tv Inside Story Al Jazeera August 30, 2013 12:30pm-1:01pm EDT
the intelligence reporting. not clear exactly what we are hearing. but what we do know is he will continue to try to build support, for what the response is going to be, whether there will be a response at this time sees inevitable. but the secretary will certainly build on that tough talk earlier this the week when he saw what we saw in syria shocked the conscious of the world, calling eight moral obscenity that defies any code of morality. >> and certainly it was quite a blow, to the u.s. yesterday that one of our staunchest allies great britain will not be going along with us on this. i would at some point the secretary of state will address that as well. >> perhaps he will. secretary of defense hagel addressed that privately yesterday. he was asked some questions there about the coalition, mentioned that partners need to make decisions on their own. that countries will certainly have the right to do so. but indicated that the u.s. will continue to consult with britain.
but that the u.s. is pardon me, prepared to press forward with or without britain. >> and at this point, perhaps pressing forward with an unlikely ally in france. >> ambulance is certainly known as a staunch opponent to the war in iraq, while the u.k. was a strong partner. so the tables may have turned here these many years later, france, of course, wants the colonial power in syria, so an interesting cross roads of history that we see ourselves in today. >> and we are also hearing in fact that syria -- that pardon me that turkey has take an pretty firm stance as well. about the chemical weapons attack. >> right, certainly as the secretary and the president have indicated the presence of chemical weapons and the instability in general are considered a threat to the spire region, of course, turkey is the northern neighbor of the u.s.
with the large air base in southern turkey. very close to syria, within possible striking distance. so again, turkey another neighbors in the neighborhood quite concerned and really waiting to hear where the secretary is going -- secretary kerry will move the ball forward today. it is quite significant, being -- having to try to play mediator for so listening, thises a significant position they have taken. >> certainly. any support that the u.s. can garner will be key. turkey, of course israel. but again the entire region very concerned, waiting for really waiting for the u.s.' next move. waiting to hear from secretary kerry as we are now.
again, expected to build accountable for those that use these weapons and mentioned some of the intelligence that everyone has been waiting to hear. >> fault, stay close, of course we will keep an eye on that podium, and as soon as senate kerry starts speaking we will stop peeking. a senior staff writer. an international security expert at m.i.t. i want to begin with you, because you have written pretty pointently about how so many people in syria are just resigned to what they think is probably going to happen. almost just throwing up their hands. >> well, distrue. i think at no point have the syrian people been at center stage in this entire conflict, and the thing i worry about in the article for al jazeera was that basically throughout this entire 2 1/2 year period what they have done is greet each new phase with whatever preplations
they can take on, but this time around they are not sure how they can prepare. it is correct to say that the syrian people have been left out of the equation, and what discussing what comes next for them. >> wow, that's pretty sad. dr. walsh what might be coming next. >> well, i think most everyone thinks and i think rightly so, there will be a strike of some kind. there are a couple of things that can happen. that can mean a shot across the bow. where he attacks something that he cares about, possibly military assets if you go there again, expect more only on a larger scale. another alternative would be to go after the kem michael weapons themselves. my guess is they are disbursing
them as fast as they can go right now, at least request the manufacturing plants the fixed sites they would probably to go after those. if they did have a say so, i know they are not a monolith, but besides peace, what would they want? i think a lot of people in syria, this is not just about global game of risk, they would be interested in preserving what they can of society. the state, these are not the same goals to see the regime fall and see peace is not mutually exclusive with see the state preserved. but to remain functions because people in syria have been watching this happen in iraq over the last ten years. with a very weary eye, and no one -- nobody is interested in seeing that same sort of chaos, be uh that's what regime change will mean. i don't think that's what people
in the regime are not interesting in that outcome. we are waiting to hear a statement from john kerry, expected to speak any moment, about the broader situation in syria, this will be happening at the state department, in fact at the state department, really the world is actually going to be watching, paul, what secretary of state kerry is going to say. the world watches what the u.s. does. that is right. and certainly secretary kerry really set the table with very strong remarks. coming out very aggressively after the chemical attacks. again, refer back to that calling on something that should shock the conscious of the world, something that defies any code of morality, a moral obscenity. and at the time, secretary kerry did -- promise is perhaps as strong word, but said that additional information that the u.s. had additional information, ha they would be providing in the days ahead, well, here we
are, one might expect this could be the day. he also reiterated the remarks of president obama, there should be accountable for those that used the most heinous weapons against the most vulnerable. we are expecting secretary kerry to build on those remarks. continue to try to build a case for action against syria, and this is in the context we hear in washington of a lot of skepticism from capitol hill, a little bit of push back. there was a big conference call last night, 90 minutes between leaders and the administration, touching on all kinds of points intelligence, exit central joy, end game, as well as financial questions ant how any action against syria would be financed. so all political questions coming into play here. i think you hit on one.
