In light of the current turmoil in Iraq, MSNBC's "Morning Joe" host Mika Brzezinski challenged President Barack Obama on his previous statements when he said the war was ending and al-Qaida was decimated.
In a taped interview, Obama discussed the crisis in Iraq, arguing that al-Qaida had been contained, but said conditions could change in the span of a few years.
"You said that the war was ending in Iraq. You said al-Qaida was decimated. You said it was stable," Brzezinski told the president in the interview that aired Monday on "Morning Joe."
"It was. But just because something is stable two years ago or four years ago doesn't mean that it's stable right now," Obama responded.
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The president explained the "forces that have always possibly pulled Iraq apart are stronger now." He said it was up to "the Iraqi leadership to try to pull the politics of the country back together again."
Had the United States gotten involved in the conflict in neighboring Syria, there was not a "simple solution" that would have prevented the turmoil in Iraq, Obama said, adding that the United States would not inhabit other countries in order to contain terrorists.
"What we are not going to be able to do is to play whack-a-mole and chase wherever extremists appear, occupy those countries for long periods of time, and think somehow that we're going to solve those problems. That's something that, even as the world's lone superpower, exceeds our capabilities," he said.
The pullout of U.S. troops in Afghanistan would not change due to the situation in Iraq, Obama said. He indicated the United States would leave a residual force in Afghanistan if it obtains a security agreement, but said other countries were responsible for their own protection.
"Now Afghanistan is, you know, a sovereign country that is going to have to deal with its own security," he said. "But keep in mind that our goal in Afghanistan was to decapitate al-Qaida, which had carried out 9/11. That has been accomplished."
"Unless we are prepared to stay indefinitely in all of these various countries — something that we can't afford — and, you know, would involve over time accusations that we were occupying these countries, you know, at some stage, they are going to have to take responsibility for working together," he added.
"Fox & Friends" host Steve Doocy mentioned Monday during the show that host Elizabeth Hasselbeck was not included in the list of female morning talk show hosts to interview Obama. In addition to Brzezinski, talk show hosts on CNN and CBS interviewed the president.
Hasselbeck said Monday on "Fox & Friends" she had tweeted that perhaps her "email invitation was lost."
She said that if she had interviewed the president, she would have likely asked him about scandals involving the IRS, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Benghazi. She said she might also have asked about Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, who is jailed in Mexico, and the trade of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Guantanamo detainees.
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