ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
August 11, 2014
Guest: David Edelstein, Mark Harris, Dorin Johnson, Freeman Bosley, Jr.,
Zainab Salbi, Ali Gharib; Rick Perlstein; Goldie Taylor
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris
And we begin tonight with a startling news that actor Robin Williams
has died of an apparent suicide. Williams` press representative Mara
Buxbaum confirming, quote, "Robin Williams passed away this morning. He`s
battling severe depression of late. This is a tragic and sudden loss. The
family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very
The Marin County sheriffs office coroner division establishing this
grim events through this timeline: 11:55 a.m. local time, Marin County
communications received a 911 telephone call reporting a male adult had
been located unconscious and not breathing inside his residence in Tiburon,
California. Police and emergency personnel were dispatched at 12:02 p.m.
local time. Male subject was pronounced dead identified as Robin Williams
An investigation into the cause, manner and circumstances of the death
is currently under way. The sheriff`s office coroner division suspects the
death to be a suicide due to asphyxia.
Police say Williams was last seen alive at his residence where he
resides with his wife at approximately 10:00 p.m. last night. Williams`
wife Susan Schneider said in a statement this morning, "I lost my husband
and best friend while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and
beautiful human beings. I`m utterly heartbroken. As he`s remembered, it`s
our hope the focus is not on Robin`s death, of the countless moment of joy
and laughter he gave to Williams."
Williams` career is indeed legendary. His films have a total U.S. box
office gross of more than $3 billion, but that number fails to grasp the
breadth of his genius as a standup comedian, an actor in both television
and film across decades and decades. He dazzled TV audiences in "Mork &
Mindy," which launched him into national prominence. He took on inspiring
and serious roles in films like "Good Will Hunting" and "Dead Poets
Society", as well as delirious bravado performances in "Good Morning,
Vietnam" and "Mrs. Doubtfire" and performed a standup routine.
Joining me now on the phone is David Edelstein, film critic for "New
And, David, this is really crushing to hear this. I have to say,
maybe it`s some kind of generational point, but I find this one really,
really, really, really hurts.
DAVID EDELSTEIN, NEW YORK MAGAZINE (via telephone): It hurts
terribly. And I think the devastation of hearing that he`s taken his life
is -- imagine that a man who did as much as he did (AUDIO GAP) reminded us,
remained in his own mind unfulfilled.
And maybe in a way he was unfulfilled. Think back to those `70s and
the early `80s, you think of someone whose mind seemed to work faster than
anyone alive. And possibly did. I mean, when you saw him when he got
going on talk shows, it really seemed as if the jokes were being beamed in
from UFOs. You didn`t know where he was coming up with this stuff.
And I`m afraid to say that, and I saw him do standup and he was -- he
was miraculous. He was superhuman. But you know, I don`t know that movies
ever really fulfilled him in the way that I wish they had. I wish -- I
wish we lived at a time when movies could be looser, could accommodate the
kinds of spontaneity that he had.
In a weird way, he never found, you know how Will Ferrell works with a
guy named Adam McKay. They create an improvisatory feeling on the set. I
don`t think Robin Williams ever found, ever quite found that on screen.
HAYES: There`s always something about Williams -- I was -- my mother
always loved Robin Williams. Sort of been a devoted fan through her eyes
and there was always, of course, something about his presence that was so
manic. I mean, that was what he was channeling when he was doing his best
work. It was the mania being unleashed, like watching a dancing flame.
And you didn`t know --
EDELSTEIN: It was. It would be very dark as well. And I don`t think
-- you know, he -- after "Good Will Hunting", he has roles where he was a
kind of a zany humanist "Patch Adams", where he would entertain children
dying of cancer. There was an attempt on screen, on the big screen, at
least, to try to bottle that energy and maybe try to domesticate it, try to
take what was scary brilliant out of it.
Now, that`s not to say he didn`t deliver -- I mean, I think if you
watch "The Fisher King" again, you see he played a role as a kind of Don
Quixote figure, kind of mad visionary that I think caught some of that
manic energy, but also a lot of the darkness. That`s a performance that I
don`t think is sufficiently appreciated.
"Moscow in the Hudson" --
HAYES: Great film.
EDELSTEIN: He gets the soul of a Russian ex-patriot, deep melancholy.
I think he connected with that role.
It was also surprisingly effective later in his career when he was
cast as a serial killer in the film "Insomnia" opposite Al Pacino. And it
was startling the way he seemed to relish having a chance to swear on
screen and to be nasty and cruel, you know? Those were sides of his
personality that didn`t show up on screen.
HAYES: The kind of danger you talk about, feeling when you were
watching him, particularly in his improvisational mode, not necessarily in
the confines of scripted films.
