Morning Joe Sees the President Disengaged Against ISIS

Monday’s Morning Joe began with an evaluation of the actions of the White House prior to and after the attack on Paris Friday night. Joe Scarborough began by demanding to know if the roundtable thought the President actually looked involved and engaged in understanding “the level of threat.” When Mike Barnicle tried to claim the President “looks fully engaged,” Scarborough felt it necessary to confront him on it.

“His words Friday were unfortunate, his words during the 2012 campaign were unfortunate, the White House’s words this weekend saying ISIS couldn’t, didn't have the capability to hit us here were unfortunate. I don't understand and millions of Americans don't understand and I guarantee you a lot of people in France don't understand why this president still feels like ISIS is contained and everything is okay.”

Barnicle tried to portray how Russia and the President were working on an arrangement to remove Assad sooner now from power. But as Willie Geist addressed the issue, “Well, if that, if what Mike is saying is true, it's not clear to me how Assad leaving changes things immediately. I mean Syria becomes more chaotic, perhaps for a while, and Syria becomes a launching pad.” And on the issue of the French air strikes that were carried out after the Paris attack, “The air strikes that we saw from the French yesterday, they went through great lengths showing the planes taking off, and all that. I guess that emotionally feels good, but those are air strikes the United States have been carrying out for months now. “Even Mika Brzezinski agreed that they “were symbolic, nothing more.”

When Retired Admiral James Stavridis brought up the need for a coalition and NATO to face the threat, Scarborough and Willie Geist took issue with the current plans that the administration have put out.

SCARBOROUGH: Well, Willie, we've been talking about this also around this table, the possible division of Syria and having the United Nations having NATO step if the international institutions still need anything and treat Syria the way Germany was treated in 1945. Having Russia control a sector, The Turks may be controlling a sector, the United States and our European allies may be controlling the sector. Maintaining the status quo is no longer possible. A few strikes here and there. A few Special Forces troops here and there, that's nonsense. And we’ve also said it, go back and look at the tapes. People who continue to say as Ben Rhodes said this weekend quote, that we're going to train Syrian troops and train Iraqi groups on the ground, we've been saying well over a year that's nonsense. That's babble. That will lead to nothing happening and of course, reports have come out over the past month or two that all we've done is waste hundreds of millions of dollars. 

GEIST: And the partition plan may be a good long term plan. But ISIS’ planning is for cities right now.

See the relevant transcript below.

2015-11-16-MSNBC Morning Joe
JOE SCARBOROUGH: I just want to ask you, c’mon our show is still our show. We just have to, let's be honest about it. Did that Commander-in-Chief sitting in a G-20 Summit while Western civilization is coming to terms with what their new reality looks like, does he look like he is engaged and understands the level of threat? If you were a French man or French woman would you be reassured by what you've been hearing from the president today and over the weekend

MIKE BARNICLE: I think he looks fully engaged. 

GIDEON LICHFIELD: Mika.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: I think at some point the optics of it need to match the magnitude of what's happening. 

SCARBOROUGH: What's that mean? 

BRZEZINSKI: Meaning this is as bad as it gets since 9/11 and there's going to need to be a multi-pronged fight against ISIS and also, we're going to have to talk about the migrant crisis at some point because that's going to raise whole bunch issue ins terms of how to handle that in the future.

SCARBOROUGH: I don't want to turn this into a debate but how is he engaged, Mike? This is a president that's been under selling the threat of ISIS to the world.

BRZEZINSKI: I think his words on Friday were unfortunate.

SCARBOROUGH: His words Friday were unfortunate, his words during the 2012 campaign were unfortunate, the White House’s words this weekend saying ISIS couldn’t, didn't have the capability to hit us here were unfortunate. I don't understand and millions of Americans don't understand and I guarantee you a lot of people in France don't understand why this president still feels like ISIS is contained and everything is okay. 

BARNICLE: I think one out elements the administration is working on, I've been told they were much more optimistic than we've been lead to believe, buried in the papers. Russia and Putin, specifically Putin and President Obama have the framework of an agreement where Assad is going to leave sooner rather later. The civil war in Syria has to be resolved. That is such a fulcrum for what is going on around the world right now.

SCARBOROUGH: That's a good example, Willie, over the past several years. None of us have wanted to send 200,000 troops to Syria to end that civil war but we have seen here in real time 20,000 Syrians killed, 40,000 killed, we've announced 60,000 killed, a hundred thousand killed.

BRZEZINSKI: There’s 4 million refugees.

SCARBOROUGH: And now 200,000 killed. 4 million refugees. The chaos continues and the White House’s response has been confusing at best. 

WILLIE GEIST: Well, if that, if what Mike is saying is true, it's not clear to me how Assad leaving changes things immediately. I mean Syria becomes more chaotic, perhaps for a while, and Syria becomes a launching pad. The air strikes that we saw from the French yesterday, they went through great lengths showing the planes taking off, and all that. I guess that emotionally feels good, but those are air strikes the United States have been carrying out for months now. 

BRZEZINSKI: Those were symbolic, nothing more.

GEIST: What now is the larger strategy? 

LICHFIELD: What's the larger goal? I would love to ask most the readers, what would winning this war look like? 

ADMIRAL JAMES STAVRIDIS: I think the first step is that the United States isn't going to do this alone. It is to build a coalition centered on NATO and bring all that capability to bare. What it's going to look like in my view is a partition of Syria. You're going to see the nation break apart into an Alawi west, Sunni center and Kurdish east. That's a few steps away but the analogy is really the Balkans in 1990, when you saw Yugoslavia fall apart. It’s very difficult to imagine all of this going back together again. That's what the diplomatic political effort that’s going on in Vienna has to accomplish alongside the military effort that we're talking about this morning. You need both. 

SCARBOROUGH: Well, Willie, we've been talking about this also around this table, the possible division of Syria and having the United Nations having NATO step if the international institutions still need anything and treat Syria the way Germany was treated in 1945. Having Russia control a sector, The Turks may be controlling a sector, the United States and our European allies may be controlling the sector. Maintaining the status quo is no longer possible. A few strikes here and there. A few Special Forces troops here and there, that's nonsense. And we’ve also said it, go back and look at the tapes. People who continue to say as Ben Rhodes said this weekend quote, that we're going to quote train Syrian troops and train Iraqi groups on the ground, we've been saying well over a year that's nonsense. That's babble. That will lead to nothing happening and of course, reports have come out over the past month or two that all we've done is waste hundreds of millions of dollars. 

GEIST: And the partition plan may be a good long term plan. But ISIS’ planning is for cities right now.

BRZEZINSKI: What is this now?

GEIST: What are you going to do right now?

NBDaily Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Foreign Policy Russia Syria Military War on Terrorism Religion Islam MSNBC Morning Joe Video Journalistic Issues Government & Press President Barack Obama Joe Scarborough Mika Brzezinski Mike Barnicle Willie Geist Vladimir Putin Bashar al-Assad

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