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tv   Cross Talk  RT  April 29, 2013 2:29am-3:00am EDT

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in the very heart of moscow. hello and welcome to crossfire all things considered i'm peter lavelle syria and those red lines with allegations damascus has used some kind of chemical weapons in this ongoing civil war there is a growing possibility the u.s. nato and the gulf countries may up the ante to break the deadlock in this conflict if that comes to pass what are the possible outcomes and are any of them better than the status quo. to cross-talk syria i'm joined by my guests in washington mark jacobson he's a senior transatlantic fellow at the german marshall fund of the united states so
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he's an editor at antiwar dot com fred gentlemen cross-talk rules in effect that means you can jump in anytime you want and i very much encourage it ok john i'd like to start with you you wrote in your blog why obama's chemical weapons redline in syria is bogus explain yourself. well the first thing is that he shifted his red line before used to be that if assad moved around chemical weapons that would be crossing a red line and obama would pursue some unspecified counteraction the second reason is that you know the there are no good military options in syria and the obama administration has said this a number of times. and a no fly zone more civilians at risk and you know safe zones don't work. moving in to secure the chemical weapons would need at least seventy five thousand troops on all of these options would end up embroiling the u.s.
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in a quagmire and change in nation building as we've seen in iraq and afghanistan go so arrive and plus there's no opposition in order to replace assad then we're in a real mess john i just want to ask you but obama keeps saying assad has to go i mean isn't he turning into a joke you must go but we're not going to do anything about it he says that in order as a as a sort of public rhetoric in order to seem like he's he cares about the humanitarian situation in syria but you know his policies that he's followed with regard to syria are very. very nuanced they're very you know sometimes he's on the side of the rebels and sometimes he's you know helping the iraqi state militias stop the flow of rebels into syria from iraq i mean he's sort of all over the place what's clear is that the obama administration doesn't really want to get involved in syria because it would be such a mass market interest the issue of chemical weapons. i mean is it real or is it
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just baiting to expand the war no i certainly don't think that this issue that was raised last week about chemical weapons is a way to bait. anyone into going to war in fact as john stated there's a great reluctance from both the united states and its nato partners to get involved despite a real humanitarian imperative this is a mess and the challenge is to manage the chaos in a way that doesn't make the situation work and that's why i think we still see the vast majority of emphasis on coming up with some sort of diplomatic solution that removes assad from power so that we can defeat defuse what's what's become an unbelievably dangerous situation for the syrian people well mark you know and people on the ground are looking for negotiations everybody outside wants to go she sions maybe except for the qatari zur saudis but it's not on the ground there is there is no interest in that right now well again i mean there's been attempts at
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bringing the parties to talk outside of syria i certainly think that there is enough desire to end this peaceably given the amount of the humanitarian disaster on the ground now that the challenge is there is absolutely no ability right now to get an overarching sanction from the united nations the u.n. security council's deadlocked or largely because of disagreements between russia and china and the rest of the of the security council members and without that you don't have the international legitimacy that's going to allow this sort of intervention to bring this to a close look kind of intervention should there be if i can stay with you marc. sure i i think probably the best option is of course the sation of hostilities and by that i mean the attacks by this the syrian military against the population of syria a peaceful transition of power to a transitional government where then you could have free and fair elections later
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on and that may require some sort of i think in best case un mandated peacekeeping presence i think bosnia provides a particularly good model but my assumption here is that you can bring the security down to a level where the active fighting has largely been concluded before any sort of peacekeeping force would be able to enter syria john what do you think about that but you know the problem here with getting sides to cease hostilities and perhaps negotiate with each other is that both sides are backed by foreign powers you know this is a problem there's actually a lot of literature in the political political science field that deals with this once when civil conflicts civil wars happen and both sides are in bold and by outside powers that have a feel like they have a stake in what happens both sides are emboldened and they and they won't they're not incentivized to to lay down their arms and start to negotiate they're not
