updated 8/11/2014 9:04:11 AM ET 2014-08-11T13:04:11

POLITICS NATION
August 8, 2014

Guest: Evan Kohlmann, Jim McDermott; Clarence Page

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thanks for tuning in. We start with
breaking news out of Iraq.

The U.S. launching additional air strikes against the Islamic militant
group ISIS striking a mortar position and a convoy of seven vehicles. The
Pentagon just released this video of the fighter jets involved in those
missions. And this video from on the ground in Iraq reportedly shows the
first airstrikes earlier today. The images aren`t confirmed by NBC News.
The strikes aimed at ISIS targets outside the northern city of Erbil.
Where there is a U.S. consulate.

At the same time the U.S. military moving to address the urgent
humanitarian crisis. This is the latest video we are getting of the
refugees said to be fleeing the militants in a disturbing turn the U.S. has
confirmed that militants kidnapped hundreds of refugee women so they can be
sold or married off to extremists.

Meantime, tens of thousands of other civilians remained under siege,
surrounded by ISIS on a mountaintop in northwest Iraq. American air drops
delivered 8,000 meals and 5300 gallons of fresh water so far. President
Obama told the nation last night that the U.S. can`t turn a blind eye to
this crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a mandate to help in
this case a request from the Iraqi government. When we have the unique
capabilities to help avert a massacre, I believe the United States of
America cannot turn a blind eye. We can act, carefully and responsibly to
prevent a potential act of genocide.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: NBC`s Chris Jansing is live at the White House. Chris, what`s
the latest from there?

CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, senior White House officials,
Rev., tell me this remains a fluid situation. You can expect to see
potentially more air strikes, more air drops. Now the White House has laid
out a very clear plan for the military. And the president talked about it
last night. They would have to determine that it is absolutely necessary
to go in, particularly with the air strikes. And there are some very
specific parameters that senior White House officials are emphasizing.
When would they consider it to be absolutely necessary?

Let`s look at the humanitarian side first. They would have to determine
that it was a grave situation for the folks who are up there on the
mountain who we know have been without food, without water. Have
essentially been starving to death. Yes, they can do air drops of food,
medicine, water. Eventually they have to get folks off the mountain. So
that`s the first thing. If there is a movement by ISIS toward the folks
who are stranded up there. That would be number one. Number two, a threat
to Erbil. You said there is a U.S. consulate. There are also military
personnel stationed there. We are talking hundreds of Americans.

And then finally, there was a dam that was seized by ISIS that there is a
very serious concern that there could be a breach there and there could be
flooding to impact Baghdad where there are many Americans stationed.

Now this is not something that the president is doing on an hour-by-hour
basis. Those parameters are laid out. The actual decisions are being made
by the military within those parameters based on the intelligence they get
on the ground.

Having said that, of course, the president has been in and out of meetings
all day. He`s been briefed on the situation on the ground. Officials
pointed out that right now the plan is still for him to go to Martha`s
Vineyard tomorrow. They have said all throughout that the president can
get information, be in touch with advisers, wherever he is. And of course,
many of his advisers will be traveling with him. Right now, no change in
plans for the president. No particular plans for him to talk to the
American people although it`s always a possibility for him to update the
situation -- Rev..

SHARPTON: There are no particular plans now. And there is a consulate and
many Americans in Erbil.

Chris Jansing at the White House. Thank you so much.

JANSING: Sure.

SHARPTON: Joining me on the phone is Tracy Shelton, a reporter for Global
Post whose in Erbil right now. A front line of the battle with ISIS.

Tracy, the scene there right now, give us a sense of the scene of it.

TRACY SHELDON, REPORTER, GLOBAL POST (via phone): Yes. People are really
scared. A week ago there was a lot of confidence in (INAUDIBLE) forces.
People thought between the Kurds and the Islamic state. All of the sudden
they have been pushing forward at incredible rates. Yes. People were
really afraid of what`s going to happen next. The city is inundated by
families.

SHARPTON: You have talked to refugees who fled the terrorists. What did
they go through? What`s their reaction to the U.S. airstrikes?

