal to the average Muslin and, in the end, we beat them.
MATTHEWS: Wow! Well as Rumsfeld once said we don't have the metrics on that one.
MATTHEWS: The Obama administration is ending its first year under huge pressure on the security front. Some from past administrations are on record doubting that this team has the right focus. Here's former attorney general Michael Mukasey in what he put in The Wall Street Journal this week. "Some in the executive branch are focused more on not sounding like their predecessors than in finding a neutralizing people who believe it is their religious duty to kill us." Andrea, is the President successful so far in becoming a true chief executive and not a campaigner who's going on television and touring the country and doing interviews?
MITCHELL: I think, in fact that he's made a very strong leap in this direction. I thought-
MITCHELL: -in particular since this Christmas Day incident, the threat that was averted. I think the speeches, you can argue about the timing, the first 24-48 hours. But the timing and, and the speeches, the content of the speeches have been strong. They've been substantive. I think what he's now trying to do is really take the reins and be the CEO. Look, Chris, he inherited a ridiculous post 9-11 structure. They're trying to rationalize it. What we now know from this, at least the declassified report and what we've learned what's in the rest of the report is it's a mess.