tv Washington Journal James Antle CSPAN October 15, 2019 9:30pm-10:03pm EDT
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information today. james ansell, the editor of the american conservative is here to talk about the president's syria decision. what was your reaction? mr. antle: i agree with the president, i don't think it is in u.s. interest to be in syria. i think the military objectives that were achievable, destroying the caliphate of isis have been achieved and that in the long term it serves our national security interests. buffer -- turkey remains a nato ally you and the character of the turkish regime has changed since the cold war days. the kurds, that was not something politically achievable for us. the devil is in the details and the implementation of this was done very quickly, very chaotically, and in a way that
maximized the likelihood that the turks would move in and attempt to annex this kurdish territory. the current spot with us against isis, they are not a treaty ally -- the kurds fought with us against isis, they are not a treaty ally. they were seeking territory and security from isis. it was an important fight for us, we regard isis as a threat to the united states national security that wanted to deal them a serious blow. they were growing and gaining in territory. ofiously the trustworthiness the u.s. with prospective allies takes a bit of a hit. doesn't present us with any really clear-cut solutions. reinserting the troops is what someone like to do. i think it would be a disaster. that does not mitigate the fact
that there are bad things going on in that area. host: why would it be a disaster? mr. antle: now you have fighting going on. do you want to have u.s. troops fighting who are technically a nato ally? our presence there -- host: let's be clear. fighting a nato ally. fightld be joining a where syrian forces backed by the sheer all aside are fighting turkey and we would then be on that sidedly join now. mr. antle: that is one of the reasons i think our involvement in syria was so wrong. there are a lot of people who wanted us to be involved in the syrian civil war writing against multiple sides -- fighting against multiple sides. this is not a clear-cut case of good guys or bad guys. thiserting the troops at point, their presence for a
while made it too high a price for turkey to do the things they were doing. we were certainly deterring turkish action by the decision to move the troops. having moved to the troops and the turks having gone and it is completely different. host: what does the president's decision say to our allies? a --uture conflict where should they trust the united states with this president? mr. antle: this is not an anomaly for the kurds. a very badave had experience at the end of the persian gulf war under president bush -- the first president bush. rightk president bush was to not move on to baghdad. the kurds had national aspirations that they hoped our military intervention would advance. the same was true with our military intervention against isis.
in syria a lot of people who have worked with the u.s. have come away with this kind of experience. it is a very transactional relationship. that is the criticism that is frequently made of this president's handling of foreign policy more generally is that he is very transactional and he refuses -- host: we are talking about the president's decision to withdraw troops from syria. your reaction, comments and questions. republicans (202) 748-8001. democrats (202) 748-8000. .ndependents (202) 748-8002 you can also text us if you put your first name, city and state. (202) 748-8003. we are talking with the editor of the american conservative about the present upon decision -- president's decision in
syria. we will go to marry in las vegas, a democratic caller. good morning. caller: good morning. i have been sickened by what is happening to the kurds and now we will probably have to airlift our men at of syria and that hasn't happened since saigon. unilaterally -- everyone is in acting this or that with no authority or no credentials. ivanka and jared -- jared, they could not pass security clearance, they are out there making money. she went to china to get voting machines, that is scary to me. it comes back with trademarks. we have a make a buck president in office. i am concerned about william barr. he misled the american people and ahe mueller report
lot of people have not bothered to read the executive summary of that report. host: let's stick to the topic. mr. antle: there is a lot there. things toe of the watch with regard to the syria decision, congress never authorized this intervention in the first place. now they want to weigh in after the fact, they could have always -- this clearly complicates president trump's relation with senate republicans. this is happening with the backdrop of an impeachment inquiry where his relation with senate republicans is very important. there is a high likelihood that the house will vote to impeach therefore that would kick it over to republican-controlled for theor a trial president to actually be convicted and removed from office you need 20 republicans to vote to do that.
