tv Fareed Zakaria GPS CNN September 8, 2013 7:00am-8:01am PDT
resolution. tomorrow at 6:00 p.m., president obama will sit down with our own wolf blitzer and the return of "crossfire." if you missed any part of today, head to itunes and search "state of the union." fareed zakaria is next. this is gps, the global public square. welcome to you in the united states and around the world. i'm fareed zakaria. we're going to get you one step ahead on understanding the crisis in syria. we have put together our own war room, a national security council of senior officials from recent administrations that is assembled and ready to take us through the path ahead for president obama. we have general wesley clark, james steinberg, and nicholas burns. then, a critical question. can president obama take action without congress? should he have even asked it or did he weaken the powers of his
office? we have a lively debate. and is syria libya all over again? is assad another gadhafi? i'll talk to the man who was critical in convincing the world to get rid of the dictator. but first, here's my take. from the start of the syrian conflict, president obama has wanted to take two very different approaches to it. on the one hand he's been disciplined about the definition of american interests and the use of force. on the other hand, he has sought a way to roespond to assad's atrocities. the tension between these two paths as the administration prepares the ground for a strike. two years ago president obama said that assad had to go. a year ago he announced that the use of chemical weapons was a red line. for a while it was possible to keep this juggling act going,
talking tough while doing little. but presidential rhetoric creates expectations and as i wrote last june, eventually the contradictions in u.s. policy will emerge and the obama administration will face calls for further escalation. the recent horrific chemical weapons attacks has been the approximate cause but there would have been others. as a result, we might be inching into a complex civil war while all the while denying that we are doing so. just as obama's past rhetoric has pushed obama more deeply in the struggle to win congressional support are already producing mission creed. at a meeting with house leaders, the president spoke explicitly about a limited strike that would send a clear message. that same day, his seakt teseak tear of state had to assure hawkish members of the foreign relations committee said, quote, this is not sending a message
per se, implying that the strikes would be much more substantial. republicans like john mccain have indicated that they have been given more detailed assurances of a much more intense intervention. the administration may want to keep it proportional and limited as obama initially promised but it would be a challenge in selling the case to congress. secretary ke are. ry and his colleagues have described what is at stake and they have done it in terms of vital national interest, the core credibility of the united states. it is a munic moment says john kerry. but in that case how can american policy and response simply be a stiff warning, a shot across the bow in the president's words? the reality is the u.s. has now put its credibility on the line. they will find it extremely difficult to keep its actions limited in a volatile situation. and were it to succeed in ousting assad, it would be
implicated in the next phase of this war which would certainly be chaos and perhaps of other minorities has happened in iraq. and as in iraq, if we break it, we buy it. for more on this, go to cnn.com/fareed. you can read my "time" column this week. let's get started. ♪ in the coming days and weeks, the white house faces two tasks. first, it has to convince the american public and its proxy, the united states congress that striking is the right thing to do. and then if successful, the u.s. and the military need to carry out those strikes. and in the goldielocks fashion, not too hot, not too cold. how will they do this? we have decided to impanel our
own shadow national security council meeting, former sides of both sides of the aisle to offer their advice. in the role of the military brass is generally wesley clark, the former supremed allied commander in europe. nicolas burns is representing the state department and is now at the sdool of harvard and ended a life as the under secretary of for political affairs. sitting in the pentagon leadership seat is paul will foe lits, the former secretary of defense. he is now at aei. and james steinberg will play our national security role. he was deputy national security adviser to president clinton and the obama first term. he's now the dean of the maxwell school at syracuse university. welcome to all of you. jim, imagine the national security council meeting after let's say you get congressional approval. what would be the thing that you would want to see decided at
that point? >> i think the most important thing to decide is what is our objective? what do we want to achieve? what is success? i think by defining our objective connect then develop the strategy both on the military and the political side at home and internationally. >> paul will foe wits, what would success look like? how would we know if we achieved it? >> i think as jim says you have to decide what your strategy is and i think you're not going to achieve success with just the military strike. i think that ought to also be clear so the question is, what comes afterwards and i believe what is essential is we provide syrian support for the free syrian army. unless the balance of force has changed in syria, this thing is going to continue and continue with very bad consequences. >> nicolas burns, when you look at this issue and what i'm struck by an old department hand, the united states would be going to war without the approval of the u.n. security
council. how big of an issue would that be for diplomats for the united states? >> i think the united states has every reason and right to act here because what secretary carry would say at your virtual table would be this, the united states has to preserve its credibility for the world. the security council is frozen because of the cynical policies of russia and china. we then have to inforce international law on the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons that's what the state department i think would say first. i also agree with paul that we ought to be looking second, post-strike on how to strengthen our support for the forces and push back against the iran hezbollah access and, third, i think the state department would say, is there a diplomatic play available if we succeed in weakening assad and deterring future use of chemical weapons, can we go back to the table working with the europe pens with the arab countries and maybe with the russians and iranians to try to work towards a cease fire?
