Reihan Salam on Iraq:  VICE Podcast 002

Reihan Salam on Iraq: VICE Podcast 002


EDDY MORETTI: Hi, I’m
Eddy Moretti. Welcome to the Vice podcast. My guest today is Reihan Salam
from the National Review. And we’re going to talk about
a couple things, mainly Iraq and the anniversary of Iraq,
and then your thoughts on where we’re at with the gun
debate in the country. And we’re going to proudly
self-promote for a second– not shamelessly self-promote. We have a new episode of
our Vice show on HBO. And we did segments on
each of these issues. And you’ve seen them. So I’d like to get your
reaction to them. The anniversary of Iraq
was this March. We knew we wanted to do
something to commemorate it or to reflect on it. And Jason and Shane had been
doing some digging and came upon this story in almost an
anecdotal kind of reporting on the rise of birth defects
amongst Iraqi populations. So they went over there, and
they did this report. I just wanted to gauge your
feeling on the story, and if you’ve ever come across this
kind of reporting before. REIHAN SALAM: I thought the
report did a very good job of introducing some of
the stories that have emerged in Iraq. And I think that it also did a
good job of acknowledging the uncertainties surrounding
these birth defects. I think that it’s very, very
hard to determine precise causality in this case. And it’s also very hard to see
what actually had been the rate of birth defects prior
to the invasion and what have you. Could it be that we’re actually
doing a better job of identifying these phenomena? It’s really, really tough. What we do know– and I think this is a larger
issue about the anniversary of Iraq– is that for Americans, Iraq was
something that happened by and large very far away. There was a number of military
personnel and military families who’ve been directly
impacted by it. But for most of us, it was over
a decade during which there wasn’t this immediate,
visceral kind of connection. And so the fact that combat
troops have left Iraq leaves us thinking, well, that was an
episode of American history that is now over. I think of it is as akin
to agriculture. There was a time when 70%
of Americans worked in agriculture just to feed
the entire population. Now it’s a little bit
less than 2%. Similarly, if you think about
the Second World War– when we went out into the world
to change the world, to do terrible violence
to other places– justified or not– it actually involved an enormous
number of people. Whereas now, it involves this
much smaller number of people. And frankly, it involves
machines. It’s this very specialized
activity. And so I think that when you
think about it that way– or you think about drone
strikes, for example– you could think of it as the cost
of doing violence in faraway places has plummeted. So when the cost of anything
plummets– it’s like if the cost of crack cocaine
is lower. You do more of it. EDDY MORETTI: You mean
the human cost? Or in real dollar– REIHAN SALAM: Just
the simple– exactly. The simple economic cost. If the only way we could have
conquered Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was by conscripting the
sons and daughters of the American elite– if the only way we could have
done that was by spending staggering amounts of money
we did it basically with one hand tied behind our back. It was something that was not
very visible on the home front for folks who were not related
to military families. EDDY MORETTI: We didn’t feel it
in a personal way unless we had a family member
in the military. REIHAN SALAM: Exactly. And I think that the beauty of
this report is that it’s saying that actually, this thing
that was marginal for Americans– this thing that connected with
a handful of people but not really the bulk of people– is the whole story of Iraq. Every single life in
that country has been touched by it. And actually now, you and I
probably both know people who are Iraqi refugees. For example, who wound up in
Syria, Jordan– some of whom have wound up in the
United States. EDDY MORETTI: Millions,
estimated. REIHAN SALAM: Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. And the huge number of displaced
within that country. And the idea that there are
going to be reverberations from this war. So obviously, you have
birth defects. And that’s going to impact the
lives of these kids for many decades to come. But also, there are going
to be larger political, historical reverberations. And we don’t really understand
all of them, but it goes to Shane’s central point
in that piece. Which is when you go to war,
it’s never going to unfold exactly as you expect. And I think that has some
obvious implications– like just don’t do it. It also has some funny
implications, like what was the alternative? What were the counterfactuals? How else might things
have turned out? EDDY MORETTI: Right. Which is something that you
wrote about recently– the counterfactuals– in your piece in “The Nation,”
you talked about– REIHAN SALAM: In the
“National Review.” EDDY MORETTI: Sorry, “National
Review.” Not “The Nation”– big distinction, readers,
listeners, viewers. So in that piece, you talked
about looking at the counterfactuals to make an
assessment on the historical outcome of the war. And you argued the
O’Sullivan– REIHAN SALAM: Yeah,
Meghan O’Sullivan. EDDY MORETTI: Meghan
O’Sullivan, yeah– that not doing something in Iraq
could have had another set of consequences that we
should look at soberly in order to assess the success
of the invasion or not. Why don’t you explain to us what
you wrote in that piece? REIHAN SALAM: Yeah, I think that
Meghan O’Sullivan is a really fascinating person. She was the Deputy National
Security Advisor, and she was in charge of Iraq and Afghanistan, among other things. And one of the things that she
talks about is that when we’re assessing the invasion of Iraq
and the occupation of Iraq, we tend to think about this
counterfactual image– well, we could have just not gone. And then things would have been
basically the way they were before. And we would have contained
Saddam Hussein, and that would’ve been fine. And the region would have been
kind of shitty, the way that it has been, but not
dramatically more so. So basically, we unleashed
this crazy whirlwind of violence and destruction for
basically no reason. So that’s one way to
think about it. And another way to think
about it– and again, I have no idea. No one can know. But another possibility is
that Saddam’s regime was actually quite vulnerable
in a lot of ways. But it was also quite violent
and destructive. So one scenario that she lays
out, and others have laid out, is that the sanctions were
already slowly crumbling. And had the sanctions continued
to crumble, had he kept relentlessly pursuing
weapons of mass destruction, perhaps he would have once again
broken out of his cage. EDDY MORETTI: Is that a fact? I just don’t know. I remember hearing– and I remember Clinton being
really criticized by the left that these sanctions are
destroying this country and killing people and depriving
them of medicine. REIHAN SALAM: Causing
starvation. EDDY MORETTI: Causing
starvation, et cetera. And also unleashing terrible
backlashes amongst the Ba’athists in the country. Because the no-fly zones
irritated them in terms of their interaction with the
Kurds in the north. And they were doing things on
the ground that the no-fly zone couldn’t really prevent. So it’s news to me that the
sanctions were crumbling. REIHAN SALAM: It’s a very
complicated story, but basically, by the time you get
around to 2000, there is a view– a correct view,
in my view– that sanctions tend to actually
strengthen the regimes that are targeted. EDDY MORETTI: Make them more
surreptitious with their pursuit of weapons? REIHAN SALAM: That’s
one possibility. But another thing is that
basically, when you don’t have lots of channels coming into a
country– like when you don’t have lots of private economic
transactions– then basically the government
has the chokehold. So if you narrow the volume
of transactions coming to the country– so in a way, in Iran, for
example, we have these super tight sanctions against Iran
that have gotten a lot tighter in recent years. So what’s happened is
that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps– they’ve actually profited from
the super tight sanctions. Because basically, they’re
the ones who could be blockade runners. They can break the sanctions. They’re the ones who control the
supply of valuable stuff coming into the country when
you’re not actually having an open, transparent
trading system. EDDY MORETTI: And then one step
further would be looking at North Korea. Same situation, even tighter
sanctions, even more transactions REIHAN SALAM: And that doesn’t
necessarily mean that sanctions are always the
wrong thing to do. Usually we deploy sanctions
