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tv   All In With Chris Hayes  MSNBC  September 10, 2013 5:00pm-6:01pm PDT

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i will join rachel maddow for complete coverage of the speech and reaction starting right now. >> announcer: the primetime presidential address, the biggest rhetorical stage a president has to speak to the nation. it's how presidents have told us that wars have started. >> two hours ago, allied air forces began an attack on military targets in iraq and kuwait. these attacks continue as i speak. >> it is where presidents have told us that wars are being ended. >> tonight, i am announcing that the american combat mission in iraq has ended. >> with the country's undivided attention, presidents have used this stage to press their agendas. >> i present to the am scan peop -- american people. >> energy will be the imed me yacht test of our ability to unite this nation. >> this is how presidents have helped the nation grieve in
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times of crisis. >> the crew of the space shuttle challenger -- >> the people of south florida and louisiana were confronted by perhaps the most destructive natural disaster in our history. >> the primetime presidential address. it's not for subtlety. it's for history. >> therefore, i shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow. >> it is this platform, the primetime presidential address from which president barack obama presses his case on syria. ten days ago an american military strike seemed imminent. tonight, a new diplomatic solution seems possible. with chris matthews in washington, msnbc's primetime anchors in washington and new york, msnbc's special coverage of president obama's primetime address to the nation begins right now. ♪
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>> good evening. thank you for being with us tonight for this special coverage here on msnbc. there are more than 500 tons of mustard gas and sarin and vx right now in kentucky. in madison county, kentucky. a place called the blue grass chemical agent destruction pilot plant. that plant in kentucky and another one like it in pueblo, colorado, the last two facilities in the united states still working on destroying what is left of our massive arsenal of chemical weapons. that we manufactured mostly in the 1960s. russia made about 40,000 tons of chemical weapons at that time. we made about 30,000 tons of chemical weapons at that time. and they today, now are almost all gone. almost. that's why we are still working on it. the destruction of chemical weapons is a job. it is something we know how to
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do. something for which there is an international agency in charge of doing it right. that plant in blue grass kentucky that will be finishing off the last 500 tons in america's chemical weapons arsenal. that plant will employ 1,000 local people to do that work. and that's not counting the construction crews to build that plant. and the destruction crews to take it down once that work is done. and all of a sudden in the last 36 hours, the prospect of one more country, joining the ranks of the nation's that have agreed to destroy all their chemical weapons. that has turned on its head, the prospect of yet another american war in the middle east. after allegations of a large-scale sarin attack on civilians in syria on august 21st, the white house reacted with outrage. they said they were confident the attack did happen and that the syrian government was responsible. president barack obama threatened a retaliatory strike, u.s. military action to punish the syrian government and try to deter them from ever doing anything like that again. as congress debated that action,
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the administration pressed its case. specifically about the danger of syria's chemical weapons. after the white house had announced president obama's primetime address tonight to the nation. from the white house. and the need for military action against syria. after that address was already scheduled and announced. yesterday, i guess the opposite of hell broke loose. the march to war seemingly came to a stop. or at least to a momentary rest. as the united states and syria and syria's closest ally russia came to an agreement in concept that syria could come in from the cold on chemical weapons. there are seven nations in the world that declared they have stock piles of chemical weapons. all seven of the countries have destroyed the stock piles entirely are on their way to doing so. us included. syria has been known to have chemical weapons. but before this week they had never admitted it. they had not signed on to the international treaty. as of today, in these fast-moving diplomatic
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negotiations, syria is on track to not only admit that they have chemical weapons but to sign on to the treaty that they require that they declare them, require they allow them to be inspected and require that they then allow them to be destroyed. nobody thinks that would be easy for that that would be simple. but tonight we expect to hear from president obama whether that plan is enough to revert what looked like it was about to become this president's next war. the use of the american military in syria. thank you for being here for msnbc's special coverage of the president's primetime address to the nation on this issue. i'm rachel maddow with reverend al sharpton, and eugene robinson and from washington lawrence o'donnell from "the last word" and chris matthews of msnbc's "hardball." chris, we hear from washington the speech has been reworked, reworked, reworked up until the last moment. no advanced excerpts of the
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speech being distributed. we thought this would be the president trying to convince the u.s. public to support a call for u.s. military action in syria. now it seems like, we're expecting the president to try to convince the public to trust a diplomatic effort led in part by russia what do you think -- which is the harder sell? >> i will try to make the sell for russia right now. i think we are dog trained to look down our nose at russia. the right hates russia. face it they want to hate russia. that's the case with the neocoms who have never gotten over the cold war. russians have interests. we have interests. they worry look we worry. our worries coincide. that could be a good thing. some one predicted the end of the cold war would shift a world's conflicts and world's alliances. for half a century, the cold war said east/west. washington were the dispute.