Although sometimes in some of those roles that really comes across --
I want to play this first appearance on Carson`s "Tonight Show," where you
can feel that sense of watching someone who doesn`t himself know what will
happen next. You feel it and there`s an exhilaration and terror at the
same moment. This was kind of how I think of him.
This is Robin Williams on the "Tonight Show" for the first time. Take
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNNY CARSON, THE TONIGHT SHOW: People always think performers don`t
ROBIN WILLIAMS, ACTOR: Not at all. No, really. Not me. No way.
CARSON: Is there some reason you don`t -- the fact you get nervous --
WILLIAMS: I suffer from severe dyslexia, too. I was the only child
on my block on Halloween to go trick-or-trout.
WILLIAMS: Here comes the young Williams boy again. Better get some
There you go. Say hi to your mom and dad.
CARSON: Where is home for you? Or did you come from a home?
WILLIAMS: All the people in the institution, Tommy, if you haven`t
taken your medication yet, it`s going to be fine.
CARSON: Be back at 12:00.
WILLIAMS: How are you, Mr. Williams? I`m real fine.
Look at this thing. Look, flipper.
Right now, there`s a someone going, what are you doing?
Relax, relax, relax. It`s OK. You`re on TV. You`re a nice man. You
won`t hurt me.
WILLIAMS: Thank you.
Don`t be afraid. The sores went away.
CARSON: The same --
WILLIAMS: Real men can stand up to herpes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Everything there, David, all the nerves seems completely
authentic. It`s like this person channeling all the kind of crazily
intense neuronal energy into what he was doing in the moment, it feels
unsettling and you cannot turn away from it.
EDELSTEIN: It`s a high wire act that he played and he did it better
having seen him live, I can tell you he did it better than anyone.
But let`s not forget also he came of age in Hollywood at really the
height of the cocaine epidemic, and he was famously quoted as saying that
cocaine is God`s way of telling you, you make too much money.
And I fear that like so many people, he felt at a certain point, he
was burning so brightly he had to have something to keep his confidence up.
And he never -- I don`t know -- he sort of is like Robert de Niro, I
think was maybe a buddy of his in that -- I think de Niro`s talked about
it, too. There was a way in which they burned something essential out of
them doing that.
And, of course, his -- you always -- when you heard him on talk shows,
he would speak with this great melancholy --
EDELSTEIN: -- about that period in his life when he burned so
brightly and yet it was also accompanied by insane terror. Oh, the terror
of -- to be performing at that level and try to keep it up. Can you
imagine? Because he was better than anybody.
How -- where do you go from what you just saw on Carson? Where do you
go from that? How can you ever capture that? How can you be sure of
HAYES: David Edelstein from "New York" magazine -- thank you, David.
I really appreciate it.
EDELSTEIN: You`re welcome. Thank you.
HAYES: Joining me on the phone is Mark Harris, writer for
And, you know, Mark, I was going back through some of the most recent
Robin Williams interviews and what struck me was a kind of palpable sense
that he didn`t feel -- the way that we`re all talking right now about Robin
Williams` career as being remarkable and spanning decades and award winning
roles and brilliantly talented, that he didn`t feel that way about himself.
It comes through in the most recent interviews about his career, about his
finances, about the fact he`d gone back to rehab in 2006.
There`s just this massive gap between -- and I`m always struck by this
in one of these moments, the gap of perception between people who are
watching from the outside, what it is like to live inside the head of that
MARK HARRIS, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY (via telephone): I think that`s
right. And, you know, as stunned and sad as we all are, in a way, we are
less surprised than we might be if this was news about someone who did not
wear his heart on his sleeve as much as Robin Williams did. I mean, he was
not someone who concealed what he was going through. Whether it was
struggles with substance abuse or health issues or emotional issues or
You -- he was open about many of the difficulties through the years
that he faced. And I think that kind of openness also extended to many of
his performances. I mean, over the years especially after "Mork & Mindy"
in the early `80s when he started his career as a movie actor, there were
time in the lesser movies he made when we would recoil a little from the
source sort of sad clown thing he was often forced to do, the sort of
sentimentality through the laughter like "Patch Adams".
But I think in a way, in those parts Williams was communicating
something that was very, very true to him. Which is that comedy for him
was a way of masking pain, coping with pain, overriding pain, expressing
pain, aside from all of the other really brilliant aspects about him as a
comic artist and performing artist. He was -- he was a very true guy. I
mean, there was real honesty. Not just anarchy, but truth in his comedy.
HAYES: Do you think we will remember him for his films? What role do
you think we will remember him most for?