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incentivized to compromise because they can they think they can win in a sort of all out kind of way well yes i mean americans i care about what u.s. interventions are the u.s. needs to stop its sort of half assed you know support of the rebels selected rebels you know them through this vetting process and they need to pressure the saudis and the qataris to stop. funding other elements of the rebel groups that sounds reasonable don't you think mark well i disagree somewhat with what john said here the problem is it's not two sides the problem is that we have multiple sides here and speaking i think it's not just in the us now. interest by i think it's in frankly the regional and global interest that extremists you take a look at the. at the nusra front and this is a proclamation that now we have a broader a rocky syrian. sponsored movement that's going to somehow free the syrian people
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that's ludicrous that's not what the syrian people want and that some elements in syria have been very clear that this is a they want this to be a syrian rob and they don't want interference from from al-qaeda they don't want interference from outside forces but where i would agree with john is there is a reality nations do have interests whether that's the gulf nations whether that's the united states and russia. but i do think that there is an imperative to support the free syrian army i think there's an imperative to support the people who are trying to get away from from a despot who killed his his own people john you know support and support the rebels that yeah this is a problem first of all if there were an imperative to support this so-called free syrian army there would be certain requirements like is there a free syrian army or is it too. old and.
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ok yeah and you know this is a real problem if you decide to intervene in a conflict on one side you have to have some reasonable expectation of what's going to happen as opposed to virtually none which we have i mean the obama administration has even stated that you know knocking out the assad regime would create a power vacuum and even if we were supporting the free syrian army and still descend into probably an archaic civil war that has the kind of on the order that we saw in iraq you know and in terms of a moral imperative this talk i think really needs to stop because if there were if america had a moral imperative to do something to stop human suffering and mass death then we shouldn't of gone into iraq and killed seven hundred thousand people and we shouldn't have been imposing sanctions on iraq and killing about a million people during the one nine hundred ninety s. we shouldn't have you know there is there is a trial going on right now for
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a latin american general in guatemala who who we we backed as he tortured and massacred his own people far more people died in that conflict in a matter of few years than have died in the syrian conflict and you know that situation the moral imperative was to support and the soviets as opposed to go in and save people and so america doesn't have credibility on this issue we don't care about human suffering we often impose the human suffering mark you want to reply to that lot said. i think the challenge is that there's an imperative to help the syrian people the problem is that you have multiple sides and gaging in the conflict and you have to find a measured and responsible way to provide support without making the situation worse and i think that the provision of the non-lethal support of the open provision of non-lethal support has been exactly the right move now i would also
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advocate perhaps a something that's being done on the private side that is the provision of little support as well but there is a danger in that that we create in the future a worse situation for the syrian people and i think that's why nations have been reluctant as a group to to provide lethal support versus the non-lethal efforts ok john does it ever work out these interventions if we were to come to pass. almost never i mean you think about the past situations in which america has intervened in civil conflicts to sing one side over the other in their own interests not for humanitarian reasons because the u.s. doesn't care about terri reasons. they tend to prolong the conflict as i said before both sides are emboldened more people get killed it's a protracted stalemate and that's what's happening in syria you know the the moral . impulse to do something doesn't seem like it will be served by
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intervening you know everyone wants to do something quoting you know this is the mantra of the humanitarian intervention ists but do something almost invariably especially in the syrian conflict that it's so dangerous will make things worse ok mark i know you want to reply but we have to go to a short break and after that short break we'll continue our discussion on syria stay with our team.
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oh. i think going down of the sun and good morning we will remember that we will. that. wealthy british style. sometimes. markets why not scandals. find out what's really happening to the global economy comes a report on our. international
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and world in the very heart of moscow.
