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tv   Mc Laughlin Group  PBS  April 25, 2015 12:30pm-1:01pm PDT

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announcer: from washington, "the mclaughlin group", the american original -- for over three decades, the sharpest minds, best sources, hardest talk. john: issue one -- future war. president obama this morning i want to express our grief and condolences to the families of two hostages. one american dr. warren weinstein, and an italian, giovanni lo porto. john: the president is referring to 72-year-old american
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development worker warren weinstein, who was kidnapped by al qaeda in 2011. and 39-year-old italian development worker giovanni lo porto, who was kidnapped al qaeda in 2012. this week we learned that both men were accidentally killed in a c.i.a. dren strike in january. here's how it happened. the c.i.a. spotted an al qaeda safe house in pakistan and closely monitored it. judging senior al qaeda leaders to be present, the c.i.a. attacked. and while the drone killed a number of al qaeda terrorists, including an al qaeda leader and an american fighter for the group, mr. weinstein and mr. lo porto were later found to have been hidden in the building. al qaeda had made sure the hostages couldn't be seen by u.s. surveillance efforts. president obama apologized for the loss of life. president obama: as president and as commander-in-chief, i
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take full responsibility for all our counterterrorism operations, including the one that inadvertently took the lives of warren and giovanni. i profoundly regret what happened. on behalf of the united states government i offer our deepest apologies to the families. john: question -- is this accident a wakeup call to reform the c.i.a.'s counterterrorist drone program? pat buchanan? pat: no, i don't think so, john. you certainly should review it but i don't think reform it necessarily. look, these drones are really indispensable weapons in a war against terror, especially in a war in which the enemy yupes no no-man's land. this war has less collateral damage than any war we've ever had. john, when you were a young man we took out dresden took out
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250,000 people, american p.o.w.'s were right there in dresden. we didn't know about it. kurt vonnegut wrote "slaughterhouse-five" about it. whether you agree or disagree with the war this is an indispensable weapon and you can't give it up. john: senator dianne feinstein wants the whole program stem to stern to be analyzed. pat: well, you can never stop doing that, but the idea of giving it up is why not -- an impossibility if you are going to fight terrorism. john: mccain would like to give it up, too. eleanor: i agree with pat they're not going to give up the drone program. the think the president is ambivalent about these so-called signature drone strikes. you find targets and they
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appear to be muslim-looking men who are gathering and you make assumptions and if you can get to near certainty, you go ahead. but near certainty is not absolute certain -- certainty. but i think president obama owns the drone program even though it began under president bush. he has pushed it forward and i think the next president is either going to continue that or have second thoughts. john:two of the targets in this week's drone strikes, adam gadahn and ahmed farouq, held u.s. citizenship. does it trouble you that the president can order u.s. citiizens killed by drone attacks? i ask you, tom. tom: no. because the reality is that these people have chosen to join a group that plots to kill as many civil yaverpbs as it can, that has been doing that. the reality is that the signature profiling in terms of strikes, it's more than seeing people and thinking that they look like nate iveks to the particular area.
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it's about networks, the areas they've been visiting. the nature of the threat is you have to address these people. good example google a pakistani man killed in a drone strike but it later turned out they knew he was involved in the 2006 translate -- atlantic plot. if he had been killed he would have killed thousands of people. john: is there a political incentive for the president to take full responsibility? clarence: of course. at the same time, this question about shooting or killing a u.s. citizen, we wouldn't have this argument if we actually had a formally declared war. since we don't, it's really untested legal ground whether a president can legally do what is already being done and p i don't know how you take it to court. normally you take it to court
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and in this case the victim is dead. eleanor: if the targets are -- pat: you're exactly right, this is the responsibility of congress. what are we doing in yemen? what are we doing in syria and iraq? i'm not sure we've got authority under the congress of the united states. eleanor: well, the congress timely confirmed loretta lynch after five months. i wouldn't hold your breath for their action on this. but when americans are the focus of a proposed -- really, these are assassinations by drone attack -- theis supposed to be higher. the justice department is supposed to sign offer. i don't know whether they did. i think these were two separate strikes. pat: did they know they were americans they were hitting? eleanor: that's a separate issue. clarence: adam may have known he was a target and he certainly suspected he was.