because it’s an alternative to armed intervention. So in that sense, it
could be that well, it’s better than that. Or maybe if they’re sufficiently
tight, maybe you even actually undermine the
regime in some of these ways. You certainly undermine
its legitimacy. But it’s also an argument
people made about Cuba. And the idea is that all we
do by tightening these sanctions– by having these stiff
US sanctions– is actually increased
the legitimacy of the Cuban regime. Because they can just say, well
actually the fact that you have a terrible life
is not our fault. It’s the fault of these US
sanctions, et cetera. So I think there were people,
by the time you get to 2000, 2001, before the 9/11 terror
attacks who were like, these sanctions are actually just
strengthening Saddam. And Saddam was the one who
was actually using them as a kind of weapon. Because when he controls the
food supply, he controls the population. So I think that there were
actually, frankly legitimate arguments about why you’d want
to undermine those sanctions. EDDY MORETTI: Where
is the Republican Party on that issue? Where would they come out? REIHAN SALAM: Well, I think
that, again, you’re talking about the late ’90s, 2000, and
I think that there were cross-cutting tendencies. So you had one tendency– late in the Clinton
administration, you had a lot of Democrats and Republicans
who worked together on this Iraq Liberation Act. The idea is that we should
continue working towards overthrowing the Ba’athists. EDDY MORETTI: This
is the neocon– REIHAN SALAM: It wasn’t
just neocons. It was actually a broader
coalition of people. EDDY MORETTI: Birthed
there, maybe, first? Or not? REIHAN SALAM: Well, the term
“neocon” to me is not a super useful one, just partly because
it means so many different things to
different people. But definitely hawkish
people, yeah. EDDY MORETTI: But those
guys, Wolfowitz– REIHAN SALAM: Yeah, exactly. Sure, sure, sure. Wolfowitz is someone who’s been
very invested in Saddam Hussein being a terrible person
for a long, long time. EDDY MORETTI: Yeah– and
intervention as the– REIHAN SALAM: Exactly. And obviously, Saddam Hussein
was someone who was at various points embraced by
right and left. People never fully understood
who and what he was when he was fighting against
the Iranians. So that’s a separate issue. But basically among Republicans
during that late ’90s, early 2000s period,
you had some people– again, before 9/11– who were very committed to the
idea that Saddam ought to be overthrown. And it’s actually this
grave injustice that he’s still in power. But then you also had people in
the oil and gas world who were saying, well,
wait a second. These sanctions, all they mean
is that we don’t have this country that could be an
alternative to Saudi Arabia that can actually increase
global oil supplies. So there were a lot of these
establishment types who were like, look, is this realistic? Do we need smarter sanctions
that are not as tight on Iraq? So I think that it was both
Democrats and Republicans who were swirling around these
sets of questions. Like does this actually
make sense? Is Saddam as dangerous
as we think he is? And I think that– so the counterfactual scenario
is that, well, let’s imagine those sanctions actually did
deteriorate over time. And then Saddam– let’s say he remained as
determined as ever. Partly because he was living in
a dangerous neighborhood. The thing that we’ve realized
is that even people in his regime believed that he had
more weapons than he did. EDDY MORETTI: WMD, right. REIHAN SALAM: And also
the Iranians– if the Iranians knew that he was
as vulnerable as he was, who knows how that geopolitical tinderbox would look? So there are all kinds of things
we can’t really know. And that could’ve led to
pretty awful scenarios. EDDY MORETTI: And then I want
to go back to the fact that we did go in. So that’s the counterfactual
to the counterfactuals. And talk again about– REIHAN SALAM: The factual. EDDY MORETTI: Yeah, the
factuals, and the potential factuals of these people
suffering and what we should do about it. But just staying on sanctions
for a second, because it’s so important right now in terms of
how we deal with Iran and North Korea. Where are American
conservatives– which includes the GOP, but
doesn’t necessarily include them all– where is the conservative
movement on the issue of sanctions? The interventionism. REIHAN SALAM: It’s a really
good question right now, because there’s actually a
big debate going on among Republicans about sanctions and
intervention more broadly. So in a way, you could think
of sanctions as a lighter version of intervention. So basically, we go
in guns blazing. Super expensive, difficult,
very visible, military personnel, military families
experience it. EDDY MORETTI: Bloody. REIHAN SALAM: Exactly,
exactly, exactly. And even, just to think
about it crudely– it’s expensive. Whereas when you think about
sanctions, to a lot of people, well, sanctions– whatever. We’re not actually activating
this big constituency. You might have anti-war
marches. You’re not going to have
anti-sanctions marches. So I think if you’re a policy
maker, you’re like, that’s actually an option that’s
potentially very attractive compared to big, expensive, and
politically fraught armed interventions. But again, going back
to the drone things. The thing is that when you make
something cheaper, you make people more likely
to use them. You make them more likely to use
them willy-nilly, even if it actually leads to all kinds
of blowback and destructive consequences on its own. So you now have people like Rand
Paul and Ron Paul, who are saying that not only are we
anti-interventionists, but we actually think that sanctions
are generally not the right way to go. Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich
just co-founded this little thing called the Institute for
Peace and Prosperity, which is a new think tank that is just
an anti-intervention, anti-sanctions think tank. And the whole idea is that the
best way to advance peace is through free and open trade. That’s what we want to do. And so that view I think has
gained some currency on the right in recent years. But then you have other people
were saying that look, the United States has a huge
amount of economic weight in the world. We have a huge amount
of power. And we have a responsibility to
protect the global commons. And so when there are these
countries other that are bad actors, that are undermining
global peace and security, we need to do whatever
it is we can. Sanctions, if that’s
going to work. Armed intervention, if that’s
what we need to do. EDDY MORETTI: So you know the
movement better than I do. What’s the potential future of
this non-interventionist, sanctions light strain. Does it have a future? REIHAN SALAM: I think it
definitely has a future. I don’t necessarily think
that’s a bad thing. But the reason I think it
has a future is this– I think that Americans really
vacillate between being hyper aggressive and like, we’re going
to go out there and just remake the world in our image. And then pivoting super hard
in the other direction. So I think that, in a way, when
you think about 9/11, it led to this period of about a
decade of intense engagement with the wider world, and that
engagement through the form of armed violence. And then you think now, we’re
living with the consequence of these military veterans coming
back who are profoundly disabled, who are struggling
in all kinds of ways. This is something we’re
going to live with for decades and decades. EDDY MORETTI: Yeah, and I don’t
think the country has really come to face the
challenges with the vet population off the heels of
these two wars, with the prescription drug abuse or the
psychological, the PTSD. REIHAN SALAM: Well,
yes and no. I think that you’re right, that
actually we haven’t fully faced up to what are the
long-term costs. And people don’t really
think about it. But I think that in these
communities, at a gut level, voters are like, wow. We are not going to
do that again. We are not going to
do that again, certainly for a long time. But then when you forget– and I think that’s what
we’re great at. Americans are great
at forgetting. So then a few years pass,
and then we forget. And then suddenly, we learn
again that, wow, not only is the world a dangerous place,
but that danger can touch us directly. And that doesn’t necessarily
mean that the reaction of like, let’s go invade
another country. That doesn’t mean that
reaction is right. But in a way you’d hope that
we’d hit some more mature, sober equilibrium
in the middle. EDDY MORETTI: Great. So that’s my moment to jam
Obama into this convo. So what’s your assessment
of the Obama doctrine on foreign policy? Is he demonstrating a reaction
