Roundtable I: U.S. Role in Syria

George Will, Martha Raddatz, Jeremy Bash, and Jeffrey Goldberg.
8:49 | 06/16/13

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Transcript for Roundtable I: U.S. Role in Syria
send a representative to discuss the new policy on syria. They declined. Now we're joined by g will, jeffrey goldberg, jeremy bash, and my colleague, abc'sef global affairs corr, martha raddatz. You said he was right? Now he's wrong. Napoleon said if you start to take vee yes that, take it. Don't be tentative, or tardy. general McArthur said every military debacle is too too late to prepare and respond. This intervention in another nation's civil war with sectarian overlays and ethnic problems was announced not by the president or congress, but by the deputy national security adviser. This is a reluctant president who is now in a competition with the russians who are all in supporting the other side. We want to have negotiations. We're not neutral. The president said assad lacks legitimacy, and he must go. So the negotiations are to negotiate assad's departure from power. I don't think he's interested. You think the president's wrong, shouldn't get in there. Jeffrey, you have been saying that the administration, that the u.S. Needs to get involved, arm the rebels and do more. I agree with george. This is the wor of all possible worlds. This is dipping a toe in. This is signaling we're in, but not really in. No one believes, including the president, I believe, no one believes the small arms are going to change the balance of the war. I think the iranians are saying look, the americans are sending eight trucks of small weapons to the rebels, we better give up. What I'm saying is, either be in or be out. But don't play around in this. I think that we're going to find that we might be on the slippery slope. And I happen to agree that it might be te. We're now in a position to intervene in what has become a hezbollah-al-qaeda war. I don't know the answer to support, I think neither. You're just out of the administration, you were at the pentagon when a lot of these deliberations were going on. We know -- it seems like a long time ago now, secretary panetta, aeus, hillary clinton, secretary of state, all made the case for arming the rebels. That was a long time ago. Is it too late. Two things have changed in the past few weeks. The military says they have high confidence he used chemical weapons to kill 150-his own people. Out of -- he didn't walk up to the red line and tip toe across, he barrelled across it. Now the president has determined we have to act. Second, hezbollah said they are going to fight on syria's behalf to the death. I have been in the room when these issues are discussed. The president is not hesitant to order military forces into harm's way. He did it in libya and afghanistan and pakistan. But he wants to see that the military actions meet the strategy. Now is the right time. I'm not sure I know what the strategy is and how those two match. The small arms are not going to do much good at all. They may not do harm, but no good. It will no change the balance there. If the president really wants to make a difference there, and you talk about military force, i doubt he's going to send in boots on the ground ever, and they've made that clear. But if we are in, and it really does appear we are on a slide in, you can't put your toe in the water on something like this. You now own if it's just a toe, you own part of that. If you want to make a b difference, they have to look at a no-fly zone. THEY'RE GOING TO LEAVE F-16s AND Patriot missile batteries behind inn after u.S. Military exercises taking place there. A no-fly zone would be a very big deal. We talk about the number of casualties, and very few of them from air strikes, but because assad has air power, because he has the mobility, because he can resupply his troops, and move them around by air, he has a huge advantage. Will the united states do that next? Will someone else do that next? We don't know, but that would probably be a huge game-changer. Because if you want a war of attrition, and you don't have air power and protection against air power, you're going to lose. That's going to be a tough at the pentagon, isn't it? These are important options. That's why it's difficult. But when you're in the room, hearing the arguments and see the evidence, the concrete evidence he used chemical weapons. Tou you have to act. Was it just about chemical weapons? Assad's forces are much stronger now. And they have started to take back areas. This decision to intervene was made before the conclusion came -- was arrived at about chemical weapons. Even if they used them to kill one fraction of 1% of the 90,000 killed there, how is that important? George bush did two regime changes, iraq and afghanistan. And libya and now syria, two by the obama administration. Regime change has to be the outcome here. Which is why, poor john kerry, the secretary of state is trying to get a conference together as if there's an interest between russia and the united states. There isn't. We're on opposite sides. We know that more than ever because of this. A lot of people like me who were hawkish are less so now, this problem might have become too big for any country to handle. Look at iraq, a global shia-sunni battle on the syrian battle field. How do we interpose ourselves into that in a no-fly zone is not enough. We have to be engaged. The goal is to change the balance of power on the battle field. There's a lot of talk about no fly zones and things. 95% of the casualties have been fro ground operations. We have to give them the opportunity to take to the assad regime. Weapons? Direct military intervention. We're almost out of time, elections in iran, does this change anything? We have a so-called moderate being elected. This is a fake election and fake democracy. Let's not kid ourselves. These are hand-picked candidates running for president. That said, this guy is a smoother operator. He does seem more moderate in the economic approach and less confrontational. The leader of iran i supreme leader. That's the title. He sets national security and foreign policy and nuclear policy. Let's not forget where the power lies. Jeremy, I got to ask you about the nsa and the search for snowden. People think I made a mistake in picki picking this as a location, I am not here to hide in justice, i am here to show criminality. How worried are they he's going to defect? Very worried. Every day he's in china erodes his claim he's a whistle blower. The information in his head and on his computer and thumb drive, it's important to the chinese. If they haven't exploited it already, they will be. We're out of time. Thanks, everyone, george will join the power house round

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