tv MSNBC Live With Alex Witt MSNBC April 14, 2018 10:00am-11:00am PDT
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did they accomplish? this hour, some perspective. >> to quote the pentagon, these strikes were precise. >> strategic, we're no better off, tactically, we're slightly better off. >> all of the diplomatic initiative has been lost. >> this strike was important because basically we were standing up to the principle you do not use chemical weapons in warfare? >> this really a one-time shot as the president said and will the base support that? our experts gore ing to weigh in. plus, the president coming under fire for using two words that some say he should have avoided. okay. first to breaking news, right now from the united nations security council which is meeting in emergency session at the request of russia. on the agenda, last night's u.s.-led military strike on syria. three-country coalition response to last week's chemical attack
on civilians. russian president vladimir putin has declared the strikes an act of aggression. ambassador nikki haley said president trump has drawn his own reds line. >> the security council has failed in its duty to hold those who use chemical weapons to account. that failure is largely due to russian obstruction. i spoke to the president this morning. and he said if the syrian regime uses this poisonous gas again, the united states is locked and loaded. when our president draws a red line. our president enforces the red line. >> back in syria, international chemical weapons inspectors arrived in damascus this morning to investigate last week's chemical attacks. they are there at the behest and at the welcome of the syrian administration that got there hours after united states, united kingdom and france launched missile strikes with a
total of 105 weapons from the scene. president trump tweeted this morning that it was a perfectly executed strike. he thanked france and the united kingdom adding could not have had a better result. then he added these two words, mission accomplished. we've got nbc correspondents across the region and the nation's capital. hans nichols at the pentagon. bill neely in lebanon. jeff bennett at the white house. let's start with hans nichols at the pentagon. hans, as it's daylight, coming to the end of the day until syria. there's been some chance to evaluate what's going on. we know the syrians have taken journalists around to show them zach. what is the pentagon saying about it? >> pentagon saying they had limited objectives and they achieved those limited objectives. think of it research facility, production and production of chemical weapons. they tried the strikes,
self-identified strikes not to have any civilian casualties. that's why they kept it limited. they'll acknowledge, ali, even with all that was set up, they have been eliminated the ability to deploy them on the battlefield. what they're saying he can reconstitute it but they think bashar al assad will think twice. this is about deterrence and upholding international norms. in terms of armaments they did have about 105 cruise missiles that shot from all kinds of platforms including a virginia class submarine there. and they had buy-in as well as real action from the french and british. that's where it stands now. none of the missiles were shot down according to the pentagon. this took place in minutes. and the amount of force put up, this happened after the strikes took place, ali. >> right. because the syrians have a different view on this, right?
they said they were able to intercept some missiles. it was all over social media last night that they were able to do that. it is worth noting that the syrians do have a more robust air defense system than one would think. they don't have a very big air force. they have about 200 fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. >> that's right. outside the range of syrian civil defense and it's from there they dropped their cruise missiles. the air defenses are better at shooting down planes flying above them, cruise missiles present an entirely new challenge. now, the russians claim that they can knock down cruise missiles. we don't know if they activates their anti-cruise missile system within syria. we know they manned some of the radar batteries inside of syria. but according to officials here, syria did not and was not able to knock down any of those cruise missiles. >> i'm going to push you here
because you know more about military things than most people around. there's still some confusion in some people's minds about whether the syrians were responsible for the chemical attack last night. there's a group of inspectors who have arrived today in damascus. the syrians have said, they're welcome to come in. and yet, we targeted what the americans say say syrian chemical weapons manufacturing plant. how is it that we have certainty about this chemical weapons manufacturing plant. but not about whether the chemical weapons used in last saturday's attack were done by the syrian government? >> well, they have evidence. they don't have proof. and i think secretary mattis acknowledged that last night. he was even more skeptical testifying before capitol hill. now, last night, he said they have more evidence and more proof. and whether or not they share that with the broader international community is going to come down whether or not they think they can release the intelligence. there are two separate lines of