HARRIS: Well, you know, it`s funny, I was listening to David
Edelstein earlier said that movies failed for the most part to harness the
really unique, free-wheeling, fast-moving anarchic talent that he had. And
I mostly agree with that, he always seemed a little hemmed in by having to
just play one part. But I think in some ways the big exception to that is
the movie that you didn`t actually see him if which was "Aladdin." You
know, that performance as the genie we was --
HAYES: That`s right.
HARRIS: -- one of the rare cases where the movie was able to keep up
with him and it`s sort of a tribute to the fact that Robin Williams made
everyone else look slow. That it took a cartoon to keep pace with him.
HAYES: Mark Harris from "Entertainment Weekly" -- thank you so much,
HARRIS: Thank you.
HAYES: If you`re watching this right now and you have had thoughts
about suicide and are depressed, I want to read this very important number
to you. It is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. And it is 1-800-
They are there at any second in the darkest, darkest, darkest moments.
They are there. They are a phone call away and you can pick up that phone
right now, right now. And call them.
There is much more -- there is much more news tonight. We will be
back with more of it after this break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWD: Hands up, don`t shoot! Hands up, don`t shoot! Hands up,
don`t shoot! Hands up, don`t shoot!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: My hands are up, don`t shoot. The chant of protesters in
Ferguson, Missouri, after an unarmed teenager is shot and killed by a
We`ll bring the latest in an interview with the young man who says he
saw it all. That`s next.
HAYES: Outrage in Ferguson, Missouri, today, after police shot and
killed an unarmed teenager Saturday afternoon in broad daylight.
Here`s what we know about the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
After Brown was walking with another individual on a road near the
Canfield Apartments in Ferguson, a northern suburb of St. Louis, Missouri.
After an altercation, key elements which are disputed by police, Brown was
shot and killed by a police officer.
Police do not dispute that a police officer who has not been publicly
identified shot and killed Michael Brown. Police officer is on
administrative leave, pending an investigation. There was no dispute that
Michael Brown was unarmed.
As for that altercation, an individual who said he was accompanying
Michael Brown, Dorin Johnson, has said in multiple interviews that he was
walking in the street with Brown when the police squad car pulled up. The
officer said to get the F on to the sidewalk he recounted. It was not but
a minute from our destination and we`d be off the street, Johnson said.
Again, this is the man who said he was with Michael Brown prior to and
during the altercation. Johnson told CBC News that after a pause, the
officer reversed his car and the following ensued.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DORIN JOHNSON, WITNESSING THE SHOOTING: He pulled up on the side of
us, he tried to push his door open but we were so close to it that it
ricocheted off us and bounced back toward him and I guess got him a little
upset. At that time, he reached out the win toe. He didn`t get out of the
car. He just reached his arm out the window and grabbed my friend around
As he was try to choke my friend, he was trying to get away, an
officer then reached out, he grabbed his arm to pull him into the car. So,
it was like the officer is pulling him inside the car. He`s trying to pull
away. At no time the officer said that he was going to do anything until
he pulled out his weapon. His weapon was drawn. He said, I`ll shoot you,
or I`m going to shoot.
And in the same moment, the first shot went off and we looked at him.
He was shot and there was blood coming from him and he took off running.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Johnson said he, himself, ducked and hid, but that Brown kept
running and the officer got out of the car.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: His weapon was already drawn when he got out of the car. He
shot again and once my friend felt that shot, he turned around and put his
hands in the air, he started to get down but the officer still approached
with his weapons drawn, and he fired several more shots.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Various news accounts refer to multiple witnesses, many of
those witnesses unnamed, but one who is willing to offer account on camera,
Piaget Crenshaw, described the event this way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PIAGET CRENSHAW, WITNESS TO SHOOTING: I heard gunshots fired, and
I`m, like, oh my goodness, what`s going on? I gathered all my things and
looked back out the window. At this moment, he`s running, he`s chasing
after Michael down the street and gunshots are being fired repeatedly as
well. I went from that window to my balcony where I then saw Michael.
He`s running this way. He turns his body toward this way. Hands in the
air. Being compliant. He gets shot in his face and chest and goes down
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Police officer offered a different account. As described by
St. Louis County police chief John Belmar.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BELMAR, POLICE CHIEF: The officer had an encounter with two
individuals, one of whom is Mr. Brown who is walking down the road in
Canfield Apartments. He spoke to the individuals about getting off of the
street and perhaps taking the sidewalk. One of the individuals complied.
The other did not.
In fact, as the officer decided to get out of his car to continue the
conversation, he was pushed back into the car and there was a physical
confrontation in that car where, in fact, there was a struggle over the
officer`s gun. We do know, for example, that there was one shot fired
within the car and then we`re talking a look at the rest of the details of
the investigation at this point to determine exactly what happened once
police officer exited the car.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: As the FBI today announced its own investigation, many
questions remain unanswered, including how many shots were fired and how
many hit Michael Brown.
