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tv   Charlie Rose  Bloomberg  April 10, 2017 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT

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♪ announcer: from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: we begin this evening with syria. last night, president donald trump announced the u.s. carried out a missile strike in syria. the move follows the chemical weapons attack on tuesday which targeted civilians. president trump: tonight, i ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in syria from where the chemical attack was launched. it is in this vital national security interest of the united states to prevent and deter the
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spread and use of deadly chemical weapons. there can be no dispute that syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the chemical weapons convention, and ignored the urging of the u.n. security council. charlie: it is the first direct american assault against the assad regime. the move is a reversal from 's earlier anti-interventionist position. vladimir putin called it a significant blow to the russian-american relationship. tom friedman wrote about the challenges in his "new york times" column earlier this week. he joins me now. he's also the author of "thank you for being late." it is a "new york times" best seller for 16 weeks. this president in the midst of a lot of foreign policy this week,
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meeting with a lot of people, including a crucial meeting on thursday night, orders an airstrike against an air force base. what do you see as the repercussions of this? thomas: i sort of think about this in three buckets. the first is i think it was important for the united states to use its power to send a signal that people use poison gas. as we were talking, the 100th anniversary of world war i. it does not mean we can right every wrong, that we can reverse every atrocity. but when we have the chance to do this at a cost that is tolerable with a message that is loud, i think it is really important, because you do not want to have a world where people start thinking that's ok. second, i think it is useful for the united states at a time we are being tested by north korea in a more dangerous situation
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with nuclear weapons possibly that could be delivered to the united states, to at least interject some uncertainty about american power. don't count on us to sit back and let you do this. i think that is a healthy byproduct of this. the big question is the third bucket. the weakness president obama faced in dealing with syria is that you had john kerry always trying to negotiate a solution, god bless them for that, but had no leverage. the question is, by doing this , does it give more leverage and say to putin and others we are , we are not going to just sit back? we are diving in, that is clear. there is no desire of the american public to do that. but does it get their attention more? it relates for me to the fourth bucket, which is that i believe all important politics in the middle east always happens the morning after the morning after.
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the morning after, vladimir putin denounces us, u.s. relations will suffer from this. "we stand with our syrian brothers." but i'm betting the morning after the morning after, he's on the phone with president assad and saying, "what were you thinking? poison gas?" a day after the american secretary of state and the american u.n. ambassador basically say syria is for the syrians to decide. they were basically in the process of turning it over to you, and you now do this? what are you thinking? the reason that becomes important is at some point down the road, the morning after the morning after the morning after, does putin say, this guy is too much trouble? can we broker some kind of deal with the great powers or whatever, a power-sharing agreement? i don't know. that would be the best case scenario. that is how i think about it. charlie: the does not seem like he is doing that. but as you say, it is not the day after the day after. a couple of points.
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number one is that some are suggesting that perhaps this attack was a consequence of what the secretary of state said. we will let them do whatever they want to do. we are not going after assad. then he makes a very dramatic step, knowing that there are pictures. thomas: absolutely. in the age of twitter and cellphones, it will get out. charlie: what they didn't know was what this president's response might be. thomas: and this is a president, as we know, he watches tv. he saw those pictures from television. i don't know what the policy was the day before yesterday, what tillerson and the u.n. ambassador nikki haley were talking about, up to the syrians to decide. i don't think the policy is radically changed. on syria, i have nothing but humility.
