The McLaughlin Group
Host: John McLaughlin
Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast;
David Rennie, The Economist;
Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report
Taped: Friday, June 13, 2014
Broadcast: Weekend of June 14-15, 2014
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JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Iraq Under Siege.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) We will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq, but I have asked my national-security team to prepare a range of other options that could help Iraq security forces. And I'll be reviewing those options in the days ahead.
The United States is not simply going to involve itself in a military action in the absence of a political plan by the Iraqis that gives us some assurance that they're prepared to work together. We're not going to allow ourselves to be dragged back into a situation in which, while we're there, we're keeping a lid on things, and after enormous sacrifices by us, as soon as we're not there, suddenly people end up acting in ways that are not conducive to the long-term stability and prosperity of the country.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Obama is facing a new crisis, this one in Iraq. Islamic insurgents overran Mosul this week, Iraq's second- largest city, captured Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, and are pressing an offensive towards Baghdad.
The insurgents are primarily from a group called the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, known as ISIS. It was affiliated with al-Qaida until a few months ago. The two organizations are now separately commanded due to a falling out over the extreme violence ISIS uses.
Iraq's army appears to have been routed, raising fears that the country faces a de facto partition, with Sunni radicals controlling the west, the Kurds the north, and with the Shiite-dominated al-Maliki government isolated in Baghdad.
Eight months ago, after meeting with Iraq's president, Nouri al- Maliki, here is how President Obama characterized the gravity of the problem.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Unfortunately, al-Qaida has still been active and has grown more active recently. So we had a lot of discussion about how we can work together to push back against that terrorist organization that operates not only in Iraq, but also poses a threat to the entire region and to the United States.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: At that time, Mr. Obama and Mr. al-Maliki developed a joint U.S.-Iraqi strategy to defeat the jihadists. Key elements included the shipment of U.S. F-16 fighters and Apache attack helicopters to give Iraq the advantage of aerial supremacy over al- Qaida in Iraq and ISIS.
Eight months later, those weapons have not been delivered to Iraq, and the insurgents have gained the upper hand. Their objective is to seize a wide swath of Iraq and eastern Syria and form a new Sunni-dominated country. If they succeed, the new state will, as President Obama himself said just last November, destabilize the region and pose a threat to the United States.
Question: What accounts for the failure of the strategy set by President Obama and al-Maliki last November? Where did it go wrong, Pat?
PAT BUCHANAN: Well, one of the failures they claim is that the United States did not get its status-of-forces agreement to protect our troops if we left 10,000 behind, so we took them all out. And as a consequence of that, what you've got is this ISIS, John, has come roaring into Iraq.
The Iraqi army of 900,000 men has virtually disintegrated west of Baghdad. And you've got a real possibility of this country breaking up, with the Kurds taking Kirkuk in the north, separating that out for their own Kurdistan state, ISIS-dominated Sunnis in the west, and, of course, Baghdad and the Shia in the south.
The key thing, John, that people aren't looking at here is our foremost allies in fighting ISIS are who? Hezbollah, Assad, Russia and Iran. Iran and the United States have the same enemies in Iraq. And we've got the same real enemies, I think real enemies, in Syria. So you could see a possibility of some kind of collaboration between the United States and its ancient Iranian enemy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, isn't that original thinking, huh?
ELEANOR CLIFT: Well, if that comes to pass, it could happen with -- Iran wants to protect the Shiite shrines, and they're worried that these extremists are going to destroy the shrines. And so they do have the same vested interest that America has in Iraq.
But you saw the Iraqi army just fold, take off their uniforms, because they don't really feel loyal to the Iraqi government. They don't think of themselves as Iraqis. They think of themselves as Shiites or Sunnis or Kurds. And what you could see now is this civil war really come into higher violence. And it's not America's job to prevent a civil war, but it is America's job to prevent Iraq from becoming a staging area for this very vicious spinoff of al-Qaida.
And so the president is rightly considering some modest military force, air power, maybe drone attacks. I don't know that they'll be successful. They won't make the problem go away, but they might help the government stabilize to the extent that they can drive back ISIL, which is the name of the terrorist --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Those are good distinctions, Eleanor.
