The 60 Minutes interview of President Obama … what we’ve learned
So I return after a brief job-related hiatus, and what do I find … Bowe Bergdahl’s back in the news (another post) and President Obama entangles himself with and fails to impress Steve Kroft during his latest 60 Minutes interview. What we witnessed last night is that President Obama is no longer perceived to be the smartest man in the room, at least by some members of the media. Steve Kroft came across feeling duped by some of the questions he was asking and his retorts. Not the Steve Kroft of 2014, that’s for sure. Take some of the back and forth here as they discuss ISIS:
Steve Kroft: There’s a question in here. I mean, if you look at the situation and you’re looking for progress, it’s not easy to find. You could make the argument that the only thing that’s changed really is the death toll, which has continued to escalate, and the number of refugees fleeing Syria into Europe.
President Barack Obama: Syria has been a difficult problem for the entire world community and, obviously, most importantly, for the people of Syria themselves that have been devastated by this civil war …… And what we’ve been able to do is to stall ISIL’s momentum to take away some of the key land that they were holding, to push back, particularly in Iraq against some population centers that they threatened. And, in Syria, we’ve been able to disrupt a number of their operations. But what we have not been able to do so far, and I’m the first to acknowledge this, is to change the dynamic inside of Syria and the goal here has been to find a way in which we can help moderate opposition on the ground, but we’ve never been under any illusion that militarily we ourselves can solve the problem inside of Syria.
Political Woman comments: Mr. President, how exactly have we stalled ISIL’s momentum when they still hold the major cities of Fallujah, Mosul, Tikrit, within miles of Aleppo and Baghdad and destroying Palmyra’s antiquities and treasures. As for changing the dynamic in Syria, I believe you had that opportunity when Assad crossed your “red line.”
Steve Kroft: I mean, they have to be– somebody has to take them on. I mean, what’s going on right now is not working. I mean, they are still occupying big chunks of Iraq. They’re still occupying a good chunk of Syria. Who’s going to get rid of them?
President Barack Obama: Over time, the community of nations will all get rid of them, and we will be leading getting rid of them. But we are not going to be able to get rid of them unless there is an environment inside of Syria and in portions of Iraq in which local populations, local Sunni populations, are working in a concerted way with us to get rid of them.
Political Woman comments: “community of nations will all get rid of them”. Are you referring to the 60-member coalition on paper but are nowhere to be found on the battlefield? The dynamic in Syria, Mr. President, isn’t going to change because is Assad is going nowhere. He’s propped up by the Iranians and now the Russians. Your solution of getting local populations to get rid of ISIL is a pipe dream. We had the local Sunni militias working with us in Iraq before we left, because they believed we wouldn’t just up and leave. They took a risk to work with us and ISIS paid them back. Now they don’t trust us. As for ridding the world of ISIS, it could be done if the West had the will, instead of the political correctness. We did more bombing in Kosovo than we’re doing in Syria or Iraq.
Steve Kroft: You have been talking about the moderate opposition in Syria. It seems very hard to identify. And you talked about the frustrations of trying to find some and train them. You got a half a billion dollars from Congress to train and equip 5,000, and at the end, according to the commander CENTCOM, you got 50 people, most of whom are dead or deserted. He said four or five left?
President Barack Obama: Steve, this is why I’ve been skeptical from the get go about the notion that we were going to effectively create this proxy army inside of Syria. My goal has been to try to test the proposition, can we be able to train and equip a moderate opposition that’s willing to fight ISIL? And what we’ve learned is that as long as Assad remains in power, it is very difficult to get those folks to focus their attention on ISIL.
Steve Kroft: If you were skeptical of the program to find and identify, train and equip moderate Syrians, why did you go through the program?
President Barack Obama: Well, because part of what we have to do here, Steve, is to try different things. Because we also have partners on the ground that are invested and interested in seeing some sort of resolution to this problem. And–
Political Woman comments: We spent $500 million to “test the proposition” which basically came down to four or five Syrians left. Is this craziness or what? “as long as Assad remains in power, it is very difficult to get those folks to focus their attention on ISIL?” ISIL’s the problem! They’re kidnapping and most likely killing the US-trained forces. Just what exactly is our strategy?
Steve Kroft: One of the key players now is Russia.
President Barack Obama: Yeah.
Steve Kroft: A year ago when we did this interview, there was some saber-rattling between the United States and Russia on the Ukrainian border. Now it’s also going on in Syria. You said a year ago that the United States– America leads. We’re the indispensible nation. Mr. Putin seems to be challenging that leadership.
President Barack Obama: In what way? Let– let’s think about this– let– let–
Steve Kroft: Well, he’s moved troops into Syria, for one. He’s got people on the ground. Two, the Russians are conducting military operations in the Middle East for the first time since World War II–
President Barack Obama: So that’s–
Steve Kroft: –bombing the people– that we are supporting.
