MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript: Military Engagement with ISIS


Date: Feb. 18, 2015


MATTHEWS: Joining us right now is Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
Senator Manchin, do you think the United States should be using military
force to defeat ISIL?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Oh, we`re going to have to use
military force. It`s a matter of, do we use our own combat troops on the
front lines and get bogged down like we did in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not
intended to, and I appreciate the president for saying he doesn`t intend
for that to happen. But you know, in West Virginia, we have a little
common sense and we know what the word of insanity means, the definition of
insanity, and it looks like over in that part of the world, you just get
bogged down. And if money or military might would have changed it, we`d
have done that by now, Chris. So -- and you read the thing about the
enduring offensive ground combat operations.


MANCHIN: What does that really mean?

MATTHEWS: Well, what could it mean to you in a way that would concern you
and make you perhaps vote against this resolution?

MANCHIN: Well, the bottom line is, I`m not going to vote for anything that
has the interpretation that we can have combat ground forces on the front
line fighting someone else`s war. Now, we`re going to go after ISIL. It
makes no difference. We`re going to protect America. But if we could just
fast track Jordan, getting them the necessary equipment they need to fight
this war, if we can get the Turks to engage, if Saudis would engage -- the
Kurds are fighting and doing a heck of a job and we ought to make sure
we`re getting them the equipment to do the job.

The other thing is, Chris, the 2001 AUMF -- it`s still in force. I don`t
really know what the reason or the purpose why we need this one if you`re
not going to repeal 2001.

MATTHEWS: Well, I`m just looking at the language that you just mentioned,
Senator. I know you`re going to have to deal with this in a more fine way,
word by word...


MATTHEWS: ... but one word that looks like it bothers you is "enduring,"
that you want to basically say let`s have no offensive ground combat
operations. Wouldn`t that get to where you`re at?

MANCHIN: Yes. I think from the standpoint, we do have to look at this,
and if we can get it to the point that we have some comfort with that, but
"enduring" right now could mean that, basically, Oh, we don`t intend for
them, but we`re going to go ahead and put, if it takes 5,000, 10,000 or
(ph) surge -- surge, I mean, you`re putting an awful lot of American lives
on the front line again, and we`ve seen the outcome of that. I don`t wish
to repeat that one.

They`re not determined to fight their own ground war over there yet
(INAUDIBLE) I would think Jordan and King Abdullah was very, very precise
in what he was going to do, and he did it. We need to have...

MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you -- yes, you know what I know, Senator,
probably more from briefings, but the president says today that he needs
that authorization for anything short of enduring ground combat operations
because there may be an opportunity to jump in there with special forces,
SEALs or whatever, and capture a whole bunch of these bad guys at once.

So he wants the option play to be able to go in there, not as a big front
line moving -- sweeping across the ISIS territory, but in that opportunity.
He wants to have a chance to use ground forces in an opportunity situation
to grab the leadership. Are you against that?

MANCHIN: What I`m saying, no. I want to make sure that we stop ISIL any
way we can to support, basically, the people over there who are fighting
the front lines. The Iraqis are engaging. We have to use our special ops
where we can to make sure that our air strikes, and you know, our -- that
we`re being effective.

Chris, the only thing I`m saying is that the 2001 AUMF is still in play.


MANCHIN: That`s the one that Bush has used. That`s the one that President
Obama has used, and a broad scope. I don`t know why they think this one
here, who they`re trying to appease with it. If they were repealing 2001
and 2002, and we only had one to work on right now, that`d be a different
story. So I`m going to wait and see what the language they come up with.
If they`re able to change it a little bit, as you`re said, if we`re ever to
have strategic strikes, get in and get out, all this could be different.
But we haven`t seen that yet.

MATTHEWS: I can see your argument, and certainly, your background in
understanding all this and representing West Virginia. But the president
is, I would say, to your left in terms of war. I think you know that.
He`s a bit more dovish. You`re of a centrist mode, I think. Do you really
think he`s going to turn out to be more hawkish than Joe Manchin? More
hawkish. I mean, it doesn`t seem in his build (ph) to do that.

MANCHIN: I don`t -- I don`t -- I would hope that would not be. I mean, I
say in West Virginia, you know, we`re one of the most patriotic states in
the nation, veterans per capita and people still fighting. We`re willing
to go anywhere to defend this country.

But again, I`ve said, ground troops in that part of the world has not
solved that problem. We`ve lost 6,000 -- more than 6,000 Americans
already, 55,000 have been maimed, and we`ve spent $3 trillion, Chris.


MANCHIN: They have got to engage over there. Now, make no mistake, if it
looks that ISIL`s a threat and coming in this direction, we`ll do whatever.
We`ve got...


MANCHIN: ... more problems right now with them coming -- basically coming
back to our country, coming to the Western world.

MATTHEWS: Well, here`s the hardball question. We all look -- I know you
do, as well as I do -- with incredible -- what`s the right -- agony at what
they`ve done to our people over there, especially the young woman, Kayla...

MANCHIN: Oh, my.

MATTHEWS: ... Kayla Mueller, and what they did to that poor, courageous
pilot for -- for Jordan. We look at that and we want to stamp it out. We
don`t want that to be on our planet with us. We don`t want to see that
happen again. We want to get the people and erase them who do that.

At the same time, you draw restrictions. You say, Well, let the Jordanian
air force do it, let the Kurds do it, let whatever there is of the Iraqi
government or army, if there is such a thing, and they`re all Shia, and
maybe these sort of -- these sleeper cells on our side in the Syrian Free
Army, whatever they are.

But in the end, do you see any coming together of ending this war, ending
this ISIS organization in the near future? Do you see it in any future?

MANCHIN: Chris, first of all, my heart goes out to the families in these
horrific tragedies, horrible atrocities to these people. My heart goes to
out, along with every other American. But with that also, my heart goes
out to over 6,000 American families that lost their loved ones trying to
help that part of the world and those people in that part of the world.

They`ve got to stand up and fight for themselves. They`ve got to clean up
their mess. We`ve got to keep them from coming in through any way, shape
or form into this country. Sleeper cells, whatever it may be, people
coming back -- there are quite a few Americans engaged now. We`ve got to
stop that. Europe has got a horrible problem with it. So these are the
areas that we can keep them from coming in. Putting more troops on there,
kind of rile them all up and ginning them up to go out and recruit and get
more people fighting America -- that doesn`t seem to win that war over

MATTHEWS: OK. A lot of thinking going into that. Thank you, so much.


MATTHEWS: I know it`s a complicated one. Thank you so much, Senator Joe
Manchin of West Virginia.

MANCHIN: Thanks, Chris. Thank you.