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Journalist Porter Asks: Does Obama Want to Keep Troops in Iraq?? Tom Hayden on Libya and “Humanitarian Hawks”

Journalist and historian Gareth Porter says Obama has signaled Iraq that we’ll keep thousands of troops there–IF Iraq asks us to stay! And Tom Hayden discusses his article in The Nation, identifying Samantha Power as a major influence on Libya. You can read Porter’s article here, and in our discussion, we cover the many layers of complex policy and national interests driving the array of different policies on Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Porter’s sources say that Pentagon officials informed Iraq’s Prime Minister Maliki in February that Obama is willing to keep 17,000 US troops in Iraq after the December 31 deadline, but only if Maliki makes a formal request–an action that Porter says would bring down Maliki’s government. We talk about the Saudi role in providing Arab cover for the intervention in Libya, and the likely tradeoff for US support of the monarchy in Bahrain.

At 28:07, Tom Hayden joins us to talk about the power of Power and the “humanitarian hawks” who won the debate over Libya. Hayden’s article at offers insight into Power’s advocacy for intervention, despite the risks and its conflict with policies toward other brutal dictators in the region. Hayden has strong questions about policy, but continues to support Obama (with diminished enthusiasm) and sympathizes with the president over the array of challenges he faces.