tv Charlie Rose PBS November 17, 2015 12:00pm-1:01pm PST
>> rose: welcome to the program. tonight, we look at the tragic events in paris and ask what they mean for the united states and the world and for i.s.i.s. we talk to roger cohen, matt olsen, peter baker, bernard-henri leévy and michael weiss. >> as long as you have i.s.i.s. controlling territory where it can sell oil, it can raise money, it can organize attacks like the heinous bloodshed we've just seen in paris, as long as it controls that territory, it has the means to go on doing more of the same, and the president is fond of invoking the history of the last 14 years or so since 9/11 and, sure, it's full of mistakes, but let's recall that when al quaida
attacked new york and washington, we the united states decided we are not going any longer to permit al quaida to have a safe haven, a sanctuary in afghanistan from which it can organize and direct these attacks. and we went in and we removed that safe haven. >> rose: paris and the aftermath for the hour, next. >> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by: american express. >> rose: additional funding provided by: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york
city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: we turn the this evening to series of coordinated terrorist attacks on friday that targeted civilians at bars, restaurants, a concert hall and a soccer stadium. the attacks follow two suicide bombings in lebanon and a downing of a russian passenger airplane over egypt. i.s.i.s. claimed credit for all three. france president francois hollande declared an act of war. counterterrorism was urged today and launched major targets in syria last night. a 27-year-old belgian man named abdelhamid abaaoud is believed to be the mast aermind. a search is underway for the eighth man involved also a belgian national. this has fueled worries about
middle eastern refugees in europe and the united states. president obama defended his plan to combat i.s.i.s. in turkey today. >> while we are clear about the difficult road ahead, the united states in partnership with our coalition is going to remain relentless on all fronts, military, humanitarian and diplomatic. we have the right strategy and we're going to see it through. i don't think i've shown hesitation to act whether it's with respect to bin laden or respect to sending additional troops in afghanistan or keeping them there. if it is determined that it's actually going to work. >> rose: the president also said the u.s. would honor its commitment to allow 10,000 syrian refugees to enter the country in the next year. >> the people who are fleeing syria are the most harmed by
terrorism, they are the most vulnerable as a consequence of civil war and strife. they are parents, they are children, they are orphans, and it is very important -- and i was glad to see that this was affirmed again and again by the g-20 -- that we do not close our hearts to these victims. >> rose: roger cohen, columnist from the "new york times." matt olsen, former director of the national counterterrorism center. beater baker. bernard-henri leévy, author, and michael weiss, senior editor at
"the daily beast" and co-author of. i am pleased to have them as we take a closer look at at the vents in paris and what it means for the future. peter, you know this president more than anyone and written more and thought about how he handles crisis. he laid out some of this in the question-answer session in turkey. but tell us more about how he sees this and put it in context. >> of course, what's interesting about his session in turkey today was we often expect our presidents in moments like this, moments of crisis, moments when the public feels afraid to give us vigorous-sounding statements of resolve and determination we're going to defeat the enemy and so forth. what you heard from this president was more of an explanation than an exhortation. he wants you to understand why the strategy will work even if it doesn't feel like it. he's thought it through and his
view is we're doing what we ought to short of putting ground troops in syria, something he will continue to refuse to do because he only sees that as a repeat of the mistakes of the iraq war. i think he came into office wanting to get us out of this cycle of constant war fair in the middle east and a finds himself heading toward the chapters of his own presidency still stuck there and searching for a way to get us to a place that people would rather be, andeth not easy. >> rose: he campaigned in 2008 on getting us out of war and now he's being encouraged to get back involved in order to stop an organization that did not exist really in a significant way when he won the election in 2008. >> yeah. >> rose: but with respect to the things he laid out, he clearly believes his strategy which he says has been in effect for more than a year will work. i mean, how does -- what is it about a strategy that says we can defeat them on a number of