In the wake of Brown`s death, outrage, protests continued today in the
St. Louis area for the third day running, protesters chanting, "no justice,
no peace". Many protests including yesterday`s were marked by intense
interactions with the police. Some instances last night in Ferguson,
rioting and looting erupted.
Alongside the protests, community meetings continued to take place in
the St. Louis area. A makeshift memorial sprung up for Michael Brown and
the family of the 18-year-old who`s planning to begin college classes
today, called for justice, not violence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LESLEY MCSPADDEN, VICTIM`S MOTHER: The violence needs to stop. The
support is all needed -- all needed -- but not the violence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now is Dorin Johnson, who says he saw the shooting
and his attorney, Freeman Bosley Jr.
Mr. Johnson, you say you were walking with Michael at that moment.
Were there other people on the street that could have witnessed or
corroborated your account? Because, obviously, the police are telling a
very different story than what you and some other witnesses have said.
JOHNSON: Yes. At the moment, at the time when we were in the street,
before the officer pulled all the way on the side, no, I did not see
anyone. My eyes were not looking for anyone. My ears were open, just
talking to my friends. So, before the officer said his first words -- no,
I didn`t not see anyone.
HAYES: How quickly did this escalate? It sounds like from your
account that it was sort of casual comment made by a police officer for the
two of you to get off the street and it sounds like there was gunshots
within, what, 60 seconds?
What was the timeframe of this encounter like?
JOHNSON: The timeframe was a little just like you said, 60 seconds or
less. It sped up so quickly. It got out of hands real quick, like, it
wasn`t even a minute like you said, 60 seconds.
HAYES: Did Michael reach and struggle the officer`s gun as the police
are saying he did?
JOHNSON: That`s incorrect, sir. He did not reach for a weapon at
all. He did not reach for the officer`s weapon at all.
HAYES: You were able to see this interaction?
JOHNSON: Yes, correct.
HAYES: Were you scared in that moment?
JOHNSON: Not scared yet, but more shocked at how the officer
approached us. It really -- it`s just more shocking than scared at that
HAYES: Mr. Bosley, have you or your client, have you been approached
by investigators? It seems like this is very key eyewitness testimony.
FREEMAN BOSLEY, JR., ATTORNEY FOR DORIN JOHNSON: Well, what is
interesting about this is that we have not, as a matter of fact, the NAACP
through (INAUDIBLE) contacted the authorities and police department
yesterday to make us available and make Mr. Johnson available and at that
point, they said they had some other things going on. They did not want to
interview Mr. Johnson at that time and also wanted to indicate that Mr.
Johnson ran away and was not really a person that witnessed everything that
was going on. Of course, we know that is not correct.
HAYES: Well, Mr. Johnson, is there any doubt you were there with
Michael at that moment?
JOHNSON: Sir, I did not leave until the last shot was fired, until I
confirmed that my friend was not moving, that he was dead. That`s when I
took off running.
HAYES: Is there a possibility based on your account of how things
went down, do you believe that, say, a dash camera from the police
officer`s video would change in terms of how things were set up spatially?
JOHNSON: No, the way the officer approached us, if there was a dash
cam on his car, all that it would have gotten is me and my friend walking
in the street, and that`s it.
HAYES: Because the actual shots fired and ,Michael`s death came when
he was behind the police car, am I correct?
JOHNSON: His death came from behind the police car, but the initial
shot we were on the side of the driver door of the police car.
HAYES: What was going through your head as you are now, you say,
crouched behind a car watching a police officer chase your friend?
JOHNSON: I`m fearing for my life at this moment because at this time
the first shot had already been fired and I notice my friend had been shot.
I`ve been in situations before where gunfire has let out and I really don`t
take fondness (ph) of guns.
So, I feared for my life, scared. I didn`t know what to do, and
shocked. My body couldn`t move at that moment.
HAYES: How close were you, Michael?
JOHNSON: I didn`t fully have to extend my arm out to touch Michael or
the officer. I was that close that I could touch both of them, without
fully extending my arms.
HAYES: Did Michael at any point strike out, lay hands on, assault the
JOHNSON: He did not initially assault the officer. I didn`t see it,
at no point in time while I was standing in the officer`s driver door
window where he touched the officer or any type of threatening way. Not
HAYES: How close friends were you and Michael? Were you tight?
JOHNSON: We weren`t so much as close friends, childhood, but the time
I met him, because I had recently -- I had just moved over in the
apartments. When I met him, we just became good friends.
HAYES: What kind of person was he?
JOHNSON: He was a very cool person. Quiet. Calm. And gentle.
HAYES: Dorin Johnson and Freeman Bosley Jr., his attorney -- thank
you, gentlemen, both. I really appreciate it.