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i think it is a problem from hell. i think it is one of many problems today that if anybody comes to you and asks if you want to be secretary of state, tell them you have your heart set on agriculture. it's just the worst job in the world. there are so many problems like this. every problem is like obamacare. it is again complicated, -- it is big and complicated much more , difficult to solve than you think. the constituency is not happy with what you do, and it will cost more than the american public wants it to. charlie: it seems the president has to link his actions to a failure to act by the predecessor. thomas: there's a lot of controversy around obama's decision to draw a redline and not bomb syria when it crossed the red line by using poison gas the first time. i would say this for president obama. he didn't bomb syria, but he used the leverage of the bombing to get a deal for syria to surrender supposedly all of its poison gas
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under the supervision of the russians. now we know two things. one is that they didn't surrender all the poison gas. that should be an embarrassment to the russians who guaranteed to steal. i will say one thing. had we not done that deal, the poison gas syria had, some of it would now be in the hands of crisis. it was being stored in places isis now controls. it is not a total zero that obama did. it's important to remember we did get a lot of this junk out of the country. the problem here is when a country breaks apart, a country held together basically from the top down by an iron fist, and it breaks apart, putting it back together again is well-nigh impossible for an outside or outside power. -- outside power or an insight howard. we are looking at how to limit the damage. there's one thing i urge people to consider. i think there are two issues from american strategic point of
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view. there is the humanitarian question. it is horrific what has been going on. we are donors of humanitarian aid to syria. people don't realize how much is pouring in from the united states. charlie: we donate more aid than we taking refugees. thomas: exactly. but there is also the spillover of people into stable, decent states like jordan and lebanon, which is now destabilizing those states, which we have a strategic interest in not happening. refugees,nd the contributing to the rise of populism in western europe. thomas: basically what putin with syria is the weaponize the refugees. by flooding them into europe he , has triggered a nationalist, populist backlash in the european union which is straining and stressing the e.u. most americans don't like to think about the european union. like we say about latin america, they will do anything for it except read about it. it seems like this boring thing. i once wrote about the eu, i called it "trump's european union" to fool the search engine. the fact is the e.u. is the
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other united states in the world. it is the united states of europe. it's the other great center of liberal ideas, democracy, and free markets. it is the other united states. charlie: it is big. thomas: the world's biggest market. two united states are better than one. they are kind of our wing man in the world. you go anywhere in the world, in africa, you will see an e.u. aid mission there. so isthe west bank, supporting the palestinian social services? it is the eu. the eu fragments under the stress of refugees. it is not just from syria. it is also from sub-saharan africa. that is a huge strategic loss for the united states. i think there are a lot of dimensions. charlie: some argue the following. that this kind of proportionate attack will never change the behavior of bashar al-assad. the only thing that will change -- because he can lose an airbase. the only thing that will change
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him is the fear of survival, the loss of power. unless you do something that threatens that, you're not going to get anybody's attention. thomas: it's true. my friend michael mandelbaum said to me, "the only ring standing in the way of an american intervention in syria , becausean democracy the american people don't want to do it." that is a fact. i don't think anyone in their right mind says we want to invade syria and take it over the way we did iraq. no one is talking about that. i think the question is, could you partner with the arab league, nato, they put troops on the ground where we contribute, to create some kind of safe zone , that might create the pressure -- becausele assad that's not going to happen, you are right -- but to get the
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russians and iranians to negotiate syria. we don't want to collapse the state because then you end up iraq, where -- like the whole system falls apart. you want the russians and iranians to move assad aside. he has killed so many people. no peace arrangement is possible. put in some other alawite leader or general who has not got all this blood on their hands and then say, can you negotiate some kind of power-sharing arrangement? it is hard. charlie: that is exactly what john kerry was trying to do for years. thomas: but the problem was he had no leverage. charlie: he said that. and diplomats in the state 51 department said that. thomas: that is what they complained to obama about. obama took the view that it was all or nothing. once you started with something, you would end up with a big part on the ground. i want to be totally humble about it. it is the problem from hell. i sympathize with anyone who has
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to deal with it. but i do think what we are going to have to think about and what trump will have to think about is, is there a way to build an , wernational coalition will not do this on our own, that creates some kind of leverage, a no-fly zone or safe zone, where the russians finally say this is more trouble than it is worth? putin is like a guy playing at the casino in syria. fantastic, a big pile of chips, but he can never go to the cashier. he can't go to the cashier because the minute he leaves, it all falls apart on him. he has a problem, too, at some point. is he going to stay there forever propping up this country? charlie: why has he been so resistant to finding a transition government? thomas: i think partly because there has not been a lot of pressure up until now. charlie: there was nothing threatening assad on the ground. thomas: exactly. they had beaten back the
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opposition. charlie: and all the cities late aleppo. thomas: it gets to the mystery of why assad did this. in a sense, they had what they wanted. assad has reopened the whole case and the whole question. there is no military solution in syria. there is only a power-sharing solution that will have to bring the united states, saudi arabia, iran, and russia to the table. not to mention -- charlie: and iran. thomas: you cannot do it without iran. they have the main fighters. between the iranian fighters and hezbollah and mercenaries from central asia, pakistan, and other places -- the iranians are key players. charlie: in the meantime, isis, the battle goes on in mosul. they have a plan using kurds as part of land-based fighting force, boots on the ground in syria.
