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tv   Face the Nation  CBS  April 9, 2017 8:30am-9:31am PDT

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captioning sponsored by cbs >> dickerson: today on "face the nation", president trump launches a military attack on syria, but now what? following the horrific chemical attack that killed at least 80 tuesday, a president who campaigned against empus receive action overseas changed his tone after bashar al-assad's attack on his own citizens. >> when you kill innocent children, innocent babies, babies, little babies, that costs, that crosses many lines, many, beyond a red line. >> dickerson: ordering a missile attack on the syrian military base where the sarin attack was launched. >> as long as america stands for justice, then peace and harmony will in the end prevail. >> dickerson: it was a bold move sending both a message of action to allies wondering if trump's america first policy meant a new isolationism and a
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confusing signal to those at home who elected him on that very sentiment. >> we are prepared to do more. but we hope that will not be necessary. >> dickerson: but what more? we talked with secretary of state rex tillerson about u.s. foreign policy and whether the president's concern for humanitarianism now extends to removing bashar al-assad. is it a priority of u.s. policy to get him out of power? >> our priority in syria, john, really hasn't changed. i think the president has been quite clear, first and foremost we must defeat isis. >> dickerson: next up, a key republican who says more must be done to stop the syrian dictator's attacks on his own people. senator john mccain praised the president's move but said it is about more than just isis. >> it is now vitally important we develop a strategy, we put that strategy in motion and we bring peace too the region. i believe the united states of america can address both at the
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same time. we can walk and chew gum. >> dickerson: plus the senate goes nuclear in order to get neil gorsuch confirmed to the supreme court. we will have some thoughts about that plus plenty of am sister on syria, russia, north korea, and the week in politics, it is all coming up on "face the nation". >> dickerson: good morning and welcome to "face the nation". i am john dickerson. tensions are rising just about all over the world this morning. there were more air strikes this weekend on in syria where the chemical attack occurred last week and a u.s. navy carrier group the vincent is moving closer to the peninsula we want to welcome rex tillerson to the broadcast, mr. secretary, thank you for being with us, as a start, what message was being sent to the syrian leader with the u.s. military action? >> well, john, i think the president was quite clear in his statement he made to the american people that syria's continued violations of,
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national hurricane center resolutions and previous agreements syria entered into regarding the chemical weapons accord would no longer be tolerated. i think we have stood by and watched multiple chemical weapon attacks by the syrian regime under the leadership of bashar al-assad, and this one, in particular, was the most horrific since the major chemical attack back in 2013. i think that is clearly the message is that the violation of international norms, the continuing ignoring of u.n. resolutions and the continuing violation of agreements that they themselves entered into will no long per tolerated. >> dickerson: if syria continues though on the other course it has been on, which is to attack with conventional weapons, barrel bombs and also block humanitarian aid, what is the message if they continue doing those things from the united states? >> well, i think those continued actions by bashar al-assad clearly call into any question of him expected to have any
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legitimacy to continue it is a leader of syria. i think the issue of how bashar al-assad's leadership is sustained or how he depart is something we will be working with allies and others in the coalition, but i think with each of those actions he really undermines his own legitimacy. >> dickerson: is it a priority of u.s. policy to get him out of power? >> our priority in syria, john, hasn't really changed, i think the president has been quite clear. first and foremost, we must defeat isis, and i would say that the military progress both in syria and in iraq has been remarkable since president trump's inauguration. we have continued to liberate areas. we are making tremendous progress in liberating mosul in iraq, working with coalition forces, who working with allies and we are moving to position to liberate raqqa, and to continue to contain isis and the threat that isis really does present to the homeland and to other
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homelands of allies around the world. >> dickerson: so in terms of president assad, you said there has been no change in policy .. as a result of this attack so it is still true then his fate is to be determined as you said previously by the syrian people? >> yes, john, i think obviously the united states on founding principles are self-determination and i think what the united states and our allies want to do is to enable the syrian people to make that determination, and we have seen what violate regime change looks like in libya and the kind of chaos that can be unleashed and indeed the kind of misery that it enacts on its own people. i think what we are hopeful is through this syrian process working with coalition members, working with the u.n. and in particular working through the geneva process that we can navigate a political outcome in which the syrian people, in fact, will determine bashar al-assad's fate and his legitimacy. >> dickerson: the problem -- >> i think the question of how his criminal actions and -- are
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dealt with is something that will be a part of that process. >> dickerson: the argument that people make for more intervention by the united states is that the syrian people are in no position to make a determination about the president because he is bombing a lot of them, millions of them have had to flee the country and that he created a condition where there is no institution that can remove him from power and while the u.s. pursues its interests he continues to do all of the things that the administration has now said are so morally reprehensible. >reprehensible. >> i think, john, it is important we keep our priorities straight and we believe that the first priority is the defeat of isis, that by defeating isis and removing their caliphate from their control we have now eliminated at least or minimize add particular threat, not just the united states, but to the whole stability of the region, and once the isis threat has been reduced or eliminated i think we can turn our attention directly to stabilizing the situation in syria. we are hopeful we can prevent a
