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tv   Inside Washington  PBS  September 8, 2013 12:30pm-1:01pm PDT

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>> production assistance for "inside washington" is provided by albritton communications and "politico." reporting on the legislative, executive, and political arena. in the face of such barbarism, the international community cannot be silent. >> this week on "inside washington" -- the president hard-sell. is a guarantee us on will do it again. >> it is the red line debate. the credibility debate. i think that would be
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catastrophic because it would undermine the credibility of the united data that america and the president. the odd couple, obama and putin. >> weekend and this much more rapidly if russia takes a different approach to these problems. couple, boehner and pelosi. hundreds were killed and we must respond. iraqi andsts of the the response of the american people. to war with not go syria. we should mind their own business.
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>> british parliament says no on syria. the french is said to be divided. the russians, we know whose side putin is on. it seems to be a coalition of the unwilling when it comes to responding to serious use of chemical weapons. the question at home is whether congress will abandon president obama as well. >> i do not see that our involvement will lessen the tragedy page of history is full of opportunities of moments where someone did not act and it could've made a difference. >> i do not think we should have given up so easy on using the united nations. there you have senator rand for. senator utah resolution was approved by a vote of 10 -- seven.
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first question, by seeking congressional approval for serious, has president obama put his second term at risk? >> i think the key facet of that presentation, which was compelling, was tom udall of mexico, democrat, running for reelection, has been a supporter of the white house, expressing the reservations and question about the unilateral action. we have allies who are willing to hold our coats with libya but are not willing to do anything. basically, it amounts to unilateral action by the u.s. to achieve a deterrent. thehe problem is the way president has gone about seeking congressional authorization. there was a general feeling that he should do this to seek congressional authorization, and he did, but he did it in a reactive way.
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it was not as if he thought through a strategy for serious and then went to the congress and laid out a strategy. instead, he decided, after a 45 -- minute walk in the south lawn of the white house, to seek congressional authorization. that is not the way that you lead. will say it. obama should not have gone to this congress. who, in america looks to this congress for solutions? who thinks our congress today is a font of wisdom? the fact is, obama blinked. he took a walk in the garden, and what affected him the most was that the british parliament did not want to join in a military strike. caredrge washington had with the british parliament did, we would be driving on the left side of the roadoday. what obama wanted was shared responsibility for what he was about to do. he went to congress and made it
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a shared paralysis. does it look like on the hill, does the president have the votes? not have them now. there are a lot of people who have not been briefed. a lot of people the white house has not talked to yet. this is a work in progress. the senate looks like it will have a close boat but his chances there are better. by the bloomberg count, there is anywhere from 250 to 290 people who have yet to declare themselves. that is a lot of people. the biggest thing the president has going for him is nancy pelosi. way of cominganny up with exactly the number of votes needed and she is in his corner on this. years ago,ad traveled there when she became speaker and brought a message
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from the israeli government, that they were willing to have peace talks. she thought she was doing something good and now she is worth five and want to get this past. >> she is on the same page as john boehner. >> she is. ,he republican house leadership including eric cantor. are not even, they getting a third of house republicans. let me dissent on the point of going to congress. i think this is so important. anytime you are going to war, you need a full public debate. that is the regular order, that is the constitutional order, and if you want to look at the most recent history, george h w bush, in 1991, got the ratification of the united nations to support a democratic congress before he went into drive saddam hussein out of kuwait and bacterial baghdad. it was the last and perhaps only
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sustained american victory since nationsr ii, with 31 taking part. that is the model, if you are really going to act. in order to do so, you have to enlist public support. who isles krauthammer, usually at my right here said in his column, there is no strategy or purpose here other than helping obama avoid self- inflicted humiliation. he says basically this is an exercise in political cover. >> i disagree with that, but the problem the president has on the hill is what they are going to do. charles mentioned this in his column. when you talk about a pinprick, ,ending a shout crossed the bow people do not know what that means. when you look at the hearings,
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it is a policy of evolution. all of a sudden it is not a pinprick or shot across the bow. it is to degrade assad's capacity to deliver chemical weapons, degrade its capability in the air, destroy some of the runways. you hear these things, but in the q&a. talking about things they do not typically talk about in public and they do not want to talk about in public, so then you choose euphemisms because in the new of saying something straightforward, because you cannot do it over the airwaves, so the president needs to do something tuesday night to bring clarity to this. if congress says no, does he do it anyway? >> no, he cannot. his military advisers say they will not. look at the language they are using.