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the predicted shift was east/west dispute that marked the cold war would be replaced in time by a north/south dispute that would place the united states and the russians on the same side. the dispute would be of course the danger of vif lent isl-- violent islamism. those in moscow, and putin, fear the spread of weapons including chemical weapons to forces in the old soviet empire, people to their south. they have a fear that those peoples, nationalities that they once held captive in the great ussr would want to do what they could not do in the days of the rigid soviet control. so today what emerges is the prospect, dismiss it at our peril that vladamir putin, kgb man, hip deep in security thinking would be the specter of a defeat in damascus, loss of a port and a proxy in the mideast. more than that the rising up of a radical islamist state, armed with chemical, biological
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weapons that could be spread northward. so we look at the prospects tonight. logical in history. lost in the torrent of daily news and tactical politics. that our two countries could actually act in tandem. if putin fears a crushing u.s. attack in syria, he may be willing to act. it's happened before. it happened in world war ii when we faced a common enemy. happened in the early 1960s when we faced nuclear armageddon. both pulled back. it comes done to interests. ours. theirs. as winston churchill said at the outbreak of world war ii, i cannot forecast to you the action of russia. it is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. perhaps there is a key. the key is russian national interests. tonight we will learn how seriously the president of our country takes the possibility that the interest of moscow suddenly agrees with ours. rachel. >> chris, i have so many times misquoted riddle wrapped in a mystery inside of an enigma, without clueing in that it was
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churchi churchill/russia. very helpful. thank you, chris. >> thank you. thank you. >> we will we be back. i want to bring in nbc news chief foreign correspondent richard engel covering the syrian civil war intensively who tonight is here the border in syria/turkey. heading into the speech tonight, the developments of the last day and a half have made it seem less lakely the u. ikely the u.s going to do anything in syria from where you stand in turkey and the region does it seem that way over there? how is that being received? >> we have spoke tine sen to sy rebels. they were drawing up war plans, 48 hours ago. setting up special units so they could take advantage of the momentum. we have spoken to them tonight. they're absolutely crushed. they think that the military action is not coming. that the united states held out false hope for them. and that -- in their opinion,
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bashar al assad got away with using chemical weapons on a massive scale to kill more than 1,000 people. many of them children with not so much as a slap on the wrist. they don't believe that bashar al assad will ever give up all of his chemical weapons. they think it is an unverifiable process. right now, i have been on the ground in syria many times. i think it would be -- practically impossible for a team of international weapons inspectors to move around in that country. to use the roads. to use helicopters. to move from place to place. and we don't exactly know even how much -- how large the stockpile is in syria. it is believed to be about 1,000 tons of chemical weapons. vx, sarin, mustard gas. but we don't really know, and we don't know where exactly those weapons would be. so weapons inspection team would have to deal with the ongoing civil war, looking for an
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unknown amount of chemical weapons in unknown locations. so we would have to be taking the word of the syrian government. the rebels certainly are very discouraged by all of this. >> richard, i hear you that the rebels were looking forward to the strategic advantage they may leverage out of a u.s. military strike. a small strike. they may be able to turn the fight in their favor with the u.s. weighing in, in a small way. if that is not going to happen, sound like certainly the president is not going to announce anything like that tonight. is there anything else the rebels will be wanting to hear tonight? is it that or nothing? or is there something else they want to hear from president obama? >> they want to hear that the president is helping and committed to supporting them with weapons, with money. that if the united states isn't going to -- send cruise missiles or air strikes into syria against bashar al assad's regime, they're hoping at least there will be an announcement of
