07/20/2014 06:40 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Bad Borders Make Bad Neighbors: Israel/Gaza, Ukraine/Russia, Texas/Mexico



By Mark Green

Border clashes are suddenly breaking out making immigration reform and Middle East peace now even less likely. Shrum and Lowry debate origins and solutions and a) whether the downing of MH17 will force Putin to choose between partner or pariah; and b) how Elizabeth Warren became the new Thor.

On Refugee Crisis. We hear Sen. Harkin complain that we're dealing with the influx of unsupervised children from Central America "like they were livestock - just round 'em up and ship 'em back," while Sen. Cruz says this is what happens when you promise "amnesty" and don't enforce the law.

Bob argues that the 57,000 came here largely because they were fleeing violence and we need to follow - not repeal - the '08 Bush-Feinstein law to provide hearings to determine whether they are entitled to asylum or should be returned. "If Cruz gets his way and we deport Dreamers" and have no comprehensive immigration reform, "it'll be hemlock for the GOP in 2016... And why are we about the only country in the world not providing asylum in these circumstances?"

Rich emphasizes that the U.S. has been a magnet for these immigrants, that violence in those dysfunctional host countries is lessening and that most should be returned as quickly as possible. "There are cross-pressures", he adds, on both Obama not to look like he's created this problem and on the GOP not to look anti-Hispanic - hence the basis of a deal to speed the process and provide humane facilities. But neither thinks that likely in the near-term despite the immediate humanitarian crisis.

Host: a favorite new rhetorical riff is for the McCain-Rogers-Radditz crowd to breathlessly list hot spots around globe - Texas border! Israel-Hamas! Iraq-ISIS! Iran! Afghanistan! MH17!... then remind us that Obama's president... then assert that he's "aloof; QED. Secretary Kerry brilliantly pushed back against this politicized cause-effect on all five Sunday shows by ticking off U.S. involvement in each (brokered deal in Afghan, chemicals out of Syria, Iran talks continuing...) and by suggesting to the armchair warriors/Chicken Littles that 2014 is not 1914.

On Israel-Hamas. Shrum-Lowry agree with Netanyahu-Obama that Israel should and will respond to rocket attacks on its civilian population by retaliating against Hamas in Gaza. Host: "Rich, since Obama's approach is probably identical to one that Reagan-Clinton-Bush would take, will there one GOP leader who says on this foreign policy issue, 'We stand with the President and Prime Minister?'" "I doubt it," he responds, as Bob laughs and lauds his "honesty."

Given the gross disparity in military assets, why would Hamas start this violence? Again, we go beyond Left-Right as both agree that a weakened Hamas (e.g., Egypt now hostile after fall of Morsi) wants to show it can stand up to the Goliath of Israel in order to score points with the 'Arab Street'. Lowry laments that the PA and Hamas had the opportunity to make Gaza "the Switzerland of the Middle East - emphasizing trade, democracy - but instead chose hatred and violence toward Israel."

This is third such exchange since Israel withdrew from occupying Gaza in 2005 - so what can stop these déjà vu wars? Bob wants an Israeli PM to also bring a larger vision of a two-state peace to the conflict but doubts that Netanyahu can. "Israel should every week say that the Camp David (Clinton-Barak) Accord is on the table if this Palestinian Authority, unlike Arafat, would sign it."

Obama and Kerry, like all reasonable observers, should be anguished by the civilian death toll in Gaza. But it's another thing to tell Israel how to calibrate that the porridge is neither too hot nor too cold having had to face these existential threats since 1948. Or as Bill Maher put it, Israel can't go 8-1 in wars, only 9-0 will do.

On MH17. Following Russia's annexation of Crimea and Obama's increasing sanctions, might the tragic shoot-down by apparently pro-Russian separatists be a "game-changer" forcing Putin to stop his subsidized provocations in Eastern Ukraine? Can a "New Cold War" or even a hot one be averted? Shrum thinks so but only if there's a "face-saving, broader agreement" that establishes a federal Ukraine trading with both East and West. But just arming Kiev more could backfire if it provokes Putin to do what he so far hasn't - invade Eastern Ukraine. Then like FDR in the Balkans, Ike in Hungry, Bush in Georgia, there won't be much a U.S. president can realistically do.

Although the McCain-Graham war whoops will continue, it's unlikely that neo-cons, post-MH17, will be repeating their praise of Putin as being a superior leader to Obama. In their lexicon, presumably, a thug is worse than a wimp.

On Elizabeth Warren. Why are many Democrats treating first-term Senator Elizabeth Warren as the new Thor?

We listen to her sharp rhetoric against a "rigged system" that helps Wall Street at the expense of Main Street and how the Senate chose "billionaires over students" by rejecting her Student Loan bill reducing rates. There's a consensus that she has an authentic voice conveying an understandable economic message that appeals to Democrats and even some "populist" Republicans.

Can she competitively run for President if HRC does, or doesn't? Bob says, "no and yes." Rich: "yes and yes." (Apparently, while Lowry wants a juicy intra-party nomination fight, he has never entered a campaign 60 points behind, as the Host has and as Warren would if she challenged Clinton.) There's an implied understanding that a Warren-Cruz/all-Harvard Law School general election would be fun... but far-fetched.

On Quick Takes: Water, Death Penalty, Teacher Tenure.

Should a bankrupt Detroit shut water off to homes not paying its water bills - or is water a basic human right?

Then, like Prop 13 and later Prop 8, is California again on the cutting edge, judicially? Will the California federal judge ruling that the death penalty is arbitrary and therefore unconstitutional be sustained on appeal? Will the California state judge ruling that teacher tenure is unconstitutional be upheld and spread?

Mark Green is the creator and host of Both Sides Now.

You can follow him on Twitter @markjgreen

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