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tv   Inside Story  Al Jazeera  February 19, 2016 1:30am-2:01am EST

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candidate donald trump crossed a bright red line in a recent republican candidates' debate, transgressed on a piece of core g.o.p. orthodoxy. he said invading iraq was a mistake, an avoidable mistake and one the u.s. has been paying for big time ever since. does it open the door for debating iraq and the legacy of george w bush for the rest of
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the republican field or does it leave donald trump alone, isolated as the campaign moves forward. iraq's loose ends. it's the "inside story". welcome to inside story. in a world of don't go theres, donald trump has a way of going there and stomping all the way. one of the most rigidly observed bits of stated belief in the years since the invasion of iraq goes something like this. that the war was worth fighting, that the bush administration could be forgiven for being wrong about the presence of weapons of mass destruction because everybody, everybody, everybody agreed they were there. no-one could have predicted how things were going to turn out once the u.s. toppled the
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bathurst ray jail and the-- regime and the real mistake was getting out too early and bankruptly. a set of assumptions assertions and convenient inattention to inconvenient facts. enter donald trump. >> george bush made a mistake. we can make them. that one was a beauty. we shouldn't have been in iraq. we have destabilized the middle east >> you think he should be. >> you do whatever you want. you call it whatever you want. they lied. they said there were weapons of mass destruction. there was none and they knew there were none. there were no weapons of mass destruction you can hear the boos he got. republican crowds rarely heard anything like what donald trump just said, not from republicans anyway. his primary opponents were not ready to have that conversation. for instance jeb bush. >> i couldn't care less about donald trump's insults.
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it is blood sport for him. he enjoys it. i am sick and tired of him going after my family. my dad is the greatest man alive in my mind. while donald trump was building a reality tv show my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe. i'm proud of what he did for different reasons we got rubio. >> i just want to say at least on bhoof p behalf of me and my family i thank god that it was george w bush in the white house on 9/11 and not al gore the september 11 attacks were more than 14 years ago. the invasion of iraq coming up on this years ago. that so much remained unsaid, than unsayable for so long in republican circle $is striking. the run up to the worst terrorist attack ever on
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american soil, the months that followed that saw the bush administration create consent for an invasion of iraq and the unquestionable serial disasters of america's long presence there rarely brought much dialogue, soul searching, acknowledgment that things went wrong for a really long time. did donald trump whose stock-in-trade has been saying unsayable things and escaping punishment for it break another barrier. what does it mean for his party? iraq's loose ends. that's our focus today. joining me amanda marcot, pj crwley, a fellow at the institute of public diplomacy and global acommunications and james kirchik. you've been writing about this. does this - donald trump has had negative things to say about the american
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invasion for some time. is it taking a different role. is this airing some of the family laundry in ways that we really haven't seen that is different? >> yeah. i think so. i think that the shock registered by that audience was real. i don't think that that was feigned at all. they are not used to hearing anybody speak out against the set of assumptions, as you said, about the iraq war in 9/11 and all that horrible stuff that we had to live through a decade ago. i think that we're going through a process similar to what happened after the vietnam ended and all the people that were supporting that war had to quietly and slowly come to the terms with the fact that it was a mistake. we're seeing the same process happen where the consensus that it was a mistake is starting to seep in, even into right wing minds. they're trying to find a way to
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reconcile what has become obvious with what they believed at the time looking at what donald trump did there before that debate crowd saturday night, do we really have to talk about this in two chunks. he gave one brief on the iraq war and pivoted and talked about 9/11. are they really two different things that happened to live together in the american mind? >> i think they are different. i think what generated the angry reaction from the crowd was the notion that the president lied about the intelligence to get into iraq. that's false. i know this has been a talking point for the past 10 years, but there have been two bipartisan investigations into this. there was one in 2004 and in 208. they found no evidence that there was any deliberate deception on the part of the administration, any lying about the intelligence that came forth. there is a big difference
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between knowingly telling a falsehood and intelligence which is incorrect, which is literally everyone in the world believed this. i don't have the list, but i could go through the statements from prominent democrats like john kerry and hillary clinton who said things just as certain about the presence of w mds as anyone in the bush administration. i think to this day there's a lot of misconception about that because so many people believe that bush lied, people died. it's not true lying is a different thing from whether-- >> he said bush lied. that is what i think generated the anger. as for 9/11 there is tons of blame to go around. you can't blame president bush alone just as you can't blame president clinton who was in office for eight years prior to the attacks. in the 9/11 commission report identified nine opportunities
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that the president had to aassassinate bin laden. there was a lack of communication between agencies which was generally, i think, fixed after the 9/11 commission came out with their study a lot of this is not binary. it plots a transitional from white to grey to black. it is not pickable out to say this person knew better or should have knew better. >> we're still processing and we will for some time. who would have expected that in 2004 in the presidential election vietnam would still be a significant issue and a raw issue. we're going to be dealing with this for some time t iraq has actually been a subtext of this campaign throughout. obviously, donald trump went