SHELDON: Well, a lot of them are angry that it didn`t come sooner. They
have already lost their homes. Some of them are saying we don`t care about
Iraq. We just want to get out. We want our families safe. We want
asylum. Others are hopeful. They want to get back home. They haven`t
given up yet. They see the air strikes as a sign of hope. One that they
are still skeptical about. Not ready to put much hope in it yet. It is a
start. They want more.

SHARPTON: All right, Tracy Shelton. Thank you for your time. Be safe.

Let`s bring in Congressman Jim McDermott, Democrat from Washington and a
navy veteran and former Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy, the first
Iraq war vet elected to Congress. Thank you both for being here.

PATRICK MURPHY, FORMER DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Let me go to you first Congressman McDermott, do you support the
president`s actions so far?

REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON: Yes, I do, Al. I watched the Seahawks
last night and they lost. And everybody on Monday morning, there are
quarterbacks who know what should have happened. While the president has
been sitting there and keeping us out of war in all kinds of different
situations. And when he finally decided to do something, I think he made a
decision that`s limited and can be executed with success.

The real question here is I`m sure what was in his mind is I stood back to
Bill Clinton once when he have he was apologizing to the people in Rwanda
because we didn`t go in to do anything then. And we had genocide that
occur there. And I know it`s got to be in the president`s mind as he was
making these decisions.

SHARPTON: Yes, I went to Rwanda. I was part of those trying to force
Clinton to deal with the issue.

You know, these reports, Congressman, of women being abducted from the
Yazidi sect and sold as slaves, does it show what we are facing with ISIS,
Congressman Murphy?

MURPHY: Yes, Reverend Al. ISIS is the most horrible terrorist
organization in the world. Thy worse than Al Qaeda. It`s not just 40,000
refugees. We have 40 deaths, mostly children but it is those Rwanda women
that are being kidnapped right now.

And then to the eastern there, as you know, they are making in-roads to the
Kurdish government, the county seat, the city government there, and that`s
when the artillery -- I`m sorry, that`s one of these FA-18 fighter jets
knocked out ISIS artillery weaponry which is a positive thing.

But we need to make sure that there is a political solution here. This is
when Maliki and Iraqi government must reach out to the Kurdish government,
to the Sunnis, to moderate Sunnis, not the radicals and ISIS, but to make
modern Sunnis sure they come together.

I don`t have a lot of faith unfortunately, Reverend, in Maliki. Most
Iraqis don`t have faith. But we need to make sure that it`s not American
boots on the ground. It is Iraqi boots on the ground.

SHARPTON: Congressman McDermott, we are air dropping relief supplies to
those refugees on the mountain. Should the U.S. be committed to helping
them get to safer ground?

MCDERMOTT: Well, we got to be very careful because as Congressman Murphy
suggests, putting our troops on the ground gets us back in the war. I
don`t think we should be getting ourselves into that situation. We can by
forcing the ISIS away from those folks on the top of the mountain, protect
them. But I don`t think it`s our job to go and get them.

SHARPTON: Now saying that, Congressman Murphy, last night President Obama
talked about the limits he`s placed on the mission. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting
another war in Iraq. And so as we support Iraqis as take the fight to
these terrorists, American combat troops will not return to fight in Iraq
because there is no American military solution to the larger crisis in
Iraq. The only lasting solution is reconciliation among Iraqi communities
and stronger Iraqi security forces.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Congressman Murphy, in your view, how determine is this White
House to avoid mission creep?

MURPHY: I think we already determined. I think the strategy has not
changed. We have no strategy to get bogged down in religious civil war in
Iraq. President Obama, again some of the military advisers got us out of
the war. Now, it`s up to the Iraqi people to do what`s necessary.

And the second part of that`s that President Obama is determined, not just
to provide humanitarian aid, but to make sure that we leave no one behind,
meaning we have U.S. military assets in Erbil. We have state department
assets of that consulate, we want to make sure that ISIS does not take out
our people where there are harmed.