ways including an air force but not using significant numbers of ground troops from america and the rest of the world. >> right. well, his view is, look, sending in ground troops wouldn't necessarily work because the second you left they could come right back, and we weren't into the game of permanent occupation anymore. what you have to have is a local environment with local people who don't want to accept the extremism of the ideological groups that are trying to make their home there, and without that, american troops wouldn't be able to accomplish anything on a permanent, sustained basis, anyway. he also asks the question, says, look, okay, what would you do if a terrorist attack emanated from yemen, does that mean you would send 50,000 troops there? from libya, would you send 50,000 troops there? he clearly is looking at this as a slippery slope. the trick is he came across a little defensive and generated criticism in washington from
people particularly republicans who looked at that and says that's defeatism or not someone with a clear strategy but is only looking to avoid the tougher choices ahead. >> rose: you have just returned from the middle east and looking at the kurds. tell me what you think of what the president says but also, more importantly, how does alon see this and how as he responded to the attacks in paris? >> he responded well and bravely. more important than that is the fact that he clearly understood that there is two wars, one war inside and one outside. one attack in paris like 14 years ago and one on the front lines, more important, in syria and iraq. what is said if you don't
eradicate i.s.i.s. in its core which is in syria and in iraq, you will have cancer metastasizing everywhere for years and years. either you hit there or you will have hell here in europe and in america. i want to make that very clear. it isn't easy for a country like france to take this sort of leadership with the idea of hitting military. you can be for or against. it is brave and right. >> rose: matt olsen, who's right? >> this is clearly a complicated specification from over a year ago when i.s.i.s. came on the scene from a counterterrorism perspective. i think in terms of what's happening in syria and iraq, you know, i think the president -- i
was in the room with the president and many of these discussions occurred. there weren't really good options in terms of having a force on the ground, as peter said, that could fill in behind a military ground force. so the option of airstrikes and leading a coalition was clearly the right answer. the problem, is of course, that is not going to stop i.s.i.s. from being able to, on smaller scales or even more significant scale we saw in paris, be able to send or inspire operatives to carry out attacks like we saw friday. >> rose: tell me about i.s.i.s. are we looking at the beginnings of an execution of a more global strategy? >> yes, from the very beginning, they have two strategies. they have the domestic one which has been superimposed on levant and mesopotamia. two iraqs, one artificially created after world war i. you saw them smashing the berms
that designated the boundary between their two states. they said the state is established. the remaining is remaining and expanding. the mujahedeen from all around must integrate, populate the caliphate, have babies, spawn, young child soldiers of the caliphate, women should come and breed here. the second part is the foreign expeditionary part. they see themselves as a state. we like to say in the united states they have nothing to do with the united states. >> rose: they're simply killers. >> yes, and i think that's false. they see themselves as a state. i got back from turkey and interviewed a defector. "jihadi john" was a member of the same security branch. this guy said, look, you have
two towns in aleppo. they run a city administration in al-bob, collect taxes, inspect restaurants to make sure sanitary standards are met. they have a penal code, you can take somebody to sharia court if they have violated the laws and covenants of the islamic state. if you're a member of i.s.i.s., you have free healthcare, might call it baghdadi care. if you have cancer, they will pay to send you to turkey, put you in a hotel, pay the doctors and your expenses so you can be treated. they have the hearts and minds strategy. then they have, of course, the deterrent factor. if you violate their laws, if you're caught smoke cigarettes or drinking alcohol, they'll put you in a cage the center of al-bob three days and mark your body with the crime you've committed. if you've committed treason or
they suspect you of being a spierks they will cut your head off, put it on a stick in the middle of town and let it rot to fight resistance. so why aren't people rising against the caliphate? they're imemploying the -- employing the carrot and the stick at an effective level. everyone who has any experience understanding the way before i.s.i.s., al quaida and iraq operated in the sunni tribal heartlands of western iraq and syria, they all anticipate boots on the ground at some point. the president doesn't believe that's the right approach, although we are sending 50 special forces into sir. i can't that's the beginning. people have to have realistic expectations. >> where i.s.i.s. has been defeated geographically in syria and iraq, this is where they have bitten off more than they can chew. kurdish villages, mixed