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continuation of the civil war and that we can bring the parties to the table to begin the process of political discussions. clearly that requires the participation of the regime with the support of their allies and we are hopeful that russia will choose to play a constructive role in supporting cease fires through their own talks but also ultimately through geneva and if we can achieve assess fires and zones of stabilization in syria then we hope we will have the can't to begin a useful political process. >> dickerson: this was the first crisis that started in -- and was carried through on this president's watch. can you give us a window into that and what the president's attention was focused on? >> well, the presidentially tell you was very thoughtful in terms of the decision to take the strike. he requested immediately from the defense department and our military planners up in options and requested of the state
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department working with the marble security council diplomatic options. we had multiple meetings to discuss those options, he asked a number of questions, probing those so that they were fully developed .. and then we had two meetings down, once we arrived in mar-a-lago in which ultimately the president made the ultimate decision. so i think, john, i would describe the president's leadership in this issue was extraordinary in terms of the way he conducted those meetings. he clearly wanted everyone to express their personal views around the options, invited ever to express those openly without reservation so he could consider all of those options. they did consider them and then ultimately made the decision. so i think it was a clear demonstration of his leadership, but also clear demonstration of how well the team of people that he has put in place are able to work together to arrive at a -- at an answer that is clearly the right one.
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>> dickerson: senator marco rubio made a charge this week he accused you of quote nodding to the idea assad was going to get to stay in some capacity. this was referring to your regarding about the syrian people picking whether he could stay or go and senator rubio said it was no coincidence that then president assad used chemical weapons, what is your response to that? >> i think that is a regrettable comment on the part of senator rubio. >> dickerson: and do you think there was nothing the u.s. did in the statements either you made or the u.n. ambassador made saying it was not a priority to get him out that that had no effect on his thinking? >> this was -- swoon, this was a continuation of a series of chemical weapon attacks by bashar al-assad, this was not the first. as you well know there were two similar attacks in march, march the 25th, march the 30th in homma so this was yet another instance of bashar al-assad's continued violation of the chemical weapons agreements. >> dickerson: russia said that they don't believe that this is
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the way that the united states sees it, is that because russia might have been involved in this chemical weapons attack? >> well, i think the russians have played now for some time the role of providing cover for bashar al-assad's behavior. the alternative explanation that the russians put forth is simply not plausible, not only is it not plausible we know from our own information and open source information that their alternative explanation is simply not credible. so there is no question as to who is responsible for these attacks. it was bashar al-assad. and i think the russians need to think more carefully about the commitment they made under the chemical weapons agreements to be the guarantor that these weapons would be seized, they would be removed, they would be destroyed. since they are bashar al-assad's ally they would have the closest insight as to their compliance. so regardless of whether russia was complicit here or whether they were simply incompetent or
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whether they got outwitted by the bashar al-assad regime, you would have to ask the russians that question. but clearly they have failed in their commitment to the international community. >> dickerson: given how strongly the president acted with respect to syria using the chemicals weapons isn't it a rather important point whether the russians were actively engaged in the military chemical weapons use that the u.s. government just launched a military strike over? isn't that a crucial question? >> well, to our knowledge, we do not have any information that suggests that russia was a part of the military attack undertaken using the chemical weapons. a. >> dickerson: the u.n. ambassador said how many children have to die before russia cares? is that a message you will take to moscow? your visit next week? >> well, again, it is clearly the message is, russia gave certain assurances under the chemical weapons agreement in 2013 and in accordance with the u.n. security council resolutions that they would be the guarantor of the destruction of syria's chemical weapons
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stockpiles. russia has failed in that commitment, and the result of their failure has led to the killing of more children and innocents. >> dickerson: do you worry about russian retaliation for the u.s. military actions? >> i see no reason there would be retaliation since the russians were never targeted in this particular strike. it was a very deliberate, very proportionate and very targeted strike undertaken in response to the chemical weapons attack and russia was never a part of the targeting. >> dickerson: there is a channel of communication between the u.s. and russia, both flying over syria. so they don't bump into each other, if nothing else, is that line of communication still open? >> as far as i know, the line of communication continues to be open, and the battlefield commanders are able to communicate with one another. i am aware that there have been certain public statements made out of moscow, so we will just have to see and may have to ask the military people. >> dickerson: you met with president of china along with the president there in florida. what message did the chinese take from the u.s. action in
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syria? >> well, the president, i think, very thoughtfully and rightfully did notify presidency ping, president, situate of the attack, he wanted to explain to him the rationale for the u.s. action .. why it was taken and why he felt it was necessary. my understanding, i was not standing there by but my understanding is that the president xi said well, no one should kill children. the chinese have since issued their own statement on the attack itself. >> dickerson:. >> the president also said about north korea, if china doesn't act, then, in north korea, then we will. did the chinese get that message from this meeting over the weekend? >> i can tell you that both the president, presidents had extensive discussions around the dangerous situation in north korea. they had a very lengthy exchange on the subject yesterday morning.