So I agree with the president making sure that we are defending them by
taking out artillery shells because they were firing on the Kurdish forces
which was in range of our men and women but we over there. We need to make
sure that we either extradite them out of Erbil or take out ISIS with the
air strikes. We need to make sure there is a political solution. And we
need to world to come together to do what`s necessary to get this ISIS
radical extreme terrorist organization stopped in its tracks.

SHARPTON: Congressman McDermott, so far, we have reports so far of three
rounds of air strikes. Do you anticipate anymore in the days ahead?

MCDERMOTT: I really don`t know, Al. I trust the president has limited
what he`s going to do. I trust him to be a man of his word. And I think
that he -- again.. You`ve got to remember. This president is all about
what happened in Benghazi, in Libya. And so, he`s thinking about the
Americans on the ground there. He does have a reason to be very protective
of people in the consulate and other people on the ground for the American
government.

So I think he is going to do what`s necessary to take them up. But I don`t
think he`s going to go in there and get enmeshed to get in a war. What
Patrick Murphy says is correct. Malaki has to go. There has to be a new
government created that takes everybody into account. And he`s been too
divisive to be the one to put it back together. But I think the president
is committed to helping that political happen as well as protecting the
Americans.

SHARPTON: You know, Congressman Murphy, today the White House press
secretary said there is no time limit for the mission. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: The President has not
laid out a specific end date. We are going to sort of take this approach
in which those kinds of decisions are evaluated regularly and are driven by
security situation on the ground.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Will Americans, Congressman Murphy, will they support the
president on this operation despite the lack of an end date?

MURPHY: Absolutely, Reverend. They understand that we don`t leave our men
and women in harm`s way when they are threatened by a terrorist
organization like ISIS in faraway places like Erbil, Iraq. And they also
understand that America is a country that we have 40,000 refugees and there
are 40 children killed, 100 women being kidnapped. That if we can provide
humanitarian aid which is, you know, obviously water, meals, we can do
that.

I served in Bosnia under General Petraeus after 9/11. We stopped the worst
ethnic cleansing that was going in Europe since world war II when Muslims
were being killed. And I was first brought by president Clinton. There
are folks in Washington there are playing politics saying Barack Obama
should be doing more. But I have full faith and confidence that just like
when President Obama became commander in chief and some military generals
said don`t pull out of the city in Iraq. He said, I told the American
people I`m ending the war and that`s what I`m doing. He`s not getting us
back into an Iraq war.

SHARPTON: Congressman Jim McDermott and former Congressman Patrick Murphy,
thank you both for your time tonight.

MURPHY: Thank you.

MCDERMOTT: You`re welcome.

SHARPTON: Coming up, what do the American people want to do in Iraq and
how are the president`s political opponents responding to this crisis?

Also, a deeper look at the terrorist group is. Where did they come from?
How can they be stopped?

And Iran on a promise to end the Iraq war. And now he`s fighting to keep
the peace. How President Obama`s history on Iraq is shaping this new
crisis. All that plus more on the desperate race to help the refugees
including hundreds of kidnapped women. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The crisis in Iraq is a complicated issue. President Obama is
carefully considering his options. Here is what we don`t need. Some
Republicans running to criticize him. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I know that many of you are rightly concerned about any American
military action in Iraq, even limited strikes like these. I understand
that. However, we can and should have forces to bring stability to Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: President Obama last night explaining that he`s taking action to
protect Americans and innocent civilians in Iraq. But he`s not getting us
involved in another war. The American people don`t want that. And there`s
a real split on more limited strikes, too. A recent "Washington Post" poll
shows that 45 percent of Americans would support air strikes against Sunni
insurgents in Iraq, but 46 percent would oppose them.