communities. where they have not been defeated is sunni tribal areas. this is how they took ramadi and marched into palmyra. they sent sleepers and spies in advance -- >> rose: two things have to happen the president said, one you have to end the war in syria. number two, you have to do something about the sunni-shia -- >> you need to give sunni arabs a credible alternative to i.s.i.s. and the assad regime in syria and because they see the iraqi government largely controlled by the iranian security services as their immortal enemy, many sunnis see iraq as a better alternative than baghdad. >> rose: i thought that had begun to change because of pressure from saudi arabia. >> the shia militias are in charge of the security apparatus. >> rose: so you said it's a new kind of world war with and without borders and talk about thinking the unthinkable war and do we have to come to the notion
that we are at war and who we're fighting. tell me more. >> we are fighting, first of all, bad soldiers. this is what strikes me, when i am on the ground, i'm coming back from sinjar and before that from iraqi kurdistan. what strikes me is maybe these are good terrorists, behaving for others, but they're not good soldiers. when they face a real army like the peshmerga or the syrian kurds in kobani, they are defeated easily. since the beginning of january 2015, each time they have been confronted on the ground, they lost. in sinjar, everyone said it will be a very difficult battle, we will need days and days of
airstrikes and body to body. it took a few hours or even two or three days. so they're bad soldiers and they're much more weak than we believe. maybe a state, but a fake state, a pup pet state -- a puppet state. a state without patriotism, without the real embodiment of state which we know in america or france. in other words, they're strong of our weakness. they're strong only when we are weak. i listened very carefully to what mr. obama said. he has today the opportunity for the third time to come to the rescue of europe. you americans did that in 1914, first world war. you did that second world war. today, there is again the world war of which europe after
america is the target. please, let's unite, let's hope barack obama and francois hollande make a real front line. >> rose: vladimir putin? vladimir putin is out of the question. vladimir putin has played such a dirty game with bashar al-assad. so maybe he has to be on board but the key -- >> rose: hollande is coming to washington to see president obama and to moscow to see president putin. >> yes, but it will not be in the same spirit. when he will be in front of barack obama, he will be in front of the real ally already on the side of france two times. first world war, second world war. today it is world war number three. he will be in front of his true ally. when he will go in front of putin, he will have a wrong spoon with a little devil in front of him.
bashar al-assad is with daesh and daesh is supported by vladimir putin. all the strikes in russia where we voted not to defeat i.s.i.s. but reinforce bashar al-assad. >> rose: roger from paris, tell me how you see it, the conversation we have been having and also a sense of the mood and the mindset in paris. >> well, charlie, paris is subdued. it's wounded. it's angry, very angry. what struck me today really, and we had that now is, the distinction between the anger and resolve of president francois hollande who is absolutely clear about the fact that france is now at war.
and the defensive posture of president obama who seemed to me to be saying we've got a losing football team right now but we're not going to change anything. and i think as long as you have i.s.i.s. controlling territory where it can sell oil, raise money, organize attacks like the heinous bloodshed that we've just seen in paris, as long as it controls that territory, it has the means to go on doing more of the same. and the president is fond of invoking the history of the last 14 years or so since 9/11 and, sure, it's full of mistakes, but let's recall that when al quaida attacked new york and washington, we the united states decided we are not going any longer to permit al quaida to have a safe haven, a sanctuary
in afghanistan where -- from which it can organize and direct these attacks. and we went in and we removed that safe haven. then we were distracted by iraq. now, the islamic state controls territory much closer to europe with a porous border with turkey where president erdogan has been playing a vicious game with i.s.i.s. personally, i'm disappointed. i think we have to remove i.s.i.s.'s control of this territory and we have to do it sooner tha rather than later. >> rose: i'm going to peter then matt. peter, the president says essentially the strategy he conceived is what his best military advisors tell him. there may be dissent beenwin the military, i don't know, you would know better. but the president is firm saying, if you have a better plan, present it. >> part of what he says when he