with the current senate numbers that seems like a heavy lift and unlikely to happen. have situations like this where there is such a strong disagreement between senate republicans and the president vice president pence is much more ally with senate republicans on this issue and foreign policy more generally than the current president is. does that move the needle on impeachment? maybe with a timeline that this will be so far in the past by the time they are voting it won't but you have to raise the question. host: lisa in kentucky, democratic caller. caller: thank you for c-span. can you explain to me why we that helped usrs fight against isis on the field to die? that heyou explain takes troops and sends them to of allrabia to back mbs people, you have to be kidding me. explain that to me. host: let's let him respond.
mr. antle: having the 2000 troops go to saudi arabia certainly complicates the president's message that this is about and the endless wars and shrinking our footprint in the middle east. there has been bipartisan criticism of how the president has handled u.s. relations with saudi arabia particularly following the khashoggi murder. the president has been reluctant to criticize the saudi government. even though it is the conclusion of those who looked into this that the government was at a minimum complicit if not responsible for the murder. syria, the to initial mission was the destruction of the physical caliphate. the original mission was not to support an independent kurdistan in syria. that does not mean the conditions of the u.s.
withdrawal had to be done in a way that maximize the likelihood of kurdish casualties. it did not have to be done in a way that had these optics. --is unlikely that end are under any circumstances it would happen cleanly or without negative consequence is. that is why you have to hesitate to intervene in these situations in general. when you do there are often no good solutions. it did not have to be done in this way with this timeline. there could have been a beginning of setting better conditions for withdrawal in april and may of this year. which countries benefit from the united states reducing our footprint in the middle east? > a lot of people argue this will create a vacuum others will fill. i think the likelihood is that if others try to fill this with less economic means they will find the same level of imperial overstretch that we did.
the soviet union did not benefit very much from its involvement in afghanistan. our involvement in afghanistan has reached a point of vastly diminishing returns. certainly because the president has been criticized a great deal on russia. everything from the election interference campaign to the perception that he is too close to putin in general. that is a criticism that he will hear. clearly the president has attempted to position us against iran in the region. pro-saudi andmore anti-iranian line within the middle east. critics are going to say that other bad actors are going to fill this void. i think it is pretty clear that involvement in the middle east to the extent we have been has spent down political and military capital rather than building it. host: lynn, independent color. your question or comment?
caller: thank you for taking my call and thank you for c-span. as a conservative conservative how to you now, given the way this whole situation has devolved, recommended that the u.s. maintain its integrity and move forward? mr. antle: clearly the united states is going to have to use other leverage point it has with turkey to try to deter turkish behavior in the region against the kurds and do what they can do to minimize kurdish bloodshed which i think are options that are limited but not nonexistence. prevent isis captives from being unleashed all over the place which is a real security interest in the u.s. and a security interest of the region. things that cannot be undone, the question is what can you do
moving forward? in general, removing our troops from this region where they are only going to invite future problems and escalation of the conflict and fighting on behalf of other compromised political factions in the region i think that is a bit objective. i don't know if it was well served by the way the president did this by coupling it with what is going on in saudi arabia optics look athe lot more like saigon that president obama's 2011 drawdown in iraq. chris from paterson, new jersey, republican. i'm calling on the republican line but i am more of an independent. i'm voting most likely for sanders or tall see gabbard because of their anti-interventionist rhetoric.