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john kerry says if we do not do something, we would be spectators to slaughter, the slaughter of children. we have looked at a moment of infamy. he is comparing it to the attack on pearl harbor. but if congress votes no, we are not going to do anything. how can you balance that? >> i have no problem going to the congress, but what are you telling them, asking them to do? should the line be drawn on chemical weapons? what is the difference if a kid get killed by a cluster bomb, or killed by a chemical weapon? napalm is not nice either, but we used it. just get the argument clear. we have to move along, basically the same subject for the whole program, the red line and the credibility argument. >> i did not set a red line. the world said a red line when
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governments representing 98% of the world population said the use of chemical weapons are aborted. abhorrent. >> it conjures up the thought of the uncertain trumpet. there is exactly the reason why there is not a large coalition wanting to support the president. what rumsfeld means is that is the reason there is not a large coalition willing to support the president. i know that you are no fan of his, but does he have a point here? >> the president talks about the red line, the geneva convention, when they took this position against chemical weapons. but since 1925, that red line has been crossed several times. you had examples of the russians having done it in afghanistan, it in these did
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conflict in the 1930's. mussolini did it against ethiopia. it has been done before. i come back to the question of the use of chemical weapons versus the cluster bombs that has killed so many children in iraq as well. i am not sure that is the basis for doing what you're going to do. >> let me go to the credibility argument. a marine combat veteran from new to believeys i want my commander-in-chief, but i think he has let us down, we have lost credibility in the world. he does not believe an attack on syria would restore the credibility. how seriously do we take this thread to credibility? takeshink the president
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it seriously and that is why he is going to go ahead with this strike, if congress backs him up. aarone says i did not set red line, the world said a red line, and how come the world is not set up behind us? he set the red line. he said the line more than a year ago, last year. the red line was crossed in august. here we are in september. , and he hasesponse handcuffed himself to a limited, targeted, short response, no boots on the ground strike. we do not know what possible damage you can do to syria with such a limited strike. >> let's say congress approves this and he sends the cruise usesles in and then assad chemical weapons again.
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what then? general dempsey testified before the house and senate. it is not just a matter of sending in missiles. they believe they can degrade assad's capacity to deliver chemical weapons because they would destroy some of the infrastructure needed to do that. it is not just getting up the weapons themselves, but getting at the ability to deliver. knocking out aircraft, air , the, the runways airstrips. that is what they believe they can do. the timetable is not urgent. they can do this at any time. we mentioned odd couples, how about penpals? pope francis wrote to resident through 10. -- to putin. iiyou will recall, john paul
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, tose the u.s. war in iraq the point of sending his emissary to the white house to speak to george w. bush, a man of faith, to express that opposition. that, to me, is not a major surprise. acknowledged in the debate, it is not just petty or partisan, but there is a partficant main diminished of the american people in military intervention. to the problem, especially in the middle east. your original question, has he put his credibility on the line? yes, he has. the repercussions of a loss are bigger than syria. >> not only syria, it goes into everything. look at the agenda this fall. after that, does immigration go
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down in the house? cr?r that, what about the >> let's talk about the ghosts of iraq. nott is limited, does involve boots on the ground. this is not iraq and not afghanistan. >> iraqi is as big a mess now as it was then. that was senator john mccain getting an earful from a constituent out a town hall meeting. we will get to the public opinion polls in a few minutes. your thoughts about how iraqi and afghanistan have limited the presidents options abroad. shadow of the second more indirect, the lies about the fact that saddam did not have the weapons of mass destruction, are a huge drag on this debate. everything john kerry says, it has to be footnoted 15 times,
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and then people are looking to shoot bullets through those footnotes. it is a huge drag on the argument because the public, rightly, has a very high bar when it comes to believing these kinds of accusations. has got themssad because somebody used them. that part of the argument is not hard to make. it is the second argument about what we are going to do about it and it will it work. chuck hagel remembers iraq, general dempsey remembers iraq. our intelligence has scrubbed the evidence on this. isaside from anger, there real wariness in this country over now what is going on. the president says i understand a certain weariness after afghanistan, i understand certain suspicions after iraqi. well, yes, why shouldn't we be weary and suspicious?
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that is a normal, proper reaction to what is going on now. john kerry said before the senate, we are not the world's policeman. yes, we are. if we are going to be the country that punishes another country for slaughtering children, ok, fine. but let's put the truth to it. we are the world's police. >> so we are going to police iran, hezbollah? the offing and that is in the sublime message for why we have to act in syria. if not, it will embolden iran and put israel and the entire middle east in jeopardy. an army does not fight a war, a country fights a war. i urine for presidential says-- yearn t for presidential leadership that says that.