authority here. number one, was the munition actually deliver by the regime? and that's difficult to prove especially when you don't have that much intelligence and isr and satellites looking down on it. and the other one that's easier to prove but a different one. were they used, they have ground samples but the question is can we take ground samples so long after the attack. >> hans nichols, thank you from the pentagon. i want to go to nbc chief global correspondent bill neely who is in beirut, lebanon. bill, what can you tell us about the international reaction and in particular the regional reaction to the strikes thus far? >> reporter: yeah, ally, 50 miles from damascus on a quite extraordinary day. i suppose predictable divisions as you're seeing at the united nations. as we saw in that emergency
meeting, that was played out from almost dawn this morning. so from the pentagon came the words precise, overwhelming and effective about the air strikes. president trump saying perfect, mission accomplished. and the u.s. and france using the words, successful, legal and proportionate. and from france, and from iran, a crime. and what looks like the presidential palace in damascus of bashar al assad, 9:00 this morning, walking in. i think the aim was, this was an image of a president taking it in his stride. as if the air strikes hadn't even kept him awake last night. but, you know, i was thinking of what the russian ambassador to the u.n. said, maybe 36 hours ago that we are at a dangerous moment. and he couldn't rule out the possibility of a war between the
u.s. and russia. what we saw was a very limited air strike in which russia and the u.s. seemed desperate to avoid any kind of escalation. and you know, we were look at not just what hans was saying what was hit. but what was not hit. command and control centers were not hit. syria's air force were not hit. its helicopters were not hit. and there's a different between a tactical success. and the question remains what is the strategy going forward? is the u.s. in syria or out? what about those 2,000 troops in the east. and of course, the unanswered question, will this actually be a deterrent and what if bashar al assad uses chemical weapons again. nikki haley says we're locked and loaded.
but what is the red line for another air strike, ali. >> bill, thank you for your continued analysis on this. s we'll continue to come back to you. bill neely is in beirut. now from the latest from the trump administration. jeff, what's the white house saying? >> hey there, ali, president trump is called it mission accomplished follow the attacks in syria overnight. and of course that was a phrase used by george w. bush after operations in iraq in 2003. and i don't have to tell you that u.s. military is still involved in iraq 15 years later. the here are the tweets from the president. he says a perfectly executed strike last night thank you to france and united kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine military. could not have had a better result. mission accomplished. then he added so proud of our great military which will soon be after the spending of
billions of fully approved dollars the finest that our country has ever had. there won't be anything or anyone ever close. and whether or not the assad regime can be deterred from using chemical weapons remains to be seen. earlier today, nikki haley-the-u.s. ambassador to the united nations told a gathering of the security council that the united states is prepared to strike again if assad uses chemical weapons. take a look. >> i spoke to the president this morning. and he said if the syrian regime uses this poisonous gas again, the united states is locked and loaded. when our president draws a red line, our president enforces the red line. >> reporter: so, some tough hyperbolic perhaps language there. but she's echoing frankly what defense secretary jim mattis said yesterday that there are no more attacks plans unless assad
again gases his own people. you have people outside of the administration saying while the administration is apparently showing resolve on the issue. what the people on the other side of pennsylvania avenue want to see is a fully coherent outcome for months to come. joining me the former commandant of war college, bob scales. bob, thanks for being with us. i'm looking at a note that you sent earlier today. you say we keep saying that nobody's got a strategy. and you say the trump administration is not dissimilar from the strategy that the obama administration had on syria. what is the strategy you believe they have? >> well, the strategy is very clear, ali. it's very simple, western nations simply can't get involved in civil wars. whether it's the spanish civil war of the '30s. the russian civil war of the
'20s or the vietnamese civil war of the '60s. civil wars are wars of passion. the russians fight for strategic objectives. and the only way for united states to re-enter into the syria situation is to allow the civil war. this civil war to burn itself up. think of the civil war, ali of like a forest fire, raging forest fire, you can't put it out until it burns itself out. now, if there's any good news in this, it looks like assad has reached a point that the civil war is about to burn itself out. we may be moving into an era where the resistance is finally collapsed. and one final point that our viewers need to pay attention to this chemical attack from the syrian perspective was very successful. think for a moment, the syria army is trying to break into this region of douma which is a
citadel or enclave to penetrate the means. the syrians locked into this region and can't get out. and they know from 2013, the chaos the syrian army caused by using nerve agents s so, it wa amoral and horrible -- >> let me ask you this, to that point that it's amoral, to that point that civil wars are asymmetric. it's not two competing groups. it's the government to the people. when you look at history and rwanda and bosnia. in theory, these are civil wars. 2 million people died in rwanda. how do we figure out a mechanism to stop innocent team from dying at the hands of their own governments legally? >> very difficult. rwanda is a good example, cambodia is another example.
