tv Fareed Zakaria GPS CNN September 8, 2013 10:00am-11:01am PDT
anderson cooper will make its debut. find us on itunes, just search state of the union. fareed zakari gps is next for our viewers here in the united states. this is "gps," the global public square. welcome to you in the united states and around the world. i'm fareed zakaria. we're going to get you one step ahead on understanding the crisis in syria. we have put together our own war room, a national security council of senior officials from recent administrations that is assembled and ready to take us through the path ahead for president obama. we have general wesley clark, james steinberg, paul wolfowitz, and nicholas burns. then, a critical question. can president obama take action without congress? should he have even asked it or did he weaken the powers of his office? we have a lively debate.
and is syria libya all over again? is assad another gadhafi? i'll talk to the man who was critical in convincing the world to get rid of the dictator. but first, here's my take. from the start of the syrian conflict, president obama has wanted to take two very different approaches to it. on the one hand he's been disciplined about the definition of american interests and the use of force. on the other hand, he has sought a way to respond to assad's atrocities. the tension between these two paths as the administration prepares the ground for a strike. two years ago president obama said that assad had to go. a year ago he announced that the use of chemical weapons was a red line. for a while it was possible to keep this juggling act going, talking tough while doing little.
but presidential rhetoric creates expectations and as i wrote last june, eventually the contradictions in u.s. policy will emerge and the obama administration will face calls for further escalation. the recent horrific chemical weapons attacks has been the proximate cause but there would have been others. as a result, we might be inching into a complex civil war while all the while denying that we are doing so. just as obama's past rhetoric has pushed america more deeply in the struggle to win congressional support are already producing mission creed. at a meeting with house leaders, the president spoke explicitly about a limited strike that would send a clear message. that same day, his secretary of state had to assure hawkish members of the foreign relations committee that, quote, this is not sending a message per se, implying that the strikes would be much more substantial.
republicans like john mccain have indicated that they have been given more detailed assurances of a much more intense intervention. the administration may want to keep it proportional and limited as obama initially promised but it would be a challenge in selling the case to congress. secretary kerry and his colleagues have described what is at stake and they have done it in terms of vital national interest, the core credibility of the united states. it is a munich moment says john kerry. but in that case, how can american policy and response simply be a stiff warning, a shot across the bow, in the president's words? the reality is the u.s. has now put its credibility on the line. they will find it extremely difficult to keep its actions limited in a volatile situation. and were it to succeed in ousting assad, it would be implicated in the next phase of this war which would certainly be chaos and perhaps of other
minorities has happened in iraq. and as in iraq, if we break it, we buy it. for more on this, go to cnn.com/fareed. you can read my "time" column this week. let's get started. ♪ in the coming days and weeks, the white house faces two tasks. first, it has to convince the american public and its proxy, the united states congress that striking is the right thing to do. and then if successful, the u.s. and the military need to carry out those strikes. and in the goldilocks fashion, not too hot, not too cold. how will they do this? we have decided to impanel our own shadow national security council meeting, former sides of
both sides of the aisle to offer their advice. in the role of the military brass is general wesley clark, the former supreme allied commander in europe. nicolas burns is representing the state department and is now at the school of harvard and ended a life as the undersecretary of state for political affairs. sitting in the pentagon leadership seat is paul wolfowitz, the former secretary of defense. he is now at aei. and james steinberg will play our national security role. he was deputy national security adviser to president clinton and the obama first term. he's now the dean of the maxwell school at syracuse university. welcome to all of you. jim, imagine the national security council meeting after let's say you get congressional approval. what would be the thing that you would want to see decided at that point? >> i think the most important thing to decide is what is our
objective? what do we want to achieve? what is success? i think by defining our objective we can then develop the strategy both on the military and the political side at home and internationally. >> paul, what would success look like? how would we know if we achieved it? >> i think as jim says you have to decide what your strategy is and i think you're not going to achieve success with just the military strike. i think that ought to also be clear so the question is, what comes afterwards and i believe what is essential is we provide serious support for the free syrian army. unless the balance of force has changed in syria, this thing is going to continue and continue with very bad consequences. >> nicolas burns, when you look at this issue and what i'm struck by an old department hand, the united states would be going to war without the approval of the u.n. security council.