that would be the rational strategy for the united states. >> all right. so that's the sort of goal, the direction that we want to go in. wes clark, you're now the man in the hot seat. what would you recommend? you ran the operations in bosnia and kosovo. i'm sorry. bosnia. what would you recommend the nature of the military operation be in this case? >> well, i've got to go back to what jim says. what's the objective? and before i go into the military, just one thing is, everybody's always -- seems to be eager to press the military button. but i wonder if there's not an additional diplomatic play once you get the united states congress on board because what we really want to do in terms of our objective is not just make the strike. we want to bring the nations of the world together to say, this can't be done. you cannot use chemical weapons. if you can use the leverage of the congressional resolutions to reopen that before there's even a strike, that's the best of all possible roles.
i see where china has said they are with russia, they don't want to do a strike. well, good, do something about it. let's have some diplomacy in the region. if we go to strike, we know how to put the packet together. we're going to pick out targets that are minimized and easy to access, targets that will make a difference to the assad regime and we're going to also have to work the process of delivery. so maybe we'll take out some radars, some air defense sites on the way going in. but what we are going to also need to do is we're going to need to assure that there's freedom of action for the u.s. navy in the region. we're going to have to set up some kind of navy inclusion zone and ask our friends to stay out of the way so they don't get hit by a cruise missile and by the way it has to be under the sea
and in the air and around the surface around our fleet. so there's a lot of diplomacy associated with this. so we're in -- from the military perspective, we're in no rush to strike. we know what the package is. we've got adequate targets, four, five, six days, reassess, go in if necessary. we will make a powerful statement. it will be a goldilocks kind of a strike. just right. not too much, not too light. they won't be able to say it didn't hurt if we do it. they won't be able to say it destroyed the country if we do it. >> i already see some difference between the civilian and military leadership at the pentagon. >> never happens. >> this is not to be unprecedented. paul wolfowitz, do you believe the chairman should be bringing up these policies or just present a war plan? >> look, they always have their views and they always express them and that's fine. i'm always in favor of finding a diplomatic solution here but
you're not going to find any solution that focuses solely on chemical weapons. the issue is, how do you end this civil war peacefully and is it possible? i don't believe it's possible with assad in power. but it may be possible if we have leverage but so far we've not even provided gas masks to the free syrian army. if we want leverage and want to have influence over the final outcome, whatever that turns out to be in syria, we need allies on the ground in syria because we've made it clear we're not putting americans on the ground in syria. the only allies that would be important to us is the allies of the free syrian army. as any officer or general will tell you, the enemy gets to vote. so when we come back, we're going to ask what happens after the strikes? how will syria respond and how should the united states prepare
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today. liberty mutual insurance -- responsibility. what's your policy? and we are back with our shadow national security council war gaming the syria operation. wesley clark, nicholas burns, paul wolfowitz and james steinberg. general clark, tell us what you expect is the likely syrian response to a series of strikes
as you say maybe two or three days of it. what do you expect them to do? hunger down or retaliate in some way? >> i think the greater likelihood is they will hunger down. if they try to retaliate, they may try to retaliate with some anti-missile with some force out in the mediterranean. obviously their force is going to try to shoot back at anything they've got a target on. >> james steinberg, if they do hunger down, part of the problem for the united states and the coalition operations is how do you know whether you've won? how do you -- what yardstick do you use at that point? let's say we're three days into this operation and we decide that's just enough and stop? >> well, i think you have to go into the operation first with a military objective, which is to decide what capabilities of his you want to damage or destroy and to have your own benchmark
about what is the level of harm that you've inflicted or effectiveness that you've imposed on him. again, it has to be in the broader strategy. what you don't want to see happen is him dust himself off, take the blow, and carry on as if nothing has happened. you have to think not only about the first strike but then how do you posture yourself so that at the end he rides it out. >> you want to arm the rebels because you want to divisively shift the balance of power. what do you say to those people within the u.s. mail tear who say, look, we've been trying to find these rebels, hundreds if not more militias, some of them are radical allied with al qaeda. others are not. in any event, this is much more difficult to do and don't pin your hopes on this. >> fareed, we had a lot more options two years ago.