OK, here's White House Press Secretary Jay Carney's November 2013 spin -- November 2013 spin, about six months old -- more? -- on leaving U.S. troops behind.
JAY CARNEY (White House press secretary): (From videotape.) The decision to fully withdraw from Iraq was one made by the Iraqi government and the United States government. And it was the right decision, because anyone who believes that the presence of U.S. troops -- 5,000, 10,000, 60,000, 100,000 -- in perpetuity is the answer to solving Iraq's political challenges, I think, is just simply wrong. And that -- you know, I think that was part of the sustained debate in the 2008 campaign. And the president was committed to ending the war in Iraq, and he has fulfilled that commitment.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What'd you learn from that?
DAVID RENNIE: Look, they're trying to make the case that this is essentially Iraq's problem. And I think that within the Washington debate, people are trying to make Iraq, the failure in Iraq, President Obama's fault.
I think that's a hard case to make. You have to oversimplify and you have to ignore the role of President Bush before him.
Where I think we should be blaming President Obama is let's not forget that ISIS is not just Iraq. It's also Syria. And I think that this has also flowed out of the absolute chaos in Syria. And there are a lot of people who think that if, two years ago, America had started arming non-extremist rebels in Syria, you would have seen less chaos coming out of that. And this is a cross-border crisis. And the Syrian half of this crisis, I think, is on President Obama's watch.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's a big chunk of Syria involved in this commotion.
MR. RENNIE: And the caliphate that they want to create, this Islamic state they want to create for them, straddles that border.
MR. BUCHANAN: It goes all the way from --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why don't you direct the readers to this --
MR. BUCHANAN: It goes all the way from Aleppo, John, all the way from Aleppo in Syria all the way to about 40 miles north of Baghdad is where this so-called caliphate is dominated now by the ISIS folks.
MS. CLIFT: Well, and they're doing it with a ragtag band, really, of, like, 8,000 --
MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.
MS. CLIFT: -- men. I don't think there are any women in that group.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: Maybe there are now, but I --
MR. BUCHANAN: I would doubt it.
MS. CLIFT: -- somehow doubt it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Baghdad so far is secure. Do you want to speak to that? It's in your current issue of your magazine.
MR. RENNIE: It's in The Economist. Well, it shows you how essentially what we're looking at is a geopolitical crisis where the borders drawn by French and British diplomats at the end of the colonial era -- the Sykes-Picot kind of drawing of the borders -- that is being contested all over the Middle East. These borders no longer map the world that these extremists see. They see a Sunni state that crosses over that border as though it doesn't exist.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bring that map to the screen, please, and you can point to what we're talking about to get an idea of the volume of land involved. You see the map now on the screen?
Mort, are you able to make it with your spectacles?
MORT ZUCKERMAN: More or less. I mean, fortunately my skepticals -- skepticals -- (laughs) --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you skeptical --
MS. CLIFT: Those are good to have too.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- of your spectacles? (Laughter.) Did you hear that?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look, whatever else you want to say about this, like it or not, however these geographic lines were drawn, they were drawn. And right now you have Iraq that is directly adjacent to Saudi Arabia and Jordan, two of our allies, serious allies.
We are in a position now where Iraq might become, under its new leadership, shall we say, a radical leadership, might threaten some of our most important interests in that part of the world, will threaten the whole oil market across the entire world. There's a huge, huge amount at risk for us.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of -- what do you think of this? I want the accuracy of it appraised. An extreme Islamist group that seeks to create a caliphate and spread jihad across the world has made dramatic advances on both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi border.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.
MR. BUCHANAN: And John, who is --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's exactly what's happening.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, who has been financing these people from the beginning in Syria? I'll tell you what. They came through Turkey. And the Gulf states are the ones believed to be behind them financially, Qatar and some of these others, our heroic allies, Arab allies. At the same time, as I say, Iran and Assad, whom we are against, are the ones fighting them. I mean, United States policy is just a debacle in the whole region.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question -- do you want to add anything before we continue? Do you want to defend your map in any way --
MR. RENNIE: Look --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and your piece on it --
MR. RENNIE: I would point out --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- in the current edition of The Economist?