President Barack Obama: So that’s leading, Steve? Let me ask you this question. When I came into office, Ukraine was governed by a corrupt ruler who was a stooge of Mr. Putin. Syria was Russia’s only ally in the region. And today, rather than being able to count on their support and maintain the base they had in Syria, which they’ve had for a long time, Mr. Putin now is devoting his own troops, his own military, just to barely hold together by a thread his sole ally. And in Ukraine–
Steve Kroft: He’s challenging your leadership, Mr. President. He’s challenging your leadership–
President Barack Obama: Well Steve, I got to tell you, if you think that running your economy into the ground and having to send troops in in order to prop up your only ally is leadership, then we’ve got a different definition of leadership. My definition of leadership would be leading on climate change, an international accord that potentially we’ll get in Paris. My definition of leadership is mobilizing the entire world community to make sure that Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon. And with respect to the Middle East, we’ve got a 60-country coalition that isn’t suddenly lining up around Russia’s strategy. To the contrary, they are arguing that, in fact, that strategy will not work.
Political Woman comments: Russia has filled the void/vacuum that we’re leaving in the Middle East. They’re making overtures to the Egyptians, the Saudis, Jordanians, and even the Israelis. Over 250,000 civilians have been killed in Syria, Assad has used chemical weapons against his own people, but the US is taking the lead on climate change. The President mobilizing the world so that Iran won’t get a nuclear weapon. Duh, of course, they’re going to have a nuclear weapon. They even get to inspect their own uranium sites and reactors to ensure they’re compliant. The Russians tell us to get our planes out of the way because they’re going on bombing missions, and we do. Yup, that’s leadership.
And now on to Hillary, since almost everyone, except our delusional leader in the White House, has already determined that we ceded our leadership in the Middle East to the Russians and Iranians.
Steve Kroft: Did you know about Hillary Clinton’s use of private email server–
President Barack Obama: No.
Steve Kroft: –while she was Secretary of State?
President Barack Obama: No.
Political Woman comments: BS. Valerie Jarrett already is on the record that Hillary was warned about the private email server. And if Valerie Jarrett knew, so did the President. “Obama White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett threw Hillary Clinton under the bus Wednesday at the Washington Ideas Forum, where she told interviewer Andrea Mitchell that the White House gave Clinton guidance forbidding her from using private email. “Yes, there were. Yeah, absolutely,” Jarrett said when asked if the White House sent guidance to Cabinet secretaries about not using private email.
Steve Kroft: Do you think it posed a national security problem?
President Barack Obama: I don’t think it posed a national security problem. I think that it was a mistake that she has acknowledged and– you know, as a general proposition, when we’re in these offices, we have to be more sensitive and stay as far away from the line as possible when it comes to how we handle information, how we handle our own personal data. And, you know, she made a mistake. She has acknowledged it. I do think that the way it’s been ginned-up is in part because of– in part– because of politics. And I think she’d be the first to acknowledge that maybe she could have handled the original decision better and the disclosures more quickly. But–
Steve Kroft: What was your reaction when you found out about it?
President Barack Obama: This is one of those issues that I think is legitimate, but the fact that for the last three months this is all that’s been spoken about is an indication that we’re in presidential political season.
Steve Kroft: Do you agree with what President Clinton has said and Secretary Clinton has said, that this is not– not that big a deal. Do you agree with that?
President Barack Obama: Well, I’m not going to comment on–
Steve Kroft: You think it’s not that big a deal–
President Barack Obama: What I think is that it is important for her to answer these questions to the satisfaction of the American public. And they can make their own judgment. I can tell you that this is not a situation in which America’s national security was endangered.
Political Woman comments: Not a “national security problem.” Members of the intelligence community are calling specific documents on her server “highly classified” BEFORE the fact and it’s not a national security problem. The most recent email dump contains the name of a CIA spy in Libya, which in no uncertain terms is classified. Other information found involves satellite data which is also “classified.” Further, the FBI appears to be spending an awful lot of time piecing together the pieces of the email trail, and recovering “deleted” emails, which by the way, we don’t hear Madame Hillary decrying, “oh good, I’m so glad, now I can be fully cleared.”
On another front, President Obama appears to be going out of his way to give Madame Hillary cover. Is this another one of this cross the line when commenting about ongoing investigations. You know, sort of telling the FBI, to read between the lines. And if not the FBI, then certainly the DOJ.
Hillary’s sinking in the polls because of her email server and also because of her constant ‘I was for it, before I was against it’ stance, like Keystone, like TPP. And the President’s comments, designed to support Hill, while in the background he’s giving the nod to Uncle Joe, fools no one.
Bottom line: 14-1/2 months to go of this Presidency. Taking bets on the condition of this country when he’s gone.