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Watch: Fireworks Erupt Between Tucker Carlson, Max Boot Over Russia, Middle East

Wednesday on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” host Tucker Carlson took on Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Max Boot over how the United States should perceive Russia and the role it is playing in Syria.

Boot had described a debate between Carlson and Fox News contributor Ralph Peters a night earlier as Peters speaking “truth to a ratings powerhouse.”

Transcript as follows:

CARLSON: Max Boot is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He says, he agrees with what Lieutenant Colonel Peters said last night and he joins us tonight.

Max, thanks a lot for coming on.

MAX BOOT, COUNCIL OF FOREIGN RELATIONS: Thanks for having me, Tucker.

CARLSON: I think it’s fair to disagree about whether or not cooperating with Russia in the fight against ISIS is a good idea. But to dismiss anyone who doesn’t share your view as a Nazi sympathizer seems cheap in a short cut and really. Why would you say something like that?

BOOT: Well, rest assured, Tucker, I’m not actually saying that you are a Nazi sympathizer. And the one thing that I would disagree with Colonel Peters about is, I don’t think that Putin is comparable to it of Hitler because there’s only one Hitler. But what I do believe is that Mitt Romney was right. I was a foreign policy advisor on the Mitt Romney campaign in 2012 when he said that Putin is the number one geopolitical threat that we face.

I think that’s true today. And I’m very disturbed, Tucker, when I see you at the top of the show, you and Mark Steyn yakking it up over the fact that Putin is interfering and meddling in our election process. Undermining the sanctity of our elections to try to get Donald Trump elected. And that Donald Trump, Jr., when he’s told that Putin’s government wants to support the Trump campaign, he doesn’t pick up the phone to the FBI, he says “I love it.” That to me is very disturbing. But what’s even more disturbing is that you don’t think it is disturbing.

CARLSON: Slow down. Point by point here. First of all, I’m sorry that laughter disturbs you. And you can debate whether or not what Donald Trump —

BOOT: This is not funny, Tucker. I’m sorry. This is an insult to our democracy.

CARLSON: I get your view there, Max. You can debate whether or not what he did is a crime or in violation of the espionage act, but to dismiss people who disagree with you as immoral which is, your habit, isn’t a useful form of debate, it’s a kind of moral preening, and it’s little odd coming from you, who really has been consistently wrong in the most flagrant and flamboyant way for over a decade. And so, you have to sort of wonder, like —

BOOT: What have I been wrong about, Tucker? What have I been wrong about?

CARLSON: Well, having watched you carefully and known you for a long time, I recall vividly when you said that if we were to topple the governments of Afghanistan and Iraq, the region will be much safer and the people who took their place would help us in the global war on terror. Of course, it didn’t happen —

(CROSSTALK)

BOOT: You supported the invasion of Iraq.

CARLSON: I am merely saying —

BOOT: You supported the invasion of Iraq.

CARLSON: — that you been consistently wrong. And many people have been wrong. I’ve been wrong about a ton of things. You try to learn your lesson. But when you get out there in “The New York Times” and say, we really should have done more to depose Qaddafi, because you know, Libya is going to be better when that happens. And then to hear you say we need to knock off the Assad regime and things will be better in Syria, he sort of wonder like, well, maybe we should choose another profession. Selling insurance, something you’re good at. I guess that’s kind of the point. Is there no sanctions for being as wrong as you have?

BOOT: I would be happy to hold up my record of foreign policy against yours. And by the way, to underline the fact, you supported the Iraq war. And then when it went bad, you opposed it. It doesn’t take any moral courage or perspicacity.

CARLSON: Yes.

BOOT: The issue is the fact that right now, you are supporting Donald Trump and you are laughing about the fact that Russia is interfering in our election process. That to me is immoral.

CARLSON: Okay. So, let’s have it’s immoral. Not a great disagreement, it’s immoral. You are a moral authority. You are a religious figure now actually. Casting moral aspersion —

BOOT: Tucker, save your sarcasm okay.

CARLSON: It’s not sarcasm. I have contempt for your non-argument.

BOOT: All of the conservative movement in the Republican Party —

CARLSON: Let me ask you —

BOOT: When I was growing up, Ronald Reagan warned about the evil empire right now —

CARLSON: Okay. I got that.

BOOT: You are yacking at the evil empire.

CARLSON: It’s a different empire, Max.

BOOT: Not very different. Because Vladimir Putin is a former KGB man and you are applauding what he’s doing.

CARLSON: Can I — since you have some sinecure at the Council on Foreign Relations, let me ask you policy questions if I can, just for one second.

BOOT: It’s not as lucrative as you’re sinecure of FOX News, Tucker.

CARLSON: Right. Ahah. Let me ask you a question. If we were to follow the course of action you are suggesting, you are demanding we follow on moral ground. Having as they said —

BOOT: What course of action is that, Tucker?

CARLSON: Which used to get rid of the Assad regime, Tucker because you fear his presence will empower Iran which you see is a major problem in the world. What would happen then? Who would run that country? I asked Peters that question last night, and he said the Kurds. Do you think the Kurds would run Syria once we depose Bashar Assad?