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thomas: there is no question the isis problem remains. isis is not happening in a vacuum. it is derivative of this other issue. charlie: a recruiting tool. thomas: isis was a byproduct of the pro-iranians in iraq and the maliki government and assad trying to crush the sunnis of syria. then you have these islamist trends in the gulf feeding these guys money. the whole region is a mess. it is a bloody mess because these states were propped up by the cold war. charlie: what does it do to all the attention on russian meddling in the american elections? it kicks it off the front page for sure. investigation continues by the f.b.i. thomas: it will continue. i think it will come back. i don't think that stories over, i don't think it should be over. we need to know what russia did and how they did it, to prevent it next time around. charlie: we need to know whether there was any coordination.
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thomas: right. was there any collusion? i am never going to sleep easily on this issue until i see donald trump's tax returns. you have two issues. there is the issue of collusion between trump people and the russians to tilt the election his way. from what i have seen so far, i don't see hard evidence of that in any significant way. but then there is the question of, is he compromised? until we see his tax returns, we will not know the answer to that. i assume there is a reason he is hiding them from us. charlie: people say he will never show you the tax returns. thomas: i assume there is a reason for that. [laughter] that's what i care about more than the f.b.i. investigation. charlie: there is also the summit going on in palm beach. thomas: he was doing their bidding. it said trump is a chinese agent. charlie: not a russian. by taking these policy positions, it plays into the
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hands of the chinese because alternative sources of energy will provide jobs. thomas: i made two points. first i said, he said i want to be tough with china on trade. how would i get tough with china on trade? i would organize an 11-nation trading block in asia, in the asian pacific, based on our values, interests on trade. charlie: we might call it tpp. thomas: great name. [laughter] what did trump do on his first day in office? rips up tpp. by the way, do you know what the real story? don't tell your listeners this. we only stalled these guys in asia. we got so much of what we wanted because they want to be in a trading block with us. the vietnamese they are scared , of china. they allowed unions to organize. we had a great deal there, he rips it up on the first day. day two, he gets rid of our climate research and commitment
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to mitigate climate change. here's what i would say to him. mr. president, you don't believe in climate change. i do. put that aside. that's between you and your beach house. we will set that over here. do you believe in math? we are now at 7.2 billion people. according to population statistics by 2030, 8.1. , another billion people will be here by 2030, charlie. hopefully, you and i will still be here then. another one billion people who are going to want to eat like us, drive like us, and live in homes like us. that is going to put so much pressure on the planet that clean air, water, power, and energy efficiency have to be the next great global industry. otherwise, we will be a bad biological experiment. ladies and gentlemen, please raise your hand if you think america can be the greatest economic power in the world and not lead the next great global industry. anybody raising their hands? i don't think so. we are ceding to china. china has to go down this road
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because they cannot breathe. they don't have any choice but to invest in it. they are doing it in a holistic way, buying american companies here to do it. for both of those reasons, trump is being china's agent. forget the russian agent. he is ceding these two issues to china. charlie: north korea will be topic one or two, probably one because they have more serious national security implications. we need china. like we need rush on syria, we need china on north korea. thomas: absolutely. you can bet when they get in the difficult trade talks, there will be some kind of trade-off. i will squeeze north korea on this if you unsqueeze on that. i think that is where the bargaining will be. charlie: trump said that is his element. thomas: he may be good at it. we have three choices on north korea. they are the same three choices obama faced on iran.