to the intervention of the Iraq invasion? Or is he a mature response? REIHAN SALAM: I think that it’s
fundamentally such a hard job that I’m not inclined to be
like, he’s terrible, blah, blah, blah. And I also felt the same way
about the previous President, when you think about the scale
of the challenges. My own view is that the
Obama foreign policy has been really myopic. And I think that it’s
been really problematic in lots of ways. But I think that it actually
makes a lot of sense from a different perspective. It makes sense from
this perspective. If you’re President Obama, and
you’re like, I am embroiled in these huge conflicts in
Iraq and Afghanistan. I want to get out of them. My core priority is domestic. The country faces huge
fiscal challenges. And I basically just want to do
the bare minimum of what I have to do for it to not
blow up in my face. So when you think about
Libya, for example. Libya was a case where Britain
and France were super aggressive, and they
went way out ahead. And then the Obama
administration was like, either we’re going to abandon
them, or we’re going to basically do the bare minimum of
what we have to do to keep tabs, keep control
of the situation. And then Libya is in complete
turmoil, and we’re not going to get more deeply involved. EDDY MORETTI: No boots
on the ground. We’re in a support role. He got really criticized
for that, though. He got criticized for
leading from behind. REIHAN SALAM: He got criticized
from both angles. He got criticized by some people
in the Paul wing and other anti-interventionists who
were like, don’t even get involved at all. This is just a complete mess,
and the more involved you are, the worse it’ll be. And he also was criticized for,
if you’re going to be involved, you want to be
involved in a bigger way. And Syria is another
great case. EDDY MORETTI: Which I
wanted to get to. REIHAN SALAM: So Syria is
interesting, because Syria is like, OK, we were in Iraq. It was totally fucked up. And it actually got
really bad. And so that’s a sign of like,
let’s just not get involved. But here’s the thing– in a country where we are not
involved at all, or involved in a very minimal way, it’s
still massively screwed up. You have massive sectarian
conflict that threatens to spill across borders. EDDY MORETTI: And a lot
of people dying. A lot. REIHAN SALAM: Staggering number
of people dying, and obviously you guys had a program
devoted to this, child soldiers and what have you. So the thing is that whether
we’re involved in this thoroughgoing way or not, there
are these conflicts within countries that are
spilling over, that are causing massive problems. And so the question is do we
have some responsibility? Because here’s the thing– Americans are like,
we’re responsible. So that’s why we should
do something. But for example with Iraq, there
are many people who are like, we shouldn’t have gone
in in the first place. That’s why we should
just get out. But another coherent view is
that we shouldn’t have gone in in the first place, but wow. We have this responsibility now
that we’re there to not make it worse. It’s a very tricky thing, our
attitude of when does a responsibility begin and
where does it end? I think that the Obama
administration has struggled with this question. EDDY MORETTI: So our story on
the toxic aftereffects of the invasion is a case in point. If it’s true, what is
our responsibility? What is the country’s responsibility in the aftermath? REIHAN SALAM: I think that in my
ideal world– and I’m way, way out of the political
mainstream on this issue. I personally think I would have
wanted to have a larger American presence in
Iraq even now. So one thing is that we didn’t
wind up negotiating a status of forces agreement that would
have kept a substantial number of US military personnel
in Iraq. Now, this is a crazy
view, right? Because everyone is like, we
want to wash our hands of Iraq, period. But it’s not just that. I think that I wish that
we had kept military personnel in Iraq. And also that we were more
involved in where the country’s going. EDDY MORETTI: But that idea has
some mainstream support. Isn’t that McCain’s position? REIHAN SALAM: Yeah, but McCain
is, himself, an outlier on this stuff. EDDY MORETTI: He keeps inserting
himself as the mainstream of the GOP, but
is he just fighting to be at the middle? REIHAN SALAM: I think most
Republicans in the country are just like Democrats– just
exhausted and want to wash their hands of Iraq. But to me, the military
thing is actually not the big piece, though. The bigger piece is that
actually, Americans should be more engaged in Iraq
in the future. And I think that it’s one of
the things like after the Afghan civil war– after the collapse of the Soviet
Union, what we thought was the end of the Afghan
civil war– we were like, OK, cool. The Soviet Union
has collapsed. Let’s get out of here. And it’s totally fine now. And oh wow, that’s actually
not quite true. Now, that doesn’t mean having a
huge number of people there. But it means, again,
what I said before. Americans are great
at forgetting. I wish we were little bit less
good at forgetting, and a little bit better at thinking,
this is a place that is enmeshed with us whether
we like it or not. Iraq and America– we might want
to wash our hands of it. But just as those refugees, and
those refugees whose lives were deeply torn apart and
traumatized by the United States– they are not
going to forget us. So when we forget them, it’s
not a two-way street. And so my feeling is that part
of this means that I think that we want our civil society
to be engaged in Iraq. We want American scientists and
public health folks and these people to actually
continue to be involved with what’s going on. Now, the thing is that the
Iraqis want to wash their hands of us, too, as difficult
as that is. So that’s why they didn’t
want American military personnel there. Fair enough. But they also don’t necessarily
want Americans to be kind of constantly in their
face and constantly present. So on some level, I think that
many of them want to– we’re going to deal with
this on our own. And we’re going to nurse these
resentments, which are totally valid– totally legitimate
in a lot of respects. And so there’s a standoff. This thing that I think some
Americans thought of as gosh, we made these huge sacrifices
for you guys. They don’t think of it– some of
them think of it that way. But not all of them think about
it that way, certainly. So there’s this deep resentment
that’s built up between these two societies. And that partly is a function of
that isolation we have from each other. EDDY MORETTI: Which is, bad
considering that Nouri al-Maliki is close to the
Iranian regime in some ways. And does that present a real
problem for us going forward? Where does that relationship
go? REIHAN SALAM: Well,
that’s a really fascinating authority question. So it’s true that Iran has a
lot of influence in Iraq. But there’s also this
nationalist resistance to excessive Iranian power
in Iraq, too. Part of it– remember that Iraq and Iran
fought a bloody, brutal war in which millions died
for a decade. And including among some Shia
Iraqis, too, there’s this distrust of Iran and wanting
to be controlled by Iran. So there’s that. But look– if Americans believed that a
free and democratic Iraq was going to be an ally of the
United States, I think that those hopes and expectations
have been massively disappointed. And I think that doesn’t
necessarily mean that Iraq is simply an Iranian cat’s paw,
simply an Iranian ally. But it does mean that Iraq
continues to be up for grabs. And also, internally, you have
an upsurge in violence. You have this Sunni minority
that continues to be very resistant to the Maliki
government. You have Iraqi Kurdistan that’s
like, look, we want to insulate ourselves
from this chaos. And of course they do! EDDY MORETTI: And they’ve
been doing a fairly successful job of that. It’s a different country
up there. REIHAN SALAM: Exactly,
exactly. And there’s been a
lot of progress. So I think that this is a
country that continues to be incredibly fragile, in which
there was some progress in establishing certain kinds
of democratic norms. And I think you see backsliding
all the time. And I think from a US
geopolitical perspective, Iraqi oil production
is increasing. EDDY MORETTI: Are we
making money there? Are those Chinese leases
or American leases? REIHAN SALAM: It’s
a mixed bag. I think that the security
situation is still not where you’d want it to be for it to
be a huge, huge contributor. But that is steadily going up. And I think the Chinese point
you make is a really, really good and important one. Because basically, we had this
era in which the United States and the Soviets were competing
for influence in the Middle East. And then the Soviet influence