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welcome back to cross talk are all things considered i'm peter lavelle to remind you we're discussing syria. ok mark just before the break you want to jump in there please do i would disagree with john in terms of the u.s. not caring in terms of humanitarian intervention i think there's a long record of humanitarian intervention by the united states in fact the u.s. often receives a great deal of criticism for that but more to the point if we are looking at what could be done in syria i would also look to bosnia and kosovo as examples of not only what the united states can do but more importantly what the broader euro atlantic community can do after almost fifteen years we're seeing great moves towards a settlement for the kosovo situation and announcement last week by lady ashton
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about serbia kosovo agreement we've seen bosnia and its neighbors go from a state of war to where the nation has been able to rebuild and the people have been able to move on so there are some examples there's no doubt syria is much more complex but i don't think that means that the international community should not try mike if i can stay with you if assad left today what would change in syria well i think for one no you wouldn't have a leader that deliberately attacks his own people possibly use chemical weapons against his own people i think what you would have is a vacuum that would need to quickly be filled by behind a by whom a transitional government by the transitional deborah by her backed up by whom. who this is going to have to be backed up by the united nations resolution human peacekeeping forces and i also think a great component a great backer of this will have to be the arab league in fact just
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a step back i think that it's the arab league that is going to have to play a leading role in requesting u.n. assistance here this is going to be about the legitimacy of any transitional government in the i of the syrian people so what ever it takes to create that legitimacy that is going to be the number one imperative john you want to reply to that because i still don't understand it with assad goes the war goes on the war probably will go on just the way it went on after the power vacuum in iraq happened when we took saddam out you know this marks prescription although it's more moderate than a lot of the. advocates of intervention that you hear from washington it has mission creep all written all over it you know when when international interventions occur that have a broad. sweeping support from the international community it ends up being the united states that takes on the most important role in the situation we will
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be flooding money into that situation we will be real rebuilding the country we will be putting troops on the ground to try and stabilize the situation we will be occupying that country and then have to have responsibility for setting up some sort of a government and that has all kinds of problems with it you know it's the old colin powell. if you break it you own terms. exactly you're you break it you own it and we will end up owning it because again we're the world's superpower and so while europe can sit back and sort of let the tell us to do something and let us do something. you know that that does not bode well for the future of syria or for us foreign policy mark historically what john said is correct basically well i think about what john said i think the good news is that with the budget the way it is in the united states right now i'm not sure that there's going to be an
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overwhelming desire for any sort of again i will call it a peacekeeping opposed to side peacekeeping and how to have peace how can you has he been when there's a war well that's exactly what peacekeepers do i mean there you say don't make the ninety's a well these to cause peace enforcement but but again i'm not going to get into a semantic difference arguably if there is instability you need something to get rid of that instability i think the removal of assad while creating a vacuum really takes away a very large impetus for the syrian forces to continue to fight on the regime behalf that. provides an opportunity for people to sit down and talk john jump in. he's he's he's talking about the removal of assad now he's talking the removal of assad you know when it's important to try and have an even mind about this if
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assad is supposedly committing all kinds of war crimes then how is it legitimate for the united states to lead an effort in committing a war crime syria presents no imminent threat to anybody or any of its neighbors especially to the united states and so what you need at least legally speaking is a u.n. security council resolution russia and china will not agree with what i said exactly that that's exactly but that's exactly what you need is a u.s. right here and we have as aleutian and nato will not act without it the united states will not act without it and you're exactly right this is time well actually it will be that his have a valid point about ticket toleration they've got it other with the guitar is act without it. and also we have a history of acting without a security council resolution in iraq and you know this this is a problem that would constitute a violation of international law one wrong when you know two wrongs don't make
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a right and this is a very very bad situation because you know you know. the united states is struggling here to even claim that it up holds the rule of law when all it does is break it and it's a might makes right thing if we were the most powerful so we can go in and remove remove assad not face any consequences while sized to the i.c.c. . mark going to reply to that but i think john one the best the best consequences is assad self removal in other words he should step down but to your point about international law i think that's why we saw thursday and friday what is being so reluctant to say that yes an absolute red line has been crossed this means intervention precisely because the ghost of iraq is there this administration is not going to act like the bush administration and go in without some sort of official sanction i think that yeah ok i look at the history so i think i think there needs to be