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bomb, acquiesce, or negotiate. in the end, obama did not bomb iran. he didn't want to acquiesce, so he negotiated. i think the same is going to be true with north korea. charlie: the thing about north korea is they are further along than the iranians were. i'm told that people know these kinds of things, but not necessarily 100% right, they are much closer than we even think. thomas: and that is scary. they are closer to having the ability to miniaturize their fissile material into warheads. and they will put it on intercontinental ballistic missiles that could hit los angeles. that's why this will be a very unpleasant negotiation. we are not going to be able to zero in 15ck to
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years as we did the iranians. we will be lucky to reduce their stockpile from close to 100 down to 10, and stop their missile testing so they cannot perfect a system to get close to us. i think that is the best deal. the problem with north korea is we kept chasing the perfect and giving away the good. it goes back to the bush administration. i think at some point, we have to bite the bullet or engage in a military action that would be horrific. there could be 10 million people killed in it. we have 30,000 american troops there. trump has one piece of leverage, to say to the chinese, "i'm going to pull our troops out of south korea. we are just going to leave this to you." when that happens, the south koreans, "you're going?" they are going to want to get their own nuke. when that happens, the japanese will want their own nuke. we can say to china, would you like to have a nuclear south korea and japan on your doorstep? charlie: and it is said the
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japanese could do it overnight. twoas: i'm sure they are screws away. if they can make the cars they make, you can bet they have figured this out already. there is leverage we have on the chinese. by the way, the russians. how do you think the russians feel? have you looked at a map how russia curls around? north korea has a nuclear weapon on their doorstep. they can say it is not aimed at us, it is aimed at you. charlie: some worry about his temperament, to say it kindly, who believes nuclear weapons are the only thing that will gain him status. -- respect. thomas: unfortunately, we will have to give him a few toys because he's already got too many. i think that key thing now is to limit his delivery system so it cannot hit us. my colleagues at "the times" have reported we have a lot of excellent cyber activity going on to mess up their missile
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system, but you cannot count on it indefinitely. charlie: let me go back to syria. you think in the end, this was an appropriate action even though the future is almost impossible to figure out a way to finding a solution without having the russians change their mind about seeking a transition government. thomas: yes. i believe in response to this poison gas attack, this horrific violation of the basic norms of humanity, that it was the right thing for the united states on one day to use its power in this way. charlie: because no one else was doing it. and also because whatever criticism there is of the united states, they look to the united states for leadership. thomas: charlie, donald trump has never lived abroad. never did a junior year abroad. charlie: he bought some golf
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courses. thomas: and he does little trips here and there. when you live abroad and look at america from the outside in, you learn everyone loves to make fun of us. those naive americans "they , think every problem has a solution." at the end of the day, they envy our optimism and naivete. american optimism helps the world go round. it is that place out there where you can change your dreams, where people do believe problems have a solution. and when we go dark as a country, dark and cynical and mercantile as a country, it affects the mood of the whole world. this was one day for trump. i will not exaggerate or whatever. on this day on this thing, i'm glad the united states of america drew this redline and said, "this is not on." i don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, but i think it was an important thing to do and i'm glad my country did it.
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charlie: i'm glad you came to the table. back in a moment. stay with us. ♪
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♪ charlie: it has been a benchmark week in the trump presidency. the confirmation of his nominee to the supreme court, a key summit meeting with the president of china, and in a major policy shift thursday, president trump ordered a military strike on a government air base in northern syria.
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59 cruise missiles targeted syrian warplanes and facilities implicated in tuesday's deadly sarin gas attack on civilians. with me now is ian bremmer of eurasia group. he recently returned from the region. welcome back to this program. set out for me where you think this is. what did it accomplish? and what are the risks? ian: what it accomplished by far, it is the most significant policy move lauded domestically and internationally for trump since he became president. the entire foreign-policy establishment in the united states, many of which were never-trump, now coming out in full-throated support for what trump did. also, allies around the world. australia, new zealand, saudi arabia, australia, germany, the u.k., canada. these are folks that have been unnerved with things about the trump administration coming in. and they are now altogether saying we are glad you did this. that is clearly a plus.
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caroline: the possible exceptions are china, russia, syria, and iran. ian: that is basically it. russia being the big one because trump expected he would be able to develop a better relationship with russia. that is well off the table now. the potential for real confrontation between those two is significant, but tillerson is still going to moscow in a week. the russians could have canceled , but chose not to. clearly, they are also being tempered in the way they want to respond to all this. what has he accomplished besides support for this one-off act? in terms of the war in syria, he accomplished little. it will not change the way assad behaves or change iranian support for the regime. charlie: what would change the way he behaves? ian: a threat to assad's well-being. charlie: political survival and physical health. ian: so you are either talking
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about the threat of a decapitation attack against syria or assad. given the territory he has taken and given his support from the russians and iranians, he feels confident that is not coming. or if he felt the diplomatic process led by the russians had the potential to throw him under the bus, there is no reason to believe the russians are preparing to do that. caroline: a lot of charlie: a lot of people had that a lot of people resented barack obama at every turn resisted doing this. i guess we will find out if it was a correct decision by donald trump. ian: yes, we will.
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but we will not find out for a while. obama agonized over this decision and ultimately, he decided not to take it. not because he thought there was a problem with the pinpoint strikes. but because he did not know where we were going to go from there. trump i think did not look any further than the strikes. he got the advice. what can i do to respond to these abominations of chemical attacks against civilians and children? he was able to come up with something that looks good in the near term. but then what do we do? he has said in the last 48 hours that we want a transition in the near term from assad. he also said these photos affected him. in the next few weeks, we will see more photos of kids dead. in the next few weeks, there is no move in the transition away from assad. the ball is actually still very firmly in trump's court. charlie: what are his options? ian: one option is the slippery slope that obama wanted to avoid. it is more military engagement, which doesn't just come with the risk to american soldiers, but also the russians and iranians
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supporting them, and the potential with direct confrontation with iranians getting killed on the ground. those are vastly more significant steps. charlie: and more likely, because the russians have pulled out of the agreement. ian: yes. in other words, the russians has made clear that while trump can get away with this, they want to make it costly and risky for him to take further steps against the syrian regime. charlie: does vladimir putin really want a confrontation with donald trump? ian: no, but i think he wants to embarrass donald trump. i think that putin really believes, and certainly he was advised as such by kremlin officials, some of which are no longer with us, that if trump became president, that the relationship with russia would be noticeably better. and that is one of the reasons, the primary reason putin decided not to go ahead with sanctions or steps against the u.s. when president obama went ahead with sanctions for the dnc hacks. trump is now president and the relationship is not improving.
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in fact, it is deteriorating faster, and at the very least, putin has a whole bunch of information from the attacks on the republican national committee that were never released. i suspect we will start seeing some of that information. charlie: maybe they will funnel it out through wikileaks. ian: or other sources. it is hard for me to imagine that trump, with all his domestic vulnerability around the ongoing fbi investigation of collusion between suspected trump officials, those advising him and the russians, if the russians have information that can further embarrass trump, i suspect it will come out. charlie: i also suspect the cia has lots of information that will embarrass vladimir putin. ian: i'm sure that's true, but how vulnerable is putin to that domestically? i would argue virtually not at all. we see how obama was unwilling to go that route, despite the fact that the elections were delegitimized by putin, he could have put out information against putin showing money, showing
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compromising political information. he chose not to do that because it would have escalated in a way that doesn't necessarily hurt putin. it just angers him. i think trump will be up against the same thing. the propaganda organization the kremlin has is a lot stronger than anything the u.s. could put into play. haslie: it is, but the cia lots of sources and means to figure out everything there is bad to know. ian: but your point is that we are moving back to a cold war. charlie: no, i'm asking if that is your point. ian: i think that the russians don't have the same economic capability or political region reach they used to, but i think the level of confrontation between the u.s. and russia, the perception of zero-sumness, that if we win, they lose, and vice versa in russia's act yard,
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including european elections, yemen, syria, that is becoming real. charlie: what is also becoming real is that the fbi acknowledged there is an ongoing investigation to look at whether there is any collusion between russians and trump operatives. ian: exactly. that's one of the most interesting things here. the fact that in the near term, democrats and republicans are going to be talking less about trump colluding with the russians, because he is on the right side of the russian issue. lindsey graham, john mccain supporting very strongly what trump is doing against the russians in syria, but that doesn't change the fbi investigation. that will continue at its own pace. that is going to come out. the media will be following it. and now the russians are an interested player. not very cooperative with trump. thelie: how do you think chinese are viewing this? ian: i think the chinese are both surprised and annoyed that while they were meeting, came
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all the way over to mar-a-lago to meet with trump, that this announcement was dropped upon them. so as a consequence, the importance, the pomp of that to succumbed i they have been more in line with the russians. they have supported all the russian vetoes at the security council when none of the other permanent members did. i'm not surprised the chinese would be on the russian and iranian side of this issue. they are not going to go to the mat on syria the way they would with taiwan or north korea. charlie: but it also sends a message that when trump threatens north korea, saying if the chinese are not going to help, we are going to go it alone. the chinese might say, "well, he's serious." ian: that's right. and i think in some ways that was the most useful thing that came out of this entire episode for trump, the fact that he showed a level of unpredictability to the chinese, and makes the chinese think that