JOHNSON: You`re welcome.
BOSLEY: Thank you.
JOHNSON: Thank you.
HAYES: All right. The breadth of the protests in the community raise
the question, now, of course, of what is next. Not just in this
investigation, but in police community relations.
Meanwhile, St. Louis County police chief John Belmar says he supports
the parallel FBI investigation. Of course, the shooting that we saw this
weekend comes on the heels of several high-profile incidences of people
being shot by, or killed by police across the country.
Of course, the death of Eric Garner, which was ruled a homicide here
in New York City in Staten Island after he was first questioned by police
for the charge of selling untaxed cigarettes.
There has also been a whole lot of different information released out
in the wake of the death of Michael Brown. First, accusations that he had
been busted for shop lifting. So far there has been no corroboration of
that. A lot of outreach, too, about how he`s been portrayed, both in the
images that have been circulated about him and what people have done to try
to presume that they knew what kind of person Michael was.
Joining me now is MSNBC contributor Goldie Taylor who is in Ferguson
And, Goldie, what are things like in Ferguson right now?
GOLDIE TAYLOR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: You know, the tensions are still
fairly high, although not quite as high as last night. I hear that there`s
an incident at a nearby mall, but we`re not certain that it`s related to
the recent unrest.
HAYES: What is the context for what we are seeing in Ferguson County?
It seems to me that the -- there`s some buildup that has happened before
this incident happened over the weekend.
TAYLOR: Well, I will tell you this, that north St. Louis County is
comprised of dozens of small jurisdictions, tiny townships, 20,000 people
or less. And that those tiny townships over the last 30 to 40 years were
But now, those townships are increasingly more African-American as in
Ferguson`s case, some 85 percent, but if you look at the arrest rate, if
you look at the traffic stops, disproportionately, they are African-
American, especially when you start to look at citations and arrests and
And so, you`re starting to see some real tension begin to flare up
between what`s a fairly white leadership in terms of mayors and police
chiefs and a black population and there`s a bit of distrust from both
HAYES: Is there confidence among folks there, and I think I know the
answer to this, but I will ask it, about there being a genuine and thorough
investigation? I mean, obviously, I cannot say and I cannot be the arbiter
of the disputing accounts between the man you just saw who said he was with
Michael when he was shot and the police.
HAYES: If it is the case that what happened happened in the way that
witnesses have described it, it seems very, frankly, clearly a crime.
TAYLOR: I spent a good deal of time with him today, but I also spent
a good deal of time with community leaders from the NAACP and other
community groups here today. I`ve been out here on the scene. I think
that there`s still a great deal of distrust from the community for this
I think there was a bit of relief, though, that the FBI has come in
and either taken over the investigation or I think it`s a little bit
unclear as to whether they`re running a parallel investigation.
But we do know at the very least that there will be a Department of
Justice monitor on this. I think the level of skepticism for the Ferguson
police even extends to the St. Louis County police unfortunately. And so,
I think those police departments and others have a lot of work to do to
rebuild their ties, to rebuild their binds with these communities that they
are sworn to serve and protect.
HAYES: There is a sense, I mean, this is now -- there have been a
number of high-profile incidents in which young black men, unarmed, have
been killed. Obviously Trayvon Martin comes to mind. There was an
incident recently in a Wal-Mart store with a young man who is buying a toy
We saw Eric Garner`s death here in New York. And, there is this
sense, and you saw it just explode across social media this weekend, what
do we have to do to say that we are worthy of respect and dignity and life?
TAYLOR: You know, I think that, that is -- that really is the center
question. I grew up here in St. Louis. It still remains one of the most
segregated towns that I have run into in my lifetime. My parents frankly
told my brothers how to deal with themselves or at least attempt to deal
with themselves when they were in all-white communities.
But, they were not even safe in their own communities where there was
higher, you know, proportions of crime. This is about the value of life.
When we look at investigation, when we look at how people are prosecuted,
when we look at outcomes in terms of prison sentences; even when we look at
the kind of media coverage that, you know, these deaths receive, they are
quite different when you begin to look at race, at gender, at income. Our
justice system, unfortunately, it has a color.
HAYES: MSNBC Contributor Goldie Taylor in Ferguson, Missouri,
tonight. Thank you very much.
TAYLOR: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: The unraveling of Iraq, that is ahead.
HAYES: Updating our lead story tonight. The death of actor Robin
Williams. Marin County Sheriff`s Office is investigating the cause, manner
and circumstances of Williams` death. But, Sheriff`s Office Coroner
Division suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia.