listens to critics, they say, you should do more this and that. he is saying i'm doing this and that, you just don't hear it or acknowledge it. the other choice is boots on the ground. he presented almost a buynary choice. for critics that say there are degrees that don't necessarily lead you into a ground force of 100,000 troops. you know, he has been tackling this issue and these issues in afghanistan and iraq more generally now for seven years. his number one priority has been to avoid another land war in the middle east. roger mentions afghanistan, but he sees iraq, and the way he sees this is something that can get even worse than now. it's frustrating as it seems now, he feels like the solutions presented to him that are more aggressive are ones that would information not solve the
problem but create problems that are worse. that may not be the case but that's the way he looks ate. >> rose: matt? i agree with peter and that's been the issue. what are the other options? there may be opportunities to increase or step up some of the activities that we have been taking militarily in syria and iraq certainly in terms of the airstrikes but also in terms of the presence of special operators, a small number in syria, the opportunity to increase the number of special operation forms to take additional activities there. but really, as long as assad is in power in syria and the civil war there continues to rage on, there are really no good options in terms of being able to hold territory in syria. so looking forward toward a diplomatic solution over time in syria is probably the most effective way to move forward against i.s.i.s. at least in the near term. >> rose: do you think that diplomatic solution is possible? obviously the powers that are
involved were in vienna trying to hammer out some kind of plan for the future. >> yeah, i mean, this has been over a year or longer, there's been a lot of activity to try to put that into place. it's very difficult, obviously, and in russian support for assad has only made it more difficult. still, the idea at some point that assad will be out and a political transition will be in syria and the civil war will end is the best way to stop the migration of foreign fighters and have an opportunity to go after i.s.i.s. more effect "saturday night live" i'll ask everybody to comment on this, roger in paris as well. it seems to me you're caught in a dilemma. on the one hand, no one can point to an indication where you can be success waffle air power alone and you need ground troops. the president says you have a military problem because you can push them out of a territory but
you have to stay and hold the territory or they will return calling for a kind of occupation force, so that seems to be a dilemma. >> well, charlie, the kurds are holding territory in northern syria. they're holding territory pretty effectively. bernard just said that, from what he's seen, the islamic state, pretty good terrorists, pretty bad soldiers. and the president himself said, look, we can go into raqqah and ramadi and take these places. it's just problematic thereafter what we do. but right now, there is no sense of urgency. there was no sense of urgency in those comments i heard in turkey. if you're sitting in paris, and i was talking today to a guy in a restaurant, and his best friend had been killed at the bataclan, and you're seeing
panic, 50 people running across the street because you've heard a noise and you're sitting in a jittery city where 130 people have just been killed and you know it could happen again in very soon. anywhere in europe it's not enough, i think, to say, you know, we've got a good strategy, we're just going to stay with it. it's not enough. >> rose: so the president's policy is not enough. go ahead. >> the one thing that we learned well from the iraq war over a decade of being in this country, occupying, fighting the battle, you cannot defeat jihadis without sunnis. the jihadys become more barbaric than colonial occupiers. the guy who created al quaida in iraq is a jordanian. he brought in all these people from the surrounding countries. iraqis began to feel they were
fighting two occupations, an american one and a jihadi international. three, these guys monopolize the grey, brack and white economies which western iraq and eastern syria enriched themselves for centuries. the people who lived there entire lives are being told what to do by 18-year-old tunisians or by iraqis brought in from iraq. remember, this franchise began as a foreign-led franchise and became iraq-ized over the last decade. >> what should we do? should we admire this? >> no, you needs to understand it to defeat it. there is a fundamental vol vecialt to i.s.i.s. >> i agree with that. which is the people on the ground do not want to be lorded over which them but they need an alternative. >> rose: which is what happened in the awakening and
the search. >> what is happening in mosul is a battle which will happen in the next month, i hope. there will will be abalinings lions and this is what's taking shape today. now there is an emergency. the emergency is a blood bath in paris as you had in new york. you know, charlie, my beloved son is a lawyer, a member of the american cabinet. one of his best friends was killed at the bataclan friday night. the best friend of my son, member of the new york royal cabinet. the energy i -- the emergency is to stop that, to make it impossible. we don't have to reflect.
