HH: Joining me to discuss that vote in particular is MSNBC’s Morning Joe himself, Joe Scarborough. Joe, welcome back. What do you make of your fellow Floridian voting no on the President’s request to use force?
JS: I think it’s absolutely stunning. You know, Marco came into office, and was from a really muscular wing of the Republican Party, more neoconservative by his statements than anything. He certainly was supporting a lot of, doubling down, tripling down in Afghanistan, staying in Iraq longer. This is, Marco has found himself on the fault lines of Republican politics, now, several times. And I’ve got to say I’m absolutely stunned by his vote. So much of it is shaped by what Rand Paul is doing, what Ted Cruz is doing, what a lot of people in 2016 are doing. I really thought, though, that he would take the classic Reagan position. I thought he would speak out as a friend of Israel. I’m not saying he’s not a friend of Israel, but there is no doubt that this is going to be a vote that a lot of people that, you know, support a strong Israel, and support a strong Defense, are going to be looking at for some time to come, despite the fact that it’s President Obama that’s put us in this terrible position. But no, I’m absolutely stunned that he voted no.
HH: Now Joe Scarborough, you’re a Reaganaut as I am. And I’m getting together with a bunch of West Coast friends of Ronald Reagan tonight, as a matter of fact, late for dinner. And we’ll be talking about this, and I fired off an email to some friends in D.C., saying, using the word you just word. I am stunned. I have read Senator Rubio’s statement. Among the other arguments he makes is that a strike could allow Assad to emerge and claim that he took on the United States and survived. He argues as well that this action could unleash a series of events that could further destabilize the region. And he goes on to argue for support for the rebels. Jack Keane is going to join me today to talk about that. Do you think that’s going to cut it with, you used the term neocons. I used the term Reagan conservatives when it comes to, you know, striking Libya, or George Herbert Walker Bush invading Panama. You were there in those years. This is not really a reach for presidential power for a conservative.
JS: Well, it’s really not a reach, and I’ve got to tell you, I mean, I come from the school, I wouldn’t, I don’t know that I’d call myself a neocon. I come, I’m more restrained. I come from the Reagan school, the Ike schools, actually, the Colin Powell school that you very rarely send troops into harm’s way, but when you do, there’s got to be a pressing U.S. national security interest. What floors me is that there are people that supported U.S. troops going into Bosnia, going into Kosovo, tripling the number of troops that the President was sending to Afghanistan, after he got out of the business of killing terrorists, and was trying to rebuild the country. Now how can you look at Syria if you supported any of those military actions and not say the client state of Israel, I mean, the client state of Iran, that’s been part of the epicenter of terrorism since 1979, that has been the protector of Hezbollah, that has been one of the two great destabilizers in the Middle East over the past thirty years or so, how can you say that any other military strike is in the United States vital interest, but somehow stopping Assad from crossing a red line is not? I think Marco’s going to have a very hard time explaining that. It is a no win situation because of what the President did. His default rhetorical position, you know, Mubarak must go, Assad must go, it always backs us into a corner, because not only does he not have a specific military policy to make sure those tyrants go. He doesn’t have a general overarching policy that binds all of these things together. So when the President steps over the line, of course that puts us in the corner as a country, but Iran is watching.
HH: Yeah, I’m looking at the new Foreign Affairs magazine with the picture of Ayatollah Khamenei on the cover of it, Who Is Khamenei: The Mind Of Iran’s Supreme Leader, very chilling article. It’s linked at www.hughhewitt.com for people to read. Joe Scarborough, straight up question, if you were still in the Congress, would you vote for this authorization for the use of military force?
JS: I would. I’d be very reluctant about it, but I would do it, and I would do it with great reservations. I would actually certainly, you know, I would have reservations, grave reservations, and I would be angry that the President put us in the position that he put us in.
HH: Now Joe, in your old district, did you not have military bases? Didn’t you have Pensacola?
JS: I had five military bases in my old district, but my district, in northwest Florida, was very conservative, and they agreed with me on military restraint. They were glad I voted against Bosnia. They were glad I voted against Kosovo. They believed, like I believed, that the United States wasn’t the world’s policeman, and we shouldn’t be the 9/11 call for the world. At the same time, we’re not talking about some third-rate power here that’s disconnected from direct American interest. We’re talking about Syria. Think about this, Hugh. I was thinking about this, this afternoon. Everybody loved to talk about, and I was very critical of George W. Bush’s foreign policy in many respects. I was horrified by his second inaugural address, where he said we were going, he was very Wilsonian. But think about this. When George W. Bush, with all of his failings, left the White House in 2008, we had two, 2009, we had two real enemies in the Middle East. We had Syria, and we had Iran.
JS: They were completely surrounded by allies of America. Think about how bad things have gotten over the past five years.
HH: Well, I think if you compare the world today to when George W. Bush left office, it is clear that President Obama has fumbled many balls, and cost many lives, and it is an extraordinarily disastrous period of time for America. It’s going to get worse.
HH: But here’s the question. The sequester is in place.
HH: I just had Buck McKeon on. He just said look, I’m going to try and use this moment in Congress to leverage the restoration of some of these military cuts. Do you think that the House of Representatives ought to attach spending to at least pay for this mission, and put some of these cuts back, of those people you used to represent, because the President is not only weakening us abroad, he’s hollowing out the military, Joe Scarborough.
JS: I do. I do. There are so many things about the sequester that I like. I like the fact that it is squeezing spending. But our troops are stretched thin, and it’s not just, it’s not just a matter of bullets and missiles. It has to do with overall readiness and well-being. It has to do with the military health care system. It has to do with how we take care of our veterans when they come home. It has to do with the fact that we’re not taking care of the men and women who take care of us. And we’re asking more of them now than we ever have. The rotations over the past decade have been horrific. That’s another great tragedy about what’s going on right now in Syria, and why we have to respond in Syria the way we do, and quite frankly, I’m absolutely floored that Marco voted the way he did.
HH: We’ll watch the coverage tomorrow morning on MSNBC, Morning Joe, as the Rubio vote reverberates across the conservative spectrum, as well as the Senate voting 10-7 in committee to authorize the President to use military force to strike Syria. We’ll continue to cover Syria all day, all the time. Joe Scarborough, thanks, always a pleasure to talk to you.
End of interview.