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moral support, physical support, supplies going at lest ast off the moderate group of the free syrian army. we have been talking over the last several day thousands. who are the rebels? who is actually fighting against bashar al assad? and there is a war within the war. half of the rebels pretty much are moderates. perhaps the other half are groups that scud be extremists. al qaeda among them. and the moderates had been putting their hope and their faith in the united states. and they had been telling their own constituents, help is coming. and if help doesn't come, they're going to lose a lot of face. and it will be something that the -- the more extremist elements will be freeing to capitalize on. so they will be hoping, moderates will be hoping the united states will at least promise them some support in the days to come. not just say -- no, we're not going to be bombing, no we are not going to be sending help. we are happy now that the, that
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bashar al assad has made this pledge, that they think is unverifiable and will just move on with the rest of our lives and ignore the syrian war which has been going on for the last 2 1/2 years. >> at the cost of 100,000 lives already and counting. richard, thank you for staying up into the middle of the night to be part of the special coverage. appreciate it, man. thank you. we are told to expect president obama tonight at pretty much the top of the hour exactly. that obviously is still ahead. we are going to be hearing this hour from a democratic senator who as of earlier today was still undecided about whether or not she would support a u.s. military streike in syria. that and lots more ahead. stay with us, msnbc's special coverage on the president's primetime address on syria continues. already gone through menopause. these symptoms may be nothing... but they could be early warning signs of a gynecologic cancer, such as cervical, ovarian, or uterine cancer.
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>> welcome back to msnbc special coverage of president obama's primetime address off to the nation tonight. the president due to speak tonight from the east room of the white house. that setting itself carries a certain symbolic weight for the presidency. when president obama announced the death of osama bin laden he did it from the same place tonight. from the east room. remember him walking down the long corridor in full view of the cameras to the waiting podium. when president obama announced he would begin to bring u.s. troops home from afghanistan, when he announced that that war would get an end date, he did that from the east room as well. heading into tonight, president obama made only eight other formal addresses to the nation like he is going to do tonight. he has made only three of those from the east room. and from that historic setting
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tonight on the eve of the anniversary of 9/11, the president will once again have to address war, war but also peace. the prospect of a peaceful resolution. a diplomatic resolution to something that not long ago seemed certain to entail cruise missiles fired from u.s. navy warships. here in new york city, ed schultz and reverend al sharpton, chris hayes, eugene robinson from "the washington post." want to start, chris with you. do you feel like you know where this is going tonight is? it clear to you what the case is that the president needs to make? >> i have no idea. i suspect most people don't know either. what was planned when the speech was announced was a speech to make the case to the american people it was in the vital interest of the united states to launch a military attack on syria and pressure congress to vote to grant him authority to do that. that, we'll see remnants of that speech tonight. i suspect. i think the white house believes the credible threat of military force is a huge part of what has gotten syria and russia to the
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negotiating table. at the same time, much has changed. the president will speak to the possibility of diplomatic solution. the speech is going to end up some where in between the two. what i think is so fascinating about the last two days. in some ways we have all been habituated to how you cover war, the run-up to war, the drum beat to war, the pressure, feeling of gravity on our players and bombs and missiles start flying. we are all watching this develop. unclear how to cover di mroem se -- diplomacy. it seems like chaos, unruly. that's the point. >> we have had diplomatic interludes before, couple with saddam hussein in the past for example over various issues. so this is not totally unprecedented. it has been ape l-- it has been lape -- it has been a little weird. the secretary of state was