20th Century Fox Television, which produced Robin Williams` most
recent sitcom as released a statement tonight saying, quote, "Robin
Williams was a comedy giant. And, although, we only knew him personally
for a season, he was warm, funny, a true professional. His cast and crew,
both, loved him and loved working with him. And, our hearts go out to his
family and friends. He was one of a kind." Williams had been battling
depression, according to a statement from a press representative. Robin
Williams was 63. Oh, captain, my captain. We will be back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: As I said when I
authorized these operations, there is no American Military solution to the
larger crisis in Iraq. The only lasting solution is for Iraqis to come
together and form an inclusive government, one that represents the
legitimate interests of all Iraqis and one that can unify the country`s
fight against ISIL. Today, Iraq took a promising step forward in this
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: President Obama praising the Iraqis for making important
progress toward forming a unity government today, as U.S. airstrikes on
ISIS targets continued today in Northern Iraq. Today, the Iraqi President
nominated Shiite Politician, Haider Al-Abadi as the new prime minister
ending months of political deadlock since the country held parliamentary
elections in April.
Now, according to Iraq`s constitution, that gives the new prime
minister 30 days to form a president and means current Prime Minister Nouri
Al-Maliki has 30 days until he is out of the job. President Obama and Vice
President Biden called Al-Albadi today to offer their support and urge him
to be as conclusive as possible. That will not be easy if Maliki has
anything to say about it.
In a televised appearance today, he condemned the appointment as
unconstitutional, decrying the U.S. for supporting it and rather ominously
reminding Iraqis he remains their commander in chief. Last night in
Baghdad, as he was making another very aggressive speech, additional
security forces deployed around the city and locked down government
buildings in the green zone.
Maliki, you may recall, is responsible for the pro-Shia policy seen by
many as having opened the door to ISIS who courted the disaffected Sunni
minority in the country. And, if he keeps hanging on to power, Baghdad, it
seems could be on the verge of a coup. That is just what is happening in
the capital, OK? Between ostensible allies of the United States Government
or current and former allies.
In Northern Iraq, where ISIS has seized large swaths of terror over
the past two months, U.S. has begun to send weapons directly to Kurdish
forces, who are fighting back against the brutal Islamist troop. It is a
bid to keep the momentum headed in the Kurds` direction after U.S.
airstrikes helped turn things around a bit over the weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DUNCAN GOLESTANI, MSNBC INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Definitely, I
think there is a sense of something has shifted, because last week here in
Erbil they were panicking the possibility of ISIS fighters marching on the
city. Something changed over the weekend. That something was the U.S.
We heard about U.S. Aircraft shooting at a convoy of ISIS fighters
that was moving on a Kurdish line of defense just outside. That helped
them. We also heard over the weekend of the Kurdish forces, the Peshmerga
taking two important towns that are just half an hour away; really key
strategic towns because they are on the north/south route.
And, again, they are only able to retake that territory because of the
U.S. air cover. So, it has been really, really important, but saying that,
frontlines, they keep on shifting. So, yes, there is optimism up here, but
the fighting is still raging quite unpredictably all around the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: U.S. Military continued its air campaign against ISIS today
hitting four targets near Mt. Sinjar where ISIS holding siege to tens of
thousands of Yezidi refugees. Peshmerga, Kurdish forces have managed to
opened a corridor for some of the Yezidi to escape, but thousands remain
trapped on the mountain in 100 degree heat with little food and water. Up
next, why air strikes in Iraq, but not Syria. The Obama doctrine, if there
is one. We will discuss, ahead.
HAYES: All right, this summer, it really has felt like the world is
on fire. All right? I mean it just everywhere you look, there seems to be
a war, or disaster, or foreign policy entanglement that seems head
scratchingly impossible to deal with. Of course, the critics of the
president are happy to take a little victory lap and point to the president
as the source of this. And, that is the question.
What exactly is the president and the U.S.` role in a Middle East that
seems aflame right now and a world that seems teetering on instability, and
would it be possible for the U.S. to do anything to make it better or was
the U.S. trying to, quote, "Make it better the source of that instability
in the first place?"
Joining me now, Zainab Salbi, founder of Women For Women International
and Ali Gharib, writer and foreign policy analyst. Iraq is such a
complicated situation and terrible in so many ways. I mean, the Yezidi,
just the raw footage of these people that are -- let`s just be very clear
about the kind of moral stakes here. I mean this is just unapologetic
genocide being committed against people because of their faith.
ZAINAB SALBI, WOMEN FOR WOMEN INTERNATIONAL FOUNDER: Yes.
HAYES: There is a group of people that wants to extinguish every last
one of them because of the God they worship.
SALBI: That includes Christians as well.
HAYES: And, it includes Christians as well.
HAYES: And, at the same time, I cannot help but watch this and think
there is something Shakespearean about Barack Obama, the man who is
President of the United States because he opposed the Iraq war, when
basically the entire governing class of the country did not, is now back
ordering air strikes in Iraq.