collapses. And now you’re once again
coming to a point where there’s this bipolar situation,
because the Chinese obviously are going to want
to secure oil and gas supplies as well. That’s something that’s crucial
for their growth and flourishing. And so they’re increasingly
trying to flex their muscles. And a society like Iraq that is,
in a sense, up for grabs is a society that Americans and
Chinese are going to vie for in terms of influence
and much else. So I think that it’s
very uncertain. EDDY MORETTI: It’s a wash,
it seems, in terms of any economic, long-term benefit to
the United States, in terms of the cynical view that
we went in for oil. REIHAN SALAM: I’d say that
at best, it’s a wash. At best it’s a wash, because you
also have to consider– so we were talking about
counterfactuals before. The other counterfactual
is if we spend– you’d see many different
estimates. But something on the order
of $3 trillion. Not just Iraq, but post 9/11,
on this Homeland Security, invading these countries–
everything else. We could’ve spent that money
on a lot of other stuff. Had we spent that money on
making friends, air dropping cash in the Middle East,
and adopting babies. And just generally being
very friendly. Who knows. EDDY MORETTI: Not Russian
babies, but yeah. Everyone else’s babies. REIHAN SALAM: Or if we invested
that money in building a series of incredibly
powerful cyborg police officers who would keep
our streets completely safe. Whatever. There are all kinds of things
we could have done. So you always have to think
in terms of the foregone resources, and also the number
of people who died, both here and there. Think about the number of Iraqi
civilian casualties. I don’t mean to be schmaltzy,
but fundamentally, how many of these young people would have
grown up to be incredibly talented, brilliant, creative
people who would have done great things? And the same for the American
military personnel who died. It is possible that there will
be some modest benefit that will derive from Iraqi oil
production increasing. But of course, if you’re Ron
Paul or Rand Paul, you’ll say, well yeah, we could’ve also just
eased the sanctions on the previous regime. And that would’ve undermined
the authoritarian regime of Saddam Hussein. And the truth is that there are
lots of strong arguments on all sides of these
questions. What we do know, and what
bothers me a little bit, is I think people are very lazy
in thinking about what happened in Iraq. EDDY MORETTI: Which people? Who? REIHAN SALAM: Everyone. All of us. Americans are lazy in thinking
about it, because there’s this fear that had do we not
done it, then things would have been rad. And I think that the thing is
that Syria is the story. Because Syria’s a situation
where we didn’t go in, and guess what? Things aren’t actually
awesome at all. Things are scary and horrible. So you could say that the
foolish thing that the United States did is we increased our
exposure to the societies that are just tribal. I don’t mean to go for these
cliches, but that just have these intense historical
resentments. And so in a way we were like,
hey, let’s go in there in the middle of these intense
historical resentments and just try to do our
best to fix it. So maybe you could say that at
least with Syria, we’re not trying to get in the
middle of it. But these things are
going to affect our lives no matter what. EDDY MORETTI: But the line
has been drawn by America now, by Obama. It needs to be a clear and
imminent threat to our existence or our national
interests in order to use force. REIHAN SALAM: Well, that’s
not quite right. Libya was an example where it
certainly was a clear and imminent threat, but I think
that that’s the general orientation. You want to move in
that direction. I mean we intervene in
all kinds of places. Again, because the
cost is lower. But I think that certainly,
the idea is let’s not just go wherever. Let’s be very cautious
about that. And that, in a way, is going
back to what we used to call the Weinberger doctrine
under Reagan, or the Powell doctrine. The idea that you want to go
in with overwhelming force. You want to have an exit
strategy, et cetera. EDDY MORETTI: Which sounds
responsible. REIHAN SALAM: Oh, absolutely,
absolutely. So what I want to get across
is that there are a lot of these cases that aren’t
very clear cut. So if you have a situation where
it’s not quite worth it for us to invade this country
and occupy it and do all these other things, but it might be
worth it for us to send a bunch of drones and vaporize
people from the sky. So that’s actually
what our policy makers are dealing with. They’re dealing with
that middle zone. Because frankly, it’s
almost never to go in and send bodies. Just because it’s expensive,
because it’s traumatic, everything else. And that middle zone doesn’t
make sense for us to mess with it on some other level. And that’s exactly what we’re
talking about with Syria. We’re talking about arming the
Syrian opposition and all this other stuff. Now, the problem is that we have
this fantasy that we can do that antiseptically. All we have to do is beep, boop,
bop, with a video game, and just do that. And that’s not going to have
blowback and consequences. And then there’s also the
fantasy that if we do nothing, that it won’t actually
touch our lives. EDDY MORETTI: Yeah. It’s incredibly difficult
to make a move and make a decision. REIHAN SALAM: Think
about Bin Laden. Think about the 9/11
terror attacks. In a way, the whole point was
Bin Laden had problems with the Saudi government, the
government in Egypt, these other authoritarian governments
where he was like, these governments are corrupt
and un-Islamic. And these governments are backed
by the United States. So what we could do is we could
attack Riyadh, or we could attack Cairo, and attack
these governments. Or we could attack what he
called “the far enemy.” So in a way, the United States,
we were thinking, hey, we’re just going along
to get along. We’re friends with the Saudis
because we want oil, basically, and like, whatever. And the Egyptians– [INTERPOSING VOICES] REIHAN SALAM: They’re
at peace with Israel, so let’s whatever. We did that in 1979. So we’re just trying to be chill
and keep these things stable and whatever. And then suddenly Bin Laden is
like, actually, your desire to stick with the status
quo means that I’m going to attack you. So I think that in a way, we
can get drawn into these things because we’re
already so deeply enmeshed in so many ways. EDDY MORETTI: So I’m going to
say something that maybe is controversial. Did 9/11– did the invasion of
Iraq actually lead to the Arab Spring? REIHAN SALAM: I think that they
are related to each other in complicated ways. So I think that one view
is that it has nothing to do with it. If anything, the invasion of
Iraq actually made things worse, because it discredited
democracy. That’s one view, that actually,
absolutely didn’t make anything better,
et cetera. Another view is that,
seeing elections in Iraq, seeing open– which, again– EDDY MORETTI: Well, seeing the
deposition of a dictator. REIHAN SALAM: Yeah,
absolutely. I think that to some degree,
that might have been empowering, to see– but there are other
dimensions, too. If you look at these countries
in the Gulf that are incredibly rich, urban, becoming
world leaders, there are a ton of Egyptians and
Tunisians and other Arabs who are working in those societies
who are like, the world has more possibilities. The kind of bullshit that we
have to deal with in Egypt right now, we don’t necessarily
have to deal with. So I think that the Iraq
invasion was one thing. But then also, these other
cultural and economic developments were another thing
that contributed to it. So there’s a lot going on. EDDY MORETTI: I read something
really remarkable about the Egyptian revolution, that it
was in part a meme on the internet in Egypt before the
revolution that was launched by an analysis of Google
Maps images. Where they saw the country from
space and could see the compounds held by Mubarak and
his cohorts in relationship to the shitty neighborhoods that
they had to live in. And that helped contribute
to the revolutionary consciousness. REIHAN SALAM: I think
that there’s definitely a lot to that. There’s another thing, to take
it away from the Arab Spring. In Myanmar, where you have this
junta that has been very solidly entrenched for
a very long time. They’ve just dramatically
opened up. And so one question is,
why did that happen? I spoke to a friend who’s a
correspondent who’s been covering Southeast Asia
since the mid ’80s. And what she told me– who knows. But what she said is that
actually, the Iraq invasion had a profound effect on
a lot of the folks in the military regime. And their view is that we’re
more vulnerable than we think. And we actually want
