In the wake of the growing violence and sectarian conflict in Iraq, the president defended America’s record in the country during an interview with Morning Joe’s Mika Brzezinski.
“Unless we are prepared to stay indefinitely in all these various countries, something that we can't afford and would involve, over time, accusations that we were occupying these countries, you know, at some stage, they're going to have to take responsibility for working together,” he said in an interview that aired on Monday.
Obama said the situation was stable when the U.S. pulled all of its troops out ahead of 2012, when the Iraq government declined to sign a security agreement that would have left some troops in the country.
“Just because something's stable two years or four years ago doesn't mean that it's stable right now. And what we have is a situation in which in part because of growing mistrust between Sunni and Shia, that some of the forces that have always possibly pulled Iraq apart are stronger now,” he said. “Those forces that could keep the country united are weaker. It is ultimately going to be up to the Iraqi leadership to try to pull the politics of the country back together again.”
He stressed that while ISIS could present a threat to the U.S. in the long-term, it wasn’t reason enough to “reoccupy” Iraq.
The president chatted with Morning Joe to promote the White House’s working family summit, where he’ll announce a series of government actions to try and help working families.
“Keep in mind that issues like equal pay for equal work, issues like child care, issues like workplace flexibility and paid family leave, those aren't just women's issues. Those are family issues,” he said. “So this is an issue of how do we build a strong middle class, how do we reduce financial pressures on families and what we're going to be doing in this summit is lifting up stories that are taking place around the kitchen table every single day.”
Obama will also announce a handful of government efforts to create flexibility for working families, like affordable child care, and close the gender pay gap, by helping women into higher paying careers as well as fighting pay discrimination.
The announcements will cover a range of issues, including a progress report on what the administration has done for affordable child care, a program celebrating women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and medicine) research careers in hopes of inspiring younger women, and an executive action ordering federal agencies to work to implement the most flexible workplace policies possible.