you reach a point in human conflict where conventional means of military intervention and for that matter, diplomatic a enter intervention, and the best you can do amile humanitarian aid, stand back and wait for this thing to burn itself up. and, oh, by the way, as you know, the american military is adverse to casualties. can you imagine that the american forces decided to intervene and fight a street battle. what the consequences might be as far as the american people are concerned. >> don't we have an issue isn't that we seem to have a moral view for the use of chemical weapons. and they've been established as something that they shouldn't be using. i'm been speaking to people all morning who say, wait, we made a rule that they can't use chemical weapons but we've actually killed more with more.
absolutely. half a million people. there are two issues, number one is the psychology of seeing innocent children suffering from the chemical attack. number two, the slippery slope that goes with the chemical attack. the fear of use of chemical weapons by assad perhaps at least in the middle east, chemical warfare might become the new normal. and you can imagine the chaos people in the middle east would suffer if regional states exchange massive amounts of chemical weapons. this was mainly chlorine. imagine if it was sarin. intervention was the right thing to do. it was limited, tactical and has impact on the detail. >> thank you for joining me. >> thanks to both of you for being here. laura, let me start with you, what do you make of this
decision to strike syria, ahead of the u.n. inspection of chemical weapons? there are a lot of people in america, i'm not one of them, but there are a lot of people who think we haven't fully answered the question as to whether the syrians were actually responsible for last week's chemical attacks. no one has actually offered -- except the russians offered a fairly ridiculous view that it was the british government responsible for it. >> right. this has been problematic in a lot of ways. trump floated his military plans for days before doing this. the strategy has been unclear. he's publicly disagreed with mattis with what's going on, is this a one-day strike? there's been no strategy put forward. and with this, it hasn't been prove that it was actually assad ewing chemical weapons on his people. i think there are more questions than answers.
>> seema, the president is going to have, by the way in signing that spending bill he had the same problem. he's going to have staunch supporters who have condemned this decision to strike. at some point, there are a bunch of people, particularly conservatives who are going to say what are you up to. you design a spending bill and you said you're not going to be involved in other people's wars. you said you're not going to spread the long arm of the military in other places. you said you were getting out of syria 11 days ago. what are you doing? >> right. to his supporters they were sick of america being the world's policemen. he delivered the message we can't be mixing other country's problems. if last night was a one-time thing and people forget about it but if this is a sustained effort, if we see increased interaction in syria. you've seen supporters on the right raising this line in
articles on websites. if we see more of these missions this could be an issue in those terms. >> laura, this morning, the pentagon talked about u.s. strategy in syria, something that senator scales and i just talked about. they stressed this particular point, let's listen -- all right. they stressed the point that this is about isis. you know, this is about assad and weakening his capabilities to do this. but assad is fighting isis in syria. and the attack last night had nothing to do with isis. this is one of the bigger confusions around here. isis has always been wiped out on a physical basis in iraq. i assad would like everybody to think their war is with isis. >> right. he kind of floated his plan on twitter a few days ago which gave syria time to move things around to prepare for this. last week when we struck syria, we struck a syrian air base and it was back up and running
within a few hours. there's no action that it does deter assad from using chemical weapons in the future. and hundreds of thousands have died. it's a sim bymbolic way, it's a for trump to say i'm drawing this line in the sand. and what effect does it have on the region and the civil war and assad is very unclear. >> thanks very much. lawyer is a political reporter and seema, l.a. times reporter. thanks to both to you. up next, the optics and public relations battle over syria. this you're watching syrian tv, people celebrating in the streets but why. an award-winning journal effo n work in the streets of syria joins us next.
