tv Ali Velshi on Target Al Jazeera May 31, 2015 8:00am-8:31am EDT
. >> . >> i'm "ali velshi on target" tonight - hard choices for the world's soul superpower. three competing visions of american foreign policy, and a battle for breathing room in the bronx, targetting trucks to fight pollution in a poor neighbourhood in less than a year and a half the american people will elect a new president. that man or woman will play a critical role in describing america's responses or non-responses to a host of threats beyond our borders threats to peace, democracy and
human rights, taking place. from the middle east to europe and asha. -- asia. no matter where you stand, your vote is an expression of what direction you want the next president to steer american foreign policy. in a moment i'll debate the risks we face with analysts which says american policy has been, "incoherent", nowhere does it fit more than the involvement in the middle east. george w. bush justified the invasion of iraq under a false premise, that saddam hussein had weapons of mass destruction. 12 years and $12 trillion later, many have been killed in iraq. estimates put the number of ricky deaths in the hundreds of thousands, and out of the chaos left behind when u.s. troops left iraq in 2011 came i.s.i.l.
the fighters sweeping into northern and western iraq, controlling half of neighbouring syria. in 2011, president obama was forced to confront an arab spring movement. that was sweeping the middle east. four years later the region is in crisis and america's role is unclear. mike viqueira has the story egypt 2011, president obama struggles to react, late to call for the ouster of hosni mubarak, and comparing the protesters to heroes of the american revolution. >> we cannot hesitate to stand on the side of those reaching for their rights. knowing that their success will bring about a world that is more stable, peaceful and just. >> four years later the region is less peaceful and less stable. >> in yemen, a rebel advance, a saudi-led air campaign to drive them back. the u.s. goes along, playing a
supportive role behind the scenes. in syria, four years of civil war. more than 200,000 death, millions displace said. they want allies to go after bashar al-assad, but president obama will not since the dawning of the arab spring president obama encouraged regional allies to take the lead. so far the results have been mixed. >> the u.s. has not worried. who would fill in the vacuum. a vacuum exists in libya, spring 2011. allies unleash a bombing campaign. ousting muammar gaddafi. leading the charm, the french. president obama declared the operation a success. >> without putting a single u.s. service member on the ground we achieved our objectives. >> it didn't last. libya devolved into chaos. groups gained a foothold triggering an exodus by sea.
thousands died. many are looking to the u.s. to lead. >> that's an old saying you may try to get out of the middle east, but it pulls you back. >> the saudis are leading the fight in yemen. if the u.s. is not calling the shots, it cannot call the tune, each if it objects to the methods and has concerns about the goal. >> i see a growing disagreement about what the saudi arabia and gcc countries are trying to do and what the u.s. would like to see happen. >> pressuring arab allies led to friction. the campaign in yemen is carried out with american-made weapons. >> the concern that they have is that the united states seems to want to hand over the keys, buts then direct what they do. >> what are the options? >> the president, a war weary nation, reluctant to commit more american blood and treasure. >> had we sent forces to libya, sent troops to syria, and
maintained troops in iraq. things would be worse than they are. in part because the u.s. does not have a solution. whether it's military or political. smartly, this president had understood that. >> others see a president struggling to react. >> i think he's become less confident he can direct us. there was a sense among some in the white house that the u.s. could help to lead the way. >> well, the turmoil in the middle east is one reason that america has to adopt a foreign policy reflecting a hard choice, a choice about the nation's global stance. that is the view put forth in a new book, three choices about america's role in the world. by ian bremer, from a global risk consulting group. in the book's introduction he says it will be the only world superpower and asks a reader, a question that any
serious candidate for president must answer, what role do you want america to play in the world. i asked him about the three choices. >> you outlined three possible roads down which america can go. three possible foreign policy options. one of them is independent america. the idea that it is time for washington to declare independence from the responsibility to solve everyone else's problems. the rand pauls and of the world like the idea. deal with the problems, not everyone else. you from social media use smi as am i and you post things on that is not in sync with youreninging. >> we say these things all the time. it's things america can say.
if you are going to continue to draw red lines, whether it's on i.s.i.s. or russia or syria, you name it, if we are not going to stand up to it, stop drawing the redline. this book is a response to a policy that is not about obama, it's since the soviet union collapse. we overreacted. we said wacamoll. our allies don't know what we stand for, our adversaries are infringing on our interests globally and we have to determine what we think the country stands for. >> what you are describing seemed to work under the regan administration, a place where the foreign policy was clear and the wacamoll was consistent and we were beating people lack. >> look, i think when the soviet union existed even though some presidents were stronger, some weaker, we talked about voice of
america, radio free europe making the world safe from communism, n.a.t.o. and others, it was clear we had an indispensable american, we were going to be the global police many, support our allies and promote human democracy and the free market. if you look around a lot say they want to do those things, but few that want to pay the bill for it. this is true in the middle eastern asia and all of the environments. they are so much more in geopolitical conflict. so many presidential candidates are really making talking points by declaring the world is on fire. they are saying little about what we should do about it. >> moneyball america is another option, one of three put forward, you say it's an idea that acknowledges that the u.s. can't manage every international crisis, but should manage those that are involved in defending u.s. interests where they are threatened. president obama might have adopted this. this may be the closest to what he was doing.
