tv Inside Story Al Jazeera September 10, 2014 5:00pm-5:31pm EDT
that's all our time for the news hour. i'm tony harris. stay tune for president obama's presidential address beginning at 9:00 p.m. eastern right here on al jazeera america. >> a new episode of the ground breaking series, >> american public opinion has shifted towards american intervention in syria and iraq in the battle against the islamic state. president obama will layout for the country and the world what that would look like. that's the inside story. >> hello, i'm ray suarez. the guerrilla army calling
itself the islamic state is trying to create a new transnational state in parts of syria and iraq. the sunni army threatens the new political system forged under american occupation, and the syrian under bashar al-assad. thithe president is about to unveil his plan for isis. today on inside story we'll talk about how you craft a strategy to respond to a brutal army that seeks to place it's own stamp on the unstable middle east. >> if the mission is to degrade isis, you have to go to syria. >> let's destroy them. >> president obama hosts a meeting with congressional leaders tuesday. the meeting was one of many this week as the president prepared to address the mission about his
plan to defeat the islamic state. president says he believes he has the short to expand a month-old air campaign against the sunni militants even into syria where the group is strongest. but he also says he would be grateful for more congressional support. >> americans don't want a lecture. they want a plan. a credible, comprehensive plan to deal with this menace that clearly wants to amen us here at home. and that is only becoming stronger by the day. >> on wednesday senate democratic leaders started working on a bill that would let the u.s. train foreign troops on the ground. it is clear that president obama is looking to build a coalition in the region, including
saudi arabia, jordan and turkey. >> i think we all know that we come here with great confidence that our global coalition will succeed in eliminating the threat from iraq, from the region, and from the world. >> secretary of state john kerry in iraq on wednesday talked about regional cooperation. >> this is a fight that the iraqi people must-win but also a fight that the rest of the world needs to win with them. it's a fight that the united states and the rest of the world need to spor--support every step of the way. >> secretary kerry is seeking saudi's support. there is a reluctance, in the time that the u.s. started striking islamic state forces the air americans have started seeing the militants as a serious threat especially after learning about the graphic behelding of two american
journalists. still americans felt that president obama was too cautious. 91% see islamic state as a serious threat. and 71% say they support airstrikes in iraq. and 65% support airstrikes in syria. how does one convince a war-weary nation that it is worn. >> the u.s. prepares its new policy for iraq, syria and the islamic state. joining us for this conversation, president of the chicago council on global affairs, and former u.s. permanent representative to nato.
douglas, strategic consulting firm and former natural security council director for iraq. and graham allison, for science and international affairs at harvard university. ambassador, take us inside the room. when the president has to hash out a strategy like this one. does he get people who disagree with each other to bring their best arguments or do we start with the goal and start the argument about how to get there? >> now, when the president starts off a process like this, he wants the people around him to start a conversation about what it is that we're trying to do, and how it is that we're tying to do it. it will will be key leaders of the cabinet agencies, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, the key intelligent heads of the c.i.a. and intelligence community often
supported by some of the aids sitting around the table, and having an intense discussion. this does not take place in a matter of minutes or even hours or even in just one meeting. you have a series of meetings that try to find out what the situation is like. what the goals are that we should be thinking about, and what the options are for dealing with it so the president and ultimately it is he alone who makes the addition to move forward. >> by the sixth year of a presidential tenure, is there bound to be much disagreement in the room? have they coalesced about the shape of the world that will make it less likely to hear contending points of view? >> that is the possibility, but it is the job of the president and natural security adviser to make certain if there is a certain coalescing of views, and
this president is very good and very eager at hearing different views. he will push peoples to make sure that the arguments that are out there, that they may privately believe but publicly are not willing to say even within the confines of this room that they are said. he will go to people who may be sitting behind the principles and ask them what they think. because he wants is the best process coming out, it's a deliberate process that takes time but he needs to feel confident that he has the best arguments and full consideration of the options that he's considering. >> doug, does a president, any president have to encourage, push the people around him to bring that discouraging word. any president is a pretty powerful person, and there must be a lot of pressure in the room
for degree with the boss? >> it depends on the situation at the time. now that we've seen the islamic state for what it is, now that we've seen the execution of these two journalists you probably do have a lot of freedom to discuss this. in the months leading up to this we had a president who made it clear that he wanted to pivot to asia, and it may have been that it was give to bring these issues to the three, four, is it 21 months ago when it might have been easier deal with. >> what are the minds here? how do they put the finishing touches on the president's speech to the nation, they have to be careful on how to figure out a way forward in this part of the world? >> well, i would say first on your earlier commends the main thing is the student of decision making that you would say about
president obama was that he was a former law professor who is very deliberative. he has this idea he needs to do a diagnosis in which he has a good enough understanding of the problem before he makes a hard choice. i think that's a worthy approach. especially where you're talking about sending americans to kill and to die. that's what we're talking about. now with respect to the minds in the choices he's making now, it's a minefield, full of mines. the fishers among the parties who are going to be part of this--i call it the coalition of the weird, that is parties who almost hate each other, or some who hate each other more than they hate isil. but isil is almost actually the enemy of everybody. the enemy of iran, assad, saudi, the enemy of baghdad. it's the enemy of the u.s. it's the enemy of civilization.