ALBI: Well --
HAYES: As an Iraqi, what does this look like? Does this look like
the U.S. being indecisive? Does it look like the U.S. doing a good job of
managing an impossible situation? Or does it look like the U.S. making
SALBI: I think it looks like the U.S. not taking full responsibility
for it has created. What we are seeing right now has not suddenly
happened. It is the consequences of the Iraq invasion that happened by
President Bush. President Obama is a president of a country and he
continues the legacy of the country. His legacy right now in Iraq is
constantly too little, too late. Too little, too late.
HAYES: But, OK. I have heard that from a lot of people. There is a
sort of synergy between the too little, too late critique that you hear
from Iraqis and from John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Neocons -- There is an
agreement on this. There is, though, right?
SALBI: All right.
HAYES: My question is, would more earlier be better? Because if
there was more earlier, my sense is we would be having a whole other set of
discussions about what a cluster --
ALI GHARIB, FOREIGN POLICY ANALYST: What a cluster in defense of
Iraqis, John McCain and Lindsey Graham are talking about more bombs and not
more, you know, like diplomatic pushes for stuff like, say, "Cutting off
more arms to Maliki unless he creates more inclusive government and things
SALBI: That is true. I mean the question is, how can the U.S.
constructively intervene in the Middle East? --
SALBI: -- or not intervene? And, the consistency of that is
important. We cannot look at Iraq in an isolated way. Iraq and now ISIS
and the division of the country right now is part of a longer strategy that
includes Saudi Arabia, that includes Egypt, that includes Syria, and
Jordan, and all the neighboring countries.
SALBI: America has to make that constructive decision. We are
intervening in a constructive way where we look at the region and the
interconnection of the region or pull out completely and let the region
HAYES: Right. So, we are not going too -- I mean the U.S. -- maybe
that is a possibility, right? I mean, maybe that would be for the best for
everyone, if the troops left Saudi Arabia --
GHARIB: But it is not going to happen.
HAYES: Right, exactly. Like. it is not going to happen.
SALBI: All right.
HAYES: So, then the question is -- I mean, because it is striking to
me, like the Syria question, right? So, now you look at what is happening
with ISIS. I think everyone looks at ISIS basically across the political
spectrum in the world and is aghast, right? I mean, I do not -- like -- it
is ghastly. Everyone looks at ISIS and thinks, "Oh, my God."
GHARIB: Even Al Qaeda.
HAYES: Even Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is like, "You guys are too violent
HAYES: Stop it. Stop beheading everyone, right?
SALBI: But, Al Qaeda is not a moderate group --
HAYES: I am not saying they are. But, I am just saying -- So, Ali,
what I see is I see an interventionist story about this, which we are going
to get to in a second about a certain critic who gave an interview about
this, which is basically, U.S. not intervening in Syria, not helping the
moderate opposition, gave rise to ISIS. And, now, I see an anti-
interventionist thing that says, if the U.S. war in Iraq have brought ISIS
GHARIB: Well, at least one of those things is true. And, the problem
is that this is all a counterfactual argument, right?
GHARIB: It is not clear that had we armed some mythical moderate
Syrian opposition that we did not know existed and was, you know, just
fragments of little pieces of rebel forces in 2012, would that have stopped
ISIS rise? Maybe. But, if there is nothing definite about that, but what
it definitely would have done is flooded the zone with weapons.
For all we know, those weapons could have gotten in ISIS hand earlier
than Iraqi troops stripping off their uniforms and abandoning their
artillery. Because, you know, if you go back and read the news articles
from 2012, you know, you can go back and read the "New Yorker," John Lee
Anderson was in Northern Syria and was writing about even how the FSA
commanders cannot identify which brigades are theirs. They did not know
what they were, yet alone we go in there and start dispensing weapons. I
mean it is counterfactual based on a context that never really existed.
HAYES: But, here is where I feel like we arrived on this summer on
fire, right? I mean if you look across the region, it just feels like, "Oh
my God, it is all burning." I mean that is how it feels, right?
HAYES: This is not me just like me as an American looking over there.
SALBI: No. No. It is burning.
HAYES: That maybe that is just what the world looks like as America
recedes from the role it is been playing.
GHARIB: Which is inexorable or there is something we can do about it.
HAYES: Right. That is the question, like maybe that is just like you
stare into the void of what this new era looks like, which is the world is
on fire and the only upside is there are not American troops being burned
in that fire.
GHARIB: That is way too pessimistic for me, Chris. But, I mean, I
think speaking to the issue of their being nonmilitary ways to deal with
stuffs, you know? Zainab was talking about the Saudis. The Saudis in
2012, we were begging the Saudis to arm the FSA --
GHARIB: -- which, you know, I think would have still been a task, but
we were begging them to it and instead what they did is they armed ISIS.