americans and france have to act. what mr. obama should understand, i think, no boots on the ground means more blood on the ground here. this is the equation. i understand no boots on the ground. but it will mean more blood on our ground, in america and in france. the last thing i want to say, i.s.i.s. is not hitler. hitler was a huge power. i.s.i.s. is a new sort of fascism, but in terms of military power, i.s.i.s. is a paper tiger. if we decided really to win this war, it would be much some don'y
want to win this war. this war against i.s.i.s. gives the strange impression to be a war which we don't really want to win, but we have to win in order to prevent other massacres as we saw in paris and in new york 14 years ago, we have to eradicate i.s.i.s. and it will be much more doable and easy than we believe with our big strategies on i.s.i.s. >> rose: peter, i assume the president's heard all these arguments. >> well, he has. with we talk about the need for a ground force, for instance. we tried to create a ground force rather than using americans and it didn't work. he tried to create a syrian opposition army that would be able to take on i.s.i.s. the trick was, he told them they had to take on i.s.i.s. and not assad. he talked to a lot of the syrian
opposition figures and they're efocused on the the government which has been waging war on them for years and that restriction made it an impossible formula. so i think the other problem -- the challenge the president has which roger puts his finger on is even aside from the substance and specifics of the strategy, right or wrong, wise or not, he at times does not convey the visceral feelings of urgency that seems to be, you know, appropriate to the moment. it's not his nature. he's a reserved individual. it doesn't come naturally to him, but there is a desire in the body politic at times to see the leader express the kind of outrage and express the kind of purpose that comes out of an event like -- >> rose: that hollande is now demonstrating. >> yeah. president hollande is getting tremendous results.
>> president hollande is the same as barack obama. he's very anxious, he's not sure of what he's doing. he's a pacifist in the bottom of his heart. but he understood on friday night that we have to uproot this venom before it is too late. for the moment, it is a fake state. othe battle of sinjar which occurred in a valiant way. >> rose: with the help of u.s. air support. >> i know, put on the ground, they were alone, special forces from america and france. a great result with was achieved. the so-called islamic state is cut into two since last week. the road from raqqah to mosul is cut. it was not so hard to achieve,
and it's already -- we can do what more. >> i have a high opinion of the kurds. so high that i would be surprised if they were so foolhardy as to march into raqqah and try to liberate the sunni-arab tribal districts from i.s.i.s. they will be met with a domestic resistance. in iraq, we talk about it like it's the iraqi government versus i.s.i.s. there are other insurgency groups that times partner with i.s.i.s., consider themselves fellow travelers of i.s.i.s. and allow i.s.i.s. to come in and take terrain in syria. they're not great soldiers. the way they take terrain in syria is they have so much money, they send sleeper cells into territories controlled by the free syrian army or some other islamist faction and bribe their way in and appoint men to run the militias. the rank and file are
manipulated and controlled by i.s.i.s. >> rose: matt, if you were advising the president, what would you tell them to do in response to what happened in paris? >> you know, going to that side of it, the counterterrorism side and the actual ability now, demonstrated ability of i.s.i.s. to carry out a relatively complex, coordinated attack. the concern here in the united states, and it's always going to be the overriding concern for the president and certainly for this president was, okay, what are we doing to protect the united states from an attack like this? well, there is a couple of things. one is to make sure we're getting the best intelligence. are we sharing that information, what we're getting with ourine allies and our friends in the region? are they sharing that information with us? what is the actual situation we're seeing? are defenses in place? do we have the right times of hardening of defenses, for example, against aviation plots, the kind of plots we've seen in the past.