how much this would cost. so at this point, it is a matter of waiting to hear from secretary of state, in just a moment, and perhaps we will finally hear some of the evidence that the white house says that they have. that has been classified. they said they will unclassify some of that so we can know what the evidence that the u.s. has. the u. n. inspectors have not quite finished their jobs. so there's also evidence that they are collecting as well. the u.n. has been clear to say they are looking for evidence but not necessarily looking to place blame. obviously that's not the path that the u.s. is taking but at this point i think that people just want to whoa what the information is and there's a couple of numbers that came out today that are pretty striking that says 80% -- 80% of americans want the president to get some sort of authorization before going forward. certainly, certainly, this is kind of an offshoot of what happened in iraq. >> and those numbers would
comport with congress itself. very strongly asking for more consultation. they want to be more involved with the administrations planning. for any possibly attack against syria, again, in that conference call that i was mentioning from yesterday, some 90 minutes was characterized by republicans and democrats as stern but respectful, some tough questions but a lot of give and take. secretary of defense headachele yesterday speaking from the philippines mentioned also discussing the call, mentioned that he had been involved speaking with the administration officials as well. as congressional leaders and again, saying a lot of give and take. i think congress will continue to push, or be very involved in the process leading up to any possible strike. i guess it is worth noting that the speaker of the house, john baner although he has come up with a list of very important questions he would like the president to answer, he did stop short of saying that he too wanted the president to actually
go to congress and get approval. to get authorization. >> right. again, i think it is difficult to sort out how much of this they want to make sure that the president acknowledges or whether they will push for formal authorization. that has p happened since world war ii. the war powered enacted in the 1973. during the nixon administration. so this is a question with a long history. a long history of give and dare. be very interesting to see how it plays out. in the context of syria. >> and of course what we are waiting on is waiting to hear a statement from secretary of state john kerry.
there's that look and feel. of course you have forces that have been deployed. you have people being called up. so the wheels are in motion, now the president can decide not to, but he has put themselves in a situation where they can exec cute an attack. i also thought the language in john kerry's speech was striking. and he -- the language he used left little room for doubt about the conclusions. and he also said this was a top of the u.s. foreign policy agenda, which is another way of saying it is of vital national interest. that is to say this line of chemical weapons use is of vie call national interest. if you take the tone of that speech, he almost seemed angry to me. it was a surprising speech emotionally. and then the actions on the
ground. those all give reason to think we are moving in that direction. if i were a betting person, and i am not, i would bet we are going to see something. as far as the speech today, i'm not sure we will see a lot of the intel release. this being the secretary of state, and this is just a guess, mind you. there may be some case the job the secretary of state gets to deal with alliances and the international community, i think they feel prezzed after the british vote yesterday. they are probably going to get a list of countries that are supporting us and talk about the processes in the conversation. so i think that is more in the secretary of state, that's what i expect to hear. >> 100,000 syrians have died. then this awful alleged chemical weapons attack. are there syrians that are still what a the word, skeptical that
the question why now, when so many horrible things have been happening. >> of course. one of the biggest casualties in this entire past 2 1/2 years in syria is the truth. there's a lot -- people there tell you there's this version of the truth, the iranian's version, there's the saudi version, there's the u.s. version of the truth. there's the syrian state version of the ruth, and a lot of people -- one of the things i found very frustrating in the past two years is most of my conversations with with somebody, challenge and ask them where they get those ideas from, they would just say but didn't the u.s. weapon lie to get into iraq. to end the conversation each time. and that's part of the problem with the fact that we haven't really reconciled what the u.s. did in the lead up to invading iraq. that is part of the legacy. and of course syria people are accustom to government lying to them, and the governments in the area lying to them.
