On Super Bowl Sunday, NBC took the time to air parts of a “softball” interview that Savannah Guthrie did with President Barack Obama. It was mostly fluff and filler as a lead-in to the main event but apparently NBC left some of the interview out until Monday. On Monday they aired segments that weren’t seen on Sunday, and in one of these segments Guthrie actually took the time to ask real questions of the President… and he didn’t like that one bit.
While it was nice to see Guthrie ask some tough, pointed questions, you’ll note that she doesn’t stick around to actually get any answers. Oh well – I guess we can’t have everything.
Guthrie: You said in your State of the Union that American leadership is helping to stop the advance of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. But your critics say that is delusional, that in fact they’ve gained more territory since the air strikes have begun.
Obama: That’s not accurate. In Iraq what we’ve seen is the Iraqi security forces and Kurdish forces continue to push back against ISIL. And those same critics that you suggest I imagine would have us redeploy tens of thousands of U.S. troops-
Guthrie: But isn’t that kind of a straw man? You often say that-
Obama: Hold on, Savannah, let me – it’s not a straw man. Let me finish what I’m saying. It is entirely possible for us to deploy 200 or 300,000 U.S. troops. If we don’t have inside of Iraq or inside of Syria or inside of Afghanistan both the capacity and the will of people to fight for themselves, then any gains that are made eventually dissipate. So this takes longer, but it’s the right way to do things.
Guthrie: But aren’t there things you could be doing right now, short of a huge presence of ground troops inside Syria or Iraq, that would help this goal of what you say is to defeat ISIS happen more quickly? Couldn’t we be doing more?
Obama: Anything that we’re doing – anything that we could be doing, Savannah, we are doing.
Guthrie: The criticism that I hear a lot of you, even from your political allies, is you came into office, you were the president that was going to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and that you are so focused on doing that and not getting the U.S. entangled in another war that you are sometimes slow to react, that you’re passive.
Obama: Savannah, you’ve repeated that comment three different ways, but the truth of the matter is, is that we are doing exactly what we should be doing to make sure that while we’re pushing back ISIL, we are not creating another situation in which we are deploy massive numbers of U.S. troops. And those who want us to shoot first and aim later typically get this country into really bad situations.
Guthrie: Haven’t the forces of militant extremism, Jihadism, grown stronger on your watch? If you look at Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen – a place where Al Qaeda’s – that branch is so active and vicious and now the government, our ally, just collapsed.
Obama: Yemen’s a tough situation. This is a country that’s always been fragile, the governments have never been strong…
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