how big of an issue would that be for diplomats for the united states? >> i think the united states has every reason and right to act here because what secretary kerry would say at your virtual table would be this, the united states has to preserve its credibility for the world. the security council is frozen because of the cynical policies of russia and china. we then have to enforce international law on the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons. that's what the state department i think would say first. i also agree with paul that we ought to be looking second, post-strike on how to strengthen our support for the forces and push back against the iran hezbollah access and, third, i think the state department would say, is there a diplomatic play available if we succeed in weakening assad and deterring future use of chemical weapons, can we go back to the table working with the europeans with the arab countries and maybe with the russians and iranians to try to work towards a cease fire? that would be the rational strategy for the united states.
>> all right. so that's the sort of goal, the direction that we want to go in. wes clark, you're now the man in the hot seat. what would you recommend? you ran the operations in bosnia and kosovo. i'm sorry. bosnia. what would you recommend the nature of the military operation be in this case? >> well, i've got to go back to what jim says. what's the objective? and before i go into the military, just one thing is, everybody's always -- seems to be eager to press the military button. but i wonder if there's not an additional diplomatic play once you get the united states congress on board because what we really want to do in terms of our objective is not just make the strike. we want to bring the nations of the world together to say, this can't be done. you cannot use chemical weapons. if you can use the leverage of the congressional resolutions to reopen that before there's even a strike, that's the best of all
possible worlds. i see where china has said they are with russia, they don't want to do a strike. well, good, do something about it. let's have some diplomacy in the region. if we go to strike, we know how to put the packet together. we're going to pick out targets that are minimized and easy to access, targets that will make a difference to the assad regime and we're going to also have to work the process of delivery. so maybe we'll take out some radars, some air defense sites on the way going in. but what we are going to also need to do is we're going to need to assure that there's freedom of action for the u.s. navy in the region. we're going to have to set up some kind of navy inclusion zone and ask our friends to stay out of the way so they don't get hit by a cruise missile and by the way it has to be under the sea and in the air and around the surface around our fleet.
so there's a lot of diplomacy associated with this. so we're in -- from the military perspective, we're in no rush to strike. we know what the package is. we've got adequate targets, four, five, six days, reassess, go in if necessary. we will make a powerful statement. it will be a goldilocks kind of a strike. just right. not too much, not too light. they won't be able to say it didn't hurt if we do it. they won't be able to say it destroyed the country if we do it. >> i already see some difference between the civilian and military leadership at the pentagon. >> never happens. >> this is not to be unprecedented. paul wolfowitz, do you believe the chairman should be bringing up these policies or just present a war plan? >> look, they always have their views and they always express them and that's fine. i'm always in favor of finding a diplomatic solution here but you're not going to find any solution that focuses solely on chemical weapons.
the issue is, how do you end this civil war peacefully and is it possible? i don't believe it's possible with assad in power. but it may be possible if we have leverage but so far we've not even provided gas masks to the free syrian army. if we want leverage and want to have influence over the final outcome, whatever that turns out to be in syria, we need allies on the ground in syria because we've made it clear we're not putting americans on the ground in syria. the only allies that would be important to us is the allies of the free syrian army. as every officer or general will tell you, the enemy gets to vote. so when we come back, we're going to ask what happens after the strikes? how will syria respond and how should the united states prepare for that when we come back. weekdays are for rising to the challenge.
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what do you expect them to do? hunker down or retaliate in some way? >> i think the greater likelihood is they will hunker down. if they try to retaliate, they may try to retaliate with some anti-ship missile with some force out in the mediterranean. obviously the air defense is going to try to shoot back at anything they've got a target on. >> james steinberg, if they do hunker down, part of the problem for the united states and the coalition operations is how do you know whether you've won? how do you -- what yardstick do you use at that point? let's say we're three days into this operation and we decide that's just enough and stop? >> well, i think you have to go into the operation first with a military objective, which is to decide what capabilities of his you want to damage or destroy and to have your own benchmark about what is the level of harm that you've inflicted or effectiveness that you've imposed on him.
