Speed Reads

Colbert Nationalism

Stephen Colbert gets serious about Iraq, draws Vietnam analogies

The deteriorating situation in Iraq is getting serious, with the Sunni militant group ISIS "spreading all over Iraq like some sort of fundamentalist hummus," said Stephen Colbert on Monday night's Colbert Report. But despite some jokes like that and a bit of light mockery, Colbert was pretty serious, too. He noted that President Obama is sending up to 300 military advisers into Iraq — and explained the "big difference," militarily: "A combat troop shoots a guy, but an adviser shoots a guy then says, 'See, that's how I would advise you to shoot a guy.'"

The obvious comparison is the score of "military advisers" Dwight Eisenhower sent into Vietnam, and Colbert went there: Eisenhower's "adviser program went so well they eventually had to hold a victory party on the roof of the U.S. Embassy." Colbert didn't exactly drop his conservative-pundit shtick when he brought on New York Times national security correspondent Mark Mazzetti to very helpfully describe what Obama's military advisers will do in Iraq, but he came close.

When Mazzetti said that given Obama's reluctance on Iraq, "it's hard to imagine right now you would see a massive escalation of the military back into Iraq," Colbert interrupted him. "Hold on a second," he said, taking a pause as if to imagine — "no, that was easy." Watch below. --Peter Weber