when hillary clinton ran the state department the u.s. made the pivot to china, the reset with russia. what do you think about this one. >> i think hillary clinton as secretary of state tried on money ball for size saying you don't criticize your banker op human rights, talking about china. it was not promoting values, but trying to get more for less, value back from the americans. the russian reset didn't working even though the war on libya didn't really work, they are tactics, the strategy was more of a money ball strategy. they had a hard time sticking with it. since the second term foreign policies administration. >> let's talk about the third idea you put forward, indispensable america, insisting that washington can promote values on which stability increasingly depends. is this the kind of thing they should do. there's - i came out of a segment on big government, whether it should be involved, a
lot say america is the only power to keep the world stable. >> i accept the fact that if the united states does not act as a global leader, no one else is going to. that is very clear. china is prepared to challenge the americans economically around the world, they have those aspirations, but they will not try to fix the challenges. there's reasons to believe that america could be indispensable. when you hear marco rubio give speeches, that are coherent and you see the demands to destroy i.s.i.s., and you know the iraqis can't do it, saudis don't chave the interest and the iranians are problematic, who else is going to do it, but the cost of that, the willingness of the americans to stand up and say not just that we want to do them, but we'll pay for it in blood and treasure. that is an open question. >> i'm not hearing a main stream presidential candidate yet offering that up. the indispensable american thesis. >> it's very interesting.
i would say this is an election where we do have candidates really talking about foreign policy, where president obama is week and numbers are bad. they are talking on indispensable game, but not getting in the specifics of how to pay it, it means we are in danger of having another 4-8 years of an incoherent force on foreign policy. who do you blame that on is that an obama thing or the world thing or a government not letting the president manage his foreign policy. >> a bit of it was clinton soviet collapse all of this, rwanda the balkans, a little george bush junior post 9/11, overreaction. a little bit of weak and incoherent obama foreign policy team. you can afford to overroct to 9/11 when china is week russia is aligned and the american
allies are behind us. next time you do an overreaction, it's 5 and 10 years time, when the american allies say we don't support this. we are in trouble. you have to - this is the election where you see the candidate stand up and say here is what america stands for, here is how to lead. let's get behind it. america is the biggest economy in the world. we are the largest military. we have options. you are the president of the eurasia group. it's a risk research group, people paying you for your advice and looking to see what happens in the future. indispensable america, independent america cannot co-exist. they are separate choices. in the choose your own adventure, what do you think is the right choice. >> i say ultimately that i think if you force me to make a decision, and i think all three can work, independent america, i say, the reason i say that is it's not because of what i want,
i do not see the leaders that are coming up to be elected in 2016. who are willing and capable to provide them. i would love for them to prove me wrong. this book is a change. >> america believes it's an exceptional nation. the military power of the united states is unsurpassed much america's power to influence the rest of the world may be waiting. we debate whether the u.s. is a superpower in decline. on "third rail" this weekend. >> with everything you stand for. there's an element that united states lost the moral argument which is which it shouldn't be the superpower or is not. when we look at abu ghraib and
the rendition, the torture report and the telling story of a man that froze to death in the salt pit, the drone strikes, is that at the heart of it, losing moral authority. >> it is close to the heart of it, if you talk about a super-power maintaining off-shore penal colonies in guantanamo. it set up a worldwide story, that maintains facilities today. outsourcing some of that horrible actions to other countries as we did during the war in iraq when syria was one of the places we sent people. you are arguably not talking about a superpower, but a frustrated nation. lashing out at more vulnerable people. that plus nation editor ky wright and other guests talking about disabled veterans on sunday
in louisiana, frustrations have to contend with crumbling schools in need of funding and repairs, it may surprise you to learn that a school that is rebuilt would cause controversy, that is what is happening with booker t washington high school in new orleans. it was severely damaged by hurricane katrina in 2005. 10 years later parents are outraged by plans to rebuild the school over a former toxic site. understandable y parent don't want the school to
go to school where arsenic will pollute the ground below it. >> reporter: behind the footprint of the superdome two ruined buildings remain from the booker t high school. the site is up surrounded by a locked fence. >> now, controversy. already plans to rebuild the school here, on what tests the past three years reveal is toxic soil. >> it's bizarre, amazing, frustrating. >> it was built in 1942 on land that until the 1930s, had been used as a giant landfill, known as the silver city dump. recent tests from firms hired by school officials found there are dangerous levels of arsenic and zincm lead . and others contaminating soils
to 15 feet down as far down as they were taken. a louisiana representative, a booker t graduate was stunned to learn the recovery oversees most schools was planning to rebuild the school after removing some toxic soil. >> it should be a crime for us to put generations much students in on area when we know the toxic matters are there. >> reporter: there's no law on building schools on a land fix or known toxic site. toxins at the school site, including lead, for example, were found at concentrations 24 times higher than e.p.a. standards for playgrounds. the school district plans to remove the top three feet of contaminated soil.
