MSNBC host Joy Reid was determined to have the Daily Beast’s Eli Lake admit the chaos in Iraq is entirely the fault of the Bush administration.
But the national security reporter refused to bite during his appearance on “The Reid Report” Monday, instead arguing that such a line of reasoning is “a way for progressives to avoid some of the hard questions about the policy of a Democratic president, right now, on Iraq.”
Lake repeatedly shot down a disappointed Reid, who began the segment trying to dismiss warnings from “neoconservatives” that Iraq may soon become a breeding ground for future attacks on the continental United States.
“This time around, is this back to the future?” Reid asked. “Or is there some realistic link between what’s happening in Iraq right now and the possibility of terrorism on domestic soil, here in the U.S.?”
“Well, I mean, the director of the FBI has been warning about attacks on the U.S.,” Lake replied, “and so many have many leaders of the intelligence community. I think you’d be hard pressed to call them neoconservatives.”
“Neoconservatives have been out of power in terms of the U.S. government really since Bush’s first term ended and then he cleaned house,” Lake continued. “In my view, I think that sort of focusing on what [former Defense official] Paul Wolfowitz may say on some of the Sunday shows is a way for progressives to avoid some of the hard questions about the policy of a Democratic president right now on Iraq. This is obviously very different than it was in 2003.”
Reid tried again. “Yeah, they have little to do with the policy, and I agree on that, but they seem to have a lot to do in terms of the commentary,” she said. “I’m not saying the past is all we want to discuss, but the past is relevant, right? I mean, disbanding the Iraqi army [in 2003] is relevant.”
“You should look at all of the history,” Lake replied, “including the history before 2003. … I think that Paul Bremer made a huge mistake disbanding the Iraqi military in the way that he did.”
“But I also think it was a huge mistake that the Obama administration never used any of his leverage with [Iraqi Prime Minister] Nouri al-Maliki to try to save Maliki from his own worst tendencies,” Lake asserted, saying Obama’s decision to reward Maliki with F-16s and other ineffective support clearly backfired.
“It’s a very easy thing to sort of say, ‘Oh, Iraq is a mess, remember the neocons,'” he accused. “So in that respect, I think that — you know, yeah, they’re in the commentary now. How really relevant is it? No one is proposing ANY kind of invasion. I think the whole country is against it.”