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concerned that we were going to bomb and go to congress. what the president will say the was the credible threat of force that got the russians and the syrians to the table to come up with the proposal and that they'll never follow through with it unless he has -- once again the credible threat of force. he needs that from congress. i think that is what he is going to say. >> he is walking a tighttightro. the president has the attention of the country tonight. he has explaining to do. has to be detailed. explain to the country why syria matters, how we will tiptoe through and be effective without getting involved in a civil war. we do not have a good history. it is 30 years ago next month that we lost 241 marines in a civil war. in lebanon. so, it, when the attack took place. in beirut. the barracks there. so the president he has got to cover a lot of ground tonight. he is walking a tightrope. has to be the tough guy and diplomat. in the midst of all that he has
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explaining to do when it comes to what is a limited strike. how do we know what the responses are? he is talking to the congress tonight as much as he is talking to the american people. he need votes. >> and i think also though, urgency, the fact that we were looking for bombs to be flying immediately, is now removed. so -- i agree he is walking a tightrope. but he is not dealing with the same mental clock in the american public or the congress. and he goes in with the appearance and nancy pelosi expressed it that this threat has moved the ball. because, they have now admitted, in effect, that we do have -- the weapons. >> for the first time. they never admitted it before. >> saying there was no chemical weapons. he goes in with the advantage. saying, ah-ha, i made them admit what they had been denying. so that the urgency is not there. people will be listening with a different mental clout. i think it has, it leaned the
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president's way with the threat. which is why i don't think he removes the threat. he also puts the opposition to him. points the on session to him. and many of us questioned it, opposition to him, in an awkward position. now to vote against the threat. then do they bear the blame if in fact it doesn't work out. >> a good point -- the president is asking the congress to possibly go against the will of the people. that's a heavy lift. i need your vote is what he is going to be saying. i know back home it is not very popular. but you got to give me the diplomatic where withal, international level to show we are credible and we will strike. if you do that we will be better off. >> if they do that and messes up. it may be your fault. that is a catch 22. >> here's the person you should ask if the american people will parse the difference to authorize and go to war, john kerry, who voted to authorize the war in iraq. then saidopposed it.
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he wanted to get the inspectors back in. the volt to authorize will be read as a vote for war. if things go south. there is entanglement or there is war and people don't like it you are going to wear the vote. no one should be at all unclear. >> let me. let me bring chris matthews in washington into the discussion. >> i want to second what chris hays said. recent history shows us when you vote aye for war powers, you vote aye for a war. everybody steps back. i meant to authorize. lend your car to somebody, a drunk, don't trust them. they crack it up. you don't say tie didn't give them the car. yes you did. you gave them the car. you are responsible. in this case, i think the american people do not want the u.s. congress to give them the car. even obama, they trust him personally. they see this as just like all the other wars. we goen there. we commit an act of war. there are repercussions, retaliation the we go in deeper. take side. change momentum. by the way i did read the
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resolution. it doesn't say just bomb them once. it says take side with the rebels the give them all kind of aid. in fact all forms of aid to the rebels. and change momentum. a mccain resolution. if it is a mccain resolution, you can bet your bottom dollar, not a one-shot affair. >> it was a mccain resolution though. the thing is. today, senators, john mccain and others started rewriting the resolution. the change in what is diplomatically available is changing what the congress will be asked by the president to approve. maybe too subtle for people to see it anything other than war or no war. different than what they voted on last week. >> you know it is our policy to support the rebels. that's the obama administration's policy. here is a question that has been occurring to me today. if a deal its made with the assad regime -- does that imply that we believe the assad regime is going to last long enough to get rid of the chemical weapons? or, and -- >> it is not specific. >> he has to address.