again, it has to be in the broader strategy. what you don't want to see happen is him dust himself off, take the blow, and carry on as if nothing has happened. you have to think not only about the first strike but then how do you posture yourself so that at the end he rides it out. >> you want to arm the rebels because you want to divisively shift the balance of power. what do you say to those people within the u.s. military who say, look, we've been trying to find these rebels, hundreds if not more militias, some of them are radical allied with al qaeda. others are not. in any event, this is much more difficult to do and don't pin your hopes on this. >> fareed, we had a lot more options two years ago. the opposition has become more radicalized because we've sat on our hands.
i would -- i don't believe we've tried very hard to do anything for the people that are identified as moderates, the free syrian army. face it, we don't want to send in american troops. you've got hezbollah fighters, assad fighters, you've got al qaeda fighters. the only people who might promise something better are the free syrian army and we should be supplying them with both lethal and nonlethal weapons and i -- one thing that is very confused in the strategy now, sometimes the president seems to say we're not aiming to shift the balance of forces in syria. sometimes he talks to senator mccain and senator graham and says we are. i think it is essential that we do so. i tend to agree assad has got enough on his hands without retaliating but he is certainly going to step up the pressure on the opposition to demonstrate that he's not defeated and may even claim he's the victor from our strikes. it's important to make clear he's not. >> wes clark, could you arm and train these rebels, given what you know about them?
>> i think there's an army and training program going on. some can be but i think -- and again, i'm not trying to -- let me step out of the chairman of the jcs for a moment. if they are going to be successful, they are going to have to occupy some piece of ground inside syria and claim it as their own. that's the way movements like this succeed. bosnia would never have happened if it simply would have been in paris saying, please kick the serbs out of bosnia. and what happened in kosovo happened because people were on the ground and there was a strong political force associated with the fighters. so the free syrian army has to have some politics behind it and it has to have some territory. can people be trained to fight? of course they can be trained to fight. can it be done overnight? no, it takes months to build a chain of command, to rehearse, to prepare these people, to
equip them. that's what's been going on. but what we really are after is what paul says. you've got to have the political diplomatic impact of this and to do that you've got to have somebody on the other side of the table from assad. >> but you raise an important point, which is that the free syrian army does not seem to control much territory at this point. i think i saw a report that said syria's 14 major cities it doesn't control any. nicholas burns, let me ask you about the intriguing prospect you raise, which is, let's say this operation takes place, it has some success. you want to then use that to try to build on it and get some kind of negotiated settlement, a political settlement. how would you do this and do you think the russians will play ball? >> well, the united states has to find a way to unite the use of force with a follow on diplomatic strategy and sometimes they can reinforce each other as they did in bosnia and kosovo very successfully under president clinton's leadership.
and that implies that a strike is significant enough to deter assad and senator mccain has been making that very good point. if that's the case, if assad can be effectively intimidated, there might be a possibility for the united states then to launch another diplomatic effort under secretary kerry to see if we can work with a very cynical russian government to bring about a cease fire. there's a humanitarian catastrophe under way in syria and they need relief from that. but let's become even more ambitious. is there a way to bring iran in those talks on the nuclear issue and that is, have direct conversations with them and try to begin a way to work with this very new iranian government, test them to see if they are willing to adopt some kind -- a more pragmatic policy themselves in syria. there are lots of opportunities but it all starts with the effective use of military power
so it has to be significant enough in a strike capacity. >> all right. james steinberg, we're going to have to go but if you were running this national security council meeting, any decisions you need taken that were not taken? any last thoughts? >> i do think that one of the critical decisions we have to make is what do we need to be prepared for in terms of retaliation? it's not just the syrian military. we have to think about hezbollah and others who will be tempted to try to use this and to harm american interests to go after american civilians. so we need to make sure we have a good posture worldwide to protect americans and then to reinforce nick's point, we have to have a full-court press afterwards when all is said and done, assad is not able to carry on with his efforts as if the strike had never happened. >> gentlemen, thank you. very, very, interesting successful meeting. up next, what in the world?