to head off something along these lines. So when there was external
pressure– Now, by the way, I want to
emphasize, that does not justify anything. The fact that it
might’ve led– EDDY MORETTI: We’re
just talking here, bouncing ideas around. REIHAN SALAM: But I think
that it’s important to underline that. Because I think that whenever
you suggest that the Iraq invasion might have had not
just bad consequences, but somewhat good consequences,
I think people flip out. EDDY MORETTI: They
do flip out. I don’t flip out, but they do. REIHAN SALAM: I think that’s
to your credit. But I think that fundamentally,
we need to understand it’s this
very deep thing. Good things and bad things come
wrapped in these packages all the time. And that’s why foreign policy
is such a struggle. EDDY MORETTI: You have
to accept it as being dialectical. Otherwise, you’re going
to be paralyzed. We could talk about this
forever and ever. I guess let’s put a pin on
this Iraq conversation. In the notion that– do you think, pulling back and
getting the bigger historical narrative, that history is
actually going to corroborate what Bush said about the war? That history will be
the final judge. REIHAN SALAM: I think that if
Iraq is a flourishing and stable democracy 20 years from
now, I think that then, people will say, that was miserable
and horrible, but it was ultimately worth it. And I personally think
that that is not the likeliest outcome. So I guess my answer is no. But when you think about some of
the countries that are the richest, most successful
democracies the world. Think about a country
like South Korea. This is a country that faced
grinding, miserable poverty. There were people on the
verge of starvation. This was a society that was just
absolutely and utterly devastated. And then went for a long period
of authoritarian rule. And then came out of it in
incredibly strong shape. And it’s interesting when you
think about how different societies deal with that kind
of collective trauma. So I don’t discount the
possibility that Iraq could get through this very difficult
and ugly transition in relatively good shape. But I think that the headwinds
are just against them so hard, in the region and
what have you. So I think that fundamentally,
what George W. Bush believed– and I think what a lot of people
who favored the Iraq invasion, myself included–
believed, is that the idea that democracy is only
suited to some countries is totally wrong. The Arab world, once they’re
given an opportunity– once the Iraqis are given an
opportunity, it will take. And these will become modern,
flourishing societies, just like those in East Asia
and elsewhere. And I think that it’s just– if you go into the situation
with deep, historical ignorance, that doesn’t mean
that actually, democracy is not possible. Absolutely not. I think it is very
much possible. But democracy is one thing. And there are a million other
things that you need to make a society work and to build that
civil peace that’s the foundation of prosperity
and much else. So my verdict is pessimistic. EDDY MORETTI: And then just
one last question. Then we’ll move on. Is John Kerry’s appointment
going to signal a different attitude towards
post-war Iraq? Or does it really
matter at all? REIHAN SALAM: It’s a good
question, because I think is that Hillary Clinton was
insanely good at certain aspects of being Secretary
of State. Certainly, being a voice
for the United States. Her skills with public diplomacy
were incredible. She had enormous credibility. And she was a very formidable
person. EDDY MORETTI: She was liked. REIHAN SALAM: Incredibly
well-liked, yeah. And I think that Kerry
is someone who– I don’t necessarily share
his instincts on all kinds of issues. But he’s been deeply enmeshed
in these questions. He has incredibly strong
relationships with heads of foreign governments
and what have you. And he is obviously deeply
interested in Iraq and Afghanistan. So I think it’s hard to tell. Fundamentally, the Obama
administration is just not as engaged in Iraq as it might be,
for all kinds of totally fair reasons. Except I think Syria is kind
of dragging them back in, partly because those countries
are deeply intertwined. And so I can’t really say. I think it’s less Kerry’s
appointment and more the fact that Syria is a bigger deal that
will make the difference. Because I imagine Hillary
Clinton would have had to have adapted to that circumstance
as well. EDDY MORETTI: We could
really talk about this forever and ever. Well, let’s turn to the gun
debate and gun control legislation. What happened? It got knocked down. REIHAN SALAM: Yeah. It was actually a very
interesting development. Because basically, it
was a perfect storm. This was the best case scenario
for some kind of gun legislation to pass. Because the people– so we’re
all talking about this amendment, the Manchin-Toomey
amendment to this larger legislation effort. And Manchin is a Democrat, but
a very conservative Democrat from West Virginia, which is a
state that loves its guns. So if you’re a Republican or
a Democrat from that state, you’re going to feel very
strongly about gun rights. And he absolutely does. And he’s someone who’s known for
making common cause with Republicans on any
number of issues. And then Pat Toomey, the Senator
from Pennsylvania, who was a Tea Party stalwart,
hardcore conservative. He was the president of the
anti-tax Club for Growth. He has very strong credibility
as a conservative but also on gun rights. And so they came together,
and they were like, look. President Obama wanted to
do all kinds of things. He wanted to ban certain
assault rifles. He wanted to ban high
capacity magazines. He wanted greatly expanded
background checks. Now, expanded background checks
are very popular. Like you’ve got over 80% of
the population that wants background checks. So Manchin and Toomey were like,
no assault weapons ban. No ban on high capacity
magazines. EDDY MORETTI: Reduce the scope
of the legislation. REIHAN SALAM: Let’s just focus
on expanded background checks. And not even universal– not
even close to universal background checks. Let’s just have background
checks that are expanded a little bit for commercial
transactions. So if Eddy wanted to sell a
gun to his daughter, for example, you still wouldn’t
have to go through this background check. So that’s still going
to happen. And they also very intelligently
said, well, we’re not just going to expand
background checks. We’re going to do some things
that are actually good for gun owners. So basically, because we have
very different gun laws, state to state, if you’re traveling
from one jurisdiction to another in the United States,
sometimes you can run into serious problems. So even if you’re like,
I’m at the airport. I’m checking in my hand gun. I’m totally doing this in a
totally legit, aboveboard way, I could still have a situation
where I got bumped for my flight. I’m sleeping overnight in a
state where I’m not allowed to have my firearms. I had to actually uncheck
my luggage. I had to get it off the plane. And then I could be in
violation of the law. And this kind of thing happens
from time to time. Not that often. So they were thinking, hey,
let’s do something else that actually benefits these guys,
as well as something that is seen as a restriction. And so they got the support of
a really large number of senators, a majority
of senators. The last I saw was something
in the order of 54 or 55. But there were four Democrats
who, in the end, defected. Who were from rural states, and
were like, we’re not going to go along with this. And obviously, most Republicans
were against it. But you had, I believe four
or five who were for it. So it wasn’t quite enough,
because those Democrats defected from the amendment. And that is why the legislation
itself failed. EDDY MORETTI: What’s behind
the intransigence? Is it a Second Amendment
argument? Or is it to your point, these
are rural states? And these people– gun culture is just part
of their life. And they use them in different
ways than someone in Chicago or in New York City uses them. REIHAN SALAM: So the most
straightforward answer to the question is that 17% of
Americans live in rural areas. And 56% of Americans who live in
rural areas have a firearm in their home. And in the ’70s, those numbers
were different. In the ’70s it was like 27%
lived in rural areas, and 70% owned a firearm. So the numbers are smaller. But the thing is that rural
areas are very well represented. If you look at the US
Senate, for example. The classic example is that
Wyoming and California both have two senators, but
California has 66 times as many people. So a lot of these states that
have big rural populations have a lot of influence. So that’s the thing that a lot
of people who advocate gun control are like, and that’s