a protest outside the white house this afternoon. a group of demonstrators holding up signs and speaking out against the u.s.-led military strikes in syria. several protesters holding signs reading "no war on syria." new reaction from the trump administration this time from vice president mike pence who spoke moments ago during a summit in peru. >> president trump made tell clear that the united states will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons against men, women and children. and with the strong support of our allies, the united kingdom and france, last night, the
united states forces brought extraordinary military effort against chemical weapons facilities. and degraded and crippled the chemical weapons capability of syria. >> joining me now jeannine degiovani contributor. and author of "the morning they came for us dispatches from syria." i'm going to speak differently from you as if i'm not on tv. many are wow, i can't believe you've fallen for this fireworks show when we really should be covering the white house. there are close to 500,000 dead syrians. there are millions of syrian refugees around the world. america left 11 of them by the way.
and millions not in their homes. and many don't know what actually happened last night is actually going to help their plight and we don't care enough. >> i think there's been real confusion in the they're tinarr the beginning but it's a war against isis and war against terrorism. and what people don't believe is that this was a civil war that actually against assad against his people who wanted to bring down the 40-year regime. >> let me interrupt you. that is something that america should feel strongly about. in march 2011 there were speeches by people who want the great ability. >> freedom. >> the ability to protest. and the government opened fire on them and has been arresting and torturing innocent syrians who want liberty since then. >> if we lose this threat entirely. since 2011 and the demonstrations and assad firing on his own people.
he slaughtered tens and thousands of people. he's incarcerated, in one prison alone, amnesty international said 13,000 men were tortured to death. he's killed children. so, the kind of -- we come awake when we hear chemical weapons. >> yes. >> and there's a kind of moral imperative to impose -- >> which is not wrong. >> which is not wrong and should be done but i think we should not forget that shouldn't be a red line drawn. you can't use poison gas but you can do everything else. you can commit every heinous war crime as long agency you don't use chemical weapons. we forgot what is happening to syria and the syrian population and the suffering they've undergone for seven years. why should we care, because to have a failed state is not in our political interest. >> right, and there are examples of that in syria, lebanon,
india, every time there's a failed state in the world, there are lots of people willing to gill that gap. in syria, we have not only the islamists prepared to fill that gap but russians in there as well? >> yes, and a small al qaeda division. there's a division among the jihadists. i'm concerned about this stage of the war. it is winding up and a chapter has ended and i'm wondering what will happen in the bloody battle where all of the fighters, civilians have been corralled out to cities after douma duryia. and the stand that assad is going to take of what's left of the opposition. but i think it's very important, as you point out, this started as a fight for people to have the rights. and the right of free speech. and they do not have a free
television -- >> they have not had for decades. >> for 40 years. >> yeah. this is all that they wanted. >> as americans, this is what the american revolution is about. so there should be some kind of, in a sense, sympathy, and people confuse it with the iraq war in 2003. >> there were similarities. there was an accusation that chemical weapons were used. proof was never found. but we got ourselves in a war 15 years ago that we're not out of. >> and there was no presence of al qaeda in iraq. we know that now. and saddam hussein was is not slaughtering his people. and also what will happen? will he be brought to a war crimes tribunal? will he go to the hague? will there ever be justice for this man who has so much blood
on his hands for the victims and families. >> well, there have been cases developed, and if he were ever to stand trial there say lot of evidence that the atrocity that the world should not be tolerating. janine, thank you for 25 years of reporting on this. the view from israel on u.s.-led strikes on syria. and how last night's action is being received in the middle east -- after this. afi sure had a lot on my mind. my 30-year marriage... ...my 3-month old business... plus...what if this happened again? i was given warfarin in the hospital, but wondered, was this the best treatment for me? so i made a point to talk to my doctor. he told me about eliquis. eliquis treats dvt and pe blood clots and reduces the risk of them happening again.