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we have boots on the ground, young american men and women who are at risk. believe me, if we are going to do something of this importance to the nation, maybe we pay a nickel extra, whatever. we are tired of watching these wars, but we have not been part of them. we have had no skin in the game. i have not seen senators going to funerals on a regular basis. residents going to funerals of those who have fallen. >> you talk about weariness. we got burned over iraq. we went into afghanistan to get and now we are in a larger conflict that we are trying to get out of. this is a problem of our own making. the president has not even talked about the consequences --
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in syria, for example, there will be a response from you ran. there will be a response from hezbollah. what do we do then? >> henry allen, pulitzer prize fight forys we do not land, hatred, wrench, the usual occasionalg with the bout of oil, we fight for virtue. we would fire our missiles only to punish sin. where do the american people stand on this? >> obama going in alone would not be the best action. >> i think it enough is enough. >> my short answer to this is not know, but hell no. >> we are seeing similar
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reactions in town hall meetings. in recent polls. the president is way out on a limb here. is, and we must have learned this from experience, you go to war with a specific defined objective, with overwhelming force, with the support and understanding of what your objective is and what the exit point is, and with popular understanding and support. i think that in a democracy is essential and is missing. the president on tuesday night has to begin to turn public opinion that what he is doing is wise, necessary, and in the best interest of the united states. >> i agree with mark that a lot on the senate vote may be scheduled soon thereafter. i think the public is paying attention but they do not
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understand it. they know it is terrible, these children are dead, but they do not understand the rest of it. he said on friday he knows that, he saw the poll numbers, he knew it would be a heavy lift, but now he needs to step up and lift the load on congress. >> can he do it? >> he probably can't get the not probably, possibly he can get it. the problem is, this is all backwards. this is the kind of thing that you do on the front end, not the back. you have made a commitment to go in with a military strike and you have to argue your point internationally. away from russia with any significant international backing. behind in the congress because he made no effort to get it done. walter litman once wrote that
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a successful foreign policy is one that unites the american people. by that standard, this is not successful foreign policy. this has divided the american people. i think the people understand what happened in syriac, but i do not think they like our response. >> let me invoke callback to the question of what happens in this resolution fails. thatard john mccain say this could undermine the credibility of the united states and the president. what are the one to consequences of failure be at home and internationally? you are facing is a deadline, dropdead date. we have the budget ceiling, funding of the federal government, immigration, the great crown jewel of the -- is that undermined? does this embolden those opposed to the
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president? thee is just a sense that domestic agenda of the president is undermined and sabotaged. >> i think there is a group in the house of about 41 that have voted pretty much against everything the president has asked for. too, y get this victory, imagine. talk about emboldening assad. it would embolden that wayne. they would have tasted a high- profile victory in defeating and diminishing the president. i think they then would really lock horns and become big up structuralists when we get to the debt ceiling, which is the biggest fight we have going on out there, and that is when they will attach different kinds of spending cuts and that sort of thing and will be looking for another win at that point.
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>> a defeat would diminish his presidency. not just the legislative agenda, but his presidency. domestically and internationally. he is a president that cannot deliver on something as fundamental as this issue. there is no fallback position. his administration has got to see this as the most urgent task in front of them. internationally, iran, north korea, nuclear weapons. john mccain said domestic policy can defeat us but foreign policy can kill us. believe thatlready democracy does not work, that it is paralytic, that it is too slow, that only a strong leader with all power can run a country in the modern era. a vote byely,
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congress to reject the president's passionate appeals and do nothing lends credence to what they believe about democracy. >> who is in his corner, who did a good job for him? given where john kerry was a week ago on this, it is remarkable. you kerry did not think should go to congress but suddenly he is leading the charge. also that is raising the question of the authenticity of this policy. i give him great marks for his advocacy, but does he really believe it? former defense secretary bob gates says he should do it. general dempsey is also up there. what do we think of his performance? appearance, general dempsey would have preferred to have a root canal. bringerry does
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perspective and a history on this issue. his first appearance before the senate foreign relations committee was as a young vietnam veteran opposing the more. toond, he admitted earlier being a believer in assad. and he does bring passion to the issue, which has been missing. did do a good job but the american public are not listening to him. they need to hear from the president. this is where president obama could borrow something from president bush. he needs to be clear and forthright on tuesday if he is going to persuade people. bush would be glad to hear that. you get the last word. thank you.
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>> hello and a very warm welcome to "european journal" coming to you from dw studios in brussels. here's what's coming up today -- romania, the village that's home to the kings. germany, the box sleigh ride that threatens a world heritage title. and poland, the ban that divides a country. the netherlands' biggest art
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