totally unfair, blah, blah. But there’s another way of
looking at it, and I think that I’m more sympathetic
to your second view. Which is that, OK, why do people
in rural areas have different attitudes? In New York City, if you call
the police and you report a crime in progress, like a
robbery in progress, or you see a man with a gun,
the police will show up in 4.6 minutes. If you are in a rural area that
it’s the state police or it’s the Sheriff’s
department– EDDY MORETTI: Trooper John. REIHAN SALAM: Trooper John. Trooper John– maybe it’ll take him an hour to
get there, if he’s really putting the pedal
to the metal. It could be that if you’re in
a very remote place, like if you’re talking about a little
mountain town, it’ll be longer than that. So then there’s this mentality–
and again, it’s not just response times. But it’s this idea that the
mentality is different. The mentality is that we are
our first line of defense. EDDY MORETTI: Right. It’s a different America. REIHAN SALAM: Exactly. But there’s another thing, which
is that urban areas, like big cities, have way more
gun homicides then rural areas on a per capita basis. Rural areas have suicides. They have gun accidents. They have all this
other stuff. But they don’t have a ton
of gun homicides, whereas urban areas do. So in a way, we have
this mismatch. America is both this
very urban country that has urban problems. It’s also a country that has
this small, rural minority that has a lot of
political heft. And also our ideology, our way
of thinking about ourselves, has a lot to do with this idea
that we are this country of rugged individualists. We’re a country in which armed
citizens are ultimately responsible for themselves. So those two things clash. And when you’re thinking
about suburban vote– these kind of people, they’re
kind of torn. Some of them go in
this direction of we’re city people. Why would we have guns? That’s actually crazy. That’s uncivilized. Whereas there’s this other
mentality that actually, having a gun is the ultimate
form of civilization. Because it means that no
one can coerce me. EDDY MORETTI: But the laws that
were proposed, even the ones that got struck down by
Toomey in that amendment, they weren’t really impinging
on those essential rights to bear arms. REIHAN SALAM: I think you’re
right about that. I think they did a
very careful job. And not only that, but they
also had a provision. So the big anxiety among many
gun owners was that the expanded background checks
would lead to a national gun registry– a big master list of everyone
who has guns, and which guns they have, and where. EDDY MORETTI: Which isn’t
a totally crazy idea. There’s a registry of
all of our cars. REIHAN SALAM: I think it’s
a reasonable thing to be concerned about. But the thing is, in this
legislation, Manchin and Toomey explicitly put in a
provision there that said that anyone who tries to use this to
create a registry will have to go to jail for 15 years. So they were really trying to
dramatically, and in an over the top way, say there’s
not going to be a gun registry here. But what I’m trying to tell you
is that that’s where the fear comes from. And I think that the truth is
that this legislation wouldn’t have done all that much
to gun owners. And it wouldn’t have done that
much for people who advocate gun control, either. EDDY MORETTI: It’s not going to
change the farmer with his gun who needs to respond because
Trooper John can’t. REIHAN SALAM: It’s probably not
going to stop a lot of gun trafficking, either. It’s really– here’s what happened, Eddy. This is just a very
American thing. Maybe it’s just a democratic
thing. EDDY MORETTI: I’m not
an American, so I struggle with this one. REIHAN SALAM: But it’s also
a Canadian thing, too. But here’s the thing. I think that we,
in a democracy, we want to be cleansed. When a bad thing happens that
we don’t understand, we want to do something about it. And we want to show that the
moral order is intact. That is fundamentally
what it is. So for example, after the big
corporate scandals of the 2000s, we had this
Sarbanes-Oxley legislation that was passed. Probably didn’t really
do anything. After Nixon, after Watergate,
we passed these campaign finance regulations. Did that lead to a political
system free of corruption? No. But we passed a law. We felt like– whew. EDDY MORETTI: We felt better. REIHAN SALAM: We felt better. We got rid of that. And I think that in a way, after
the financial crisis, we didn’t do something that really
made us feel better about ourselves. And after Newtown, after these
school shootings, now I think a lot of people just– let’s
just do something. Let’s just do something. I don’t even care if it’s
going to work or not. Let’s just do something. EDDY MORETTI: I think
that’s where the country’s at, by the way. REIHAN SALAM: I think that’s
where a huge– well, the problem is actually
that intensity. EDDY MORETTI: The Congress
isn’t there. I think everyone agrees
the country is there. The Congress isn’t there. But for reasons that
you described, the representation is skewed. REIHAN SALAM: Well,
yes and no. So it’s also about
intensity, right? Because I think the people who
are very afraid and angry about the idea of
a gun registry– they care a lot more about
it than the people who favor gun control. EDDY MORETTI: So intensity opens
the door for another– and maybe the last question,
because we’re probably running out of time. So there’s one point of view
that believes that the intensity for, or the puritanism
around the Second Amendment is fueling the
reaction against these laws. The other school of thought is
that these people hate Obama. And the fact that Obama has
put himself on the line in such an obvious way, in such
a dramatic way, in such a sincere way, probably– that they’re like, this
isn’t going to go. Because now he’s gotten way too involved and exposed himself. And I’m going to
obstruct again. REIHAN SALAM: Well, here’s
the way I think about it. Starting in 2000, about, after
the 2000 election, Democrats really abandoned– particularly at the
national level– gun control as a political
argument. Because they recognized that it
was just hurting them with a lot of rural voters. And so if you’re a Democrat who
wants to win a Senate seat in Missouri, all these swing
states, being for gun control efforts was just very
problematic for you, long before Obama came
on the scene. EDDY MORETTI: It’s almost
the way that being anti-immigration reform
is kind of bad for Republicans now. OK, let’s not go down
that tangent. REIHAN SALAM: But the thing
about President Obama is this. President Obama– he made his adult life in the
south side of Chicago. And that gives you a certain
perspective on the world. He is someone who is very much
an urban person, who is really rooted in urban concerns
and anxieties. So in American cities,
it’s not new. American cities have been
imposing gun regulations for over 100 years. This is not a new development. If you look at the Wild West,
these towns– they said, check your guns at the city limits. So cities and urban people
have tended to be more in favor of gun control
for a long time. So I think that could
be part of it. George W. Bush was a President
who– in a way, he was himself an urban guy as well. But he had kind of a rural
vibe, and he seemed to understand rural America. Whereas Barack Obama, I think
to a lot of rural people, seems like this dude is not
about what we’re about. He does not get it at
a visceral level. He does not understand our
needs and concerns. He’s a Chicago person, and he
wants to impose laws for Chicago on the country. Now, that’s not a fair
characterization. That’s not what this legislation
was, for example. But I think that that’s
the perception of him. And I think that that does
contribute to the resistance. But I think that the resistance
would have been there before. It would have been there under
a different President. If Hillary had been President,
if McCain had been President and proposed the same thing, I
think it would have happened. EDDY MORETTI: I think the
country might actually still be playing out the East, West
dialectic that we’re familiar with from Westerns, “The
Big Country” or something like that. It’s Gregory Peck coming from
the East to this lawless, Western territory, with
beautiful big skies, but it also has Charleton Heston, who
is representing that other side of America. And it’s kind of fucking weird
that that’s where we’re still at today, in a lot of ways. REIHAN SALAM: I think our
politics is all psychodrama. I think our politics
is all psychodrama. I think that if you understand
that that’s like 85% of it, then these debates– they don’t stop being
frustrating. But they make a lot
more sense. EDDY MORETTI: Thanks
for coming by. It was great. REIHAN SALAM: Thank you, Eddy.