GHARIB: And, they helped to create the --
HAYES: Thank you, our great ally.
GHARIB: These are our allies. Yes.
HAYES: Yes. Zainab Salbi, Founder of Women for Women International
and Foreign Policy Analyst, Ali Gharib. Thank you very much.
SALBI: Thank you.
HAYES: One somewhat surprising critic or maybe not so surprising
critic for President Obama`s foreign policy doctrine attacking him for
being weak. We will talk more about that, next.
HAYES: Hillary Clinton, who is President Obama`s Secretary of State
until early this year broke dramatically with the president`s foreign
policy in an interview published yesterday in the "Atlantic" Magazine.
Many have taken it as a sign Clinton tried to distance herself from the
president ahead of a potential run for the White House.
Asked about the Obama doctrine, which is often characterized as, "Do
not do stupid stuff." Clinton replied, "Great nations need organizing
principles and do not do stupid stuff is not an organizing principle."
While the president has maintained that arming Syrian rebels and deploying
U.S. troops there, would not help turn the tide in Syria`s bloody civil
war, Clinton suggested a lack of action gave rise to ISIS, the terror
group, now rampaging across Iraq.
A failure to help build up a credible fighting force, the people who
are the originators of the protest against Assad, there were Islamist,
there were Sectors, there was everything in the middle. The failure to do
that left a big vacuum, which jihadist have now filled, Clinton said.
Joining me now is Rick Perlstein, Author of the very new, very
excellent, "The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of
Reagan." The latest in his epic trilogy of books in American conservatism.
One of the great historians we have, working right now. So, here is why I
have you right now, Rick.
The entire book, the opus that you have just produced which is
phenomenal, and everyone should read, basically says the 1970s was a period
of kind of instability. The world felt like it was aflame. America was
kind of staring into the void caused by Watergate and Vietnam, trying
wrestling coming to terms of what we were as a nation.
And, Reagan swept in to say, do not think about all that. We are the
exceptional city on the hill. We are the greatest nation in the world.
And, when I read that Clinton interview -- maybe it is just because I have
been reading your book for the last week, it felt to me she was channeling
Reagan in a very similar political moment in America.
RICK PERLSTEIN, AUTHOR, "THE INVISIBLE BRIDGE": Yes. I think that
"The New York Times" made the same comparison. I think the interview was
very, very worrisome. I think that when Robert Kagan said that he
considers Hillary Clinton a fellow neoconservative, that is exactly what he
was referring to. I think she kind of bolt forward with this hubristic
notion that America could heal the world through its touch and good
But, everything bad that has happened in American foreign policy has
sprung directly from that idea. I mean, when Lyndon Johnson thought he
could build a TVA in the river delta. You know, 10 years later you have
58,000 lives of Americans expended and, you have not one but three nations
laid to waste. And, people were taking a look good -- hard look at that
hubris in the `70s. And, it was a very salubrious thing. It really
dismays me that Hillary Clinton has not learned that lesson.
HAYES: You know, part of this I think that was interesting about the
Clinton interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, also was the fact that, I think we
have the tendency to read her through such a political prism that she is
figure trying to calculate her pitch to the political whims of the moment.
As opposed to like, this is what she believes. Like she -- I think
everyone looks back at the Iraq war vote and said she voted that way
because that is the way the politics was, as opposed to that is what she
believe and this is what she believe in this interview, like she really
does have these views on foreign policy.
PERLSTEIN: Yes. I think she is been pretty darn consistent and she
has been on the side of intervention and all these debates in the state
department. And, the problem with it is, the kind of nuance that Barack
Obama has been trying to introduce into foreign policy really kind of
speaks to the complexity of the world.
And, by trying to kind of explain away that complexity, you are going
to get us into the same blunders over and over again. Now, if it is the
fact that she wants to govern like Ronald Reagan did in foreign policy, let
is review that record. It is kind of paradoxical. He only committed
troops once and that was in tiny Grenada, right?
PERLSTEIN: And, he was the one who was the only president to
eliminate a class of nuclear weapons. And, he was the one who looked at
the kind of complicated morass of mutual assured destruction and
mathematical abstractions that underlie it and said let is get rid of
nuclear weapons. I would love to see that sort of vision from Hillary
Clinton. But, by trying to be like Reagan, she might be more like Reagan`s
rhetoric and less like Reagan`s reality.
HAYES: Rick Perlstein, the book is "Invisible Bridge." Go, go get it
now. All right, that is "All In" for this evening. "The Rachel Maddow
Show" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel. Good to see you again.
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