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pat: the other man's son was killed as collateral damage. john: what is the trend in historical experience regarding military technology and the frequency and deady license of -- deadliness of wars? pat: these are astonishingly precise weapons. what the americans do now in war is far, far december -- less -- look what happened in world war ii we killed thousands of japanese and in vietnam, 2,000, the christmas bombing, less than 2,000 killed. it's less and less every war we have. eleanor: you have to ask yourself compared to what? any president if given the choice between drones and putting young men and women in harm's way would choose drones.
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tom: exactly. we have no other options. what are we going to do, send a team over there that would create much more political toxin? you know? john: president obama likes unmanned military technologists. and this is one of them. locust. low-cost uav swarm technology. a new program of the u.s. navy. locust is a system that launches 30 combat drones for both defensive and offensive military operations. this u.s. military video shows the high expectations u.s. commanders have for locust. the swarm is shown attacking multiple targets with great effectiveness. but some fear that this is just another dangerous step towards the future of war, easier war, war in which the political dimensions of human casualties are disregarded and thus war made more palatable.
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and it's not just aerial drones that are changing war. in a recent wall street journal op-ed, gabriela blum and benjamin wittes paint a future of unpredictable risk. quote, your business competitor has sent a robotic attack spider bought from a bankrupt military contractor to take you out. your assassin, who is vacationing in provence, will direct the spider to shoot an infinitesimal needle containing a lethal dose of poison into your left leg and then self-destruct. unquote. will the new military technology do more harm than good? tom: i think a key area is the framework for the u.s. military, where are we appropriating money?
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john: what other areas is the u.s. testing? tom: rail guns. unmanned -- pat: electronic pulse to shoot down missiles. it's a great idea. eleanor: you can flood the zone with mosquito drones. my favorite. delooks i want to see what happens when -- clarence: i want to see what happens when china russia, other countries have the drones, too. it is going to change the whole debate. pat: one problem john, those huge aircraft carry yirs are going to be much much more vulnerable the-mile-an-hour get these tiny weapons that can't be detected. john: is commander in chief obama himself --president obama: conventional air power or missiles are far less precise than drones and are likely to cause more civilian casualties and more local outrage. and invasions of these
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territories lead us to be viewed as occupying armies unleash a torrent of unintended consequences, are difficult to contain, result in large numbers of civilian casualties and ultimately empower those who thrive on violent conflict. john: do you share the president's view on conventional air power versus drones? i'm asking you because you're from chicago, clarence page. clarence: i think drones are like any other weapon of war. they have to be evaluated on their own merit or demerit but they're going to stay. john: issue two -- china and pakistan. >> the china-pakistan economic corridor is the backbone. the energy and the transport construction infrastructure and the construction of gwadar port are the arms and legs. john: that was china's ambassador to pakistan.
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this week chinese president xi jinping traveled to pakistan and confirmed $50 billion worth of trade deals. the more than two dozen projects range from the field of energy to port development to defense to transport to cultural centers. to a new submarine for the pakistan navy. in turn, signaling pakistan's desire to consolidate stronger relations with its neighbor, president jinping will be awarded pakistan's highest civilian honor. at -- although many in pakistan welcome the deals, others are concerned, note -- notably india thewitnessing china's desire to expand its influence across asia and into the indian ocean independent ja's government feels increasingly threatened.