the opposition has become more radicalized because we've sat on our hands. i would -- i don't believe we've tried very hard to do anything for the people that are identified as moderates, the free syrian army. face it, we don't want to send in american troops. you've got hezbollah fighters, assad fighters, you've got al qaeda fighters. the only people who might promise something better are the free syrian army and we should be supplying them with both lethal and nonlethal weapons and i -- one thing that is very confused in the strategy now, sometimes the president seems to say we're not aiming to shift the balance of forces in syria. sometimes he talks to senator mccain and senator graham and says we are. i think it is essential that we do so. i tend to agree assad has got enough on his hands without retaliating but he is certainly going to step up the pressure on the opposition to demonstrate that he's not defeated and may even claim he's the victor from our strikes. it's important to make clear he's not. >> wes clark, could you arm and
train these rebels, given what you know about them? >> i think there's an army and training program going on. some can be but i think -- and again, i'm not trying to -- let me step out of the chairman of the jcs for a moment. if they are going to be successful, they are going to have to occupy some piece of ground inside syria and claim it as their own. that's the way movements like this succeed. bosnia would never have happened if it simply would have been in paris saying, please kick the serbs out of bosnia. and what happened in kosovo happened because people were on the ground and there was a strong political force associated with the fighters. so the free syrian army has to have some politics behind it and it has to have some territory. can people be trained to fight? of course they can be trained to fight. can it be done overnight? no, it takes months to build a chain of command, to rehearse,
to prepare these people, to equip they. that's what's been going on. but what we really are after is what paul says. you've got to have the political diplomatic impact of this and to do that you've got to have somebody on the other side of the table from assad. >> but you raise an important point, which is that the free syrian army does not seem to control much territory at this point. i think i saw a report that said syria's 14 major cities it doesn't control any. nicholas burns, let me ask you about the intriguing prospect you raise, which is, let's say this operation takes place, it has some success. you want to then use that to try to build on it and get some kind of negotiated settlement, a political settlement. how would you do this and do you think the russians will play ball? >> well, the united states has to find a way to unite the use of force with a follow on diplomatic strategy and sometimes they can reinforce each other as they did in bosnia
and kosovo very successfully under president clinton's leadership. and that implies that a strike is significant enough to deter assad and senator cane has been making that very good point. if that's the case, if assad can be effectively intimidated, there might be a possibility for the united states then to launch another diplomatic effort under secretary kerry to see if we can work with a very cynical russian government to bring about a cease fire. there's a humanitarian catastrophe under way in syria and they need relief from that. but let's become even more ambitious. is there a way to bring iran in those talks on the nuclear issue and that is, have direct conversations with them and try to begin a way to work with this very new iranian government, test them to see if they are willing to adopt some kind -- a more pragmatic policy themselves
in syria. there are lots of opportunities but it all starts with the effective use of military power so it has to be significant enough in a strike capacity. >> all right. james steinberg, we're going to have to go but if you were running this national security council meeting, any decisions you need taken that were not taken? any last thoughts? >> i do think that one of the critical decisions we have to make is what do we need to be prepared for in terms of retaliation? it's not just the syrian military. we have to think about hezbollah and others who will be tempted to try to use this and to harm american interests to go after american civilians. so we need to make sure we have a good posture worldwide to protect americans and then to reinforce nick's point, we have to have a full-court press afterwards when all is said and done, assad is not able to carry on with his efforts as if the strike had never happened. >> gentlemen, thank you. very, very, interesting
successful meeting. up next, what in the world? when president obama visited sweden, he could have gotten some tips on them on cutting-edge capitalism. from sweden, you might say? yes. i will explain. everyone has their own way of doing things. at university of phoenix we know learning is no different. so we offer personalized tools and support, that let our students tackle the challenge of going back to school, like they do anything else... their way.