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further than anyone else, but at the start of the campaign jeb bush was asked three or four different times, if we knew now then what we know hue, would it happen. i think we are going to be dealing with - and processing what iraq means. we're dealing with the consequences of the decision to go in 2003. i have a slightly different take than jamie in the sense that having done the clinton white house, we believed that sudam hessein was hiding something. that was not what the bush administration focused on, going in that quickly, that earnestly without the support of the rest of the world does it matter if no-one else play the game? we saw other candidates trying to say the same set of conventional republican responses after donald trump
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went on walkabout during that debate >> yeah. that's a good question. i think it does matter. i think that the more that the other candidates refuse to engage the argument, the more he is going to seem like a 9/11 truther or something of that nature. i think that there is a lot of grey to discuss and a lot of people forget a lot of the details of what happened back then. so as long as there's kind of everybody on one side of the table and donald trump on the other, they can make it seem like he is resisting a common wisdom and a truth as opposed to saying something that is generally true. obviously, we don't know what was in george w bush's heart, we don't know if he deliberately lied, but we do know that the bush administration against all the protests from the democrats
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rushed the invasion into iraq and didn't keep promises to let weapons inspectors finish the job. unfortunately donald trump is not the man who is capable of staying on point like that. he has to exaggerate and use hyperbole and instead of focusing on what is known i will give you a chance to responsibility after the break. donald trump, 9/11, the g.o.p. and iraq's loose ends when we continue. it's inside story. >> the only live national news show at 11:00 eastern. >> we start with breaking news. >> let's take a closer look.
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you're watching inside story. we're talking about the iraq war
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and republican politics this time on the program. is donald trump making it okay or at least thinkable to on interrogate the g.o.p. consensus on iraq, why the u.s. went, what it fought and what it accomplished. >> we do know that there is no evidence of deliberate lying. i think that's the important point to make here. unless amanda has evidence that was not turned up and neither of these 200 page reports, i think it is a grave accusation to be make against the administration >> i didn't queues >> you said we don't know >> i very specifically said that we don't know, we have no evidence that george bush deliberately lied. >> that i agreed with. that i agree with. yes, donald trump is making these points. he has the support maybe nationally of 30 to 35% of republicans.
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this is not a prevailing view in the republican party, the notion of the president lied or the notion that it was a mistake. there has always been a segt that tends to be more isolationist. this is a larger segment that we're seeing now, but i don't think his national support was because of his views on iraq. it is mostly on immigration and other issues. i wouldn't take what he said at the debate last week as being a shift of the party on foreign policy one of the thing in trying to look-- trouble some in looking back on this time, people were saying a lot of things and the administration coal essed around one version of events and everybody believed this. this there were things that people who were expert in that part of the world, people expert in the history of the conflicts
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there, when people heard, for instance, the suggestion that suddam's intelligence apparatus had met with muham mad ala in europe, we scoffed at that. it stop the president saying on tv. even after people were telling him that maybe that wasn't the case >> i think there was a lot of nuance in the intelligence that was available and that nuance got lost as the debate went forward. the vice president did say on the show that we know that iraq has an factual nuclear weapon. that was not true. so there was a reason to focus on iraq in the aftermath of 9/11 and yet the argument that the bush administration put forward didn't survive the invasion, if you will, but i think that donald trump is not wrong when he says that iraq was a big fat mistake. we haven't had that
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kind of pentagon paper process to say why was it a mistake strategically when the president said in terms of his conception of the war on terror, that we're going to go after not only those who committed the act but those who supported state sponsored terrorism, that was suddam hussein. going into iraq exacerbated the threat to the u.s. and we're dealing with the ripple effects. if you say that in order to deal with the challenge of political extremism in the world we have to transform the politics of the middle east, in that context going after him, there was a logic to that. however, it was something that we did badly. we do have to learn lessons of here and they do apply whether you're talking about syria, libya or other conflict states around the world a moment ago james suggested that it's not widely represented in the republican party that
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going into iraq was a mistake and that donald trump's support for that idea is a small one inside the wider republican population, but soon a republican candidate is going to pivot it off to the whole country. is this a family fight that gets settled in the next couple of months or is this something that is going to follow whoever runs into the republican line in the summer and the fall? >> that's a really good question. i think that it would be - if the nominee is anybody but donald trump i think they're going to be sweating the fact that he's making an issue of it right now. i do think that the public that is not republican, especially swing voters and low information voters and other voters like that that could vote for the republican in the general, i think they believe the iraq was a bad idea and a mistake. even amongst the republicans there's a sense that it was a mistake, but it was an
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understandable mistake which is not the kind of nuance that is going to win over a swing voter or a low information voter. i think that is jeb bush especially or even marco rubio or anybody who defended w bush against donald trump, they're going to be facing some questions about it. if it's donald trump, however, well, that's a really interesting development because he is on the right side of history generally speaking. he doesn't have all the facts right but he has the jeshl notion of how the country is moving on this issue correct we're talking about the return of the iraq war in the republican campaign and in the race against hillary clinton. iraq's loose ends. it's inside story. >> every monday night. >> i lived that character.