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the united states shares concern. after all, with china throwing its weight globally, some american strategists fear china's pakistan arrangement weakens american security. for one example as to why, just listen to how pakistan's ambassador to china describes how china will use the port. >> uses this artery, uses this route to go out to the middle east, to central asia, and africa. because in terms of distance by using the gwadar-kashka route, this link, china will be saving about 6,000 kilometers of distance, maybe more, actually. so this is the benefit which both countries realize will occur and it's a longer-term strategic vision. john: we've got a china
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alliance with pax -- pakistan the is china's alliance a cause for american concern? tom: i think we have to be prudent. the quad ar -- gwadar port is clearly designed to exert chinese political power, to be able to have their navy go there and challenge the united states for hegemony in the region on. but we talk about pakistan and the u.s. tensions there and drones. the chinese government is very aggressive against the weaker population. it shows the level of political corruption the degree to which america antilism, wealth, rules. they get their money and they get whatever they want. john: if you were counseling the president in regards to china, what would you tell him? tom: i would tell him we need
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submarines. pat: they've got weight because they've got $3 trillion in cash reserves as a consequence of their trade with the united states. they're making themselves the economic power in asia, the industrial power in asia and the strategic power in asia and eventually they're going to displace the united states and pakistan which is a next-door neighbor to them and 8,000 miles from the united states. that's the future, john. eleanor: it's a hugely ambitious project. they're basically constructing it over land and sea, the new silk road that connects europe and asia. when the u.s. put in i think $7 billion or $9 billion in 2009 when obama first came in they put in infrastructure com -- that's a pittance compared to what the tchoins are doing. overall i think it's a good thing for anybody. i think the pakistanis are not going to be anybody's reliable ally and if they put this this
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money in and help pakistan become a more stable, wealthy company -- country, it's for everybody's go -- good. john: aside from protecting its oil importsflt middle east, why else is china interested in this port? do you happen to know? clarence: it does have a high strategic interest. i look at what they're doing in africa they've become a leading developer across sub-saharan africa. if the united states did it, it would be called clinton -- colonialism. eleanor: people are beginning to catch on that the chinese -- chinese don't create jobs, they bring their own pime, they plunder the land, don't worry about the environment. tom: exactly. john: is carolina still the biggest holder of u.s. debt?
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pat: no. japan is. but together they've got $2.5 trillion they hold in our debt the john: did you say trillion? pat: this is a product of free trade while the chinese practice economic nationalism. the chinese are doing to us what we did to the british empire in the 19th century. it's as clear as day. john: issue three. europe's shame? >> i do not expect any quick-fix solutions to the root causes of migration because there are none. had they existed, we would have used them long ago. but i do expect that the commission and the european external action service will present options for immediate action. john: that's donald tusk, the european council president. this year 1,500 migrants have lost their lives attempting to cross the mediterranean sea from africa to italy.
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relying on ramshackle boats and the whims of human smugglers migrant who dare to cross the mediterranean face great danger. and the human costs are often severe. last weekend, an estimated 900 people lost their lives when their ships sank off the libyan coast. this growing crisis has brought much unwanted attention onto european union officials. with underfunded navies and coast guards and domestic populations deeply hesitant about illegal immigration, e.u. nations have long lacked the means and the will to tackle this problem head on. but get this -- in 2015, the e.u. has actually cut the rescue force saving lives at sea. that's infuriated many activists. >> nobody leaves their country in search of snow. they leave because there's war there's trouble, and what do they want?
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they want to be treated as human beings. they want to live with dignity and work like any human being. john: ok, question. what does this crisis tell you about the state of the european union? clarence page? clarence: a couple things. one, they're not as united as they would like to be. one big issue you will hear is trying the share the burden of these boat people coming across the mediterranean. right now it's italy, greece, spain carrying most of the burden but across europe you've got a resurgence of far right populism in the midst of economic troubles still lingering and there is is not the same support for high numbers of refugees like we got say with southeast asia. john: why is the death toll rising? clarence: because they've run
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out of good boats. the fact is all the safe boats are long gone from libya. they take anything floating now. pat: people fleeing from wars, john, are coming endlessly and europe has to -- no way to stop them. europe is aging shrinking and die, its populations. europe simply has no way morally, physically, to stop what is coming. this is what was called -- tom: it was the -- it was called the pat buchanan scenarioio! eleanor: and if europe figures out how to you settle these people they would no longer be aging and running out of new blood. they would be americanizing themselves the john: can you argue the case that increasing the e.u. coast guard patrols to rescue stranded migrant will only make
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the problem worse by encouraging them to cut loose even more unsea worthy boats? jon: they tried that in october. they felt it was a pull factor, encouraging people to go. but more people are coming. they're not figuring out am i safe? unsafe? what's the risk? they're just going for it. the center of the chaos now is john: we've got to -- eleanor: excuse me. is libya where we bear some responsibility for the collapse of that society i think the u.s. has responsibility here as well as the e.u. clarence: i'm going to squeeze in very quickly. the european idea of social welfare, they didn't spend on defense, they clearly don't care about these people and they've allowed them to drown. it's a disgrace. that's it.