now for a what in the world segment. conservatives often describe president obama as a socialist. according to these critics, the president's goal is something called swedenization, sky-high taxes and bloated government and ruinous welfare policies. well, the president should have taken some of these conservatives with him to sweden this week. they would have found a country very different from their imagination and from the socialist sweden of the past. you know how conservatives hate death taxes? guess which country has no inheritance tax? sweden. sweden is characterized by very free markets, freer and less regulated than the united states in many sectors, it does have
high income taxes but it uses these to fund things like health care and pensions that are far more efficiently run than their counterparts in america. sweden tends to be near the top of most rankings on quality of life and competitiveness but the old image of sweden has some truth to it. 20 years ago, in 1995, sweden had the largest government in europe as a share of the economy. about 65% of its gdp was government spending. since then, sweden has been reforming, opening up its economy and becoming market friendly and efficient. by 2012, government spending had fallen by a fifth. sweden is now in sixth place behind even france. another outdated notion is that the swedish model of generous health care and affordable education would run up enormous budget deficits. in fact, while america's deficit is 5.7 of gdp, sweden is 0.5% of
gdp. or consider labor markets while the u.s. bailed out general motors and chrysler, sweden did exactly the opposite. the iconic saab was allowed to go bankrupt. voel voe was acquired by the chinese. it turns out that the socialist sweden is not as crazy as the right would have to believe. the changes in the last two decades reveal a sweedish government and people who are very pragmatic and adaptable. when the prime minister came to power as part of a center right coalition in 2006, he moved to cut corporate taxes so the swedish companies now pay lower tax rates than american ones and the downsizing of government is part of a regional trend in neighboring norway the leader expected to win next week's elections is a conservative running on a campaign to cut taxes. slowly but surely scandinavian
countries are moving away from big government to smart government. despite the tax cuts and recent moves to the right, scandinavian countries are big spenders but increasingly effective spenders. so sweden may have been a last-minute addition on obama's schedule but that doesn't mean that there are important lessons to learn there. they have picked the best of right and left in some cases. it's time we redefine the word swedenization. up next, more on syria. did the president of the united states really need to go to congress to authorize a strike? it's a fascinating but murky question and we have the debate for you. peace of mind is important when you're running a successful business.
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i'm candy crowley in washington with a check of the headlines. the obama administration is ratcheting up support for approval of striking syria. the disturbing videos of chemical attack victims could move undecided members of congress to back the president. >> those videos make it clear to people that these are real human beings, real children, parents being affected in ways that are
unacceptable to anybody anywhere by any standards. >> as of now, president obama does not have the votes in congress. he will be making his case on syria when he sits down tomorrow with cnn's wolf blitzer at 6:00 p.m. eastern. cnn will also have coverage of the primetime speech on tuesday. australian has a new prime minister. tony abbott beat kevin rudd on saturday. abbott represents the center right coalition promises to run a trustworthy government. japan has been chosen to host the 2020 olympic games. tokyo last hosted the olympics back in 1964. "reliable sources" is on at the top of the hour. now back to far read za care yea
gpp. >> what are you powers of the united states? does president obama have the power to order strikes against another nation without consulting congress? did president obama weaken executive powers by actually consulting with congress on syrian strikes? these questions have been swirling around and i wanted to get to the bottom of them. joining me now, jeffrey toobin is, of course, cnn's senior legal analyst and a staff writer at "the new yorker" and steven grieves runs the freedom project at the heritage foundation. welcome. jeff, let me start with you. does the president, in your opinion, have the legal authority to essentially wage war against another country without consulting with congress? >> not in these circumstances. i think he's required to go to congress or the united nations or nato or acquire some sort of legal justification for what he's doing other than he thinks it's a good idea there. is no direct threat to american nationals or national securities
here, national security. and i think he needs some sort of authorization as it seems to me every president has had since world war ii, which is the last time we actually had a formal congressional declaration of war. >> but expand on that, jeffrey, for a second. i can think of so many strikes when clinton ordered strikes against al qaeda, against saddam hussein. he didn't even notify congress until it happened. >> well, i think you can draw distinctions among all of those situations. with clinton it was self-defense. it was al qaeda which had attacked american embassies and american ships. with grenada it was defense of american civilians in grenada and if you look at the other circumstances where war was planned in advance, i think there was authorization.
