Transcript for White House National Security Adviser on Charlottesville: 'Any attack to incite fear is terrorism'
Martha Raddatz. Thanks. We bring in general H.R. Mcmaster, the president's security adviser. General, thank you for joiping us this morning. There's been so much fallout to the president's comments yesterday in about charlottesville. Including this from Richard Haas, the chairman of the council on foreign relations who says the U.S. Ability to persuade over governments to fight terrorism diminishes when POTUS fails to call it out, take T on at home. The example we set matter ps. The president has been very clear. We cannot tolerate this kind of bigotry and hatred. He called on all Americans to take that firm stance against it. What are we teaching our children? We have to get beyond this that is rooted in ignorance. Our commit to each other. Freedom. Libber they. Tolerance. And rights for all of us. Well said, sir. He didn't call out the white supremacists responsible for the violence. When it comes to radical islamic terrorism, the president says you can't solve the problem if you don't say the name. Doesn't that hold true for domestic terrorism as well? The president called out anyone. Anyone responsible for fomentin in this kind of bigotry and violence. That seems to be -- The president was very clear on that. Is there that seems to be suggesting moral equivalence. Maybe to you, George, but not to me. I think the president was very clear. And so was the attorney general in his statement. Let's move on to North Korea. Are W closer to war than we were a week ago? No, I don't think so. I think we're not close or the war than a week ago. But we're closer to war than we were a decade ago. And, as Dr. Kissinger made clear in a great op-ed this weekend, this has been a problem that we have proe cast nated on for a long period of time. Now it's coming to a head. Where the threat from north Korea not only to the united States but to the world is very, very clear. It demands a concerted effort by the United States. But with our allies and all responsible nations. This is what you have seen the president do is bring together, all nations. All nations to bear on this problem. And, I think notably, you had the U.N. Security counsel resolution, 15-0 this past week. Great work by our secretary of state, Rex tillerson and our ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley. Our interests are aligned with all responsible nations. And it's time for all nations including China, Russia. As well as our close allies, Japan and South Korea to work together toward a common goal. Of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula. What do you say to the president's krigtings that say his rhetoric was just too hot this week? He went too far? He made clear that rhe united States will not tolerate our citizens or allies being threatened by this rogue regime. There's a much greater danger if there were to be am bbiguity. There did seem to be ambiguity. He said they would be met by fire and fury with new threats. There are new trets every day. They have already crossed the line. Our response is we're prepared militarily to deal with this if necessary. We're taking all possible actions. Short of military action, to resolve this very grave threat to the United States and the world. That includes a very determined, diplomatic effort led by our secretary of state. It includes increasing sanctions. Pressure on the north to convince Kim Jong-un this is not in his interest. To continue this path of prove vags. And escalatory action. Threats alone won't evoke a response, right? It depends on the nature of the threat. What Kim Jong-un is doing is very, very dangerous. Any response we have we do in close cooperation with our allies in the region. We have been prepared for any escalation on the Korean pen nis nins la since the armistice in 1953. The danger is much greater. With the nuclear tests. What we can no longer do is afford to procrastinate. President trump has made it clear, he cannot tolerate, will not tolerate a threat to the United States from North Korea involving nuclear weapons. Your predecessor Susan rice said the U.S. Could tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea the same away we did W nuclear weapons in the soviet union in the colder war. I think she's not right. How does that apply? A regime that engages in unspeakable brutality against its own people. A regime that poses a continuous threat to neighbors in the region and may now pose a direct threat to the United States with weapons of mass destruction. A regime gnat imprisons people that oppose him. Including relatives. We are locked and loaded? The United States military is locked and loaded every day. Especially those on the front lines of those in south kree yarks those soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in southeast Asia or who rotate there. We have a tremendous amount of capababiliti capabilities. The purpose of capable, ready forces, is to preserve peace. The most effect I have way of preserving peace is to be prepared for war. . By the way, I'm not going rule out a military option. We have many options for Venezuela. A military operation, a military option is certainly something that we could pursue. But just last week, you said this. I want to play that at well. Do you see a military intervention from any outside source? I don't think so. What is retired is for everyone to have one voice about the need to protect the rights and the safety of the Venezuelan people? What changed? What's moved the president in the last week is the escalation of the violence, the regime's violence. These thugs who operate in the name of maduro against the legitimate opposition to his new dictatorship. He's choking out democracy in venezue Venezuela. He's visiting violence on his own people. He's arresting mayors. Opposition mayors in cities. Sentencing them to a year to 15 months in jail. You have seen what he did with his attorney general. Extremely courageous woman. You have theseen what they're doing. All that is horrific. I agree. Is U.S. Military intervooengs really on the table? What vital U.S. Interest is at stake? What is critical is to do everything we can, with our partners in the region. I'll tell you, George. Think we're better aligned with our partners in Latin America than we have been in a long, long time. Are we considering military intervention? The president has asked us to look at what could happen next? We want to be able to cope with the current situation but understand better how this crisis might evolve. You look at what if, what if the suffering of the people increases? What can we do to protect the Venezuelan people? And to prevent a greater humanitarian catastrophe? We owe the president options. What are we doing now? Working very closely with our partners in the region. Just last week, in Panama, 16 countries met -- I'm sorry, in Peru. 16 countries met in Peru. They signed a very strong statement against maduro and his distinguishing of democracy. We'll continue a series of actions against the regime that aim to strengthen the opposition and to reach out to those who are members of this oppressive regime to tell them it's time to reconsider your actions and support for this dictator. Finally, sir, D you consider the car attack yesterday an act of domestic terrorism? I certainly think anytime gnat you commit an attack against people to incite fear, it is terrorism. It meets the the definition of terrorism. But, what this is, what you see here is you see someone who is a criminal. Who is committing a criminal act against fellow Americans. A criminal thakt may have been motivated, we'll see what the -- what is turned up in the investigation, by the hatred and bigotry, which I mentioned, we have to extinguish in our nation. We have to do that by asking ourselves, what are we teaching our children around the dinner table? In school? We ought to be teaching about what makes America exceptional. Our commitment to the rights of every individual, libber they, freedom, respect, for each other. Regardless of race, religion. And so forth. So -- so this is -- I think, what we ought to ask ourselves. As we send ou condolences out to the victims of the violence, we ought to ask ourselves, what more can all of us do. We certainly should. General Mcmaster, thank you for your time. Thank you, George.
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