And in an NBC news poll found that just 43 percent of Americans believe the
U.S. has the responsibility to assist the Iraqi government against
insurgent groups. The majority, 50 percent disagree. These are
complicated not just for the president, but for the American public.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is doing what`s best for U.S. citizens and for the
Iraq government. I guess, there are allies now. So I guess just to
stabilized the situation there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m totally against it. On the one hand, I approve
and applaud the humanitarian. But the Bush administration started a
nightmare from which we cannot extricate ourselves. So I feel bad for
president Obama and what he`s doing is wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To an extent. Very limited. I don`t want to spend
billions of dollars everything, on infrastructure and schools and
education. But keep it light.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The president wants to do the right thing and he wants the
American people on board. But some Republicans are still eager to
criticize. Speaker Boehner said he support it is air strikes. But he is
quote "dismayed by the ongoing absence of a strategy." And he says the
White House has remained disengaged. That while Senator John McCain
claimed the operation was, quote "almost worse than nothing, the weakest
possible response and almost meaningless."

These measures aren`t meaningless. But President Obama also isn`t going to
let the American people be dragged back into another war. Joining me now
are Ryan Grim and Clarence Page. Thank you both for being here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Clarence, the American people don`t want another war. But the
president feels he needs to act. Are these air strikes -- is this how he
can reach the balance?

CLARENCE PAGE, COLUMNIST, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Well, let`s say the air strikes
are a limited response and they are necessary for a humanitarian mission.
The president has used the G-word here, Reverend, genocide.

SHARPTON: Right.

PAGE: He see the possibility of another massacre, something akin to the
Rwanda scenario or what we were afraid might happen in Libya. And he feels
perfectly justified here. And he`s got the advisers. He has a tradition
of having advisers around him like Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton, Samantha
Power who believe that our military power ought to be used in rescue
missions like this.

And so -- but beyond that, what to do? He doesn`t want boots on the
ground. We don`t want to get involved again. The American people on the
whole don`t want to get dragged into another war.

So, on the Democratic a lot of voices say no mission creep. On the
Republican side he is hearing we need a more robust response. So I think
he is trying to have to go out and build a coalition that will combine
diplomacy and military power so we can be forthright, have a strategy
without getting dragged into a full-fledged war.

SHARPTON: You know, I mentioned speaker Boehner`s claim the White House
was disengaged, Ryan. But afterward a Democratic aide told "the Hill" with
Congressional leaders, where a range of foreign policy users were discussed
including Iraq. So how did he call the Hite House disengaged if he`s
missing briefings?

RYAN GRIM, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, HUFFINGTON POST/MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:
Right. And that`s just one example of a broader Republican problem which
is other than John McCain wants to go to war and that`s his answer for
every problem.

John Boehner doesn`t have a strategy from himself. He said he is upset by
the absence of a strategy. So not only does he not go to the White House
for these briefings, but he actually doesn`t have his own plan that he`s
put out. And there are really no good options in Iraq now. So he doesn`t
want to put down an option that will be the least bad one.

The problem for Republicans here is that the president has been very clear
in saying that there is no military solution here. And that seems pretty
obvious at this point. We were there for a decade. Our military was there
and the problem was not solved. So another decade. You know, there is no
reason to believe that would help.

So what`s John Boehner saying then? Is he saying that he wants boots on
the ground which upwards of 80 to 90 percent of Americans would oppose, or
what? And so, you know, Boehner can criticize the president. But he
doesn`t have an answer to the follow up question and he knows that. And
so, I think that`s why you are not going to see a lot of vociferous
opposition here. Just the kind of small bore stuff that he put out today.

SHARPTON: You know, Clarence, the tone got a little ugly. This morning,
for example, it was ugly from one Congressman. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can never imagine the president coming on
television saying he will crush ISIS because he just doesn`t really,
frankly, have the courage to do that. But this maybe the beginning of a
small move. The president is a cautious person, to a fault. And I think
he`s just kind of toe in the water a little bit here.

SHARPTON: You know, I`m confused because the president doesn`t have
courage? And when, Clarence, is being cautious to a fault a flaw?

PAGE: Well, the Congressman has been cautious himself there because the
folks back in Illinois and the district aren`t eager to get involved in
another war in the Middle East either. However, we are dealing with a very
dangerous entity here, ISIS. They have gotten a lot farther than we
expected. They can take control of half of Iraq. They are threatening
Kurdistan. And we have a big problem with the Baghdad government right
now. And Malaki needs to go. There is a consensus everywhere. But Iraqis
can`t agree on what to replace him with.