whether it was through congress in the two iraq wars or through nato as in bosnia or through the united nations in libya a few months ago. i think presidents both for the legal -- the legitimacy of their own tenure and also for their own political good, there has to be some sort of justification other than they think that it's just a good idea. >> steven, what do you think? >> fareed, i fall on the other side of the spectrum. the commander in chief power is in our executive and putting aside for a moment whether or not strikes on syria would be a prudent thing to do, i believe that the president does have the authority to have such strikes without going to congress, without going to the united nations, without going to anyone else. there could be political and diplomatic ramifications for doing so but the authority is there and it must rest there. now, congress has checks on that ability.
they can decide not to declare war, they can decide not to fund a war but the ability for the executive to have the power to act quickly, to secure our national interests, to defend ourselves and in the case of syria, if strikes are done, to eradicate the ability to fire off chemical weapons is something that the executive power has to have without seeking authority from some other source. >> do you think, steven, that he has weakened presidential power by setting the president that seems to suggest that he needs to go to congress? >> i think this is -- as mr. toobin said, each incident is different. in this particular instance, i think it is a bad precedent. if his goal is to neutralize the ability to make chemical strikes, we have telegraphed our strategy, our tactics to assad. and we're going to congress. we've stretched out the period of time that assad has to thwart those plans and then by going to
congress, congress is trying to legislate this war, which is a bad idea. the current resolution being debated in the senate says something about no boots on the ground. well, you can't restrict a president's power, the commander in chief's power once we go to war. we have to have all options available. >> jeff, you made a distinction i want to understand a little better. you were talking about either congressional authority or something from the u.n. but the constitution doesn't have -- say anything about the u.n. authorization. presumably the crucial thing from a constitutional point of view is whether or not you need congressional authorization for the president to act. why would the u.n. or nato be sufficient? >> fareed, i don't want to pretend that i think if you look at the history of the last 30 years there is a perfectly logically consistent line here. i mean, i am advocating a position that i think largely should be followed, has mostly been followed but i don't want
to pretend that this is some wild aboration if obama would have done it on his own. i think this has really been a practical change to how both americans and even members of congress feel about the use of military force that the sanctions of our treaty obligations, whether it's our obligations in the united nations or in nato in the case of bosnia, those are authorizations in and of themselves for military action. the fact that we are part of the security council and when the security council authorizes a military action, that's authorization for us. same with nato. you're right. that is not formally part of the constitution but i think as part of the common law of the international law has developed the past 30 years, i think they are legitimate substitutes for
congressional authorization. but remember, obama has nothing so far and that's why i think it's important that he get some sort of authorization. >> final thought from you, steven? >> there are times when it makes sense for the president to go to congress, particularly when there's going to congress on this syria resolution where there is going to be steep splits in both houses and we will not present any type of united front is really fraught with danger. >> if i could just respond, i think that's the time precisely when you should go to congress because going to war is such a great step that you need authorization when the country is divided about it. >> we're going to keep debating this and come back to it. jeff, steve, thank you.
up next, the philospher bernard on france and syria and much more. [ male announcer ] this is brad. his day of coaching begins with knee pain, when... [ man ] hey, brad, want to trade the all-day relief of two aleve for six tylenol? what's the catch? there's no catch. you want me to give up my two aleve for six tylenol? no. for my knee pain, nothing beats my aleve.
deliberates whether to strike syria, i wanted to get the perspective of a french man who has been arguing for intervention since the start. bernard-henri levy was instrumental in getting the world to react with libya. he wrote an article called at kwfr gadhafi, assad." explain this particularly with the president sarkozy, we talked about france as being unusually supportive of america, sarkozy was called in france often the american, the neoconservative but along this traditional french socialist, people who have been very suspicious of america and american power. >> yeah. but what people don't always know is that there is such a strong link between france and america in general, beyond the political borders. it's in the same position as
sarkozy regarding the alliance. if you look well, there was many problems between france at the time and in the critical periods, he was always on the side of america. this is not new. >> when general pershing arrived in world war i, american forces arrived, as they got off, he said, lafayette, we are back. >> absolutely. in world war ii he liberated us -- we liberated you once and you liberated us twice. and now what i see and i'm happy of that is obama hand in hand in this terrible situation in syria. >> but the public in europe seems very such spaciospicious . how would you describe the public in france? >> it is improving. a few days ago, you were right.