MR. RENNIE: -- if you want to get still more depressed, there's a NATO member on the northern edge of that, Turkey. And if Kurdistan in the north of Iraq starts breaking away --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Pat brought that out.
MR. RENNIE: -- then you'll have a NATO member able to call on other NATO allies to come to its assistance.
MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly. They're --
MR. RENNIE: Then we'll discover --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you hear that?
MR. RENNIE: Then we'll discover whether Turkey --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you hear that?
MR. BUCHANAN: They're talking about --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A NATO member can call upon other NATO -- there are 27 members of NATO, right?
MR. BUCHANAN: They're talking about -- exactly. Why are the Turks not the ones doing the job and finishing these people off?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Does it seem to you that President Obama ended the Iraq war in a way that protects our national-security interests?
MR. BUCHANAN: We don't --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes or no?
MR. BUCHANAN: We don't have a vital interest in Iraq. And when the status-of-forces agreement was denied, he did what he had to do, which was get out and come home.
MS. CLIFT: That's right. The short-term goal is to repel ISIL and then let Iraq go back to having its civil war. The Kurds will probably -- they've got a strong army. They will probably break off. Iran will probably protect the Shiites. And the Sunnis will make alliance with the radicals, unfortunately.
But there's a million-man army in Iraq. If they can't stand up to this invasion, you know, I don't think it's up to the U.S.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of this, David? No, he did not end the war in a way that protects our national-security interests. Obama ended the war in a way that protected his reelection interests, not our national-security interests. The situation today is worse than it was when he became president in 2009. And if ISIS and al-Qaida in Iraq establish an independent state, it will become a nightmare. He was handed a victory and he squandered it.
MS. CLIFT: George W. Bush left office wanting to end the war. He negotiated the status-of-forces agreement. The Iraqis would not allow U.S. troops to remain, and so that's it.
MR. RENNIE: There's a bigger point too, which is that this was not a fantastic success handed to President Obama on a plate. And President Obama has not handled this well. There's blame to go around. But this idea that certain Republicans are pushing, that everything was going fantastically well right up until the moment that Obama took office, that's just a fiction. That's a myth.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you would subscribe to what was read to you just a moment ago.
MR. RENNIE: I would not.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would you subscribe to it?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No. But I still think that we have enormous national interests involved in what's going on in Iraq today. It is just a huge issue, because it could absolutely contaminate that whole part of the world and the international --
MR. BUCHANAN: Mort, should we have gone in in the first place?
MS. CLIFT: No.
MR. BUCHANAN: No.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No.
MR. BUCHANAN: We wouldn't be in this mess, John --
MS. CLIFT: And the same people --
MR. BUCHANAN: -- if we hadn't gone in there under Bush and the neoconservatives and, frankly, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He had no choice.
MS. CLIFT: And the same --
MR. BUCHANAN: What are you talking about? They didn't have any weapons of mass destruction. I think you were against the original invasion. I know I was.
MS. CLIFT: It was a political vote on Capitol Hill. It was right before the election. If there had been a secret ballot, that war -- that war resolution would never have been approved.
MR. BUCHANAN: Bush would probably have gone in anyhow.
MS. CLIFT: It's not excusing what they did. They all --
MR. BUCHANAN: Bush would have invaded anyhow.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, but we wanted the war ended. You did and I did.
MS. CLIFT: And the Democrats wouldn't have been part of this.
MR. BUCHANAN: I didn't want it begun.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I didn't want it begun either. It was a dumb war.
Issue Two: Cantor Kaput.
HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER ERIC CANTOR (R-VA): (From videotape.) I know there's a lot of long faces here tonight. And it's disappointing, sure.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was not only a disappointing defeat for Virginia's 7th district U.S. House of Representatives and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. It was a stunning one. On Tuesday, Virginia's primary election day, Leader Cantor succumbed to a Republican primary challenger named Dave Brat by an 11-point clobbering, 56 percent to 44 percent.