Meanwhile, we have right an unstable situation that could pose a threat to
us. It`s too far for Americans to get that excited about it right now
except to be very upset by the footage we see on the evening news.

So I think President Obama right now, he is making a lot of phone calls. I
hope he`s getting together an international coalition. Other countries,
even Turkey now is entertaining the idea of Kurds having more autonomy.
And not as worried as they were before about the Kurds coming, taking part
of Turkey for their Kurdistan. I mean, things are in a different kind of
situation in that region.

SHARPTON: You know, Ryan, some of the biggest cheerleaders of the Iraq war
are those calling for more action. GOP pundit Bill Crystal said today ,
quote, "if you are going to get in big get in decisively now. If you go in
incrementally in this way you don`t have the effect you want to have on
ISIS."

I mean, in 2014, why should we listen to the same people who were wrong
about Iraq in 2003?

GRIM: It`s apparently impossible to get fired as a pro war pundit in
Washington. How many times can you be wrong in a row. And he`s wrong this
time, too. Here is the major problem. ISIS has captured a lot of heavy
weapons from the Iraqi army. The U.S. supplied weapons that the Kurds
can`t defend against. The Kurds have been prevented from getting heavier
weapons because there has been reluctant in the central government and from
the U.S. to allow them to make moves that could be seen asset getting close
to independence.

So ISIS has all these armored humvees and they have tanks. And you know,
with M16s, you don`t stand a chance, no matter how committed these
Peshmerga fighters are because, you know, ISIS doesn`t lack for a
commitment either. These are people who are willing to die.

Tanks against M-16s isn`t a fair fight. And so by taking over the air, the
president actually does allow the Kurds to regroup. This weekend he`s
arming the Kurds with weapons they can use against the ISIS tanks and
against the armored humvees. So you know, this actually does allow the
Kurds a chance to save themselves.

So for McCain to say it`s meaningless and for Crystal to say it`s nothing
isn`t true. There are several million people up there who now have a
chance to survive a little longer.

SHARPTON: Ryan Grim and Clarence Page, thank you for your time tonight.

GRIM: Thank you.

PAGE: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Coming up, more on the breaking news tonight. More U.S. air
strikes in Iraq today. We`ll go to the Pentagon.

And just who is the radical ISIS group? They are known for beheadings and
public executions. We`ll hear from a terrorism expert ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe the United States
of America cannot turn a blind eye. We can act, carefully and responsibly
to prevent a potential act of genocide.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST, "POLITICS NATION": What group might be behind a
potential act of genocide? A rebel group of Islamic militants known as is,
they are known for horrifying mass killings and executions. A reporter
from vice news was embedded with the group. Vice has no affiliation with
NBC News. And we have not verified the interviews or video in this
documentary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The state has been established by a hard line jihadist
group that emerged out of the mayhem of the Syrian civil war. Until
recently they were known as ISIS. Now they simply call themselves the
Islamic state or ISIS. The speed and efficiency which they advanced from
Syria into Iraq caught the world and then you have those reporting on it by
surprise.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So, what can be done against ISIS? And is the group a threat to
the United States? That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We are following the breaking news tonight. The U.S. launching
more airstrikes against Islamic militants in Iraq today. Forty thousand
people are trapped on a mountaintop, ordered by ISIS to convert to Islam or
face execution. So who is this extremist group known as the Islamic state
of Iraq and Syria or ISIS. To give you an idea of how radical they are, al
Qaeda recently cut ties with them. Their goal is to form a single Islamic
state based on Sharia law.

They target Shiite Muslims, Christians and other ethnic minorities with
gruesome tactics like beheadings, executions and public crucifixions.
Their group is known for mass killings. Recently a reporter from Vice News
was embedded with the group for three weeks. NBC News has no affiliation
with Vice News and we have not verified the interviews or video in this
documentary. But the message of the militants in the video is alarming.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABU MOSA, ISLAMIC STATE SPOKESMAN: I say this to America, that the Islamic
Caliphate has been established. And we will not stop. Don`t be cowards and
attack us with drones. Instead send your soldiers, the ones we humiliated
in Iraq. We will humiliate them everywhere, God willing, and we will raise
the flag of Allah in the White House

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Joining me now is NBC terrorism analyst Evan Kohlmann. Thank you, first of
all, for being here tonight.