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a more nuanced view as to what would constitute something that triggers a u.s. response without an approach without appropriate international sanction and i think that's a fairly high threshold for this administration you know to jump in there. it's probably a little less that they don't have legal sanction and a little more that it's not perceived in u.s. interests over the obama administration isn't stupid at least they're not as stupid as the bush administration if going to syria and creating it a war of our own would cost trillions of dollars american blood probably worsen the humanitarian situation on the ground and the obama administration knows this they know that this is too costly and that's why they're reluctant to intervene not so much because of the international legal regime but you know the he is unfortunately facing a lot of pressure on the obama straight from europe and from people in congress who say you know now that you've laid out this red line and credibility is on the line
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credibility credibility is has a technical definition in the political science literature that means the u.s. the world has to fear us power and force and aggression and if they don't they don't they won't do what we say that's that's a that's a big kind of to put it in a playground sense that's what a bully does the united states is an international bully and that's that's what this talk talk of credibility means if we want to stop the conflict end the interventions on all sides. negotiate with the russians stop. the assad regime negotiate with saudi arabia and qatar and stop supporting the opposition this is what needs to happen in order for any chance to things to calm down and have the both sides be incentivized to to negotiate mark when you think about that proposition. well i think certainly again the most desirable option is for people to sit down and talk at the same time however i think that there is an obligation
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some people say responsibility to protect people in need the challenge is you have to do so without making the matter worse so to sit there and do nothing is the wrong answer it was the wrong answer back in the ninety's with bosnia and kosovo would be the wrong the wrong answer today in syria at the same time i disagree that red lines are somehow only one shade they are in the literature but but frankly you've got fifty shades of red when it comes to the real world and the bottom line is this may not be as clear an example of crossing a red line as some particularly some of the pro interventionist members of congress have stated this is much more ambiguous as secretary hagel stated there are varying degrees of certainty over whether weapons were used the problem is and i think john does rightly point this out you have to be credible and that's why i think right
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now the u.s. call for an investigation a more thorough investigation is the right approach and that actually. opens the door to allowing individuals on the ground who can assess the broader situation so i think we also have to look at this as an opportunity perhaps to take advantage to get independent observers on the ground for greater reasons than an investigation of these alleged incidents ok john we're almost out of time when you think about that. i mean i'm thankful that mark isn't you know again i said before he's taking a somewhat moderate approach relative to the pro interventionist crowd in washington i would just say that you know these things that he wants to do in order to settle things down in syria i don't think can take place and both sides stop being backed by foreign powers that creates a stalemate and it creates a situation where both sides are involved in it and will continue to fight and this
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is a this is a real problem for any sort of political settlement all right gentlemen we've run out of time fascinating discussion many thanks today to my guests in washington and thanks to our viewers for watching us here at r.t. so you next time and remember cross talk was. sleazy. that. i live on.
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good speed. i. look. like it's good. to. see that i'm a. little mouse but i'm a little. here you can feel at home. there are three choices in life first is to work in a mckillop go to live on
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a miserable way like a slave. for a second just to jump the wall and catch the american dream for most of their cars and lose their lives. the other choice is to become a member of an organisation and get inside growing great. to buy something i will never forget. him. looky looky who did it but i peed for what i've done it would never stop a. minute. i am from. the lord that.
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and every day she says mother buddy syria or syria in arabic. my name. is brahim. the war beginning far from. the syrian woman is. trying to take care. of the troubles of the very most of other conflicts. i'm planning to stay in russia . to build a new life. the
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international airport in the very heart of moscow. car blast ripped through marketplaces into iraq's shia provinces killing eleven people in the latest escalation of the sectarian unrest that's gripping the country . torn from his parents' arms a russian couple wages a legal battle with u.s.
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social services after their five month old baby was seized following as a to a doctor. and greece writes off fifteen thousand state jobs to meet the terms of a course will bail out while france turns its eye on germany over chancellor merkel's quote selfish drive for block wide a staring.

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