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now for a what in the world segment. conservatives often describe president obama as a socialist. according to these critics, the president's goal is something called swedenization, sky-high taxes and bloated government and ruinous welfare policies. well, the president should have taken some of these conservatives with him to sweden this week. they would have found a country very different from their imagination and from the socialist sweden of the past. you know how conservatives hate death taxes? guess which country has no inheritance tax? sweden. sweden is characterized by very free markets, freer and less regulated than the united states in many sectors, it does have high income taxes but it uses these to fund things like health care and pensions that are far more efficiently run than their
counterparts in america. sweden tends to be near the top of most rankings on quality of life and competitiveness but the old image of sweden has some truth to it. 20 years ago, in 1995, sweden had the largest government in europe as a share of the economy. about 65% of its gdp was government spending. since then, sweden has been reforming, opening up its economy and becoming market friendly and efficient. by 2012, government spending had fallen by a fifth. sweden is now in sixth place behind even france. another outdated notion is that the swedish model of generous health care and affordable education would run up enormous budget deficits. in fact, while america's deficit is 5.7 of gdp, sweden is 0.5% of gdp.
or consider labor markets while the u.s. bailed out general motors and chrysler, sweden did exactly the opposite. the iconic saab was allowed to go bankrupt. volvo was acquired by the chinese. it turns out that the socialist sweden is not as crazy as the right would have to believe. the changes in the last two decades reveal a swedish government and people who are very pragmatic and adaptable. when prime minister fredrik reinfeldt came to power as part of a center right coalition in 2006, he moved to cut corporate taxes so the swedish companies now pay lower tax rates than american ones and the downsizing of government is part of a regional trend in neighboring norway the leader expected to win next week's elections is a conservative running on a campaign to cut taxes. slowly but surely scandinavian countries are moving away from big government to smart government.
despite the tax cuts and recent moves to the right, scandinavian countries are big spenders but increasingly effective spenders. so sweden may have been a last-minute addition on obama's schedule but that doesn't mean that there are important lessons to learn there. they have picked the best of right and left in some cases. it's time we redefine the word swedenization. up next, more on syria. did the president of the united states really need to go to congress to authorize a strike? it's a fascinating but murky question and we have the debate for you. when the world called for speed... ♪ ...when the world called for stealth... ♪ ...intelligence... endurance... affordability... adaptability...
hello. i'm frederica witnericka whitfi look at your stop stories. john kerry is revealing why they showed congress an extremely gruesome video. we must warn you, this is graphic and appears to show people dying from the gas attack. cnn was the first to obtain the clips of the victims. men, women, children, all seen
c con vul sink on the ground. >> those videos make it clear to people that these are real human beings, real children, parents being faegaffected in ways unacceptable to anyone anywhere by any standards and it is the united states of america that has always stood with others to say we will not allow this, this not our values. this is not who we are. >> tomorrow president obama will give one-on-one interviews with cnn's wolf blitzer and several other network anchors and then on tuesday, the president lays out his case on syria in a prime time address to the nation. we've learned that speech will be delivered at 9:00 p.m. eastern. and tens of thousands are gat gathering in vatican city to pray for peace and are
petitioning the u.s. government to vote against military action. coming up at 2:00, we'll talk with our vatican analyst about how the pontiff is addressing the crisis. gps continues right now. what are you powers of the united states? does president obama have the power to order strikes against another nation without consulting congress? did president obama weaken executive powers by actually consulting with congress on syrian strikes? these questions have been swirling around and i wanted to get to the bottom of them. joining me now, jeffrey toobin is, of course, cnn's senior legal analyst and a staff writer at "the new yorker" and steven groves runs the freedom project at the heritage foundation. welcome. jeff, let me start with you. does the president, in your opinion, have the legal authority to essentially wage war against another country without consulting with congress?
