"my gut tells me any kind of decent outcome there [Libya] will be requiring boots on the ground, either as military help for the rebels to oust Gadhafi as we want or as post Gadhafi peacekeepers and referees between tribes. Those boots cannot be ours. We cannot afford it whether in terms of money, manpower, energy or attention. I am dubious that our allies can or will handle it without us."
"The thing to keep in mind is there are two different states in the world -- real countries with long histories and big majorities, Egypt, Tunisia. They went smoothly because it was everybody against dad. Now the revolutions are moving out to tribes with flags. States with big sectarian tribal communities. When you take the lid off those states, you can unleash a civil war. What we saw in Iraq is if you don't have somebody in place on the ground to referee that, you could end up with a Somalia."
Then they tie that in to Iran, for no apparent reason, and then continue to spend the last 45 seconds talking about Afghanistan:
(Lauer): We are seeing violence there that seems to be related to the pastor in Florida and his small congregation and their burning of the Koran. I want to leave that part out of it, but it shows us Afghanistan is still an unsettled country, isn't it?
(Mustache of Misunderstanding): What the whole incident shows us, Matt, is basically what kind of deep anti-foreign influences still exist in Afghanistan. They were triggered in this case by the Koran burning. Next week they could be triggered by a traffic accident. What's troubling is after all the time and money we spent there you still have huge anti-foreign and to some degree anti-American sentiment that doesn't bode well for the morning after the morning after.
So, to try to digest this great insight:
1) Libya won't be settled without "boots on the ground" but those boots can't be ours but our allies can't or won't handle it without us. Nothing offered as to what should be done in this conundrum. Evidently it's just enough to talk about it, perhaps he should go for another cab ride and see if he comes up with a brilliant solution.
2) I'm really glad that Egypt and Tunisia are now perfectly functioning secular democracies, I hadn't heard of that development. I am a bit surprised though that just telling people to "Suck. On. This." doesn't lead to magic sparkleponies for everyone. I seem to remember that's how it used to work. I wonder what changed? Anyway, now that Iraq is Somalia(WTF?) what next? Also, which of the two kinds of states is Florida? I'm leaning toward "big sectarian tribal communities" that like to burn Korans, but I don't get paid to write crap for the NYT.
3) Those crazy Afghanis, taking little things like Koran burning by a bunch of frothing-at-the-mouth racist Floridians as serious as a traffic accident. They should really be more appreciative of our freedom bombs.
It's a good thing we have these folks to shape the discourse of our foreign policy. We're in good hands.