Brat pummeled Cantor, principally for supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants in the U.S. And Brat also campaigned heavily on cutting U.S. government spending. What makes this Brat win even more incredible is that Cantor, a seven-term congressman, outspent Brat, $5 million to Brat's $122,000. That's a ratio of over 40 to 1.
Brat is a relatively unknown economics professor at Randolph- Macon College, whereas Cantor is the Republican House majority leader; in the chain of command, number two in power behind House Speaker John Boehner. In other words, Cantor is a Capitol Hill giant, as confirmed by noted political historian and University of Virginia college professor Larry Sabato.
LARRY SABATO (University of Virginia): (From videotape.) This is truly a political earthquake, not just in Virginia but nationally. When you have the House majority leader, who's next in line for the speakership and probably would have been speaker, knocked off, you know something big has happened.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now Cantor will resign that position at the end of July, a move already causing a scramble among Republicans.
Question: How do you account for the downfall of Eric Cantor? Mort Zuckerman.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, you know, it turns out, in the first place, on immigration, what he was talking about was the children of people who came into this country illegally, OK, children who were born here. They're the ones, even if they brought their children and who weren't born here, they're the ones he wanted to give citizenship to. And frankly, I support that.
But there's no doubt that what he got involved with, and on the wrong side of which, is this whole issue of immigration. He was seen as somebody who was -- and that's what turned him around when all of the advertising went out. And his advertising, by the way -- (you're right ?) -- he had way, way more money. But he created the identity of his opponent by these attacks on him, so that his actual TV ads worked counter to his --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Your point is well taken. It was the immigration issue that was the big lever --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that led to his being squeezed out of office.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.
MS. CLIFT: It lit the fuse, but the fuse was already there, and that is, the tea party world and conservatives see any flirting with immigration reform makes you a squish in Washington. He was not conservative enough for the people who were voting in that primary --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MS. CLIFT: -- plus the fact he's a Washington insider. They hate Washington insiders. And the key thing that came out was that he spent more on steak dinners in Washington, you know, for lobbyists and donors and so forth, than Dave Brat spent for his entire campaign.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MS. CLIFT: So there's an anger there which Pat, I know, appreciates against the elites and the banks. And any Republican who can tap into that is going to do well in November.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you raise an interesting point, and that is his opponent. Let's take a closer look at Dave Brat.
DAVE BRAT (Virginia 7th district Republican primary winner): (From videotape.) It's not about Dave Brat winning tonight. It's about returning the country to constitutional principles. (Cheers, applause). It's about returning the country to Judeo-Christian principles. (Cheers, applause.) And it's about returning the country to free-market principles.
Professor Dave Brat was considered such a long shot that although he courted national tea party money, he didn't get a dime from them. He professes tea party ideals, however, and did get grassroots tea party support.
Here are a few more facts from the Brat bio. Born: Detroit; age, 49. Married; two children. Roman Catholic. Education: Masters in Divinity, Princeton, 1990; Ph.D., economics, American University, 1995. Professor, economics and ethics, Randolph-Macon College, liberal arts school, Ashland, Virginia, 1996 and currently; also Randolph-Macon, chairman, department of economics and business.
Curiously, Dr. Brat will face another professor from Randolph- Macon College, a Democrat, Jack Trammell, in this November's election. Professor Trammell -- get this -- is also seeking to win the seat of Eric Cantor.
Question: What gives with Randolph-Macon College? Can you speak to that? I mean, you're from -- well, you're from all over; Great Britain.
MR. RENNIE: Yeah, well, this is -- you know, this is serious political country. This is James Monroe country. This is Madison country. There's serious political roots down there. And, you know, it's a pretty conservative college for a liberal arts college. And I guess we're going to see Dave Brat take it.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. RENNIE: But, I mean, the point is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish.
MR. BUCHANAN: All right.
MR. RENNIE: I think the point of Eric Cantor's defeat, I'd just say, is I think that immigration was a kind of -- the lever how it worked was Cantor's problem was he was trying to have a purity contest. He was going to be the purest of the pure guys representing that tea party rage and be an ambitious Washington insider who wanted the speakership.