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i think it was a very useful and productive exchange. president xi clearly understands and i think agrees that the situation has intens intensified reached a certain level of threat that action has to be taken and indeed the chinese even themselves have said that they do not believe this conditions are ripe today to engage in discussions with the government in pyongyang, so what i think we are hopeful is that we can work together with the chinese to change the conditions in the minds of the dprk leadership and then at that point perhaps discussions may be useful. but i think there is a shared view and no disagreement as to how dangerous the situation has become. and i think even china is beginning to recognize this presents a threat to even china's interests as well. >> dickerson: all right, secretary tillerson we will have to leave it there, thanks so much for being with us. >> it is my pleasure, john. >> dickerson: we turn now to senator john mccain, who joins
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us from -- senator, i want to ask you, you like, would like the administration to take a series of steps to knock out the syrian air force, set up safe zones, it appears from secretary tillerson the other not going to do anything more than the actions they have already taken. what is your reaction to that? >> i think what the president did was an excellent first step and it was a reversal of the last eight years, and i think it was important. but it is now vitally important we develop strategy, we put that strategy this motion and we bring about peace in the region and that obviously means that there has to be a cessation of these war crimes. john, using chemical weapons is a war crime, but starving thousands of people is also. a barrel bombs which indiscriminately kill innocent civilians, precision strikes are done by russians on hospitals in
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aleppo, war crimes as well. so there are a lot of war crimes that are taking place and another aspect of this that i do not agree with the secretary is that you have to just concentrate on isis. we will take mosul. we will take raqqa and we better have strategies as to how to handle those places once we have won it. but they are not disconnected from bashar al-assad and the al qaeda, and the war crimes that have been taking place. you can't -- to a large degree, bashar al-assad b by polarizing the syrian people have also given rise to isis and al qaeda. so they are both connected and i believe that the united states of america can address both at the same time. we can walk and chew gum. we have the capability to do both, and yes, we want a negotiated september, but the only way that that will happen
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is if it is not in their interests to continue what they have been successful at for over eight years and that is why i thought symbolically and psychologically the president's action was very important, but now we better follow it up. and by the way we should have cratered the runways. >> dickerson: just to follow up on that, senator, secretary of state tillerson said when i listed those other parts of syrian efforts that you mention, he said that america needs to quote keep its priorities straight and focus on isis. but your argument is that taking care of the humanitarian actions that bashar al-assad is taking that that is a part of the fight against isis as well. >> i think they are totally connected and also when you see these crimes that are being committed, they are horrifying. john, i also believe that a grieving mother whose child has
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been killed isn't too concerned whether it is a chemical weapon or a barrel bomb. he is still slaughtering people and we may stop the chemical weapons, but we also have got to stop the other indies discriminate, inhumane war crimes that are being committed as well. and that means, obviously, trying to set up some kind of safe zone so that these refugees will have a place where they can be and also that will help with the refugee flow issue. >> dickerson: senator, you said you had wished they cratered the runways. based on your assessment of the damage that was taken from the u.s. military action, what kind of a signal do you think that sends to president assad? >> well, i think the fact that we acted was very important and i support the president's action and i have been told that there was some recommendations to take 0 out all six places that the syrian air force operates out of, but now that they are flying
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again, basically, a within 36 hours is not a good signal, but i would point out, taking out their -- all of their support facilities doesn't let them inside with any consistency, but the signal that they are able to fly almost right away out of the same facility indicates that i don't think we did as thorough enough job, which would have been cratering the runways. and somebody will say, well then they can fill in the runways. >> yes. and we can crater them again too. >> dickerson: do you think the administration did anything to encourage this behavior by the syrians by saying that the syrian people would determine assad's fate and that removing him is not a priority, things that were said before, the use of chemical weapons? >> i think it probably was partially to blame, and secretary tillerson basically is saying the same thing, after kind of contradicting himself and saying the same thing, argues vigorously for a plan and