this entire conflict as a whole has been misreported. this is not a withdrawal. i believe the department of defense reported it as a restructuring of the forces there. though they are abandoning the kurds in northern syria this territory was seized at the end of the syrian war by those when the territory was sovereign syrian territory. as you can see now because of u.s. forces leaving to allow the turkish to enter in to the northern areas they are making a pact, the kurds are with the syrian government. which tells me this is less of the on a whim that people describe it as. trump just decided this on a whim, and more a planned
calculation. as the u.s. forces were leaving the northern area, not wanting to alienate a nato member which we have a large airbase in in turkey, you see them making a pact with syria. what is not being reported is syria has the same military that has fought off isis forces and the majority of the territory. the kurds are making a pact with them. u.s. forces are at this very moment trying to block the syrian military from coming to the aid of the kurds, which would only allow the turks to capture the territory the kurds now hold and carry out an ethnic cleansing. we need to facilitate the alignment of the syrian military and the kurds and not continue to have them at war with each other. it doesn't benefit anyone in the
region and only hurts the kurds. there was a lot of advocacy dating back to the obama administration of the idea we should get involved in syria and simultaneously work against and ite assad regime does not seem possible to do. host: should the white house extend an invitation to the turkish president? that was something that was reported would happen soon. do you think it should happen? erdogane: i don't think should go to the white house under the circumstances. i do think that obviously a lot of communication in back channels and between the u.s. and turkish president need to happen and a turkey need to be itsuaded from its current -- would compound the sending of the long -- wrong message to be an honored guest at this juncture. host: manchester township, new
jersey. joan, independent. forer: thank you, c-span taking my call. , to theion is republican senate -- do the republican senators foresee what is going to happen with isis and how they escaped and what are we going to do at this point as far as airports and security for large cities of the usa? host: let's take that. her point being what can lawmakers do on capitol hill to ensure that these isis fighters do not make their way into the united states. part ite: for the most is unlikely these individual fighters will make it here. the real problem you have is if isis gains in strength that it might have some capacity to begin engaging and that kind of
planning and carrying those things out again. for that it is better to be strengthening airport security, strengthening border security, strengthening security of the u.s. physical homeland rather than trying to police outcomes in faraway countries. andainly it is a concern most senate republicans do not agree with the president's decision. host: we are talking with the editor of the american conservative about policy in syria. " we are involved in the syrian war, our presence israel otherwise we would not have had to remove troops. we have lied to the kurds since 1990 the one when we look -- 1991 when we left them to suffer gas attacks from saddam after kuwait. we are lucy pulling the ball on charlie brown." on the republican line, go ahead. that having all
of our troops all over the world is centuries now it seems just ridiculous. out any troops that we can from whatever country it is that we are protecting their borders, constantly putting our troops at harm, put an end to it all. we have treaties with japan and other countries where if someone attacks them we are forced to protect them. it is just ridiculous. everybody can't claim the president did this on a when. it takes months to plan this out. it was not just one day sitting down and saying " i am going to pull troops out of syria today." host: do you believe that it did
happen that way? certainly the president has wanted to do some version of this for quite some time. i don't think the national security professionals who are constitutionally subordinate to him are blameless. he has called for withdrawals in the past and instead of presenting options there has frequently been a lot of foot dragging. the president is not blameless because some of these are political appointees who serve at the pleasure of the president and he has chosen people like john bolton who don't actually agree with his underlying foreign-policy views. in his business experience it did not really matter whether you agreed with the boss's opinions, your job is to carry it out. it is not like that a government. having people aligned with you on your team is important if you want these goals to be implemented successfully.
there were some planning and proposals before hand but it is very clear that the exact circumstances of what is happening now, this is sort of a self-inflicted crisis. host: from illinois, independent. this looks more like a diversion to make. is in a lot of heat and all of a sudden he says he is going to pull troops and here we are talking about it. every day it's a different story. it's a diversion. what is going on is we have a president that is not getting paid, we have questioner that is not getting paid and they are doing something subtle behind the scenes. we have a lot of assets after world war ii. germany,apan, half of a lot of assets around the world. we have 12 carrier fleets. , our assetsg on now and our fleets they want to go
down to five fleets. -- what is going on? i believe they are selling us out and they are getting found out about it and here we are talking about moving troops around. mr. antle: i think it was meghan mccain who called it a form of way the dog. the dog. certainly with the impeachment going on that is a criticism that will be raised. i would argue given senate republicans reaction to this if anything it marginally deteriorated the president's position on impeachment. it is not very good impeachment insurance. the senate republican caucus with a few exceptions like rand paul is a fairly hawkish group of people, more aligned with the george w. bush foreign policy than the america first trump foreign policy. i do think trump wants to show that he can deliver on some of
his agenda items while democrats are pursuing impeachment and that will be part of their messaging. we are focused on doing various things for the american people and democrats are investigating theaching and given composition of the senate, wasting everyone's time, that will be the argument. >> " what legal action can congress take to stop u.s. troop withdrawal from syria." mr. antle: congress could have approved it in the first place. various congresses have reversed that basic order where it is supposed to be congress authorizes than the president implements and oversees the military operation as commander-in-chief. now we are letting presidents unilaterally commit forces to countries without congressional involvement. these things become unpopular wants to come in and micromanage. certainly congress can pass resolutions.