EVAN KOHLMANN, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Thank you very much.

SHARPTON: Is this the most violent terror organization in the world today?

KOHLMANN: It`s extreme beyond extreme. And I think that`s what`s so
interesting. That even al Qaeda has rejected this group because it`s so
hard line. They recently changed their name from ISIS to simply the
Islamic state. And anyone in the Mosul area who continues to call them
ISIS by their old name, is, is subject to punishment, lashing of 70
lashings. This group, it`s beyond comprehension some of the ideas and some
of the logic that they have. And the hope is that they are so radical they
turn off even their own Sunni/Muslim allies and that we can kind of
engineer what we did with the surge back in 2007 and 2008 again here.

SHARPTON: Well, how did they manage to take control of such a large area
of Iraq?

KOHLMANN: Well, I think that`s the sad part.

SHARPTON: And also fast.

KOHLMANN: Yes. When the U.S. left Iraq we had done a pretty good job in
corralling these folks. This was al Qaeda in Iraq. This was initially al-
Qaeda in Iraq. We had done a lot of damage to them. We`ve killed their
leadership. We basically pushed them into a corner of Iraq. Unfortunately
what happened is Syria. In the interim, two things really happened. First
of all, a conflict in Syria. And second of all the political deadlock in
Iraq.

With the instability on the Syria Iraqi border with the deadlock led by
Maliki in Iraq where you see, you know, unfortunately you see a Shiite-led
government imposing sanctions basically on the Sunni community. You had
two elements come together. And what you had is Sunnis in Northern Iraq
start to say, look, this ISIS guys, they seem pretty crazy. But we still
prefer them to the Maliki government in Baghdad. And that`s really how
this all happened.

SHARPTON: Today, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein
said ISIS is, quote, "not a typical terrorist organization. It is a
terrorist army, operating with military expertise, advancing across Iraq
and rapidly consolidating its position." How have these militants been
trained even?

KOHLMANN: Well, they have been trained by the fire. I mean, they have
been fighting against the regime of Bashar al Assad in Syria now for years.
And because of that front line experience and because of all the American
weaponry that they seized from the Iraqi government, these guys are quite
an effective fighting force, they have a lot of experience, they have a lot
of firepower. And what`s more disturbing is that they are successfully
recruiting Americans to travel from the United States over to Iraq and
Syria to join them.

SHARPTON: Americans.

KOHLMANN: Just within the past week -- an American, a young guy, a 20-
year-old from Los Angeles was stopped by the FBI at Los Angeles Airport.
And he admitted freely, he was on his way to join ISIS. Now, look, there`s
not a lot of these guys. But it only takes a few of them to cause real
problems. Because if these folks get that level of training and they learn
how to build bombs and they come back here, we have to --

SHARPTON: He was an American in Los Angeles.

KOHLMANN: Yes. He`s not the first.

SHARPTON: OK.

KOHLMANN: He`s not the first. That`s the problem. Is that there are
people traveling from all sorts of places in the U.S. right now trying to
join this group. Tampa, Los Angeles, the interior of the country, the
coastline and places you would never imagine and people you would never
imagine. Some of whom don`t speak a word of Arabic.

SHARPTON: Now, you know as we mentioned Vice News was embedded with ISIS.
Again NBC has no affiliation with Vice. And we have not verified this
video. But listen to this militant describe what they are doing in Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We Muslims are the ones who want to enforce Sharia in
this land. I swear to God, who is the only God, the Sharia can only be
established with weapons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: What`s your reaction, Evan?