100 thoughts on “Reihan Salam on Iraq: VICE Podcast 002

  1. They have access to their intranet, which is Internet filtered by the government. So ya they probably can't go on youtube lol

  2. Let it be known that any country given that degree of power will always be imperialistic in nature. That includes the Turks,Romans,British,China would most certainly attempt given a serious chance.

  3. but it shouldn't, unless you're flailing your arms for attention. its his job to speak effectively about these issues, not cry about them. he's not running for office.

  4. I think it comes off that way because he's explaining it from the perspective of the country doing the occupying, which is a lot scarier to me.

  5. You go to jail to die in America also. I mean just because the United States has modern day slaves does not make them any better. People in the west are also brainwashed, just not as bad as the people in North Korea. I was also like to point out that over 100+ children have been innocently killed by U.S drones(FACT) so they're just as cold. North Korea needs camps for its survival, just like America needs modern day slaves for survival.

  6. Salam's parents worked in the World Trade Center in the 1980s. Salam has written, "Some of my fondest memories of growing up involve visiting them at work, and watching the 4th of July fireworks display from my dad’s office window."[citation needed] Those memories later fed into his personal horror at the September 11th attacks.

  7. This guy thinks he is on top of it but nope? So cool so yea but totally dude wtf .yep I hate him.look babe Johnny ringo

  8. I do not care about this guy.. Every western country has a bunch of columnists with abstracted opinions.

    The host and the guest a pseudo intellectuals.

  9. Birth defects have nothing to do with muslim inbreeding? Marrying first cousins… etc. Once again, arab muslims blaming everyone else for their fucked up life choices.

  10. He's clearly a smart man, I just wish he wouldn't view all the facts with the lens of his political beliefs instead of letting his political beliefs be moulded by the facts.

  11. This guy is a neo-con piece of crap. I guess Bill Maher and the HBO political skew is rubbing off on Vice. I would have rather have seen a video of why they made the move to HBO and how long will it last? Really is taking away from the variety of subjects that I like on a daily basis from your Youtube channel.

  12. yup don't even know what either of them are, but fuck you all the same, hope north Korea throw you in a concentration camp for defending them than nuke your family L)

  13. seems like Bill Maher's turned what was once hardcore journalism into the same watered down version of reality that his handlers pay him to disinfo the dumbed down populace. Bread and Circus ! I too say "adios sell outs"

  14. so how did vice get co opted by HBO in the first place? they seemed to have such strong independent branding, I don't get it. I also would be shocked if their motivation was just profit when they had a huge untapped source on revenue in their audience who wanted the hardcore journalism.
    Disappointing.

