‘Morning Joe’ Guest: Obama Doesn’t Want ‘To Overcommit To The Middle East’ [VIDEO]

Steve Guest Media Reporter
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Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, argued that President Barack Obama’s “most consequential” decision that is “still have reverberations” was is the “lack of follow-through” with the red line in Syria when chemical weapons were used.

Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Thursday, Haass explained that a “big part” of Obama’s “foreign policy is not to over commit to the Middle East.” (RELATED: Defense Secretary Ash Carter: We Have Not Contained ISIS)

“We hear it all the time, and I was speaking yesterday from a leader from the Middle East in the Gulf region,” host Joe Scarborough said. “He just said, a year ago, we would have followed you. Two years ago, we would have followed you. Now, we don’t have a partner in the United States. We don’t trust you. It echoed what we’ve been hearing, and what you’ve been hearing for three, four years. Why won’t this president get — and this isn’t about Barack Obama — this is about one commander in chief that the United States America has at this time of crisis. Why won’t he get his hands dirty and start building a coalition?”

“First of all, the most consequential thing he did in a sense, didn’t do in his presidency was Syria,” Haass insisted. “I think the articulation of the red line, the lack of follow-through is still having reverberations and the red lines, and the use of chemical weapons is still having reverberations.”

Another big part of Obama’s foreign policy is not to “overcommit to the Middle East,” Haass said. “So I think there’s been a reluctance all along about any sort of a large footprint, as he would put it and all that. Thirdly, assembling a coalition, I will say this, is easier said than done. A lot of the Arab countries are willing to talk a better game than they’re willing to play.”

Scarborough retorted, “But Richard, you know, you were there. You saw what George H.W. Bush did in 1991: it’s work. He actually has to work. He actually has to invest his reputation. He actually has to break a sweat. He has to get uncomfortable. Is this president willing to do that?”

“It’s not just a diplomatic effort. … I think what you essentially have to do is say if you are willing to do X, Y, and Z, we will do A, B, and C,” Haass explained. “A lot of people will not stick their necks out and associate with us unless they’re confident that we are going to be there in sufficient scale, that it’s safe to associate with us.”

Haass argued that until the Obama administration “is willing to make a certain scale of commitments, I don’t think we’re going to get the commitments from the locals.”

Scarborough argued, “This leader that I spoke with yesterday said we’ve never dealt with anybody like him [Obama] before.”

“Everybody else talks, negotiates, compromises,” Scarborough retold. “He stakes out a position, he delivers a speech, and then he just sits there, and you’re expected to come to him.”

According to Scarborough, the Middle Eastern leader said “nobody trusts” Obama. “Nobody’s going to deal with him because he just doesn’t want to deal with us in good faith. And we’ve heard that four, five years now from the Middle East especially.”

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