i think the wise obama decision to speak to the congress, to deliver the proof to put evidence on the line and so on, all of this created the real progress everywhere, even in france. people are realizing, are understanding in france that it is a matter of human rights and a matter of collective security. people are understanding that if we don't act in syria, will we lose any credibility if we have to act one day but north korea or iran, this argument which is one of the main argument for the obama administration, has a real weight in france, too. >> one of the reasons i was supportive of the intervention in libya is it struck me there were many forces that were pro western, pro secular, you could
understand them and talk to them and understand how they wanted to shape the country. in syria, do you worry that so many of the forces seem to be quite sectarian, quite violent and i think it's because the regime was quite violent. so there is a radicalization of the opposition that makes me worry, who are these people and then you see the violence that they, the opposition is able to perpetrate. >> of course. there is a radicalization of the opposition. that's true. but on the other side, on bashar al assad, everybody seems to forget that the allies of bashar al assad is iran. hezbollah, who are the best warriors of bashar al assad, hezbollah is not what they would call -- and until a few months, hamas, which was sheltered, the
political headquarters of hezbollah was in damascus. so you already have islam on the two sides. but what i believe and that is what has been proven by libya, if the west intervenes, if the congress and doctors as i hope president obama, if the congress endorse if obama is allowed to strike, you will say -- you will see how the landscape in the opposition will move. if obama does not strike, the radical islamists will take the lead. if the west appears to be on the good side, which is the side of the people, the radical islamists will lose ground in the opposition. it is always like this. when the west takes the lead, the pro west take advantage. when the west is munich spirit,
then the islamic radicalists take credit and that's one of the reasons why it is so important for the international community for the west, for america, for france to build this strong alliance. >> do you believe what happened in egypt with the generals taking control is a good thing or a bad thing? >> it's a bad thing because of the way it has been done. because the brutality of the coup, because the blood bath. you cannot pretend to restore democracy when you do it this way. the good thing is but even
without the coup that the muslim brother have tried to prove to be bad, corrupted, nepotist, unable. this is the good news, in egypt, coup or no coup, and in a good sense weakened and if there were elections, if there is election as the military promised in the next month, you will see the result will be very different than the last time. >> bernard-henri levy, always a pleasure to have you on. up next, the best weapon to fight the taliban might be a bus. i will explain.
stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer. go to cnn.com/far read. lots of inside aanalysis. follow us on twitter and facebook. also, remember, go to facebook.com/fareed. it's called the age of edison by ernest fredberg. there were huge effects, transformed life in america and the west and everywhere. and now for the last look. the americans and their international allies have not been able to defeat the taliban with vehicles like this. so are we to believe that the pakistanis can deal a death blow to the taliban with a bus? well, that's the hope. how? well, this isn't just a bus.
if you step inside, you'll see it's a mobile courtroom, meant to deal with the backlog of cases in pakistan's system. the huge delay in cases being heard has brought great frustration with the government and here in the northwest of pakistan that often means turning to the taliban to judge disputes. the idea here is that the bus and its express route to service will build up confidence and the government. next up might be kabul. that's not the plan but it might be a good idea. the afghan capital is less than 200 miles away from peshawar where pakistan is and they sure could use some help against the taliban as well. the correct answer to our gps challenge question was c, richard nixon. he may be better known for his historic first visit to china but he was also the first sitting president to visit
russia in may of 1972. he had traveled there before as vice president in 1959 when he took part in the infamous kitchen debate with soviet premier krush shauf. i will see you next week. stay tuned for "reliable sources." around the world this week, the news about syria raised questions about america. what are america's motives? is it a nation of war or the great defender of human rights? public perception may hinge on where the news comes from. >> the senate foreign relations committee gave the president the united states what he wanted. the authority to use military might against syria. >> president obama and secretary of state john kerry keep asserting over and over again that they believe they have the right to go on their own, even if congress says no. >> it seems that washington's priority at the moment is to send