>> not in these circumstances. i think he's required to go to congress or the united nations or nato or acquire some sort of legal justification for what he's doing other than he thinks it's a good idea there. there is no direct threat to american nationals or national securities here, national security. and i think he needs some sort of authorization as it seems to me every president has had since world war ii, which is the last time we actually had a formal congressional declaration of war. >> but expand on that, jeffrey, for a second. i can think of so many strikes when clinton ordered strikes against al qaeda, against saddam hussein. he didn't even notify congress until it happened. >> well, i think you can draw distinctions among all of those situations. with clinton it was self-defense. it was al qaeda which had attacked american embassies and american ships.
with grenada it was defense of american civilians in grenada and if you look at the other circumstances where war was planned in advance, i think there was authorization. whether it was through congress in the two iraq wars or through nato as in bosnia or through the united nations in libya a few months ago. i think presidents both for the legal -- the legitimacy of their own tenure and also for their own political good, there has to be some sort of justification other than they think that it's just a good idea. >> steven, what do you think? >> fareed, i fall on the other side of the spectrum. the commander in chief power is in our executive and putting aside for a moment whether or not strikes on syria would be a prudent thing to do, i believe that the president does have the
authority to have such strikes without going to congress, without going to the united nations, without going to anyone else. there could be political and diplomatic ramifications for doing so but the authority is there and it must rest there. now, congress has checks on that ability. they can decide not to declare war, they can decide not to fund a war but the ability for the executive to have the power to act quickly, to secure our national interests, to defend ourselves and in the case of syria, if strikes are done, to eradicate the ability to fire off chemical weapons is something that the executive power has to have without seeking authority from some other source. >> do you think, steven, that he has weakened presidential power by setting the precedent that seems to suggest that he needs to go to congress? >> i think this is -- as mr. toobin said, each incident is different. in this particular instance, i think it is a bad precedent. if his goal is to neutralize the
ability to make chemical strikes, we have telegraphed our strategy, our tactics to assad. and we're going to congress. we've stretched out the period of time that assad has to thwart those plans and then by going to congress, congress is trying to legislate this war, which is a bad idea. the current resolution being debated in the senate says something about no boots on the ground. well, you can't restrict a president's power, the commander in chief's power once we go to war. we have to have all options available. >> jeff, you made a distinction i want to understand a little better. you were talking about either congressional authority or something from the u.n. but the constitution doesn't have -- say anything about the u.n. authorization. presumably the crucial thing from a constitutional point of view is whether or not you need congressional authorization for the president to act. why would the u.n. or nato be sufficient? >> fareed, i don't want to
pretend that i think if you look at the history of the last 30 years there is a perfectly logically consistent line here. i mean, i am advocating a position that i think largely should be followed, has mostly been followed but i don't want to pretend that this is some wild aberration if obama would have done it on his own. i think this has really been a practical change to how both americans and even members of congress feel about the use of military force that the sanctions of our treaty obligations, whether it's our obligations in the united nations or in nato in the case of bosnia, those are authorizations in and of themselves for military action. the fact that we are part of the security council and when the security council authorizes a military action, that's authorization for us.
same with nato. you're right. that is not formally part of the constitution but i think as part of the common law of the international law has developed the past 30 years, i think they are legitimate substitutes for congressional authorization. but remember, obama has nothing so far and that's why i think it's important that he get some sort of authorization. >> final thought from you, steven? >> there are times when it makes sense for the president to go to congress, particularly when there's going to be unanimity in congress on this syria resolution where there is going to be steep splits in both houses and we will not present any type of united front is really fraught with danger. >> if i could just respond, i
think that's the time precisely when you should go to congress because going to war is such a great step that you need authorization when the country is divided about it. >> we're going to keep debating this and come back to it. jeff, steve, thank you. up next, the philosopher bernard-henri levy on france and syria and much more. ! ,
as the united states deliberates whether to strike syria, i wanted to get the perspective of a frenchman who has been arguing for intervention since the start. bernard-henri levy was instrumental in getting the world to react with libya. he wrote an article called "after gadhafi, assad." explain this particularly with the president sarkozy, we talked about france as being unusually supportive of america, sarkozy was called in france often the american, the neoconservative but along this traditional french socialist, people who have been very suspicious of america and american power.