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john: issue four -- iran versus the u.s. --shipship? >> the president continues to be concerned about the instability of iran sbeerfering with the freedom of nave igation and the free flow of commercial -- commerce in the gulf of aden. and there are u.s. military resources in the gulf of aden to try to protect those two priorities. john: white house press secretary josh earnest is talking about the u.s.s. theodore roosevelt. it's a nimitz class aircraft carrier operated by around 6,000 sailors and marines. to get an understanding of the scailing of this ship, it serves 18,150 meals a day. the theodore roosevelt forms a heart of -- forms the heart of carrier strike group 12, which includes a cruiser, destroyers and possibly also a hunter-killer submarine, sometimes deployed to defend 9 -- the fleet. the theodore roosevelt strike group is operating off the coast of yemen, and it may be ordered to stop iranian vessels from supplying weapons to houthi rebel forces in
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yemen. the white house is refusing to rule out future action against iranian vessels. >> i'm not going to speculate about any future events that may or may not occur. but it is possible for the united states to be justifiably concerned about protecting the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in this volatile region of the world while ensuring that the arms embargo that the u.n. has put in place is one to which -- that everybody takes seriously. john: whatever president obama decides to do, the risks involved here are great. if the houthi rebels are able to defeat saudi arabia's military campaign, they may seize control of yemen. but that's not the only danger the iran's navy is taking increasingly public and aggressive stems to debtor u.s. military action -- iranian forces recently sank a mock american aircraft carrier.
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the footage was played proudly on iranian television. what did you think of that description? tom: lacrosse the iranian navy, a convoy has actually turned around and gone back to iran. reflects well on the iranian government that they want to avoid a conflict with saudi arabia. but what they will do is simply put the arms on planes and back into yemen. in reality, this is what is happening. again, the reality in the middle east is the is sectarianism between iran and saudi arabia and it's very bad because it's destabilizing across the region. john:before the saudi bombing
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campaign began, the iranians had increased daily flights between sanaa and the -- and tehran from two flights daily before the houthi coup to 28 flights daily. were these weapons shipments? pat: no, i don't think so. the former dictator brought -- brought his segment armed with $500 million worth of good american weapons, to the houthies and they took over the country but they've been stopped in aden. iran doesn't want a confrontation with the united states. the real foolish mistake is saudi arabia trying to -- starting to bomb people and to put a puppet on the throne. john:all sides are at pains to deny that there is a proxy war underway between iran and saudi arabia over yemen. are those denials credible? eleanor: it's proxy light because i don't think either side really wants to get into a full-blown confrontation and the saudis did bite off more than they could handle with the bombing campaign and the answer here is a power-sharing arrangement where the houthies
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are going to have to have some voice in government. jorvingwhy the fig leaf? why doesn't the white house explain in plain english the real racing -- mission of the u.s. s roosevelt? clarence: i was in yemen a few years ago and i said this place has the potential of being more important strategically. i think the how thies are starting to cut deals now to be able to pick up diplomacy where the old regime left off but the country now has the potential of being split once again into north and south yemen. john: what about north and south, saudi arabia reducing it to rubble?
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pat: that's also why the fleet is there. jocx predictions? eleanor: hillary in the hot seat now over campaign noin. jeb bush next. tom: hillary clinton is going to have to make a statement with records to the russians and the uranium. john: brishe prime minister cameron will eke out a victory in his may 7 re-election bid. bye bye!
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next on "newsroom" -- >> crowded, smelly, dirty. >> doesn't stick to its schedule. i'll put it that way. >> frustrated passengers and aging transit system. >> we'd love to expand service. we haven't got the money to do that, but we're trying creative things. >> making public transit work, now. good evening and welcome to kqed "newsroom." i'm thuy vu. we all know that getting around the bay area can be difficult. traffic is a mess, and public transportation isn't always easy. on tonight's show, we're going to look at what is and is not working with the bay area's biggest public transit system. in a moment, i'll talk with


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