Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – I’ve invited Michael to come on the show today and we’ll talk about it. His column was “Why America is duty bound to help Iraqi Christians: Our war led to the destruction of their communities. We must offer them aid and assistance now.” Let’s start with Iraq. Check out today’s transcript for the rest….
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: Michael Brendan Dougherty wrote, about two or three weeks ago, this was the headline — we actually did this column here on the show. I read about half of it and commented on it and asked some of you to comment. Of course, Mosul hadn’t been overrun just yet, and we didn’t know of the atrocities that were going on. So there was very little response. I’ve invited Michael to come on the show today and we’ll talk about it. His column was “Why America is duty bound to help Iraqi Christians: Our war led to the destruction of their communities. We must offer them aid and assistance now.” Let’s start with Iraq. Let’s start with your point of view, I guess it was about four weeks ago, when you wrote “Why America is duty bound to help Iraqi Christians.” Of course, the situation has degraded since then. What do you say today, Michael?
Michael Brendan Dougherty: I still say the same thing. The situation has changed a bit since I wrote. When I first wrote, I was really urging the United States to really put its shoulder behind diplomatic and even financial or humanitarian aid for Christians escaping Iraq. And that meant not only — right now when we talk about humanitarian aid in Iraq, we’re talking about dropping supplies, food, water, shoes even onto Mount Sinjar in the west. Back then I was talking about even just helping to facilitate emigration out of Iraq and refugee status for persecuted minorities in Iraq. I still think the U.S. should be doing that. I still think that should be the primary focus of our efforts in Iraq. I’m afraid that with the bombing that’s been announced — I’m not sure that the Obama administration has really announced clear goals for what the end state should look like. I’m afraid we’re creeping towards saying that the United States military is going to take responsibility for defeating what is now becoming a two-nation terror state that’s emerging in the Islamic state. That, I’m afraid — I’m afraid we don’t know what we’re biting off there.
Mike: Now, when you say two nations, you mean Syria and Iraq, right?
Dougherty: Right. It’s notable, too, because almost a year ago the Obama administration was very seriously considering supplying more weapons and arms to opposition forces in Syria against Bashar al-Assad. One of the major opposition forces then was the Islamic State. Hillary Clinton and others have said this weekend that the hawks in the administration were advocating for arming moderates like the Free Syrian Army, but on the ground the distinctions between the Free Syrian Army and ISIS are not hard and fast. Even last year there were people defecting from the Free Syrian Army to join ISIS. Some of the fighters on the ground may be committed to getting rid of Assad, but they were not necessarily committed to some kind of Jeffersonian democracy in Syria. We’ll dealing with the fallout of that.
I still think the U.S. needs to rally support. I think we may have willing partners in France, for instance, which has opened itself up to some refugees from Iraq. I’m a non-interventionist by temperament. I tend to see all the bad things that can happen. In this case, this is our fault. We created a power vacuum in Iraq. Our war, which I was against, in Iraq — when we went over there we decided that the whole regime had to go, soup to nuts. Iraq has not put together a functioning government since then. It is not functioning even now, it seems, within the green zone. Last night there were reports that there might be a coup going on and no one is sure if it’s Maliki or against Maliki.
Mike: It might be the CIA for all we know.
Dougherty: Exactly. We’ve created this power vacuum and we have no way to fill it. Unfortunately I think instead of just helping the minorities that we’ve put in such a horrible position, I do think the Obama administration looks like they’re going to pivot towards a Kurdish state. That seems to be forming sort of spontaneously. It’s been one of the few sources of order in that region, in that northern Iraq region. It’s been buckling a bit under pressure from ISIS.
Mike: You had written about the sadness that you witnessed, and I concur with that sadness. It was all too easily predictable, unfortunately, of the Tea Party or the people that have self-anointed as Tea Party leaders. What they did was they just basically channeled existing corrupt political money into what appeared not to be corrupt political institutions. They remain as principally corrupt in participating in the — people called it socialism. That’s a total misread of what we have. We have an oligarchy. We’re corporatists. We have corporatists. There’s no side of the political aisle that does not play with the corporatists. Unfortunately, as you pointed out, so does the Tea Party. Just expand on that for just a moment.
Dougherty: After 2007, there was all this anger and frustration among conservatives needing new people with the Republican Party, with Washington generally, the bailout culture, corporate cronyism, crony capitalism. The Tea Party was supposedly this response. A lot of goodhearted people sort of were putting their energy into this. Especially as Obamacare ramped up, more people got involved. What we see in several of the most prominent Tea Party groups is just more corrupt, self-dealing cronyism. There’s a Tea Party Express group that runs state fundraisers for troops and pockets 90 percent of the money for their own political consultants. The Tea Party marketed itself or had a vision of an America that was republican again. This is America before K Street, before lobbyists, before this self-dealing corruption sort of became the culture of Washington, DC. And what did it do? It just created another form of corruption closer to the grassroots. It’s more like a weed in the political garden. It’s been disappointing, to me.
A lot of people thought I was doing a hit piece on the Tea Party, but in a way it was more of just a sadness. I had hope for the Tea Party, that this kind of populist movement would hold people accountable. The very fact that so many people who are the constituency of these groups allow this to happen, it says something very scary about self-government in America. That’s the real point.
Mike: It does. I think that that is the point that you have to make, and you have to make it without fear, over and over and over again. Then you have to demonstrate it. [mocking] “That’s not the way it is.” Well, actually, it is. Any honest evaluation of — this is not to single anyone out. As Michael said, he didn’t mean to have to single one group out. He was just pointing to one example he had found. This isn’t to single anyone out. It’s to point out that the money corruption is so large of an endeavor that the mafia is envious of the people that work in the government. If we were back in Eliot Ness days, the G Men would not be going after anyone that was an Italian in New York who was shaking down people for cigarettes and booze. They’d be on K Street. They would spend their entire time going after and pursuing these things against lobbyists. Every major corporation has one. If you don’t have one, you’re not going to be a major corporation for long, are you?
Dougherty: Right. That’s the thing. Really what happened was these opportunists saw an opportunity. They saw that there was anger. They saw this new brand, the Tea Party, so they filed their corporate papers locally, Tea Party this and Tea Party that. Many of them formed as for-profit corporations. These were loser political consultants who were jealous of the slush that was flying around K Street in 2004, 2005, 2006. Then in 2008 and 2009, they got their turn.
End Mike Church Show Transcript