many of them nonbinding, expressing a sense it does not agree with the president's decision. it could use the power of the purse and refuse to fund what the president is doing. that becomes very difficult. people are unwilling to jeopardize funds going to people who are in combat situations. that congress has and could enforce over the president. congress did try to end u.s. participation in the war in yemen by passing a bipartisan resolution but the president vetoed it and they did not have the numbers to override the veto. host: new jersey, pat, republican. caller: i would like to know if you have any insight into where a sod is and what he is doing and what the nato members are doing to forestall this action by turkey. it is going into another country where it has no business being. what is their justification for
this and what can be done to stop it? mr. antle: it certainly raises questions that we have been reluctant to entertain about the nature of the nato alliance. countriesit includes like great britain who have been close allies to the u.s. for years. in a large variety of circumstances. when you look at a country like turkey a lot has changed since the cold war and the commonality of interests that were there, does that still exist? is turkey deserving of the same allied status at this point as great britain? i think that is a question worth asking. this will over time become a question that other nato governments will have to confront. i don't think any will want to move in and work with turkey on this. assad in syria has used this
instability to strengthen his position. he came out ahead in the syrian civil war but he has proved to not only be ruthless but to be a survivor in his own right. is a very complicated situation that the international community has attempted at various points to resolve. resilientven pretty and difficult for any kind of resolution for outside forces. host: from pennsylvania, independent. caller: i have three questions. does trump know who the kurds are? aware they have been by far our best fighting allies for at least two decades now? to callsquestion is, ago trump said the guide -- the guy said trump planned this. troops toplan for our be trapped between the turkish
army and the kurdish army? mr. antle: who are the kurds? >> certainly that is a question, does the president actually have the knowledge of the region to be making some of these decisions? that is a criticism. i think it is an odd criticism to say that a person who does not have a not a lot of knowledge of the region should not be involved in solving all of its problems. the kurds allied with us in the gulf war. they were very important allies to us in the fight against isis. and it wasy ally always going to come to a point where what we were willing to do to advanced kurdish national aspirations. i think other presidents might have handled it more adroitly but i don't know that other presidents would have been willing to make a commitment to establishing kurdistan in
northern syria. host: one more call. florida, republican. caller: the president not only did he throw the kurds under the bus he also through our armed forces under the bus. creating a big morale problem for the armed forces. these soldiers, sailors and marines have been fighting with the kurds for the past 20 years. they formed bonds with them and they looked out for each other. they became friends. this is really bad for our armed forces. trump is treating our armed forces like the french foreign legion. host: you were shaking your head, do you agree? mr. antle: people who have father alongside the kurds are going to not like this decision or at least they will not like the method in which it was carried out. seeing whatt like is happening to the kurds now that the turks are moving into northern syria. i do think that even though the
president -- this was sort of a chosen crisis at this moment i do think in the long term it was not tenable to have 50 u.s. troops being the buffer between turkey and the kurds. at the moment it did increase the price of turkey doing anything to hurt and was did -- to the kurds. i don't know if that solution would have held indefinitely. perhaps it would have been done less chaotically by someone else with another president would have been faced with the same choice. host: james is the editor of the american conservative. you can follow him >> c-span's washington journal live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up wednesday morning, we're taking your calls and getting your reaction to the
fourth democratic debate and then arizona republican congresswoman will be on to talk bout president trump and the impeachment inquiry and jennifer from the institute of the study for war will join us. also connecticut congressman jim hyde shares information on the impeachment inquiry. join the discussion. >> coming up on c-span, a discussion on the u.s. troop withdrawal from syria and relations with turkey. then commerce secretary wilbur ross on the trump administration's free trade policy. live wednesday on the c-span networks. the u.s. house returns at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span for general speeches. at noon eastern, the house takes up several bills including the
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