  15. Not only are you anti-Semitic, you're incredibly self-diluted. You could have merely attacked the Fed, and any individuals who profit from it, but that's not what you did.

    "The Fed supported Jew-ocracy"
    "I despise the finance Jews"

    You identified a group that you hate very precisely; not any financier who behaves in a particular way, but Jewish financiers. You are not looking at individuals who err, but groups who you can identify with your aggregating mind. Stop lying to yourself.

  16. 49:20 "Puritanism surrounding the second amendment is because these people hate Obama."

    Please get rid of this interviewer, he is an idiot.

  17. LIAR. He did not say that. You are ill-willed and are distorting his words. People, go to 49:05 and listen to it all. The interviewer asked the interviewee about his opinion on the ALTERNATIVES he, the interviewer, exposed.

  18. I respect him too, because he's very smart, but ugh… his first answer was typical Reihan – USA can't be at fault, it's too hard to tell, it's tough… bullshit, they have defects because we shot enriched uranium all over their country.

  19. Then his second answer is that the cost of war has somehow come down? Idk… I saw him on Bill Maher and he wasn't this bad…

  20. You may be right, but it's important to note that there isn't any actual scientific evidence thet proves that yet. I think it's important that we hold off on accusations until we know more.

  21. You're right, and Reihan is just being cautious by taking this stance. I don't know why my post got so many negative votes, it's not like I was personally insulting Reihan or trolling anybody…

  22. Iraq's oil production though has not risen drastically, after a decade of war it has a 35% increase(businessweek). That's nothing to what it could be producing, most of the quotas are settled by OPEC to maintain artificially price fixing, it's easy when you run it and make the rules up as you go.

  23. That's a retarded statement. It's because North Korea does not have the capability to do so. It's a totalitarian, starving, Stalinist-Maoist nation stuck in the 50's. They don't possess the economic or military resources to seriously attack anyone.

  24. Very informative points were made by Reihan Salam about the gun rights issue and the urban vs rural views on this especially when it comes to their views on President Obama. I grew up in a rural area where the cops would take an hour to arrive to a robbery report. I don't think rural America really is concerned about background checks but they will assume it's another one of Obama's plans to steal their guns away because they're not properly educated on this issue.

  25. Mind Control Not Gun Control Works! Having The Fed Controlling 3D Printers is out of control! Every child should have access to food and a 3D Printer not to print guns but how about 3D Printed Cross Bows or Ninja Throwing Stars! I just want a 3D Printer that prints other 3D Printers so I can print a clone army of printers to mass produce products in an exponencial bell curve to flip the script! It's gonna be bigger than Time Wave Zero or a 3D Printed Potato Zip Gun!

  26. You saying "YES" to everything I say really messes with my oppositional defiance disorder that must contradict your agreement! This Catch 22 Loophole you have figured out will be my undoing! It's almost like you have figured your way out of The Matrix and THEY can not have that so look behind you NOW!!!

  27. This was a fantastic interview, I could have watched these two all day.
    And just because I don't agree with Eddy's views doesn't mean I'm calling for his firing because I can handle people having other views than me.
    He does an absolutely amazing job on everything else he's on, and people comment that on the other podcasts. Can people stop being so extreme?

  28. lol "LIAR" "ill witted" "distorting words"

    Bro, chill the fuck out. this is a youtube video comment section.

  29. It was a bit of a misquote, however puritanism and a hatred of Obama were somewhat linked. Ill-willed? Eh, maybe just not listening carefully… it tends to happen in politics. To be fair, I hear little mentioning of the democratic sentiment against restrictions on firearms, which has very little to do with hostile feelings towards Obama.

  30. this interviewer is pretty shit, also the brown guy has some pretty right wing views which isn't really in line with the ideology of vice. the iraqi people would have been way better off with saddam and he was a dictator for fucks sake.

  31. a civil war would have been less costly and devastating as the current situation.they have a civil war as well as foreign intervention and foreign corporations making all the profits off of the rebuilding of iraq, using western workers instead of iraqis.

  32. All I hear is "uhhhh uhhhh well like.. uhh see… the geopolitical… uhhh well there like ummm oil in Iraq. You know so like uhhh Iraqi oil production. uhhh umm…"

  33. He certainly does. I probably wouldn't have noticed, but thanks to you, I can't un-notice it now.

  34. Good, simple-to-understand explanation of how sanctions actually work at 7:55. I recommend listening to that part, even if you skip the rest of the video (not recommended).

  35. I'll return the favour by suggesting you picture Eric Foreman from That '70s Show when Salam speaks.

  36. My question, why did dude bump real news in Steven Brill's deconstruction of the medical industry in word form, for a superficial interview done as a favor by President Obama in return for being a campaign blunder? If you are going to relaunch a magazine that is supposed to be "hard news", and your first issue is a fluff piece for the biggest political operation of our time.This fact makes this interview all the more puzzling as he seems to understand political situations on a deeper level

  37. This guy is a white wash, there were dozens of reasons for the US to invade Iraq, and none of them have anything to do with international security, terrorism, liberation and democratic evangelism. One of them is the OPEC imposes oil production limits to not flood the market and prevent price drops. Saddam was overproducing to pay the national debt and regain autonomy, and the US didn't like that. The only good thing that came out of all this is for Mr. Salam to sustain his standards of living.

  38. On the subject of drones yes it is cheaper and it does remove more of the human element from war, but it does reduce civilian casualties. I am not saying it is perfect. I have heard many reports about civilians that have died, but I don't think it comes any where close to an air strike or carpet bombing.

  39. "Relentlessly pursuing weapons of mass destruction"??? WTF is Salam talking about. there were no WMD. None. And the ones that Saddam had in 1991? Sold to him by the West.

  40. Salam is GD blind. the USA IS involved in Syria. Providing material support and training.

    "Instead, the Obama administration's pledged to provide an additional $123 million in aid, which may include for the first time armored vehicles, body armor, night vision goggles and other defensive military supplies."

    Defensive my ass.

  41. I think that was his viewpoint. That these WMD's were a view of some and not actually what was happening.

  42. I really wish Moretti would host all of the podcasts. It has nothing to do with whatever political nonsense everyone seems to be arguing about; I just find myself not even considering clicking podcasts hosted by Salam anymore. Eddy does a much better job- to me at least- they're just much more enjoyable when he handles them. The pace of his discussions are much slower, but they feel much more… in tune? He represents the general tone Vice puts off much better, again, just how I feel.

  43. Yeah the invasion of Iraq, leading to the death of over a million civilians was necessary to prevent the possibility that Saddam might have become a threat to the region.  Brilliant.

  44. I started watching this Vice Meets playlist from the latest video working back, and let met tell you how refreshing it is to see Reihan talking this animated. haha

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