>> i want to circle right back to you, there's something that is just coming in to us. the u.n. spokesperson that a chemical experts trying to ex-peaduate the analysis of this samples they are doing their best, but they must maintain scientific integrity. so the pot tom line they are saying we are going as fast as they can, but they have to honor the process. so as soon as we get more information on that we will let you know. and of course, that actually ties and what you are saying getting this right, getting those statutes right is about getting the truth. >> i think if anything what i have seen, we might have conclusive evidence, that yes, chemical weapon were used there will be people on all sides of this that will continue to believe their version of the truth. >> which they won't agree on who did it, they may agree there were chemical weapons they won't agree on who is responsible. >> and the largest question so what our objectives. what are the united states objective. will it be accomplished by bombing these sites that the
government has already told the syrians can sites they will be. these -- i think those are two separate questions and then -- unless we find there was no chemical weapons and everything was staged, joe wise, that zillion is separate issue from whether or not we know what are our objectives are. and whether these are the policiepolicies that will accomh them. >> and let me get people up to speed, what we are waiting on right now, john kerry to come out there to the state department, and make a statement about what is happening in syria. what the next move will be for the united states. in the meantime we are getting more information from the united nations. the u.n. says all analysis, of the statutes that they are taking in syria say their chemical experts are saying must be completed before any conclusions are drawn. so while the white house, they are saying it is based on interception of communications what u.n. experts are doing is
taking actual chemical samps and basically telling everyone slow down, hold on, let us finish this process. and even once they decide whether or not chemical weapons were used they have said that it is not up to them to place blame. so what you see here is video over the past week of inspectors in the country. they are still many the country trying to complete the process. that's why they are asking for patience, before anyone draws any conclusions. ten what we are waiting on now, is to hear from secretary of state john kerry. no one knows exactly what he is going to say, but the world wants to know, he started the week with very harsh words and now we are going to be ending the words from secretary of state. john kerry, so paul, we do know -- i'm talking to paul biban. we know that it was roughly the top of the hour, when a key
briefing was finished at the white house. and then john kerry headed over foggy bottom where he is now. any idea what the delay is about? >> well, we certainly had some traffic on the way over. there was road construction, we had to make a detour, so i don't know if the secretary of state has to make those kind of detours but in any case he is running late. again after starting the week with an angry, almost emotional tone, in response to the images that were coming out of syria. making reference to being a father, finding it unbearable to look at those pictures. so again, really waiting to see what the secretary kerry is going to deliver. possibly talking about the british not going to be participating in any action. talking maybe a little bit more about what other partners there
may be and any international coalition. as the u.s. chemos to continue to creep forward towards some kind of response in syria. >> and paul, we are also getting word that the president, president obama will also be making a statement this afternoon, more than likely in the 2:00 p.m. hour, so that starts to give you the feel of a very coordinated core graphed message that they are beginning to lay out to the american people. >> and that could be in anticipation of the u.n. inspectors finishing their would recollect over the weekend, expected to happen on saturday perhaps. those results coming hopefully soon thereafter. maybe to give a little more concrete evidence about exactly what happened if the president and secretary kerry making remarks today. can certainly seem to indication that perhaps action is coming sooner rather than later. until we hear from the secretary and the president, it remains to be seen, and continues to be speculation about what the next step will be. again, as the u.s. seems to
march almost inevitably difficult to walk it back at this point, towards system action against syria. >> we are continuing to get more information from the u.n. let me loop people in on this. the u. n. says right now, it is unclear how long complete analysis of the samples that they have taken from syria, the samples to determine whether or not this is a chemical attack, they say that it is not clear how long it will take. they are asking for people's patience, and particular they are asking people to hold off before drawing any conclusions. bottom line, it doesn't seem we will necessarily get any results today or tomorrow from the u.n., although the white house has said they have their own set of evidence. >> that's right. the administration has said they have their own evidence against secretary kerry. saying that he will be sharing that information. when it becomes available, and so everyone waiting to hear what
they might be. with con depressional leadership, again waiting to hear from the secretary and the president later today, perhaps some of those details about what the u.s. says is its own evidence that syria, the government, attacked its own people, quite brutally with chemical weapons. >> and you were right about the statement that secretary of state began the week with the harsh words that he had. he made it very personal, and it will be interesting to see if he personalized the statement. he is speaking to a lot of audiences. he is speaking to the united states and the world, but lit be interesting to see if he goes forward, really personalizing this, the video we have seen is so dramatic and so compelling and difficult to watch. >> that's right. and he did personalize it, he did have almost a visceral reaction, a week later, several days later now, with his remarks being perhaps more measured. focusing on the logistics the
coalition, the questions about how the u.s. might proceed without the u.k., with other coalition partners. again, so much to learn in the moments ahead, any minute now we are expecting the secretary to come to the podium, and give those rockers following up again, on those angry remarks those personal remarks as he mentioned very emotional, monday just a few days ago. >> and not just the how, but the why. it's going to be -- very key in this statement of the secretary of state to make it clear what the goals are of the united states. i know that that's something that the american people certainly would like to hear. one of the poll numbers that we showed earlier said that really only about half of the americans seem to be behind this right now. but i would assume what we are about to hear from the secretary of state, and then about an hour later in the president is they are going to try to explain what this evidence is they have. and where the u.s. going. and why they are going there, and in fact those are some of the questions that congress that
members of congress put to the president as well. so any moment we do expect the secretary of state to come to the podium and begin to make a statement, let's make it clear, it is our understanding he isn't going to be taking questions from reporters is that your understanding as well? >> that's right p this is just going to be remarks not a q & a, it is not a q & a on monday, so i think this will be something -- well, duff to say whether it will be definitive, but the president will be speaking later on this afternoon. as he is running a little bit late, we will see when the president comes out later today, but so much hanging on a friday afternoon, late summer, waiting to see what the secretary of state what the president will have to say follow up on both the president's remarks and the secretaries remarks from earlier this week, again, a big con depressional conference call last night between the administrations congressional leaders, cakier triesed as stern.