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there has to be a way forward commentary tonight from the president on what his stated goal is. what the plan is. because there will be more confusion after the speech if he doesn't do that. he has a lot of bases to cover here. >> this is the best possible coverage of a presidential speech. we have no idea what he is going to say. and it is really important. what he says. there is lots still to come including of course the president's speech. slated for the top of the hour. msnbc's coverage of the address continues in a moment. stay with us. as you know the president will address the nation shortly. about the assad regime's inhuman use of lethal chemicals against men, women and children. that violates a universal norm at the heart of our global order. and it demand a strong response from the international community led by the united states. this debate is good for our democracy.
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>> ten days ago when people here in the u.s. and in syria thought that united states missiles were about to start flying into syria imminently, president obama surprised everyone when he stepped up to the podium in the rose garden and did not announce that a military strike was under way. but rather that he wanted congress to start debating the issue. he wanted congress to vote on it. the senate acted quickly. it took what turned out to be a close vote in the foreign relations committee to authorize the use of force.
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since then it has become clear that the vote to use force in the full senate would be a tougher vote than it was in the committee and that the vote in the house would be tougher still and maybe even impossible. now though any further votes in congress are on hold. as yesterday's diplomatic events broke wide open the whole discussion about what is possible in syria. the possibility of a nonwar alternative, of transferring all syria's chemical weapons to international control so they can be destroyed, that frankly has shifted the focus away from congress and to the united nations. does president obama still need authorization for the use of military force in the situation? and what is the role of congress now? lawrence o'donnell is in washington right now with one of the democratic senators who recently declared her position on use of force. lawrence lawrence? >> senator tammy baldwin, this morning i said it would be good to have an undecided senator to interview at this moment. you were undecided this morning.
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you decided today. tell house you made the decision? tell us how you made the decision? >> this is clearly a global atrocity. the use of chemical weapons has been addressed in the chemical weapons convention signed on to by 187 countries. i think a global atrocity demand a global response. there is a path that has been presented to the u.s. senate that involves unilateral military action in a country that has been involved in a long-running civil war. there are now new developments, new paths that are opening up. and if we're serious about having a global response, we have to -- give those time to -- develop. but i also -- just believe that we cannot act unilaterally. we cannot go ate len, time and time again. we have to -- be able to -- create the capacity for the
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global community to respond to -- atrocities like this. >> when you issued your statement today -- it was pretty strong. you said that you oppose authorizing military involvement in syria's civil war, not for one day, not for 60 days, one of the versions of the resolution, not for a decade. is there any version of a resolution that you could find your way to supporting? >> well, again. i want to strengthen the -- the effectiveness of the global response to violations of treaties that matter. i mean, all treaties matter. of course we are talking here about the use of chemical weapons. we worry about proliferation of nuclear weapons. biological weapons. and we, we can't have a future where -- the only thing that ever happens is that the united states acts alone. we have got to -- have a buy in from the global community. now i understand the -- the dysfunction of the u.n.
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but we have to strengthen those institutions and their capacity to respond. as i said we have a path that's opening up right now. that we really need to pursue. i have to say i am hopeful about the developments of the last couple of days. i want to just take issue with, one thing that's prevalent out there. the belief that it is the threat of force that got us to this moment. i actually think it was the president's decision to come to congress, so that -- an international debate ensued. the world's attention is on syria right now. and their use of chemical weapons. i think this is a momenten wh i which we can get our allies to stand forward and with us. >> you have been with us in the intelligence briefing and met with the senators. on the intelligence end, i am gathering from your statement that you don't have any doubt about the use of chemical weapons by the assad regime. >> that's correct. >> and you want to one of the
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meetings with the vice president over the weekend where he was making the case directly to you. in his case -- what did he say about how this use of chemical weapons changes our posture on this especially in terms of the possibility of those weapons spreading outside of syria and, and was that not in some way compelling to you? >> well, first of all. there is a history. there is a history of use of chemical weapons in the world over nearly a century. and there has been a sad history of inaction in the face of that. so what we decide to do, at this moment in some ways becomes precedent setting in my -- in my view. you know? saddam hussein used chemical weapons on the iranians. he also used it on his own kurdish citizens. the casualties were -- tens of thousands of people. there was no world reaction.