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back now with more breaking news on the u.s.-led coalition missile strikes against syria. moments ago, the united nations security council rejected russia's resolution condemning action by the u.s. and france and united kingdom. the coalition launched 105 missiles. the syrian government chemical weapons targets overnight. u.s. officials call it a success. joining me now the author of "rise and kill first." he's also a staff writer for "the new york times" magazine. thank you for joining us. i want to understand the regional implications both of last night's attack and of what is going on in syria, a place that has a remarkable iranian presence, military presence on
the ground, and a remarkable russian military presence on the ground. israel has had peripheral involvement by syria. israel is at war with syria technically and has peripheral involvement for some time. what is happening in israel? how is israel feeling about these attacks? >> reporter: of course, officially, the israeli prime minister just announced that israel supports full backup to the policy of president trump and to the attack. but we're talking about two different stories. one is the use, the syrian use of chemical agents and america's and its allies reply to that which is by itself. and the second thing the attack on a syrian air base where iranians were building armed-drone fleet in order to attack israel. that happened just a day after the attack on the syrian
civilians. now israel is now under the impression that iran is going to retaliate for that attack at which seven different iranian officials were killed. so we're talking about an explosive arena in which iran, syrian officials, russians and hezbollah from lebanon and israel, of course, playing parts with great contradictions against them. and i think, ali, the recipe, the full ingredients for the next war are there. even if israel is able to calm down the situation now, we will have a military confrontation between the sides very soon. >> this is why it's important. this is why i wanted to have this conversation with you, ronan, because a lot of people wonder if this is much ado about nothing. the united states spends two minutes on an attack. talks about it a lot. the president calls it a success, says mission accomplished.
but in fact, the more serious issues may be in addition to what bashar al assad is doing to his people, the russian continued and growing presence in syria. and the iranian presence in syria. talk to me about the iranian influence. we've talked a lot about the russian influence in syria. what is iran doing in syria? and what impact is that likely to have? >> iranian deployment in syria, centralized and commanded by the chief of the al qods force of the revolution another guard has two goals. one of them is making sure that president assad, who is a close ally of the russian hezbollah and iranians will stay the president of syria. now, ali, nowadays, it's clear he's going to be the president. but during the last five years it was not clear at all. and he's still the president, only thanks to the aid coming from his iranian allies. this is one thing. the other goal is to build a
front in syria to confront israel. israel is facing a cross-border front with hezbollah and iran now between israel in lebanon and israel in syria. iran is far away and for a long time it wanted to establish strategic bases on the front now when the civil war in syria is over, da'esh is almost defeated, the iranians have the time for a huge military buildup in syria. and, thus, the ability to just a month ago, an iranian drone filled with explosives was shot above israel on its way to explode, to commit suicide on an israeli target. this was just a hint to what the iranians are planning to do. >> yeah. >> from syria against israel. >> and israel lost an aircraft in attempting to deal with some of the iranian involvement and
that's something that doesn't happen very often but israel have been bombing syrian sites for a long time. unlike the united states they're not entirely public about it. you've written an entire book about the methods at which israel deals with its enemies. they tend to be quiete covert. should america be looking at israel as an example of how to deal with the growing problems in syria? >> well, i think that the last attack by american forces is just the proof for the failure of the american policy in the middle east. president obama agreed not to strike syria even after they crossed his own red lines and used chemical agents and signed a deal in which syria promised to disaassemble all of its chemical arsenal, they did not
fulfill. but that dealal allowed russia to further deepen their involvement in the country. and last year, president trump tried to deter it by further use of the agent by sending a tomahawk and it didn't work. in this event when secretary mattis clearly says it's going to be focused on a one-time operation, it's just the proof that america is not the real boss in the middle east. and it's practically evacuated the entire area. now, when we go back, people went to the united states, pleaded with america to exercise pressure on russia to make sure that iranians do not deploy in syria. they came back very frustrated saying the americans evacuated the middle east. we're on our own. let me tell you something, ali, it's the most dangerous thing to
give the israelis the mind-set that they're left alone because the reaction to that is to exercise force. >> thank you for your an salysi. his new book "rise and kill first." u.s. launches an attack on syria alongside britain and france. what that attack says about our relationship with our allies, up next. ♪ we came with big appetites. with expedia, you could book a flight, hotel, car, and activity all in one place. ♪ discover card. i justis this for real?match, yep. we match all the cash back new cardmembers earn at the end of their first year,