>> yeah. but what people don't always know is that there is such a strong link between france and america in general, beyond the political borders. hollande is in the same position as sarkozy regarding the alliance. if you look well, there was many problems between france at the time and in the critical periods, he was always on the side of america. this is not new. >> when general pershing arrived in world war i, american forces arrived, as they got off, he said, lafayette, we are back. >> absolutely. in world war ii he liberated us -- we liberated you once and you liberated us twice. and now what i see and i'm happy
of that is obama hand in hand in this terrible situation in syria. >> but the public in europe seems very suspicious of this. how would you describe the public in france? >> it is improving. a few days ago, you were right. i think the wise obama decision to speak to the congress, to deliver the proof to put evidence on the line and so on, all of this created the real progress everywhere, even in france. people are realizing, are understanding in france that it is a matter of human rights and a matter of collective security. people are understanding that if we don't act in syria, will we lose any credibility if we have to act one day but north korea or iran, this argument which is one of the main argument for the
obama administration, has a real weight in france, too. >> one of the reasons i was supportive of the intervention in libya is it struck me there were many forces that were pr la-z-boy. >> in syria, do you worry that so many of the forces seem to be quite sectarian, quite violent? because the regime was very sectarian. it radicalized its opposition. remember hammad? there is a radicalization of the opposition that makes me worry who are these people? and then you see the violence that they, the opposition, is able to perpetrate. >> of course. there is a radicalization of the opposition. that's true undeniable. but on the other side, on bashar al assad, everybody seems to forget the allies of the bashar al assad are the ayatollahs of
iran who are not as far as i know in the race and hezbollah who are the best worriers of bashar al assad. h hezbollah. and until a few months, hamas, which was sheltered, the political headquarters of hamas was in damascus. you are already slamming the two sides. but what i believe and what has been proven, if the west, if tomorrow the congress and as i hope president obama, as the congress endorse, if obama is alone to strike, you will see how the landscape in the opposition will move. if obama does not strike the radical islamists will take the lead. if the west appears to be on the good side, the side of the
people, the radical islamists will lose ground in the opposition. it is always like this. when the west takes the lead, the pro west take advantage. when the west is newly spirit, the radical islamists take credit for the fall. they take credit for the revolution, as egypt, with the muslim brothers and it is bad for everybody. that's one of the other reasons why it was so important for the international community, for america, for france, to build this strike alliance with some arab countries and so on. >> do you -- do you believe what happened in egypt with the generals taking control is a good thing or a bad thing? >> it's bad thing because the way it has been done.
because the brutality of the coup, because the bloodbath. you cannot pretend to restore democracy when you do it this way. the good thing is -- but even without the coup, that the muslim brother have tried to exact power and they proved to be bad, corrupt, unable. this is good news. in egypt, coup or not coup, they are terribly, in a good sense, weakened. if there is elections as the military promised in the next month, you will see, the result will be very different from the last time. >> always a pleasure to have you on. >> thank you, fareed. >> up next, why the best weapon to fight the taliban might be a bus. i will explain. e the o take carf business.
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nation by land mass. that brings me to my question of the week. who was the first sitting american president to visit russia? stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer. go to cnn doth k.com/fareed forf the gps challenge. lots of insight and analysis. you can follow us on twitter and facebook. also, remember, you can go to itunes/fareed if you ever pleas a show or special. this week's book of the week is a terrific history of electricity and electric lightning the u.s., called "the age of edison", bayern nest freeburg. today, we take it for granted that we can flip on a light switch and it will come on. it transformed life in the west and everywhere. now, for the last look. the americans and their
international allies have not been able to defeat the taliban with vehicles like this. are we to believe the pakistanis can deal a death blow to the taliban with a bus? that's the hope. how? this isn't just a bus. if you step inside, you see it's a mobile courtroom, meant to help with the huge backlog of cases in pakistan's legal system. that huge delay in cases being heard has brought great frustration with the government. here in the northwest of pakistan, that often means turning to the taliban to judge disputes. the idea here is that the bus and its express route to justice will marginalize the taliban and build up confidence in the democratic government. next stop might be kabul. that's not the plan but it might be a good idea. the afghan capital is less than 200 miles away from pashar,
where the taliban is and they could use some help as well. the answer was c., richard nixon historically known for his first visit to china but the first sitting president to visit russia in may of 1972. nixon traveled there before as vice president in 1959, when he took part in the infamous kitchen debate with soviet premier kushof. hello, everyone. i'm fredericka whitfield. a look at these top stories this hour. top administration officials release the motivation behind the images of the disturbing attack in syria and why they're convinced the tapes are authentic. u.s. secretary of state john kerry meets with arab ministers