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we are setting a precedent right now. the precedent that we set in my mind has to be a global response to a global atrocity. >> does anyone mention in these closed meetings if the saddam case comes up that the united states knew about that before the fact that we have intelligence information recentrecent ly released. we knew he was going to do it before he did it. we not only turned a bland eind. we didn't know anything before and after. >> classified briefings and nonclassified briefings have focused almost exclusively on the current situation. but i did raise questions -- about the history. and the fact that -- whatever we decide to do. will in my mind be a new way of dealing with violations that -- that are crimes against humanity. that violate the humanitarian norms, that we set as a globe, as a world of nations. therefore it is essential that
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we come together. and we don't act simply in a unilateral fashion. >> you are a publicly undecided senator. i want to get a feeling for how the white house is handling this? other than the official meetings that you had with the vice president and then today, with the president, have they been calling? has the president called? has the vice president called you? and what are you hearing from other undecided senators about how the white house is actually trying to persuade you beyond the group meetings? >> i had the opportunity to speak with the president today on the telephone. in addition off to tto the lunc. and the administration is making every official available. but you know, at some point it's not necessarily about a piece of specific evidence. it's about how we go forward and confront these -- horrible issues and problems and challenges that face our globe. and, that's what each senator -- each member of the house of
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representatives, and every citizen of this country has to grapple with and ultimately decide. >> senator tammy baldwin. thank you for joining us on this important night. appreciate it. rachel. >> thanks, lawrence. lawrence o'donnell with senator tammy baldwin in washington there. let you know lawrence will be back with post-speech coverage of last word live at 10:00 eastern tonight. after the president's speech. soon of course we are expecting the start of that speech. the president's formal address to the nation by handy-dandy countdown clock, we are 24 minutes away. stay with us, msnbc's special coverage continues. >> this cannot be a process of delay. this cannot be a process of avoidance. we're waiting for that proposal. but we are not waiting for long. i'm a careful investor.
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syria. one quick programming note on what as it head. there has been a lot of consternation over whether the president's proposed authorization for the use of military force could pass in the congress. a version of it did pass a committee of the senate last week. but its fate has not looked good. in either the full senate or in the house. well tonight it remains to be seen what the president will ask for from congress in the speech if anything. reports from capitol hill indicate that that old use of force authorization, that was voted on last week, might be dead anyway. as a bipartisan group of senators has been reworking and rewriting it to account for the new prospect of syria giving up all of its chemical weapons. the first senator who pro posed that approach in the senate, who proposed last week, that instead of a punishing military strike we try instead to get syria to agree to give up chemical weapons, senator joe manchin said he is encouraged the syrian regime is to sign the
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convention. i have said from the start being a super power means more than super military might. it means super diplomacy and super restraint. >> a red state senator. >> var muery much. >> very interesting in that. the president need al lilies. after tonight he will need surrogates. who is out there making the case that the president has this right? i've don't see too many people other than john kerry, call in the artillery with hillary clinton. i need help you. need to make this statement. there its a coordinated effort, a very high administration level. to make the case to the american people. but it is going to come down to who its vos voting. now that tammy baldwin decided. 48 undecided. half the senate doesn't know what to do. >> it may decide to what the president is asking of the congress. we don't know. >> there will be a vote. >> if there will be a vote. >> when there will be a vote or if there will be a vote. and the longer it goates, the me
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the public, how he can sway the public becomes as much or more of a factor. >> perceived as permission to do war. it doesn't get through. if what he is asking for is perceived as a hammer to hold over the head of the syrian -- >> there can be an international response. >> there can be an international response. that maybe gets through. >> big difference. >> the super restraeint senator joe manchin. he will be joining us live immediately after the president's speech tonight with his reaction which will be super-interesting in terms of what happens next. hold on. there is more ahead as our special coverage continues. stay with us. [ ship horn blows ] no, no, no! stop! humans. one day we're coming up with the theory of relativity, the next... not so much. but that's okay -- you're covered with great ideas like optional better car replacement from liberty mutual insurance. total your car and we give you the money to buy one a model year newer. learn about it
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jc: ron... exactly. trust would verify, the proverb made famous by ronald reagan. john mccain has invoked the word several times in the past 24 hours saying of russia/syria that we shoe not truuld not tru should verify. mccain's dose of distrust hardly isolated. we forget the history of russia/u.s. relation has been marked by ability to find common ground. as we await the president's historic address tonight on syria and russia's sudden, somewhat controversial seat at the table is it hard to think tough powers can find common ground when it comes to syria? an american historian and expert on the american presidency.