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welcome back to inside story. the vietnam war, a wildly expensive deadly and ultimately unsuccessful american military action rattled around our national life for decades.
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its long reach as was mentioned earlier stretched all the way to the 2004 presidential race. we're looking at the disappearance and reappearance of the iraq war this time on the program. almost in a mirror image iraq is making itself felt in the democratic race as bernie sanders who some suggest feel because he is running against the former secretary of state, perhaps on the wrong state of the foreign policy experience question and he is hitting hillary clinton with the fact that she voted against authorising the invasion of iraq >> i don't think the iraq war has disappeared at all. i think it has been there and we will be dealing with this for some time. actually, on both sides of the equation, both the democratic and republican, the narrative of the 2016 election so far is no boots on the ground.
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that expressly comes straight from the idea that we went into a long open ended nation building process in afghanistan and iraq. we want to avoid that. we avoided that with some consequence in libya, but yes bernie sanders is saying that he was right about the iraq war, hillary clinton was wrong and her counterpoint is that a vote in 2003 is not a strategy for dealing with the islamic state in 2016 i guess it is going to have its effect on that side as well, but in such a different way. hillary clinton whose stock-in-trade is knowing everything about everything. she is someone who when she gets up on the debate stage wants you to be just blown away by how well read and briefed she is, has to say "i was misled", as
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her defense which is not the greatest defense. >> i agree. i think, however, she has done a pretty good job of framing it as in terms of so were all of us, right. it is very difficult to know the facts when somebody is deliberately misrepresenting them to you. i think she has made a good point of saying that she made a mistake in trusting the bush administration. it is a good talking point. it puts it back on the bugs administration, the responsibilities where it belongs, but i also think it's an important discussion because when we are talking about the iraq war, it is a standard for a question that everyone is afraid to talk about which is are you going to get us into more wars. i think that is the concern that the voters have, and that is a much more interesting question on the republican side, especially when you're thinking about jeb bush and how his brother and his father both went
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to war in the middle east when he was president. i think it is illegitimate to think that there's the same level of threat that the hillary clinton presidency would start a nation-building project in some random middle eastern country that's an interesting proposition, that where you were and where you are on iraq can be a way of smoking someone out on how willing they are to get america involved in military action >> i think it is really a sort of pipe dream on the part of the progressive side of the democratic party to think that relitigating the iraq war is going to help them if hillary clinton wins the nomination, which she probably will. she voted in favor and she was a member of the security committee. i don't see her bringing that up in the debate because she can be just as easily attacked on that conventional republican wins, donald trump, then iraq goes into the hidy hole? >> yeah.
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i think the republicans have a strong case. you could say president bush went too far. too interventionist. we have the complete and utter rejection of that foreign policy to a point where we're allowing syria to fall into absolute chaos to the point where every single major administration official who has left the administration has condemned president obama for doing nothing and sitting on his hands while this country is falling apart >> except by saying no boots on the ground, the republican candidates are basically affirming the existing strategy who are never going to admit it. >> there are many things than can be done. no apply zones, safe areas >> we struggle with this during - we struggled with this in terms of 1980s in process iran. it wasn't until the gulf war that we were able to make the leap beyond immediate concern about slippery slopes. we're going through the same thing again.
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the next president will have to deal with the situation is syria, may have to put american boots on the ground. this campaign is going to be a mechanism to expand the horizons, get beyond iraq once and for all so the next president has more wriggle room to decide what is in the best interests of the u.s. and what does it need to do to be the indispensable nation without becoming, as debated on the campaign trail, the world's policemen we're close to the end of our time. does the fate of this issue for the rest of the going until convention time hinge somewhat on how donald trump does in the next couple of contests? if he has brought out this trope on saturday night, was booed and wins south carolina and nevada , why not keep saying it? >> if you look at the republican voters they tend to be hoggish on foreign policy. that's the way it is.
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they're a large component of the republican base. so i really don't think that him persisting in this is going to help him and it is not indicative of a shift i want to thank my guests . join us for the next inside story when we look at the constant refrain in this campaign that the u.s. military is weak and has been getting weaker. is it true, is it a testable proposition? i'm ray suarez. goodnight.
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