then install a geotech style barrier to seal the soil and lay down 6 feet of clean soil. >> this is not a risk elimination plan, it's risk reduction plan. >> they are familiar with soil, remedition projects and the school district's plan will eliminate rivals. >> i have 14 grandchildren. they have no reservations tending at school. the site for the school is identified, rebuilding at the old location is maintaining the school's legacy, serving as a popular meeting space for new orleans's black community in the '60s. >> if you move it, they'll loss the identity. opponents say there'll be 12 feet of known contaminated soil in the ground. new orleans is blow sea level and the land is shifting. >> it's a matter of time before the man made barrier of new soil
placed on toxic soil will fail. >> al jazeera repeatedly reached out to the school district asking why it chose to rebuild. emails and calls were not returned. the state department of environmental quality responded by saying: jonathan martin joined me from the crowds of booker t in new orleans. the law-makers bill would block schools being built on sites where there's toxic waste underneath, is that likely to pass the legislature. >> well, there seems to be overwhelming support on a state level. the bill was introduced a couple of weeks ago, passed in the senate.
now it goes before the sannate. the state lawmakers seem to be supporting this. there's at least one site identified that's not on contaminated land. why is there resistance to rebuilding the school on another site? >> that's the question to ask the superintendent of schools. the school district did not call us back. as you heard it's our legacy, an important place in the community, and during the david community, and during the david segregation, it was one of the few places for african-american parent to come and have conferences. the feeling is let's rebuild on the site. let's keep the legacy here. but the argument is it could be moved elsewhere. jonathan martin for us in new orleans. >> fresh food and air collide in america's biggest city. after the break i'll tell you why some new york residents are victims of environmental racism.
now i want to talk about an issue some people call environmental injustice - others say it amounts to environmental racism. whatever you call it, low income minority communities are waging fights over the air they breath are saying they are subjected to more pollute ants in their neighbourhoods than white residents in wealthy parts of town, one of the latest battles is in new york city. activists are giving a bronx jeer to the idea of moving a business into their neighbourhood, saying not in my backyard. mary snow has the report. >> the greatest benefit of buying direct to farmers is having a hand on the volume control. >> online grocer fresh direct touts fresh food it delivers to home. the new york grocer moves its operations some applaud gen ecomomic benefits.
activist michael johnson sees pressure. >> it's like the next assault or another assault on this neighbourhood. johnson has led protest and a legal battle to block fresh direct moving to the south bronx. the company estimates there'll be more than 600 truck trips per day in and out of its new hub. the way johnson sees it, it will worsen bad air quality in a poor neighbourhood surrounded by highways, industries and exhaust from diesel truck traffic, and scenes like this are not uncommon. this woman is tested for asthma, which has the highest rates in the states. fresh direct prevailed on legal challenges and is building new headquarters. the state and city providing more than 100 million in incentives not to leave new york. at the ground-breaking in
december community leaders declared victory since thousands f jobs are staying put, more will be added in the bronx. >> new york city would have lost almost 3,000. currently out of those 3,000 jobs, over 600 of those are people from the bronx. >> what about the jobs it's bringing? >> we are one of the only communities that have to balance jobs with our health. we know we can't breath, we can't work. >> fresh direct declined a request for an interview. in a statement said that trucks would represent a tiny fraction of the traffic that is here, and it says it's developing cleaner group of trucks. >> that has not satisfied critics. >> doctors are monitoring the health effects of air pollution in the bronx and disparities in the air that you breathe. >> our research shows if you live near a truck route you have a higher risk of developing
asthma than if you live in a nicer neighbourhood in the bronx. >> reporter: it's not just new york, air quality was studied from coast to coast, finding airways not equal. it looked at nitrogen dioxide, industrial sites, and found nitrogen dioxide concentrations are 38% higher. for nonwhites than whites. >> it is an environmental justice issue, the fact that on average, people who are on low income and nonwhite are breathing more air pollution and in even today is an environmental justice issue, and it's why the doctor, an activist is not enough to help the asthma patients. he sees businesses like fresh direct as a tipping point. there's a perception that the communities will not fight back. against the introduction of
businesses. and i think what south bronx says. and will show is that they are passionately fighting back. i think it's it came as a surprise. >> where does the legal battle stand. . >> south bronx unite has gone to court. they are trying to make the argument that it is not benefitting the public. they have lost all legal challenges. the community where the fight is taking place, many inodustrial businesses there. a lot of trucks. >> and it's poor and some say they'll take the jobs. is there a way to quantify any improving air quality is going to do to residents. >> we talked to researchers at the university of minnesota, and they estimate that there would be 7,000 fewer deaths from heart disease. >> wow. >> if there was air quality
among whites and minorities. as you said this is not the thing that will cause air equality, because there are a lot of others out there. >> exactly. >> thank you mary snow. that is the show, thank you for joining us, have a great weekend. >> this week on "talk to al jazeera": international piano superstar lang lang. >> the art, you know, it's about, you know... the distance and in and out, big picture, precision. >> billions of people around the world have seen him perform. at the beijing olympics... the world cup in rio... even jaming at the grammys.