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michael, i guess, in the beginning of the program. we have been dog trained by the neocons saying we must continue the cold war with the russians is vladamir putin a good player would he have a comb men interest in taking away chemical weapons of syria? >> he should. 50 years ago this month. john kennedy said, "you may not think it now in the middle of the cold war, but the soviets and we are going to have a common interest in making sure these weapons don't get into the hand of smaller powers that are not so responsible." he wasn't thinking of terrorists at that point. putin is a way of testing if the principle is right. at the same time look through the history of in particular, cold war, the six-day war, gulf war, history of the russians, to some extent trying to make trouble looking for opportunity. >> churchill talked about them following their interests. something we often forget. we think everybody else is,
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philosophical, god driven, most often driven like we are by sense of our interests. russian interests in the middle east. what are they in terms of syria? >>en this case, presumably the russians have no interest in an unstable syria with access to chemical weapon that may be going to terrorists. that's something that the russians have felt strongly about all the way back to 1991, when the cold war ended. so, what seems to be happening, what we hope will happen and we don't know tonight whether this is a serious gamble by put spin. this may bean expression that jfk said, they see this is a larger interest of theirs. >> we are on our way to a no confidence vote. >> sure looks like that. >> the polls, movement in congress showed that. have you seen anything in history, where a president was really confronted on a foreign policy issue by rejection of the american people? >> kosovo probably the best recent example. it was rejected by both houses of congress, clinton went
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anyway. there were 78 days of bombing. house in the end did finance the bill. did finance that venture. but if you go back to the war of powers act, which clinton and every other president thought was unconstitutional in any case, pre-barack obama. it says that even if one house finances a war. >> not the end. >> not assent. >> thank you, chris. we are minutes away from president obama's address. about the situation in syria. one more break. and then it is show time. stay with us. >> we will not send america's sons and daughters to fight another country's civil war. we are not contemplating any type of open-ended intervention or an operation involving american ground troops. a political solution, created by the syrian people, is the only way to ultimately end the violence in syria. and tea parties.
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tonight marks the ninth time president obama made a formal address to the nation. of the nine addresses seven of them have centered on war and peace. including to night's. with public polling showing a deep, wide american resistance to the idea of u.s. military involvement in syria, a senior white house official told nbc news tonight the white house isn't expecting the president's speech tonight will shift that public opinion. if he is not going to shift public opinion though, not even trying to, what is the goal of this speech? and how should success be measured to night. back with me here in new york are chris hayes, and chris matthews in washington. i should say. al, ed, eugene. what is this about for president obama tonight. what do you think success sound like? >> i think one big success point is to lay out in clear terms as ed was saying.
