After attending the NATO summit in Wales, President Obama only managed to convince 9 of the 28 member nations to join the U.S.-led effort to combat the ISIS terror network in Iraq and Syria. Despite such a failure to gain support from America's allies, on Monday's NBC Today, new Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd emphasized how the President wanted "to make this coalition against ISIS...look like the coalition that George H.W. Bush, back in 1990 and '91...put together to go after Saddam Hussein." [Listen to the audio]
Todd never mentioned how far short Obama had fallen of that goal, but asserted: "They don't want like some small coalition of two or three nations where it really is just the United States and a couple of symbolic countries."
In contrast, on CBS This Morning, White House correspondent Bill Plante informed viewers: "Nine U.S. allies have agreed to help. The President will also ask Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates to step up."
The United Nations-backed coalition during the Persian Gulf War consisted of 39 countries.
In 2003, NBC hit the Bush administration for "going it alone" and using "unilateral force" against Iraq when 18 nations had joined the U.S. coalition.
At the time, Brit Hume of Fox News pointed out the absurdity of such talking points: "How can we be isolating ourselves when it's 16 to 3 in NATO for what we want to do?...It's not unilateral when it's 16 to 3!"
If the Obama administration fails to win over more allies to fight ISIS, will NBC criticize any military effort as "going it alone"?
Here is a full transcript of the September 8 segment on Today:
7:08 AM ET
LAUER: Chuck Todd is NBC's political director and of course the moderator of Meet the Press. Chuck, good morning to you.
CHUCK TODD: Good morning, sir.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: President Takes On ISIS; To Lay Out Strategy to Congress, Public This Week]
LAUER: The President says no boots on the ground but he does say, "We're going to systematically degrade their capabilities, we're going to shrink the territory that they control, and ultimately we will defeat them." How specific is he going to get in terms of his plan on Wednesday?
TODD: Well, I think he wants to get fairly specific because he's got to get buy-in from Congress. He meets with congressional leaders tomorrow. And then, while he claims he doesn't need a full authorization to expand for his plan, for his strategy to deal with ISIS, he does have enough that he wants them to have an up or down vote on it, have a debate on it.
And I think he's going to get somewhat specific because this idea – he needs boots on the ground, Matt. He does need boots on the ground. They're not going to be American boots, as he pledged in the interview with me. But he's gonna need some boots on the ground. Will they be Saudi Arabian boots, will they be Turkish boots, will they be Jordanian boots? Well, that's the job of John Kerry right now, the secretary of state, who's desperately trying to rally a coalition.
LAUER: That's right. And ISIS is a Sunni extremist group that not only poses a threat to Syria and Iraq, but to many nations in the Middle East. So how much help do you think the administration will get?
TODD: They think they're going to get a lot of help. Now, of course, there is a little bit of a credibility issue. The Saudis and the Jordanians have not been happy with this administration in their Syrian policy for over a year. But at this point, it does – it does look as if the President's pledges that he's going to do these air strikes, what he's already done in Iraq is going to turn the tide a little bit and perhaps the Jordanians and the Saudis, in particular, will come into this coalition.
Their goal, Matt, is to make this coalition against ISIS, make it look like the coalition that George H.W. Bush, back in 1990 and '91, the one that he put together to go after Saddam Hussein. They don't want like some small coalition of two or three nations where it really is just the United States and a couple of symbolic countries.
LAUER: Alright, Chuck Todd in Washington. Chuck, thank you very much.
TODD: You got it.