KOHLMANN: You should understand that part of the group that`s fighting
there. They are foreign fighters, they are not Iraqis, they are not
Syrians. For them this is like a safari. It`s like a Jihad safari. They
go from conflict to conflict. In Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia.
Wherever they can find fighting and for them that`s glory. That`s fun.
That`s the kind of people we are dealing with. That`s why it`s so
dangerous and that`s why these people are not just a threat to Iraqi
security or the Syrian security or the Saudi security. They are a threat
to us. Because they view us as the enemy.

SHARPTON: They are a threat to us, you feel.

KOHLMANN: They are training people right now to come and try to carry out
acts of violence in various different European countries as well as the
United States. That`s not a question. It`s a fact. The Norwegians were
just on a state of high alert. Because they believed an attack was
imminent in Norway.

SHARPTON: Wow.

KOHLMANN: Due to militants trained in Iraq by ISIS.

SHARPTON: Their tactics, crucifixions, beheadings, I mean, is part of
their strategy fear? Is that out there gaining a lot of ground there so
quickly?

KOHLMANN: They believe they can terrorize their enemies into submission.
They believe that they can frighten their enemies to either leave Iraq or
be wiped out. And, you know, unfortunately if you look at what`s happened,
the people who presented the greatest threat to them in Iraq to them taking
over Iraq, the Kurds and Shiites, it`s been now a month and a half. And
they haven`t done a lot to try to stem the tide of ISIS. In fact, we have
seen the ISIS wave continues. That`s what`s disturbing. And that`s what
leads us to believe that at this point if the U.S. doesn`t take some form
of action here, this is not going to improve. It`s going to get worse and
it`s going to get worse steadily. And, you know, thousands of people are
going to lose their lives. That`s the problem.

SHARPTON: Fascinating. Evan Kohlmann, thank you for your time tonight.

KOHLMANN: Thank you very much.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, President Obama`s commander-in-chief. He
campaigned on ending the war in Iraq. But now he`s fighting to keep the
peace. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: President Obama, Iraq and his legacy. Melissa Harris Perry, the
professor, joins me on that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I ran for this office in part to end the war in Iraq and welcome
our troops home. And that`s what we have done. As commander in chief I
will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in
Iraq. As so even we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these
terrorists, American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: President Obama last night telling the public he`s not
interested in starting a new war in Iraq. But this new authorization for
air strike is a policy reversal for President Obama. As he mentioned he
campaigned on ending U.S. involvement in Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I will promise you this. If we have not gotten our troops out by
the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our
troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the
bank.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And he did bring troops home, declaring an end to the Iraq war
in October of 2011. One of the most important and popular decisions of his
presidency.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: As promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the
end of the year. After nearly nine years, America`s war in Iraq will be
over. Today, I can say that our troops in Iraq will definitely be home for
the holidays.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But with this new action the president has decided to reengage
in Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The United States cannot and should not intervene every time there
is a crisis in the world. And when we have a mandate to help, in this case
a request from the Iraqi government. And when we have the unique
capabilities to help avert a massacre, I believe the United States of
America cannot turn a blind eye.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It`s a complicated issue. And the president has been very
cautious in his actions. But American involvement in Iraq will always be
part of his presidency and his legacy.

Joining me now is MSNBC Melissa Harris Perry. Thank you for being here.

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: Absolutely.

SHARPTON: Melissa, this is the Associated Press headline today on what
this would mean for the president`s legacy really. Quote, "The aggressive
insurgency threatens to undermine Obama`s legacy as the commander in chief
who ended a long and unpopular war in which nearly 4500 American troops
died." What do you make of that? How might this affect his legacy either
way?

PERRY: Well, I think the most important thing is that we not think about
legacy in this moment. So, it`s interesting to hear candidate Obama
standing there in `07 making declarative statements about foreign policy.

SHARPTON: Right.

PERRY: And I think, you know, it`s one of the things that often happened
with former presidents, no matter what the party. They are part of kind of
a club that recognizes that the complexity of foreign policy and
specifically of American military engagement is something that truly no
person can fully comprehend or understand until they have the
responsibility of the oval office.