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they may need to give a little to get a little on north korea. but still, what trump has shown so far is that when he goes to the negotiating table, he's all the carrot.ick, not while the chinese might be willing to accept that, the north koreans probably are not. keep in mind kim jong-un just had his half-brother assassinated, who was under the protection of the chinese government. when someone willing to do that when the chinese are responsible for 90% of your economy is not someone that is easily going to be cowed by threats of a surgical strike. this was also a guy willing to launch a missile, literally as xi jinping was on his way around the world to visit donald trump. his willingness to put himself on the map and potentially embarrass the chinese is quite
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insignificant. i hope the people advising trump are giving him that information. charlie: the summit is over. what has it accomplished? ian: i think the summit, so many people in the media believed the summit was going to be negative, that trump would say the chinese are raping us on trade -- the fact that we ended up talking syria and trump was the aggressor makes xi jinping look like he's not calling the shots. for the last few months, we've been talking about how xi jinping was able to make up more ground in the international environment. tpp, the trade agreement didn't get done. the chinese are the ones spending the money. now suddenly the americans are making the news. i think that helps. it helps recent boundaries. it also creates diplomatic space . the two great men have now met each other. now that people and professionals underneath them can spend some time may be working through, can there be
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cooperation on these issues without the hot glare of the lights. was there a good handshake? all the things the media would have torn apart, they are not doing that. if trump can avoid tweeting about china and saying the chinese have to pay more and instead focus on syria -- charlie: what if he tweets that he loves xi jinping? ian: it would be awesome. but if he can just get away from that need to be the tough guy. charlie: that is a good thing i suspect. ian: exactly. charlie: charlie: they know he's prepared to engaged if necessary. ian: the biggest plus that comes out of this entire episode is actually u.s.-china, not syria or russia. charlie: the other interesting thing, they seem to have done it well, in terms of whether it was proportionate, number one, number two bank, the military and the people he trusted in the military were there for the decision-making. it was handled reasonably quick,
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and it was proportionate. and they told the russians in advance. charlie: they told the russians. ian: and the fact that he didn't go to congress, i have no problem with that. congress, you got a vote, the syrians are prepared, they move away. here it is definitive, you respond, and that is fat. i actually think the people criticizing him for not taking the time to go for a vote, that is an ill-founded criticism. charlie: whether ill-founded or not, should we have executive office go to the legislative under some separation of powers to get permission when they were are going to engage in these kinds of military actions, invading another country in terms of an attack on one of their airports? ian: the legal definition of whether the u.s.'s security is at stake, and therefore whether you need a congressional vote is nebulous.
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many presidents have used that to their advantage. charlie: on balance, you think this was a smart action by the president or it remains to be seen? ian: i think that if the united states had not responded to these chemical weapons strikes by assad, no one else was going to do so, no one. that is a very good reason to bomb, and also a very good reason not to bomb. charlie: it is also testament to the idea that there are still a lot of people around the world who want america to lead. ian: no question. and the willingness of americans actually lead on this issue, we perhaps may have induced assad to think a little more carefully before the next chemical weapons attack. we've already seen that he has launched more strikes again syrian civilians. we haven't change the outcome of the war. we are still going to see more kids dying. trump is not accepting syrian refugees.
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trump doesn't want the syrian kids here. he's planning on cutting back on foreign aid. if trump decides to change his mind on some of those things, you and i can sit down and have a different conversation. but for now, most of trump's america first is firmly in place. charlie: ian bremmer, thank you for coming. we will be back in a moment. ♪ so you're having a party?
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how nice. i'll be right there. and the butchery begins. what am i gonna wear? this party is super fancy. let's go. i'm ready. are you my uber? [ horn honks ] hold on. don't wait for watchathon week to return. [ doorbell rings ] who's that? show me netflix. sign up for netflix on x1 today and keep watching all year long. charlie: the humanitarian conflict in syria took another
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disastrous turn this week. on tuesday, the assad regime mounted a chemical weapons attack on civilians that left at least 86 dead, including dozens of children. tensions escalated further last night after the trump administration retaliated, firing a barrage of cruise missiles at a syrian government airbase. joining me are two physicians on who have been on the front lines, delivering medical aid to the embattled nation. dr. rolla hallam is the ceo and founder of can do. she recently led an effort to help rebuild a children's hospital in aleppo. dr. annie sparrow is a professor at the icahn school of medicine. she visits the region frequently to train syrian health care workers. they both participated in this week's women in the world summit here in new york. i am pleased to have them here at this time. welcome. what i would like to do first is going to let you said to me that i did not know when you have set down. there has been another chemical weapon attack outside of damascus that happened today. dr. sparrow: today.