BOOT: No, I don’t. I think it would be very difficult to do now in any case. I think it should have been done in 2011, 2012.

CARLSON: Sorry, we didn’t follow your advice then. What do you think we should do now?

BOOT: Okay. What’s your advice, Tucker? Should we collaborate with the Russia in committing war crimes in Syria, is that your advice? Syria is a country that is dedicated to death to America, is that your advice at the moment?

CARLSON: Yes. I think you’re not choosing —

BOOT: As you know, I was very opposed to the Obama policy, and I am opposed to the Trump policy.

CARLSON: Yes. Well, you’ve specialized the moral outrage.

(CROSSTALK)

I am a cheerleader for Russia and Iran. This is exactly the style of debate that prevents people from taking you seriously.

BOOT: Am I wrong, Tucker? Am I wrong?

CARLSON: Because rather, and I’m cheerleading for Iran and Russia, it’s a grotesque, of course, I am not. I wouldn’t live in another country. I disapprove of their policy.

BOOT: You know that we should make common cause with Russia and Syria?

CARLSON: That is very different. Let me ask you this. Let me ask you this since you are also a historian. The Congress of the United States in 1941 voted for Lend-Lease to send billions and billions of dollars to Joseph Stalin in armaments and food. Because the Congress of the United States believes Hitler was a greater threat than Stalin. Were they Stalinists when they did that?

BOOT: You know, Tucker, this is pure —

CARLSON: It’s a sincere question, why don’t you answer.

BOOT: Will you let me finish? Will you let me answer your question, Tucker? I will be the first to admit that sometimes you have to make common cause with repugnant regimes, and that’s what Franklin Delano Roosevelt did, with Joseph Stalin when you have common goals.

CARLSON: That is what I am making right now.

BOOT: We do not share common goals with Russia. We do not share common goals with Russia. Because Russia is trying to further the murderous Bashar Assad regime. They are trying to further or rating the Germany in Syria.

CARLSON: All right.

BOOT: That is not our goal. They believe in death to America. We should not be cooperating.

CARLSON: Okay. Well, Iran believes in death to America —

BOOT: We should not become complicit —

CARLSON: Okay, let me just ask you factual questions. And I assume you can handle this.

BOOT: Our electoral process which you don’t seem to care about, Tucker.

CARLSON: Okay. The moral preening and the generalizations are tiresome. Let me ask you a specific question. You say —

BOOT: You know, your lack of moral judgment is tiresome to me. Your lack of moral judgment — I find it to be offensive.

CARLSON: This is why nobody takes you seriously, but I’m giving you a chance to redeem yourself by answering this question. You say Iran is a primary threat to us.

BOOT: Tucker, you are the one that is not taking seriously, I’m sorry, Tucker.

CARLSON: Tell me how many Americans in the United States have been murdered by terrorists backed by Iran since 9/11?

BOOT: Oh, so you are taking the pro-Iranian line essentially! Is that right?

CARLSON: Is it pro-Iranian to ask a question? You’re humiliating yourself, Max. Why don’t you answer the questions?

BOOT: Hundreds of American troops have been murdered in Iraq by Iran and its proxies. I also recall that in the 1980s hundreds of Americans marines were murdered in Beirut by Iran. Do you not care about those deaths, Tucker?

CARLSON: Do I not care about those deaths? It’s almost impossible to have a conversation with you because your responses are childish. Of course, I care about the deaths. I’m trying to get —

BOOT: You Tucker are ridiculous. Okay? You are trying to take a pro- Iranian line.

CARLSON: Of course, I am not arguing, slow down. I’m not arguing a pro- Iranian line. I’m not pro-Iran, and I’m not pro-Russia. And I’m sure I’m not arguing that Iran is a good place or doesn’t pose a threat to the United States. I merely saying, you know, let me tell you, in a world full of threats, you create a hierarchy of them. You just said, which is the worst and then you go down the list. And my only question to you is —

BOOT: And Russia is right up there. Do you agree that Russia is a threat to us?

CARLSON: I think the idea that Russia is in the top five is absurd. And it makes me wonder about your judgment, but I am giving you a chance to answer the question which is be specific —

BOOT: They are the only country that can destroy us with a nuclear strike.

CARLSON: Okay. I am beginning to think that your judgment has been clouded by ideology, I don’t fully understand where it’s coming from

, but I will let our viewers decide.

BOOT: I think your judgment has been clouded by ratings because you feel compelled —

CARLSON: By ratings?

BOOT: — by Donald Trump in order to win ratings on the Fox News Channel.

CARLSON: That is pretty funny. I actually vehemently disagree with your air strike. Air strikes in Syria and the President called for them and I’m against them.

BOOT: I think you’re too smart for this.

CARLSON: I’m actually arguing principles. But more than anything, I’m arguing for the right to ask honest questions without being denounced as a quisling, which you are incapable of giving a factual answer and so instead attack the character of the person who asked the question. And I think our viewers can see that.

BOOT: Tucker, I did not attack your character.

CARLSON: Max, I gave you a chance and you did not turn in a professional, in any sense, impressive performance. Thanks for joining us anyway. I thought it was interesting.

Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor

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