back now with more breaking news on the u.s.-led coalition missile strikes against syria. the president of france and prime minister of britain released statements within the last half hour saying they each spoke with president trump by phone. prime minister theresa may's office said the three leaders agreed that military strikes against the syrian regime's chemical weapons site had been a success. president macron's office said the united nations security council must now resume the initiative on the pretty, chemical and humanitarian. joining me now, tammy leitner. we've seen the responses from the french president emmanuel macron today. what else? >> yeah, that's right. there is no doubt, ali that europe's two biggest military powers france and britain took a
calculated gamble when they decided to take part in those strikes. now leaders are defending their positions. theresa may did not seek parliament's approval in a calculated attack. saying it was within britain's best interest. that this was not about intervening in syria's civil war. this is not about enforcing a regime change in syria that this was sole about the use of chemical weapons by the assad regime. let's go ahead and listen to her remarks. >> there is no greater decision for a prime minister than to commit our forces to combat. and this is the first time that i've had to do so. as always, they have served our country with the greatest professionalism and bravery. and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude. we would have preferred an alternative plan. but on this occasion, there is
none. >> both the prime minister and french president macron have confirmed that they have spoken with president trump today in separate phone calls. all three saying that they believe the strikes were a success. ali. >> tammy leitner, thanks very much. tammy will stay on top of the reaction for us. tammy's in london. the iran factor in syria. we want to hear what we're hearing from tehran. what it's involvement is in all of this, next.
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u.n. ambassador knick can i -- nikki haley is following up and said earlier at a u.n. security council meeting. >> we've talked about the victims in douma and about the assad regime and it's a patrons, russia and iran. we've spent a week talking about the unique horror of chemical weapons. the time of talk ended last night. we are prepared to sustain this pressure if the syrian regime is foolish enough to test our will. >> you'll remember that president trump singled out both russia and iran in himself own
strong language in his address last night for their support of bashar al-assad. joining me is the tehran bureau chief. what's the iran began government reaction to these new comments by nikki haley in light of last night's strike? >> well, ali, they haven't commented yet and they have a policy of not immediately commenting as to not give too much weight to their words. the foreign ministry weighed in almost immediately after the first missiles are launch saying the u.s. attack on syria was a flagrant violation of international law and ignoring syria's sovereignty and warned of broader regional consequences because of this attack. they also accused president trump of launching the attack to
deflect from his own domestic problems. the revolutionary guards had tough words and said merps would pay for the consequences of their actions and the attack had broadened iran's line of defense. by that they mean that land corridor that they formed by tehran, iraq, lebanon and gaza all the way to the mediterranean with the use of their proxies, such as hezbollah and hamas. iran's president said he spoke to bashar al-assad and told him that he's 100% behind him and syria. and the highest authority in the land, the supreme leader accused america, france and britain of committing genocide in syria. they're very upset that their very close ally has been hit like this but they don't feel like they have to step into the fray right now i don't think. >> let's just talk about the
fray, though. we've spent a certain amount of time and we will spend more on why russia is even in syria, what their strategic interest is. what's the iranians' strategic interest in syria? >> well, again, that's a broad question. sear kra is veryria is very, veo iran. they've invested a lot of political capital and money in syria. they sent forces there and they want to keep syria within their control. syria is a very important place for iran. it's close to lebanon where they support hezbollah, obviously with the border with israel, which is a buffer for iran. so they want to maintain their control on the assad regime and their influence in syria. but they also have to be very careful. i mean, i was saying earlier that i've never seen relations between an iran and america so bad and they could easily get a lot worse than this.
so they don't want to push the envelope too far and give america an excuse to come down hard on iran. >> i did ask you a very, very broad question to which you've given a concise answer. thank you, ali arouzi. >> it's worth looking at why russia is in syria. we're going to take a quick break here and our coverage on the american attack in syria will continue after this. regularly with our ameriprise advisor. we plan for everything from retirement to college savings. giving us the ability to add on for an important member of our family. welcome home mom. with the right financial advisor, life can be brilliant.
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