And so, while I believe that candidate Obama fully believed everything that
he was saying, I also believe that second term President Obama recognizes
that whatever his legacy is, in some, you know, history-book sense that the
far more important question is whether or not American interests are
protected in Iraq and that he`s taking actions that he believes protects
those interests.

SHARPTON: The president is framing this as a humanitarian effort. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: As ISIL marched across Iraq it`s waged a ruthless campaign against
innocent Iraqis. There are chilling reports described ISIL militants of
rounding up families, conducting mass executions and enslaving the women.
I believe the United States of America cannot turn a blind eye. We can act
carefully and responsibly to prevent a potential act of genocide.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, he made a similar argument Melissa for ordering air strikes
in Libya in 2011. To save thousands of innocent lives. How targeted was
that word "Genocide" last night?

PERRY: What`s happening to the Yuzidi people is appalling. And the images
we are seeing are obviously horrifying. But I do think we have to
recognize that that is not quite the full story of the decision here. I
mean, it couldn`t be. The neighboring nation of Syria is a place where we
made a decision, not to make a military intervention. And in fact, I think
one that is widely regarded as a good decision because we were nonetheless
able to address the issue of chemical weapons.

SHARPTON: Right.

PERRY: And yet, have not been able to stop the humanitarian horrors that
are occurring there. There are humanitarian crises across the globe. Some
of them disease-related. Some of them war-related. Look, we are
intervening here because we have a particular footprint related to the
relationship that has occurred over the course of the past decade because
of our military involvement. This is not a time for casting blame. But it
is a moment when we might recognize that we continue to pay the costs for a
decision made to lead this nation into an ill-advised war that this
president as a candidate called dumb for a reason.

SHARPTON: Yes.

PERRY: Because you cannot just turn around, pull out and walk away. Once
we have, once you are in it, then it becomes a thing that you own and that
you must remain engaged in. And so, our interests in that region changed
dramatically as a result are of a decade of American bloodshed on that
soil.

SHARPTON: Is the president -- let me put it this way. Is the president`s
caution and his deliberate action in the way he`s moving here reflecting
the American public`s ambivalence about another engagement in Iraq?

PERRY: I think it`s reflected in the American public. But far more
importantly, I think it reflects President Obama. It is a key nature of
who this president is on everything from domestic policy to foreign
affairs. He`s deliberative. He is a thinker, he is someone willing to
learn from past mistakes. Generally, I see that as a great strength in
leadership. There are probably a few moments when you want someone to
simply act.

But I would say, given that we find ourselves still embroiled in Iraq all
this time later, we ought to value deliberation and caution because it was
a failure of our nation to be sufficiently deliberative and cautious after
the 9/11 moment. It was acting with the kind of emotional angst that
brought both parties on the side of supporting that intervention in the
face of evidence that turned out to be not true about Saddam Hussein and
weapons of mass destruction that we continue to now pay the cost for.

SHARPTON: Melissa Harris-Perry. Thank you for your time. And watch
Melissa Harris-Perry weekends at 10:00 a.m. right here on MSNBC.

Ahead, my take on the action in Iraq and the tens of thousands of innocent
people including children who are suffering.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Earlier this week, one Iraqi cried in the area to the world, there
is no one coming to help. Well, today America is coming to help.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: America is coming to help. President Obama decided to act
because tens of thousands of innocent people, including many children were
dying, they were threatened by terrorists who had promised to slaughter
them all. And those terrorists were marching towards the city where
American officials were based. Military action should always be the option
of last resort. I opposed the war in Iraq in 2003 along with millions of
other Americans. Because it was a war of choice. But sometimes an action
can be an injustice. During the 1990s America stood by and did nothing
about the horrific genocide in Rwanda.

I traveled there to highlight the crisis, to cry out for action. But
$800,000 people were allowed to die. President Clinton said later, it was
the greatest regret of his presidency. And that`s why America is acting
now. President Obama acted because in his judgment these limited military
options was enough to make and stop an unthinkable act of genocide. I
think we must always be slow to use the military, but we must always be
fast if we even think genocide is a possibility. But we should be fast
with prudence.

Thanks for watching tonight. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right
now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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