but cordial, a lot of tough questions asked about getting involved in syria, neither side republicans or determines really eager to get drawn in. many have discussed reservations questionability about cost, and questions about an end game. how does this fit into a bigger policy, and strategy, where there has been so much turmoil in recent years. >> paul, bring back in our guest, international security expert, and one of our fantastic staff writers. who spent time in syria, jim i know you wanted to get in on the point in particular a couple of things. you mentioned about the inspectors and them doing their job. one of the ironies in this graveside humor is that asaad has asked that the inspectors stay longer. the only time he has ever made a request of that kind. and of course, because we are not going to attack as long as the inspectors are on the ground. and it is important to step back and think about the different types of evidence that may be
proud to bear on these questions. so on the chemical weapons attack, soil samples you will have tissue statutes you will have witness who are treating the victims some of whom survived and some of those doctors were contaminated or reported to have been contaminated that will be another set of fizz evidence. but the u.s. government will have other evidence that they will release at least partially. they could have -- there's a report out they have sickal intelligence, and communications between similar commands and the force on the ground at the time. there will be munitions that were used to deliver the chemical agent. assuming it was a chemical agent. and whether those platforms in this case a -- -- a rocket. two question is who owns those rockets in what quantity, and who has the ability to put chemical weapons in those and then fire those.
that will probably point to the syrian government more than it is going to point to the rebels. also the circumstances. so this exchange, it was a staged assault against a rebel strong hold in the suburbs so it began with a chemical attack, and then was followed by conventional shelling and then followed by conventional assault. that's sort of a play book that's how if you are attacking someone, you softening them up and then you go artillery and then you go in. >> seeming a bit complicated is what you are saying? >> i'm saying that's circumstantial evidence that will help people determine who was responsible for the attack. this is the -- if you can imagine this as not solely by themes but part of a larger military operation against rebel forces then that would tend to point to the government. >> i know you wanted to get in on this. >> we need to keep in mind, earlier this summer, the united states said, it has conclusive evidence that chemical weapons were used against the rebels before. and we didn't do anything.
so the question is what is -- you talk about what is the message trying to communicate. what the it you can use chemical weapons but try not to do so it on so many civilians. if we are going to discuss the evidence question, we have evidence that chemical weapons were used and were used by the government earlier. regardless of what it concludes this time around. whats the message? why should it be taken seriously. >> i think it is about scale. >> one interesting thing -- >> don't kill so many people. >> i think there is a line. listen, i don't think the president obaman't ways to get involved in the civil war,. >> we will get in a quick break now as we wait for the secretary of state to come to the podium. so let's go ahead and get in a quick break.
president obama has spend many days now consulting with congress. and talking with leaders around the world about the situation in syria. last night the president asked all of us on his national security team to consult with the leaders of congress as well. including the leadership of the congressional national security committees. and he asked us to consult about what we know regarding the horrific chemical wells attack in the damascus suburbs last week. i will tell you that as someone who spent nearly three decades in the united states congress, i know that that consultation is the right way for a president to
approach a decision of when and how and if to use military force. and it is important to ask the tough questions, and get the tough answers before taking action. not just after wards. and i believe as president obama does, that it is also important to discuss this directly with the american people. that's our responsibility. to talk with the citizen who is have entrusted all of us in the administration and the congress with responsibility for their security. that's why this mornings release of our governments unclassified estimate of what took place in syria is so important. it's findings are as clear as they are compelling. i'm not asking you to take my word for it. read for yourself. everyone. those listening all of you, read
for yourselves the evidence from thousands of sources evidence that is already publicly available. and read for yourselves the verdict reached by our intelligence community about the chemical weapons attack, the asaad regime inflicted on the opposition, and on opposition controlled or contests neighborhoods there the sib bushes on the early morning of august 21st.