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charlie: and you know this from your workers? dr. sparrow: i know this from my sources directly in the field. the doctor who responded to this told me about it about four hours ago, which was shortly after it happened. charlie: what did he say. sparrow: the first thing you know whether a chemical attack happened is that -- it's usually the smell. you can smell something. today's was chlorine. that doesn't meet if a it was just chlorine, not mixed with something hideous, which is what we saw on tuesday, but that's when -- that is the first thing you often notice, the smell, then the patients start to arrive. charlie: this is an important fact. so soon after italia retaliation for using chemical weapons, they are using chemical weapons. dr. sparrow: yes, that is the response. it's not the first time and it will not be the last time. there has been more than 200 attacks since 2013.
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chemical attacks. charlie: how many? : 200.arrow charlie: mostly chlorine? dr. sparrow: an mixture. mostly chlorine, but low grade level. charlie: the intent is to kill civilians? dr. hallam: this is a war on civilians. i take objection to it being called a civil war. this is a regime killing its civilians. as a doctor -- charlie: as a deterrent tactic? dr. hallam: absolutely. i think it is in order to quell this ongoing opposition. as a doctor, as you know, there has been a use of destruction of health care as a weapon of war. physicians and human rights have documented that hospital after hospital, doctor after doctor, nurse after nurse, have been killed specifically for their medical support and providing that because it is a much more effective way of attacking a civilian population. charlie: where do you put barrel bombs in this?
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hallam: my god. the bombs had been one of the most deadly weapons used against civilian populations, mainly in opposition held areas. the airstrikes and aerial targeting that has happened has been mainly by use of conventional weapons, incendiary weapons, barrel bombs, notwithstanding of course the use of chemical weapons, but it is a small fraction compared to the other weapons. charlie: what do you think is necessary for governments in the world to do? dr. sparrow: first of all, the biggest difference between using chemical weapons, which we care about, and the more conventional ways of killing people, is that to die from a chemical gas is the most obscene way to die that there is. and i say that has someone, a doctor, who has a doctor who has witnessed hundreds of thousands of children die. whether it is being paralyzed, where you can't breathe with
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sarin, or whether you are inhaling chlorine, which turns your lungs into hcl as you chlorine doesn't kill you as effectively, but both weapons cause the most awful way to die. parents watch their children die in the worst way, because children are the most vulnerable. parents lose their entire families at once. i can understand that trump doesn't like seeing that babies anymore than we do and all of our colleagues. a baby is a baby. it is not a terrorist. inse attacks are occurring different areas, and all the other attacks last week, the attacks on hospitals and
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civilian areas, it is very far from isis territory. they are not even close to the normal front lines. they are nowhere near isis. charlie: i'm asking two questions, really. one, do you support what president trump did? i think this was you think this w? dr. sparrow: i do. i think the u.s. government needs to declare this not only has war crimes, but declare assad and putin as war criminals. and every important government around the world needs to do the same thing. then secondly, what needs to happen is that the un's secretary-general needs to quit stalling and appoint a special prosecutor to investigate and gather the evidence for these war crimes for a future tribunal. that was approved by the yuan general assembly in december, and here we are in april. that needs to be done. that is where ambassador nikki haley can also leverage that. and then thirdly, we need to
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look at the millions of dollars of humanitarian aid and medical supplies that are channeled through the u.n. directly to damascus, where they are then being controlled by assad's family and friends. that is used to basically consolidate assad's political position and strengths. it is actually fueling and subsidizing the war. we see these very unhealthy relationships, like the world health organization has a relationship with the ministry of defense. it buys all of the blood bags. charlie: the world health organization? dr. sparrow: has a direct relationship with the military of defense where it buys blood bags for the army. on the one hand, you have jets and helicopters dropping barrel bombs and missiles destroying hospitals, creating this bloodbath we had seen, and we
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had no blood going to where it is needed. it is going directly to the assad army. that is what we mean with the targeting of hospitals, it is a very clear use of the weaponization of health care. so we are using people's needs for health as a weapon against them. charlie: are you disappointed in the obama administration's actions in syria? dr. sparrow: very much so. very much. what trump did last night is something obama should have done in august 2013 when we saw 1100 civilians killed. so what he did last night needs to be done again and again. because what he has said, what obama said, is that this is intolerable. what trump said is this is not just intolerable, but we will not tolerate it. and that is a very strong position. charlie: and no one else is prepared to lead, so we are?