MR. BUCHANAN: But, you know --
MR. RENNIE: And you can't be purity and ambition at the same time. And I think it was that straddle that came out.
MR. BUCHANAN: You're missing something.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you hear about the straddle?
MR. BUCHANAN: I heard it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Tell me ?) about the straddle, Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: You're missing -- you're missing something, John; first, the amnesty. He got associated with that. Secondly, TV and the Web and everything were all caught up in what was going on on the border of the United States. Forty thousand children came in in three days, or something like that.
Secondly, this fellow went after him as a populist. He said all these bankers and these rich guys should have been put in jail, talking about Cantor, but they ended up on Cantor's Rolodex, which was a terrific line.
Listen, let me tell you, the big winner out of this is Ted Cruz.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ted Cruz.
MR. BUCHANAN: This has opened up a populist -- you know, a populist path to the Republican nomination.
MR. RENNIE: (Inaudible) -- immigration. I mean, it's also the case that --
MR. BUCHANAN: Beyond immigration. It's on the bankers.
MR. RENNIE: But on immigration, you need to explain, I mean, also the (border ?) thing. Lindsey Graham, senator of South Carolina --
MR. BUCHANAN: But --
MR. RENNIE: -- who was the author of the Senate package --
MR. BUCHANAN: But he got 56 percent.
MR. RENNIE: -- but he won the --
MR. BUCHANAN: But, yeah, but he --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you see --
MR. RENNIE: But it didn't --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you see that enormous rally for Ted Cruz in Texas over this past weekend, or one removed?
MR. BUCHANAN: You also got the talk radio, Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They bought in on Cruz?
MR. BUCHANAN: They hammered this guy all day and --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hammered what guy?
MR. BUCHANAN: Hammered Cantor constantly.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MR. BUCHANAN: I mean, Cantor was ahead by, what, 34, 35 points? And he lost by 10.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question, exit: Who is the most likely contender to replace Eric Cantor as House majority leader? Have you thought about this, Pat?
MR. BUCHANAN: I'm going to go with --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Just top of the head?
MR. BUCHANAN: I'm going to go with the first guy from Randolph-Macon who took out Cantor. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, I think that's right. But to see this as a launching pad for Ted Cruz, when admittedly 65,000 people voted in this little race in Virginia --
MR. BUCHANAN: I said (there's a chance ?).
MS. CLIFT: -- and Cruz can carry Texas five times over, but I don't see him doing well in a lot of blue states, part of the battleground states that decide the presidency.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: David.
MR. RENNIE: I think, on Eleanor's point on Ted Cruz, the way I look at it is to sit behind the desk in the Oval Office, you need, more or less, 60 million people to vote for you, I mean, give or take. Yes, there's an electoral college, but basically you need 60 million people. I do not think there are 60 million Ted Cruz voters in the country.
MR. BUCHANAN: There's a path to the nomination I said.
MR. RENNIE: Path to the nomination, but --
MS. CLIFT: Nomination, right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort. Mort.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I agree. I think that -- I agree with what was just said, to wit that Ted Cruz, who is an extraordinary speaker and a very magnetic politician, in my judgment, does not have a chance to win the election. He may win the nomination, but in that case, it'll be a suicidal vote, in my judgment, for the Republican Party.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All well stated.
Issue Three: Abbott's Asian Age?
TONY ABBOTT (Australian prime minister): (From videotape.) I'm here to thank the United States for its deepening engagement in our region. I'm here to further entrench our security and our economic cooperation. I'm here to celebrate the extraordinary friendship between the Australian and the American peoples. And I'm thrilled to have you coming to the G-20 in November, because we have a very important job in November in Brisbane to accelerate economic growth around the world so that we have more prosperity and more jobs.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony Abbott, the Australian prime minister, visited the U.S. this week. Prime Minister Abbott was elected prime minister in an upset election last year. He began his U.S. trip in New York City by a morning jog with New York firemen from his hotel, to the 9/11 memorial and the New York Stock Exchange. Later he addressed the American-Australian Association, where he spoke to 200 business leaders.