how he's going to manage to get these other parties to do something as opposed to whine, to do something, including on the ground is going to be a big part of the challenge. if you have a broken baghdad government, an american airstrike looks like it's a support of shiite who are fighting on the ground as a militia from iran. well, that's not going to work. they'll try to get a government who is more inclusive, and he's making progress. if you have a government that is not inclusive of other regimes including saudi, that's why secretary kerry will be out there, you'll have, because the government, a democratic government in baghdad will be shia dominated, it will look like again the americans have become the air force of the shiite. if you're peeling off sunni tribal groups that were the crucial part of the success for
the petraeus efforts when we had the surge you have to have the support of other sunni groups. this is an extremely delicate situation that he's in to. >> the punitive members of the coalition that might oppose isil hate each other in addition to hating isil. does that kind of force the united states to take the lead role? because it's hard to assign any one member of that let's you and him fight group to give them an assignment that is worthy of their ability to carry it out. >> i think this is one of those situations where it is absolutely crucial for the united states to be seeing and act and, in fact, being the leader of a coalition. it is a diverse coalition, a
coalition of people who are on opposite sides of many significances and who themselves are divided on those issues. take a country like turkey, on the one hand very much would like to confront isis in both syria and iraq, but 49 of their diplomats and citizens are being held by them, and they want to be careful that nothing happens to them. we want jordan and saudi arabia as part that have coalition, and we want at least the iranians and the assad regime not to stand in the way of this fight. we also frankly want, as put it, the civilization to be part of it. that's why last week secretary kerry and secretary hagel spent so much time in europe to get support from the brits and germans and others to be part of it a susan rice in china was appealing for beijing to be part of this effort. because it is an important
effort, and we want to avoid making this another american intervention, getting that coalition together is important and frankly only the united states and the president of the united states can do that. >> doug, we want to avoid having the united states being the only player, close readers of the newspapers will remember that we've been selling countries in that region military equipment for the entire post-war period. how come no one is equipped enough to take care of it themselves? >> the states who are most urgently confronted by isis are the people we want least want to be the face of the opposition. isil is most gively fighting the vill shia regimes in baghdad and even into lebanon. we don't want this to turn into
we're backing the shia sunni group. it's important to bring in these other allies. we've been sending equipment for a long time. but vanity equipment, very high technology gear that maybe of limited utility in this particular fight. >> we'll have more "inside story" after a short break. when we return we'll continue to look at the president's options as he prepares to explain to the country america's next moves against the islamic state. but it's more complicated than circling targets on a map. stay with us.
>> welcome back to "inside story" on al jazeera america. i'm ray suarez. as the president prepares to talk to the nation with the american response to the islamic state in iraq and maybe syria. we're talking about what to do, how to do it, and the potential pitfalls of committing american resources to this part of the world. professor, there are cross purposes here. building the coalition sometimes takes weeks of jet flights and talks. but there seems to be urgency. public opinion on the side and the united states is consolidating it's hold. how do you marry those two cross impulses? >> this is part of the wherein why the president has such a
hard job. you can see him aging under the stress and strain, but he's being very deliberate about it. because as the previous question you asked is a great question. who else is going to fight. we have a lot of allies in the ridge who mostly would like to call 911 and have someone else do their work for them. that includes many of the people to whom we've sold arms. the president has got to let this, and the sift has to manage an evolution in which isil does not get too far established. i bet he'll tell us tonight about the projects, a longer term project that will push them back further, but will work at the same time. the iraqis, my god, we fought for them. we gave them a country.