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dr. sparrow it is the first step forward, but that is the first step forward. it needs to show we will not tolerate the assad government, which is continuing to do this as we have seen with today's further use of chemicals. charlie: there are a few cities in syria that have suffered more than aleppo. you had factions right at each other for a long time. you had a hospital there. dr. hallam: i've been involved in the syrian humanitarian response for the last six years, and involved in the building of six hospitals in northern syria and the aleppo governance. what we saw back in november when that this easement of easton aleppo happened, was in one weekend, five hospitals were bombed,
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including a children's hospital. we know that the data that has been collected by physicians, by amnesty international, human rights watch, this was intentional destruction of health care, rather than as a collateral damage of war. that children's hospital that was run by the independent doctors association had been bombed a staggering six times before hand. really, that is what galvanized this global movement to rebuild the children's hospital in aleppo. it was our way of saying, if war criminals are going to commit these murders and governments are going to stand by and let them act with absolute impunity, we humanitarians and doctors will not be deterred from doing lifesaving work. we are going to galvanize global action and we will continue to rebuild, and that is what we did with the people's convoy. charlie: where chemical weapons used anywhere else in the world? dr. sparrow: they have been used in iraq extensively. we know how they were used in world war i, of course. that is why they had the convention. charlie: the iraqis used chemical weapons against the iranians, didn't they? dr. sparrow: they used it
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throughout the gulf war. they used mainly sulfur mustard. i can't say with confidence, but they have used it. the problem with a lot of those gases is that they hang around for a very long time. we know that. even though they had been used in other places, but we also know more importantly that in syria, they had been importing ingredients for chemical weapons for several decades. charlie: how many of them did they eliminate because of the agreement that was put together in 2013? dr. sparrow: we know from what they said at the time that the sites they cleared were not all of the sites. charlie: we also heard reports that they had more than 90% of the chemical weapons. dr. sparrow: when you look at how long they had been stockpiling and importing them , not only from the soviet union in the 1980's, but with the help , czechoslovakia,
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west europe, germany was still exporting the ingredients for sarin. britain gave extensively between 2006 and 2010. they had enormous stockpiles. charlie: the reason i'm asking is one of the principal reasons president obama said he did not retaliate after they crossed the red was because they made the agreement to eliminate a significant part of the chemical weapons from syria. many observers have said that a significant part of those were taken out of the country. obviously not all of them, because they have used them most recently. dr. sparrow: we don't know that russia is in bringing back the same sarin it took away in 2013. but we also know something like chlorine, which is a dual would -- dual use compound, it is a medicine, it
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is used to disinfect water, so you can import it legitimately, but you can make it easily and cheaply, so chlorine becomes an effective way and cheap way of terrorizing a population, where in the end, we think clearly that tuesday's massacre was overkill. they did not intend to draw this much international attention. we have seen this operate on a strategy where we had these low level attacks that killed a , andeople here and there the international media doesn't really care about, until you see something like tuesday, which is almost certainly because they didn't get the mixture of sarin and chlorine quite right. rin,e was a great deal of sa and as we have seen they did it in a very predetermined way to cause maximum effect, so that's what we saw. that's why they got the attention. charlie: thank you for coming, and thank you for the humanitarian work you do. dr. hallam: thank you. charlie: thank you for joining us. see you next time. ♪
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mark: i am mark crumpton. white house press secretary sean spicer says the u.s. is open to more airstrikes in syria and said he cannot envision a peaceful or stable syria with president bashar al-assad still in office. concluded that russia had advance knowledge of the chemical weapons attack in syria. a russian-made fighter jet bombed the hospital in what was a cover up attend.


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