and the longer-term challenge is to address the recruitment of americans as well as europeans from traveling to syria. so there, there's been a real concerted effort in the united states by the f.b.i. and the intelligence community to identify anybody who's in the united states who might be susceptible to messaging out of i.s.i.s. and seeking to travel to support i.s.i.s. and then possibly coming back to the united states. so a lot of work being done in that regard. >> rose: but the argument you're hearing here, matt, is you have to do everything you can, use all your military might that you've in coalitions with other people to wipe out i.s.i.s. that seems to be the proposal that is being recommended at this table by roger and by bernard and, in some cases, by hollande. >> charlie, i was just in turkey and i believe you're also heading there, charlie, and there really have been unconscious national things happening there. there is a porous border between
your n.a.t.o. ally turkey and territory in northern syria controlled by i.s.i.s. and we were just hearing about patients being sent across the border to be looked after in hospitals in turkey and i certainly hope the president has been talking firmly to president erdogan about closing this conduit that's enable to i.s.i.s. to strengthen itself. france is our n.a.t.o. ally. the president of france described this as an act of war. an act of war against a n.a.t.o. state is an act of war against us all. i don't think the response we've seen up to now is adequate. non-interventionism in syria proved as much a disaster as interventionism in iraq. we can debate endlessly what that demonstrates. if we were *79, let' present i,
would that give us an opportunity to be a part of this bleeding syrian situation than continuing to sit on the sidelines? i think it's at least debatable. >> rose: having talked to putin about this, i assure you that's one of the reasons he went in so he could be part of how syria was settled. >> with great respect for president vladimir putin, why shouldn't president obama the leader of the free world be as much a part of the solution on the ground in syria as president putin? and to do that, let's crush i.s.i.s. and take the terrorist it controls back. >> rose: peter, i know you have to go, but tell me what are you writing for tomorrow's "new york times"? >> i'm writing about a lot of these issues, basically, how the president is walking this fine line between strategy he thinks will work in the long run and
sort of the visceral sense that we don't find it very satisfying in the short run. he's not going to put ground troops on. he's been clear about that, nobody can make him do that. we have another 14, 15 months till he leaves office and he's trying to see what kind of position he can leave his successor in that time. you know, it's a conundrum for a president who did come in on an anti-war platform as you quoted or showed him. he has taken quite a lot of aggressive actions at times with the bin laden rage and the original surge in afghanistan, the drone strikes he didn't mention including the strike against american and anwar awlaki. but as he comes toward the end of this presidency, he seems to be more and more, you know, reluctant to use what he sees as an excess of military force and he sees one quagmire after another that he's trying to, you know, keep out of. that's not the mood of the
country today following the paris attacks in which, you know, there is a great desire to protect ourselves and to, as people on this panel just said, wipe out i.s.i.s. >> rose: peter, thank you for joining us. >> thank you for having me. >> rose: you want to respond to something earlier about -- >> no, i just wanted to say that if i had the chance to give advice to president obama, which i surely will not, but the advice would be to think likely about his own legacy. he was so brave on domestic affairs, so brave in the bin laden case. it was very hard to send special forces there to take him. i don't understand his reluctancy today. the image we saw before, he seems so strange, so out of himself. it is not the obama which so
many american citizens loved and elected and so many french and foreign people saw as a sort of icon. it is not -- it is no longer obama. >> rose: maybe this is more the real obama than that was. >> i hope not. i hope the obama whom i met inon 2003, who was this brave young man wanting to carry the flag high, he believed in the shining city above the hill, i hope this obvious of 2003 -- i hope this obama of 2003 is still alive in turkey today and i hope so much -- you know, two cities were struck since 14 years -- new york september 11, paris today. why these two cities? why? what is the common point of new york and paris?
both of them, what fascists of all time hate more, the shining cities of new york and paris, these cities of culture, of intelligence, of freedom, it is the incarnation, the emblem of what these people hate more. so let's unite, let hollande and obama finish with this nightmare. if the peshmerga with so little weapons, we saw all the soldiers did it, please, our special forces can do it! >> rose: the question often raised is the united states cannot do it alone and we can't fight someone else's battle and where are the people from the region. >> the kurds. >> rose: who else other than the kurds? there are no saudi troops or turkish troops on the ground -- >> i was going to say, we
actually have seen some successful policy in syria. i give the president some due for this because it is not acknowledged. two programs the u.s. inaugurated, one the defunct train and equip which peter mentioned. we were going to create a task fors with bulls eyes on their backs. the second program which is less heralds because it's clandestine, the c.i.a. vetted 40 militias in syria, given them weapons or allowed our sufficiently allies like saudi arabia to provide them tank missiles. these guy head ths hold the lin.
they have been creating a syrian tank graveyard in central syria, and it's only now because there is such a concerted effort including iranian ground troops in aleppo that a lot of these guys are being pushed back. the fact is these guys were fighting well, keeping track of the weapons, not selling it to al quaida or i.s.i.s., because the debt of the rebels was being met. we are fighting the regime. we do not understand -- we talk so much in i.s.i.s., is it the messianic component, fundamentalism, there is a political and anthropological situation. who is your number one enany? most syrians will say, excuse me, history did not start when mosul was invaded in june 2014. bashar al-assad was shooting 13-year-olds in the street, killing infants in their cradle. iranian-built militias are locking families in their homes
and setting houses on fire so people can cook. you're just not seeing it in the "new york times." you know why nusra and i.s.i.s. was allowed to come in? it's because of this. so roger is right, the consequences happened as a direct result of non-intervention. the the chemical attacks in 2013, french frighter debts in the skies toward damascus and john kerry calls hollande and says, we have to deal with putin instead. the sunnis look at the united states as now -- >> this day was august 29 of 2013. it was a black day. during the same day, american president said red line is crossed, we have to act. attend of the day, he came on tv and said, i changed my mind. we have to ask the congress and so on and so on. and it is true that i.s.i.s. and bash bar are a sort of twins.
they are forced twins. they don't look like each other but they are twins. and we know all reports, all serious reports know that if we have i.s.i.s. today, it is because, number one, bashar al-assad wanted it, he liberated from jail all the islamist radicals -- >> rose: he's buying their oil. >> -- and, yur number two, becae we did not intervene there. the reason of non-intervention is i.s.i.s. >> rose: matt? i go back to something roger said. i don't think it's fair or accurate to describe the u.s. role as on the sideline or non-intervention. i mean, obviously, there is a decision not to put a significant number of american troops on the ground in iraq and syria but, again you go across the board whether it's hundreds and hundreds of airstrikes, counterterrorism, special forces operations leading a coalition including gulf states and european allies as well as the
diplomatic efforts to change the regimes in iraq and to work to change the regime in syria. so, you know, this is not american not intervening. it's america leading in the region short of ground troops but trying to find a solution to a very long-term, very complex problem as this discussion highlights. >> john kerry came up with this vienna conference. >> rose: wait, wait -- with respect nirks assessment of the syrian situation today four and a half years in has to conclude it's an absolute disaster that is seeping into europe and could seep further than that. there is no question as we just said, they're not upholding the red line on the use of chemical weapons was a grave mistake and undermined america's word in the world and i think the president has a chance to rectify that
today. there is a phrase on the obama foreign policy calling the president the king of the slippery slope, school of foreign policy. and i think there is something to that. you can't run everything through the prism of this is a slippery slope, this is a quagmire, where do we end up. just because certain interventions haven't worked doesn't mean other kinds may not. and here i think you have a weak i.s.i.s. in these areas and you have the potential to take that territory from it if the decision is made to do that. it seems the president will not make that decision. i don't know. but i don't think you can argue any which way that american diplomatic or military or other policy in syria has been anything other than a disaster because what we see in syria -- of course, president putin, many, many other actors that we can blame, and certainly bashar al-assad is not the answer to
the syrian problem. he has to go. but i don't think you can make an argument for -- there were huge difficulties but the outcome has been terrible. >> look at where we are now. you had the conference in vienna. john kerry says we've cut a tentative deal with the syrians, iran and russians. everyone i in syria will commito cease fire except al quaida and the regime, hezbollah blah and a thousand different militia groups beholdent to god knows whom will lay down their arm but al quaida and i.s.i.s. will be allowed to fight because we're fighting them. this is going to resolve this crisis? i looked at that and talked to arab and syrian friends and they were terrified that the secretary of state can come up and say something so ridiculous. it doesn't even rise to the area of utopianism. he looked like a dog that we
want through the car wash with the top down, defeated. >> rose: where are the coalition partners that the united states has in the present coalition and what are they doing and are they doing enough? when he started the ratcheting up of the the u.s. airstrikes, guess what happened? they pulled back. >> the type -- the time of leadership from behind is over. >> rose: something attributed to president obama. >> it is not possible today. number two. the result of our policy, all of us, the west and syria is -- 260,000 dead in syria. 1 million refugees. the biggest refugees crisis in recent history. >> rose: understanding that, what you're saying is there has to be a massive armed -- >> not massive but --
>> rose: an attack -- yes, against i.s.i.s. i don't think it will be massive. when i hear that, it reminds me of what we said the first time i was at this table 21 years ago, at this table during the sarajevo crisis. it was exactly the same. we cannot intervene, it will be a blood bath. we will need hundreds of thousands of soldiers. when this didecision was taken by bill clinton, it was done in a few days an. >> rose: they are not a state. they are not a state and you cannot make a war -- of course, it is non-intervention. also true that there is an american intervention, but young
not do it half. you cannot give this impression to wage a war without willing to win it. if you make it, you have to win it, on a very precise scale. no question. alliance with sunnis of course but get rid of i.s.i.s. >> whicby the way, a false dichotomy -- we tend to any intervention means 150,000 troops on the ground or nothing at all. not even senator mccain was saying let's bust down the gates of the palace and string up bashar al-assad. it is too late because the russians established their "no fly" zone. they did it because they knew we wouldn't lift a finger to stop them. for the last 18 months we had how many u.s. aircraft flying in the skies of northern syria dropping bombs in i.s.i.s.,
raqqah or aleppo. could they not have used the weapons to keep syrian aircraft away? >> if we cannot do more, let's have the kurds help because they were the boots on the ground. >> rose: supporting them with airstrikes? >> i am back at the front above mosul. they have 4,000 ammunitions for maybe two or 3,000 soldiers. they are so weak, ill armed, even on the ground, we could do much more. why don't we do it? >> rose: roger, do you think it would be different if this attack would have taken place in new york rather than paris? >> sure, it would have been different, charlie. i think you would have married some of the same language perhaps from president obama that we have been hearing from president hollande about an act of war and about real resolve and i think that's one of the sad things to me about seeing the president's body language
today. there was no sense -- yes, he talked about france being america's oldest ally, which it is, but there is no sense that we really have to come to the defense and help of france today. look, you know, the white house said for a while that, you know, i.s.i.s. was not like al quaida. it was a regional threat. it wasn't a global threat. and here we've seen three teams of terrorists, three, dispatched from brussels, from another country, renting cars, they've identified targets, the bataclan had been mentioned before because the place where jewish associations have often met, and a football stadium where france and germany, the symbol of european postwar reconciliation, france and germany were playing football, that's a second target, and a restaurant. this was not 9/11, but it was a
pretty highly-cardnated attack and one of the terrorists is still on the run. so let's forget about the notion that this is an imminent threat. it's not enough to say as secretary of state kerry and the president says, we will defite i.s.i.s. we will? when? after how many more of these attacks? i don't think the perfect could be ten my of the good. i don't think taking the territory back will end the terrorist threat but it will materially reduce it, i believe. >> rose: what are the lessons? matt, one last question for you. what do you think paris changes? >> i think paris changes the way we see i.s.i.s. you know, this was not a surprise from an intelligence standpoint. back in january in belgium, a cell was disrupted that had the makings of the type of attack we saw in paris.
almost a year ago, we saw this type of attack being within the realm of possibility by i.s.i.s., but the fact it did occur, the fact they were able to pull this off does demonstrate so historically the type of threat we face and as global threat, i agree with roger at least in that regard, a global threat from i.s.i.s. it will certainly stiffen our resolve. i think the focus on body language and rhetoric is misplaced. we need to talk about what are we doing and what can we do and what are the right options. i think this elevates i.s.i.s. in terms of public attention we'll get and stiffen resolve to do more where we have opportunity to do so. >> rose: thank you, roger cohen, matt olsen, peter baker joined us earlier, bernard-henri leévy, and michael weiss. thank you. we will continue the series of
examinations of what happened in paris, the consequences tomorrow night. thank you for joining us tonight. we'll see you then. >> rose: for more about this and earlier episodes, visit us online at pbs.org and charlierose.com. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
the following kqed production was produced in high definition. and their buns are something i have yet to find anywhere else. >> i'm not inviting you to my house for dinner. >> breaded and fried and gooey and lovely. >> in the words of arnold schwarzenegger, i'll be back. >> they knew i had to ward off some