Prime Minister Abbott heads Australia's Liberal Party -- Liberal, which down under means conservative. He delivered a pro-business message to the business leaders, and indirectly to President Obama, that included blunt disagreement with the contention that climate change is the most important issue of our time -- President Obama's view.
In a meeting with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the United Nations, Abbott reaffirmed his opposition to a global climate treaty with strict caps on carbon emissions. But Abbott's most remarked remark came at a business lunch where he said, quote, "I'm looking forward to the coming Asian century. The Asian century will be an Indian century, a Japanese century, a Korean century and an Indonesian century, as well as a Chinese one. The Asian century will be an American century too, because America is a Pacific power, as well as an Atlantic one," he notes. "Asia needs America involved. The world wants America to succeed. The world needs America to succeed," unquote.
If that formulation sounds convoluted, it is. Australia is caught in a dilemma between its commercial ties to China and its longstanding allegiance to the U.S.
Question: What is Prime Minister Abbott trying to convey with his arcane formulation of the Asian century as also the American century? David Rennie.
MR. RENNIE: Well, it sounds a bit like a kind of food court, doesn't it; the different Asian countries. What he's trying to do is to thread the needle. In Australian politics, he had a man called Paul Keating, who was prime minister. His big thing was that Australia was going to become an Asian country, become much, much closer to Asia. The conservative who followed him, John Howard, his whole thing was anti-Asian immigration, pushing the idea of America as the closest ally; pushing Australia, under George Bush, as the deputy sheriff to George Bush's sheriff.
What Tony Abbott is trying to do, who is a conservative -- but China is now a gigantic, important trading power -- is to try and sort of square the circle, to be a sort of white Anglo-Saxon, western nation, but also keep trading with the Asian world. That's the sort of thing he's trying to square.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: A huge part of the Australian economy is directly tied to Asia. On the other hand, they have to look to us on many levels as their principal ally for everything that might or might not happen. So it makes perfect sense. If I were he, I would have, you know, carried it even further. I would have said we're also very close to Europe. We're close to the North Pole. We're close to the South Pole. It's just, you know, generous to everybody.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, this --
MS. CLIFT: Culturally, I could no more imagine Australia aligning with China than I could imagine, you know, Britain aligning with Russia.
MR. RENNIE: Australia has really changed, though. It's a much more --
MS. CLIFT: But the commercial interests are there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Pat. I want to educate you, Pat. There's an author by the name of White, and he wrote a book, "The China Choice." And it's influential among Australian politicians and policymakers. The book has sparked a vigorous debate among politicians and policymakers about how to balance Australia's interests. Culturally and historically, Australia is part of the West and supports the U.S. But commercially -- this is your point --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- it has become a resource colony of China, whose economy depends on Beijing.
MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's exactly right.
MR. BUCHANAN: Australia is an enormously resource-rich continent.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MR. BUCHANAN: And China is resource-dependent, and so that tremendous commercial economic relationship. But historically, politically, culturally, ethnically, they're still with the West.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't forget, we have a base there.
MS. CLIFT: And defense-wise, they're with the U.S.
MR. BUCHANAN: In Darwin. In Darwin.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In Darwin, indeed. What goes on there?
MR. BUCHANAN: A couple thousand Marines.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What else?
MR. RENNIE: Well, they signed an agreement --
MR. BUCHANAN: That's all you need.
MR. RENNIE: They signed an agreement this week. There's going to be some sort of NSA-style listening station. The Australian ministry is going to be doing super-secret listening and spying for America.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there any nuclear aspect to it?
MR. RENNIE: Australia doesn't have nuclear weapons, but it's friendlier than, say, New Zealand next door, which bans nuclear arms.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think we solve that problem for Australia on nuclear weapons?
Immigration is doomed not to happen for the duration of Obama's presidency.
MR. BUCHANAN: You got it right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Not this year, but there's still time after the November elections.
MR. RENNIE: I think it's doomed.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think it's completely doomed. I don't think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Completely doomed.
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