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lay out in clear terms what the rationale is, here, why we are doing what we are doing. with new developments what the standard are from the president's perspective of what make the burgeoning diplomatic process legitimate. right? everyone is talking this can't be fate, can't be them kicking the can down the road. there has to be an outline for domestic political consumption and international consumption about what the standard the president will apply to the unfolding diplomatic process that would make that diplomatic process real and meet the criteria laid out about enforcing the international norm. >> don't you just get right into an ultimatum there. isn't that benchmarks that are timelines, locking us into action ahead of time that they're not going to want to take once that benchmark comes? >> yeah, yeah, i think that's right. look, i think what the president has to duo is explain to people why this should be important to them. why should it be important to me, do you, to ed? and bring it home.
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if the answer is chemical weapons, then, that's what he should talk about. and why -- it is so important. >> that have been leading with the argument for ten days. public opinion has gone in the opposite direction i mean -- >> not iraq. not afghanistan. we got to get the devil in the details on this. the president has to do a beg sell j -- do a big sell job. can he recover tammy baldwin. you can take a no vote. won't haunt you. don't have a good track record in the middle east any way. >> he has got to make the case these are babies that are dead. these people were killed. and by me standing up to them, they're already admitting what they were lying about. you have got to keep the threat there. whether we agree or not. he has got to say that when i was a kid, we used to get whippings. i don't know how you grew up. a big difference when mother said stop acting up, or when she said go get the belt. then she had our attention.
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he has got to say, i told him to go get the belt. >> -- it is to talk about we have made progress. right, remember. as the president of the united states, i did cancel a meeting with putin before. we haven't had the best relationship. the president goes to the g-20. he gets enough allies to convince put spin. you have an interest in this. you better get with the syrians and figure out what you can do about it. >> does he have to talk about american exceptionalism. explain why the united states has to do this and not france? >> yes. >> or belgium? >> chris matthews, would you weigh in on the question? >> i'm not big on that form of american exceptionalism. american exceptionalism is the way people develop, what you can do in the country as american. the only thing we can hope for here, we have to develop it, use di policem diplomacy. we talked about it tonight, they do have an interest in doing what we have to do.
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they're loyal to assad. we are not loyal to assad. chemical weapons in the hand of terrorists is enemy of russia and the united states. finding common ground. this president has to learn how to do it. he doesn't have good relations with congress. he doesn't have good relations with, with, putin because he hasn't really tried. that's the question -- finding the common interest he has with putsin. just like finding the common interest with the congress. this congress is more like him than i can say. they're anti-war. he's anti-war. the american people are anti-war. they're all in the same page. what he has to do tonight is just hit a single. regain ability to carry the american people with your narrative. begin to tell the story tonight for 15 or so minutes of what has been going on. we begin to listen to him. we have stopped listening to this president. that's his biggest problem. >> i think the thing we stopped listening to is how bad things are. how bad this attack was. how bad the syrian civil war is.
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how bad assad is. the thing that may change people and make people feel differently about what we ought to do is the idea that something is possible. something is working. progress is being made. it is our fight. a reason. >> it is our opportunity. there is something that can be done. we have to be part of it or won't get done. right? there is no, not just that we, we ought to feel bad and therefore we ought to do something. that we can move forward. let's go. >> last 48 hours gives him something to work with there. but i also think that people do look at this. i think you are right. you talk how horrible it is. lingering on the dead babies. on the death toll of 100,000. people look at this. they just see this vortex of horror. that we have, they have no entry point into understandably. >> you cannot rationally talk to these people. i favor diplomacy. he has to make the case these are people that don't understand language unless you give us a
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hammer over them. >> one of the prevailing thoughts of the no votes in congress, if we strike, comes to that, we kill one innocent person. >> we're coming up to the top of the hour. the live shot there of the white house. if you are just joining us, i want to say good evening from new york city. this is msnbc special coverage of president obama's address to the nation concerning america's rinse to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the syrian government. as recently as yesterday morning, president obama was expected in the speech to persuade the american public and members of congress to support his call for an american punitive military strike against the syrian government. since then in the last day. syria has said it will declare its chemical weapons arsenal for the first time ever and will sign on to the international chemical weapons convention. the syrians are pledging for the first time to cooperate in an international effort to declare, ha