we armed them. we trained them. where are the iraqis to fight. they will not be able to occupy syria for how long? forever? no. unless other parties get engaged in the process there won't be long-term success here and the president is trying to manage, as you say, he's riding two horses at the same time. and there is a danger that one gets in front of the other one. >> iraq was usual patch, and the professor asked a good question, why aren't the iraqis more prepared to push back the islamic state? >> the iraqis like all of us were caught off guard by the approach of the islamic state. we'll spend a long time diagnosing what happened in the north, and why they moved so quickly. there are elements of corruption, surprise, betrayal many things could have happened up there. the bottom line we don't really
know why the iraqi army in the north collapsed the way it did. what we're seeing now though is the iraqi army performing better. now granted any army looks better when they have u.s.--not only equipment but u.s. pilots providing air support. that will make the worst of armies look a whole lot better. but they have pushed back the islamic state at mosul dam, around the sinjar mountain with the yazidis. we've had a string of small victories that we've seen over the past two or three weeks. i suspect the president will be explaining that as proof of principles as we go forward and seek to expand and essentially mass produce that type of effort in islamic state and iraq. >> you used to be in charge of corralling some of our allies. let's talk more about that liberation that deliberation
that a lot hold, and at the same time americans are repulsed by the new capture burning to the ground of towns by the islamic state. >> well, i think the way you do this is you do this in the same way you do it issued quietly from the top on down. the president making phone calls to his counterparts. he was lucky that he had to be in europe last week so he could actually meet with people one-on-one, and start making the case that this is not something that is not just important for the taws. united states, not just important to the region, but you saw the major statement in the house of comment commence that this was a threat at the throat of great britain.
you saw the germans, the same in france where there was support for the humanitarian effort, and slowly but surely you build on those successes in order to bring a coalition together. >> building a picture of what it's like and how you need to respond to it. i think you saw it last week at the end of the nato summit meeting in wales, a group of nine other countries willing to be part of the coalition, and secretary kerry is now often in the region today in iraq saudi arabia, jordan and i presume others to bring them into the fold as well to make
>> you're watching inside story on al jazeera america. i'm ray suarez. still with us, president of the chicago council on global affairs, and former u.s. permanent resident to nato. douglas sullivan. and graham allison, director for science and international affairs at harvard university. douglas rolivett does it add a level of complication to open
this conflict to syria? so far the strikes have been against islamic state assets in iraq and everybody applauded and said they were effective and saved civilians. >> in iraq the politics are hard. they're difficult. and they appear to be manageable. in syria the politics have been god-awful for the last two or three years and they have not gotten better in the last three weeks. we're in the middle of a civil war which has over tones of this larger sunni shia cold war. assad is a russian client a member of the u.n. security couple with whom we don't have particularly warm relations with right now. and just as a term of legalities while we have permission to drop the balls all we want on the islamic state, the assad regime said you can only do that in consultation with us.
we're not willing to do that. there are issues in terms of bombing in syria over what legal authority do we do that since assad has not given us permission to drop it on his sovereign soil and it does not look like the russians will allow it to happen during the security council. >> will it hold up action in the islamic state in syria? >> we have to see. clearly these are the kinds of issues that president and senior advisers have been struggling with for many years, if not longer. the legality issue in and of itself is why the intervention has not happened until this time. there are many issues on the table. that's why a deliberate president has been taking his timing to through them. as said, this is a different kettle of fish in sir an syria
than what we've been doing in iraq over the last several days. >> in congress reaction has been luke warm at best. does the president needs cover from congress? does he risk an open fight with congress about authorizing military action? >> i suspect that he will be able to act on the authorities that he has. the world will be a better place if he got congressional authorization for this. but in washington getting agreement between the two houses and the president on the time of day is not possible. so i suspect after he goes around he'll be--he'll settle for buy in as he mentioned. i think the difficulty for that is one of the american people are currently enthusiastic about somebody doing something to prevent the beheading of journalists. they have no no stomach for a
long war. they have no stomach for sticking with a difficult conflict, and it needs to be more and more, including special forces on the ground, i suspect enthusiasm for that will fade away. he's dealing with a difficult problem not only in iraq, but also in congress. i think in syria just a quick ward word, the problem on the ground. if we bomb targets on the ground the question is who takes that space. you have 1500 different groups fighting each other, including the two ones that fight the most are the al-qaeda affiliate and assad, neither of whom we're enthusiastic about. >> are we looking at a long american involvement here, and as the professo professor suggests, do we have to worry about a war. >> you never know where it's going to take you, and as a
corollary we don't know where public opinion is going. we'll hear congress screaming where is the plan, where has been the plan. i have not heard a congressional member screaming please let us vote on this. >> this brings us to the end of this edition of inside story. professors, thank you all. the program may be over, but the conversation continues. we want to hear what you think about the issues raised on this or any day's program. log on to our facebook page. follow us on twitter. join us for the next inside story. i'm ray suarez in washington. >> coming up on al jazeera america. president obama said the united states and it's allies must dismantle and destroy the islamic state group. we'll have a preview. also, an american who says he nearly became one of the werners
who joined militant jihad di groupdist groups. we'll also look at the new apple pay system and whether it lives up to the company's security claims. that and more tonight at 6:00. finches ja this is techknow, a show about innovations that can change lives. we're going to explore the intersection of hardware and humanity and we're doing it in a unique way. this is a show about science by scientists. let's check out our nerds. dr shini somara is an engineer. tonight cars learning to communicate with each other. can cars equipped with electronic smarts reduce accidents and increase safety. we hit the streets and road test