This week on "Real Time," host Bill Maher urged President Barack Obama not to involve U.S. forces in the mushrooming conflict in Iraq.
"America is wrestling with the question we so often wrestle with," said Maher, "to bomb or not to bomb."
Maher quoted Obama's promise that U.S. ground troops would not be re-engaging in Iraq, but that the U.S. would try to help the Iraqi government impose order and "bring the fight" to "terrorists" who would interfere with that order.
"See, this is what bothers me," Maher said, "that it makes it all about us. And it's not really about us. It's a religious civil war and he just cannot square that circle."
Panelist Glenn Greenwald argued with the characterization of everyone who opposes the U.S.-backed government as terrorists.
"A lot of these people are Iraqis fighting for control of their own government," he said.
There are only two reasons that the U.S. government can be made to care about something happening in the Middle East, Greenwald said, oil and Israel.
Iraq and Afghanistan Vets of America founder Paul Rieckhoff said that the failure of the Iraqi government to form a viable coalition is a political failure more than a military failure, that the people entrusted to govern Iraq have been unable to rise above their sectarian interests.
"We've got to talk about Maliki," he said, "and we've got to talk about the political situation that no airstrike, no soldier can fix."
"We can talk all around this," said Maher, "but it is a religious civil war, and we know how religious civil wars end, because Christianity had this in the 16th century. Protestants and Catholics wanted to kill each other."
"We know how this ends," he said. "It has to burn itself out."
Watch the video, embedded below: