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tv   Cross Talk  RT  September 4, 2013 3:29am-4:01am EDT

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oh unwelcoming crosstalk are all things are considered i'm peter lavelle syria and barack obama's convoluted path to war the american administration is determined to punish the assad regime's alleged use of chemical weapons other than members of mainstream media many are skeptical of the president's claims and the necessity to attack syria so what is obama's plan and does it make any sense.
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to cross talk the war in syria i'm joined by phyllis bennis in washington she is director of the new internationalism project at the institute for policy studies also in washington we have cynthia snyder she is a professor at georgetown university and a senior nonresident fellow with the brookings institution and in new york we cross to jason hurst lawyer he is a writer political commentator and contributor to counterpunch dissident voice and other political communities cross talk rules and i think that means you can jump in anytime you want and i very much encourage it so let's go to you first in washington a lot of people would say that obama's approach to syria doesn't even pass the laugh test these days i mean he's going to congress someone has to be punished and irrespective what congress says he can do what he wants so explain his plan to me if you understand it. i don't think it's a laughing matter this the consequences are very very severe and i think we have to
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take it very seriously i think that what's going on here is that president obama was broadsided by the decision in britain of the house of commons to vote against the possibility of going to war in syria and unlike the presidency in a prime minister's situation the prime minister made the decision that he was not going to go ahead in the face of strong opposition from the british parliament facing that facing the lack of any possible support in the united nations security council which is the only way a military strike could be legal no support from nato no support from the arab league i think that the obama administration said you know what we're too isolated here let's go to congress and get them on board the problem is congress right now is not in the mood to be supporting military strikes for a host of different reasons not all of which are good healthy reasons i would say but for a variety of reasons the possibility of president obama winning support for his plan which calls for in his words
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a very small narrow light small small small use of of cruise missiles against syria which of course doesn't take into account what happens the day after what happens if syria retaliates because it may not see a attack by cruise missiles as such a small step none of that is being talked about so it becomes a very dangerous possibility very dangerous in terms of expanding the level of violence both within syria and in the region as a whole illegal whether or not there is congressional approval because the u.n. security council require is required if if an action is going to be legal saying that we have a coalition it doesn't mean he did so and so allow that in international law it sounds like obama wants a coalition with the united states. which there was i do so do you agree or disagree with her. well i agree with her but i would put less emphasis. on the importance of first of all u.n. approval we've acted without un approval before and as long as russia and china are
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going to automatically veto this is the whole thing becomes you know irrelevant and hopeless i think president obama unfortunately because he little snatch defeat from the jaws of victory you know he made a strong case for a response i think he managed to alienate potential supporters by then qualifying it one hundred times over and basically sending an evil eye to assad with all the details of the response but he nonetheless made a strong case for a response and then by now going. to put on what is the strong case in your mind a lot of people are very is that he has used chemical weapons and there is really no doubt about that despite what the russians are saying and president obama himself said this was a red line he has no choice but to enforce it and you know this is some such
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a violation of human rights of international law that i think you know it depends on what you have you experienced it's very. like. don't you think you need evidence jason wayne. plenty of evidence ok. right ahead and jump in. yeah absolutely the first the first priority is to establish the veracity of the claim and the white house hasn't done that have we so quickly forgotten the iraq war the buildup to the iraq war where they were all of the evidence was found to be false and here we are in a situation where the white house is claiming one thing the international community is claiming another and we've. all rushed to a war and it's just the president wanted to prevent the you in the gate of team from actually assessing this site because it was so anxious to get its missile
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attack sanctioned i just think we're repeating the iraq war build up again it's a four step process you know you ignore. the voice of your own people right now only nine percent of people support any intervention in syria you ignore the united nations normally you ignore congress but i think obama caught some flak for the way he approached the libyan attack in which he called up the department of justice and said scrabble together some legal casuistry that i can use to justify this war and in that instance the department of justice said well the supply of arms the supply of missiles drone attacks do not collectively amount to hostilities therefore there is no war therefore there's no reason to go to congress i think he's learned his lesson on that and it's the right thing to do to go to congress but i think well even if ok jason. yeah because they have told us that this is this is just trickery
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this is put that this is legal trickery something we don't head. we need to look at a couple of different issues here one is how solid is the evidence and i think that simply i'm sorry but it isn't only the russians who are questioning the veracity of the evidence of who did it the us position itself the formal four page release of the unclassified version said that there is high confidence that the regime did it without evidence of what it was but their conclusion is high confidence and that the possibility that the attack was carried out by the rebel forces is very unlikely ok that's a far cry from absolute certainty and if you're asking people to go to war on that basis you need absolute certainty that's number one number two more important in my way of thinking is that even if position the use of chemical weapons is a huge crime against humanity it needs an international response what about the
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obligations on the u.s. and russia and every other country who is a signatory to the chemical weapons treaty the treaty says that if there is a violation by any one state who is a signatory or anyone who is not a signatory the first thing that should happen is that all those signatories should meet and decide collectively what to do about it the issue isn't that you either want to go to war or let them get away with it this was the george bush line after nine eleven you either let him get away with it or go to war that's the only option the option is forced diplomacy the option is convene the chemical weapons treaty the option is strengthen the international criminal court the option is send international human rights monitors there's a host of of important things we should be doing that are not military that are not illegal what we're being told is that the choice is either military force or nothing and that's a false dichotomy that pushing people to support military force who even know that
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it's already illegal because it doesn't have u.n. security council authority ok so you want to jump in there replied well i agree. i absolutely agree with you that there should be a lot more being said besides simply the use of military force i totally agree with you and the international but it is an excellent statement out and for sizing the importance of diplomacy hard tough diplomacy accompanying this wes clark made so i'm going to give the military side some kind of way out but i think with all due respect i used to serve in the hague where the chemical weapons treaty was to negotiate where that body since i think it's a wonderful idea for them to meet and deliberate i think it's a wonderful idea to strengthen the i.c.c. perhaps the united states should join first but all of these things will take an extremely extremely long time and what is not the same as the iraq war with all due
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respect are the dead the dead children and people that we have seen so this isn't some mustard gas. it's only going to. go to jail is the option just to kill more people i mean it's not syria. well absence of all we're not talking about going to a story that's not what's under g. so you're going to tell me what it is a surgical strikes will do to we do so well as a series of surgical strikes actually eliminate the threat of chemical warfare i mean what what exactly are they supposed to achieve we've got we've got four or five different conflicts emerging in syria right now you've got a proxy conflict with the us arms to flow into the rebel groups you've got a sectarian conflict merging between the sunni the shia and the alawite you've got
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an ethnic conflict now you have the old news we're front driving kurds into iraq and you've got. probably was the beginning of the civil uprising so go civic conflict going on as well and i don't know that a couple of limited strikes is going to produce the kind of change or stablished the kind of safety for the population that we're looking for since he was going to address that i mean what's a strike for so here is where you have the dispute and you know i am i am not a military expert i am simply going to report what i have read here here you have the dispute of you know how surgical is surgical if you take out sides air capability that makes a huge huge difference and that's that's why for example senator mccain is arguing for and i you know i would agree that doesn't make sense not to do that sort of thing is so surgical that it basically has no impact on the other hand i simply
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don't see how it's possible for the united states not to respond militarily at all people who advocate that it's a different view of the united states and basically takes a backseat as any kind of world leader i was actually in great britain a week ago and i heard directly i was going to i'm going to have to jump you're going to go to a short break after a short break we'll. continue our discussion on syria stay with our. good lumber tour. was able to build
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one of. pleasure to have you with us here on t.v. today i roll researcher. and we. welcome back to cross talk where all things are considered i'm peter lavelle remind you we're discussing the war in syria.
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ok phyllis right before the break you were very much in disagreement with senator you would you like you are talking about the use usefulness of violence committed by the united states against syria go ahead well i think there's two points one is that what the president has proposed is a small surgical limited how many adjectives can we come up with to say it's going to be a really tiny military strike which is not designed to take out any capacity will kill people according to the pentagon because they admit that the cruise missiles are not very are not very controllable in terms of hitting their target so what are we really talking about here we're talking about killing people to punish their government for using the illegal weapon the point is not when we talk about the leadership of the united states i think that cynthia is right that u.s. leadership has been defined solely as military in recent years and right now we're
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seeing a huge crisis of the militarization of u.s. foreign policy the militarization of diplomacy what we need is a return to real diplomacy forceful diplomacy that includes for example an arms embargo on all sides in syria so that we get the russians to stop sending arms to the regime and get the iranians to do the same thing while we get our partners in saudi arabia. and cutter and jordan and turkey to stop arming the other side without that kind of an arms embargo but that's that's i can't prevent going but how could we ever get anyone to do said to the table cynthia go ahead i don't mean i don't think i don't think a certain is right no longer the saudis won't cooperate that's for sure send weapons to the saudis we tell the saudis we're not going to send them any more weapons and we're not going to send them any more spare parts we start telling boeing that we're going to treat them the way the way the agriculture department treats farmers pay them not to produce weapons pay them to retool their factory to
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build solar panels instead of military equipment we've got a lot farther to go to jason carroll that's a good thing right there you go to jason let's go to jason here do you think jason that sounds like a great idea but it's never going to happen there's no political will for that absolutely have to last ten years i think we let it go well we we're in a great position we're in a great position to bring both the rebels and assad to the table the last thing assad wants is a full scale military intervention the last thing the rebels want is to deny deny all of us support if we take our support away the rebel movement i think will collapse and assad will roll roll right over it and reinstall his power but i think we're in a position to bring them to the table but as you say it's never going to happen because i think what we're executing is that old donald rumsfeld plan seven nations in five years really were you know the schedules a little bit off we're going a little slowly but we are i think ultimately trying to isolate iran here and
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getting rid of the assad regime which is an iranian ally potentially then hizbullah and lead. would totally isolate iran and would allow us to clear the field for a build up of an attack against iran's nuclear power capabilities phyllis adult make the possibility of an essential return i've seen you don't you get transitionary. go ahead pick up on it so let's go ahead it does it does make it does make the possibility even greater and this is partly because israel has only recently come into the equation supporting a strike against syria which they had not been supporting earlier largely because the regime of both hafez. despite all the rhetoric about resistance and this and that have actually been very useful to israel kept the occupied golan heights quiet kept the border secured and kept the palestinians in syria under very tight control
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so this has been a very useful regime for israel as a neighbor and only now when there is this threat because of the language of so-called red lines that israel has weighed in saying you can't not respond militarily to a red line being crossed in syria because if you do it wrong you get the idea that a red line can be crossed on their side and we won't respond militarily the problem is again it comes back to what's going to happen the day after syria or iran have enormous possibilities for retaliation against the united states against israel against u.s. allies in the region and there's no talk in washington about what comes next we can talk all we want to about this being a small scale limited war a limited attack but when and if syria or iran or somebody else retaliates the next day then what happens that's what you start hearing about. intervention and boots on the ground if you want to react to that. well i seriously seriously doubt anything about boots on the ground and it's absolutely correct that syria is
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a quagmire and we're not going to try to suppose it's worth whatever action we take but what we what is unfortunate is that i'd like to come back to a situation in the united states what is unfortunate is that president obama has laws i think the advantage he had acting quickly which an action which had to be followed and accompanied indeed by a strong diplomatic pressure and we wouldn't have acted alone we france was willing to act with us and turkey now by taking this much time and not even calling the congress back i think the chances of congress supporting this are slim i can guarantee that when they're and you've already said nine percent among the american public when they're out talking in the public there's not going to be support if this this is a case which really requires international leadership and yet it's also strong international diplomacy and president obama is trying to have it all ways you know
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trying to please everyone and by losing time he gives us plenty of time to prepare for whatever is coming as well as iran and so i fear he may have lost whatever advantage whatever strength may have come from this had he acted earlier jason what do you think of that it gives us time to fight against the possibility that militarization. you have maps in usa today showing the different places where strikes will be conducted it's all know all the talk shows everyone's talking about certainly not a surprise to anyone in syria i'm sure has been doing their best to prepare for it you know i think that president obama if he doesn't get it he was on the television this morning saying that syria represented a direct national security. how is that possible how. it's absurd. it's not possible it's it's a ridiculous claim but he's making his case for congress and when you make
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statements like that i think even a congress says no he will use nato he will go with nato go in really just to save face and not be characterized as. well i'm glad you bring up saving face fearless obama this is his dilemma saving face is credibility what's at stake here go ahead that's it it's going to deliver he has been mis created the ability. breadline is the problem and that's what we're looking at with the excuse that chemical weapons are a violation of international law is absolutely right and i wish that the u.s. had taken that position before it for example sent targeting satellite material to iraq to use chemical weapons against iran during the iran iraq war i wish they had used it to prevent the the the. the small outfit here outside of washington that sent the biological weapons seed stock to saddam hussein's government i wish the u.s. then had said this is it legal we can't be part of it to say it now has
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a bit of hypocrisy there it should be responded to there should be accountability and beverly and i mean what better to that accountability because frankly if he doesn't come militarily nothing in international law allows the use of military force by one country to punish the government of another country for a violation it was not aimed at us this is not self-defense it is not our interests that are at stake here it's the people of syria and if we want to be serious about defending their rights the first thing we can do is not send missiles against them ok cynthia would you like to reply to that. well we have it we have done this one for us in the case of kosovo and have done it effectively so there is a president proposes but with it and and a lot of people were a lot of civilians were killed on telling me to get it and prevent it again so it's not a whole lot of point in arguing about it you know they're going to praise him or at home you know as long as the international law is for my own it's ok things in the
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u.n. will never ok anything it becomes you know a hopeless case but i do think in this case president obama has and it has that relates of a cut and so far up at the knees ok what happened what happened to international along the lines to ask the people of kosovo jason i asked the peace of people of colors of the people who worked well i mean there was a lot are going to be the juncture you say i'm jumping out of there he chases after the nato international law is being disregarded here i mean the supreme as justice robert jackson said he was our chief counsel to the nuremberg trials nazi group war criminals he said the supreme international crime this is been kind of a defective legal international i think legal opinion since the supreme international crime is a war of aggression because it contains within it the kenya late evil of everything that comes after it and i think that's what we're facing here is
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a war of aggression and we haven't even begun to address the fallout of that in the blowback of that war of aggression and we've seen in libya we've ruled by militias now we overthrew the the regime there but now it's ruled by militias iraq is a free nation threatening to split into into three partitions afghanistan is a failed state the nato general just said yesterday they need it may need five more years of nato and u.s. support before the their arms. forces in afghanistan can stand on their own i mean we're just creating we're destabilizing countries all know and i believe that you have to wonder what ok go there you. go ahead so you go ahead i'm in violent agreement with you about the problems of the militarization of u.s. foreign policy you only have to look at egypt for that you know that's all we do is
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deal with the military and they don't even listen to us it's a complete and total failure i agree with you on that i do however think in the case of this humanitarian catastrophe and grows by a lation of international law human rights and every standard you can think of that there needs to be a big response from the united states and i think there has to be some kind of targeted military aspirants kompany by use you know using that as pressure to get the sides to the bargaining table i don't see what are you running out of time to get i hope so i hope all you want to push for diplomacy many thanks indeed my guests in washington and in new york thanks to our viewers for watching us here narky see you next time and remember.
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this is a legal so we leave the. oceans for. a look at the there's the. shoes that no one is there with to get that you deserve answers from. they all told me my language as well but i will only react to situations i have read the reports. like the pollution and no i will leave them to stay current to comment on years latter part of the month to save the exists or k.l. a car is on the docket the bells on. a hill no more weasel words
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fall obama's top officials banging the drums of war at a senate hearing in washington activists inside war torn syria become human guards to shield possible american targets. russia says it could only back the use of force in syria but only if it's proven by the u.n. that the charlotte assad ordered an alleged chemical attack last month and the security council votes for action. also a media watchdog condemns the u.k. government sustained use of strong arm tactics against the press saying security measures are putting harder and freedoms are brisk.


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