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a strategy. as i said again, taking this action, i support and it was important, but we have got to have a strategy and a plan to follow through. just a one-time deal is not going to be productive and saying we are only going after chemical weapons areas ignores the enormity of the problem. a very small percentage of the people have been slaughtered in syria have been slaughtered by chemical weapons. it has been done by barrel bombs and indiscriminate killing and all of the other war crimes that have been committed. >> dickerson: domestic question to end, senator. the senate got rid of the filibuster for judicial appointees, you in the past have kept the senate from going down that road. you tried again this tie. there were no takers. what does that say about the senate? >> the senate like the nation has become much more polarized in recent years, and i regret what we did. we have shattered really 200
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years of tradition in the cause senate. there were a number of senators that wanted to get together again, but it wasn't enough, and i think both parties will view this day because now when it requires 51 votes it will drive to more liberal judges when the democrats have the majority and more conservative judges when republicans do, and i am not sure that is good for america or our judiciary system. >> dickerson: senator mccrane, thanks for being with us. >> thanks for having me on. >> thanks for having me on. >> dickerson: and we will be
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a simple majority vote, the minority can no longer block with a filibuster. called the nuclear option, the move was once considered unthinkable, both sides would work out an alternative to avoid it. senators now say it was inevitable. the body designed to resist splitting along party lines is stuck in that condition. no side can disappoint their base, say senators. voters and interest groups treat everything as a test of purity. this builds on itself. partisanship stalls congress leaving issues to be decided by the courts. so partisans want to control the courts too. each side publicly blames the other for this judicial tit for tat though privately senators acknowledge their leaders are, or have been, to blame for the escalation. it still takes 60 votes to pass legislation but senators expect that to change too. that could be good, a majority threshold would get more done, and lawmakers couldn't blame the filibuster for not acting but this is only an improvement if the senators are not so driven
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by partisans. at this point i am required to tell the story about george washington explaining to thomas jefferson that senate was created to be a cooling saucer to the hot legislation that cops from the house. still can be, but more and more there are weeks like this one where it acts not like a saucer but a thermos. back in a moment. >>
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>> dickerson: you can keep up with the news of the week by subscribing to the "face the nation" diary podcast, find us on i-tunes or your favorite podcast platform. if cow can't watch us live, "face the nation" is now available on cbs all access, as well as our website, facethenation.com. plus we are available on video on demand on your video cable system. we have a lot more ahead, though, so stay with us. >>
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when it's time to get organized for retirement, it's time to get voya. >> dickerson: we will be right back with a lot more "face the nation". including some analysis on the administration's foreign policy and our political panel. stay with us. >>
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a. >> dickerson: welcome back to "face the nation". for some analysis of the growing international tensions in syria, russia and north korea, we turn to president obama's national security advisor tom donilon, fran townsend, who is homeland security advisor to president george w. bush and is now a cbs news senior security analyst. and mike morell is deputy director of the cia and cbs news senior national security contributor. nike, i want to start with you, what did the president accomplish with his attacks in syria? >> john, i think he accomplished two things. one is, i think he sent a very strong message to the syrian president that he cannot use chemical weapons, he cannot use sarin in the future, and i imagine that that will stick. i don't think assad will use sarin again, i think that is deterrence worked here. i think the second message that was september was to our other adversaries, primarily north
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korea and iran that the united states, that this president will back up red lines, he will protect the interests of the united states with military action, if necessary, it is a very powerful message as well. i think what wasn't accomplished here was as important as what was. and what wasn't accomplished is we did not deter the syrian president from continuing the war against his own people using conventional weapons. >> dickerson: tom, now that this has happened, what can the president do to take advantage of this? is there a negotiating leverage that is gained here in syria? >> some but i want to go with what michael said here, this is a very narrow targeted effort, aim as deterring and punishing the use of chemical weapons. it does not fundamentally change the dynamics on the ground for dynamics in the civil war in syria. and it is important not the overstate what was accomplished. indeed we did set a line, enforce its, that is important to do, but we really haven't changed the underlying dynamics on the ground in syria.
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he certainly can take advantage, i think secretary till tillerson will on his trip to russia to try to use this as leverage in terms of the discussions there, and really importantly in terms of holding the russians accountable. >> dickerson: fran, in terms of this very limited mental they are trying to send, secretary of state tillerson, excuse me, seemed to be really anxious to show just how limited it was and when i asked him about the assad regime he basically said that is going to be up to the syrian people as he had before these attacks started but the u.n. ambassador nikki haley said quote in no way do we see peace in this area ass saddam hussein as head of the syrian government. there seemed to be a split between them there. >> there does, john, but i think what is important to focus on here is, you know, if you your, if your priority is getting rid of isis and defeating isis in syria let's be clear, the russians have not, nor the syrian government of assad are allies in that. they have done virtually nothing to defeat isis, they focused as
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mike points out on sort of their own people, and the internal civil war there, so frankly in some respects if you want to get the level out of the missile bombing in syria, if i were secretary tillerson i would not be going to russia, boris johnson of the uk canceled his trip, if you don't want to be drawn in i would go to the arab coalition. remove as saddam hussein from power, they weren't taken up on it then, now is the time to go and build that coalition in the arab gulf and have them take on and follow on to what our attacks were to try to leverage them. >> mike what did you make of secretary tillerson's very clear two step process? get rid of isis, that's the priority, he almost sounded as if dealing with assad on the barrel bombs and the humanitarian blockage was a distraction from isis. how do you see those two matching up? >> i think senator mccain is exactly right. these are linked. you cannot ultimately defeat isis without getting rid of
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assad. he has no credibility with the largest percentage of his population, which are is the sunnis and never get it back and never get their support back and as long as that is the case, as long as he is there that will feed extremists, whether it is this isis or whether it is isis 2.0 down the road, assad has to go. they are connected. >> dickerson: tom, secretary of at a time is on his way to moscow. talk about moscow and its role here and then also the larger brief he has to carry with him to moscow as he meets with russia. >> he makes a good point with our relationship with russia at this point, a couple of points, one is, and we have been slow to realize this i think in the united states, russia is in an actively hostile posture towards the united states in and the west right now, undertaking direct efforts to undermine the west and undermine the united states around the world, whether bit in syria, in the ukraine, crimea, up against nato, afghanistan with support of the taliban we have seen reports so it is a very difficult time in this relationship.
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second, i think if our secretary tillerson, i would not go on this trip unless i would see vladimir putin, i don't think frankly we have learned this through a lot of experience that conversations with foreign minister labarov really get much of anything. i think you have to be able to talk tremendously to president putin and secretary tillerson knows putin, so it is a broader conversation. they certainly will have the conversation about syria and what they might do going forward, holding russia accountable, but we have a broader conversation about the hostile role russia is holding in the world right now. >> dickerson: you think secretary tillerson should not go to russia, because of punishment, because he is saying the russians were part of a war crime. we are going to punish somebody for a war crime and you say somebody is complicit -- >> well, i actually don't think secretary tillerson went as far as you just did, they said they were either complicit or incompetent, basically and he
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didn't say it. i think he should have, i think it is clear they were on the sharat syrian, they were not incompetent and complicit and that means they are complicit in a war crime. so i do think both because they were complicit in the chemical weapons attack and because there have been reports now that vladimir putin to tom's point has said he will not see tillerson, so the combination of those things makes this trip to moscow, in my judgment, a total waste of time, you might as well actually try to build a coalition that can do something to end the civil war. >> talking about the war crime try but natural with the point secretary mccain made there needs to be a lot more focus on accountability and gathering evidence and gathering evidence on war crime, including potential russian complicity. >> dickerson: let me switch to north korea with you, where do stands with north korea, it seems to have gotten a lot hotter, obviously their actions plus the rhetoric from the administration? >> john, there is a bit of a
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misperception in the media that i want to clear up. there is a perception in the media that the threat is down the road, right? it is 20-20 or 2022 and is have a deliverable nuclear weapon, they have that now. they have nuclear weapons that work, they have short-range and immediate range, medium range missiles we know that work, they have two variant os of an icbm they have tested tz of the united states is they can mate a nuclear weapon to a missile, both a former dni said that and the commander of norad said that. so the threat is now and there are three threats, one is use, one is possible sale to a third party. and one is a loose nuke scenario if the regime ever collapses what happens to those nuclear weapons? so the threat is now. >> dickerson: what does the president do? what are his options if that is the case? >> a couple of things, first of all, every single indicator with respect to north korea i think is negative right now in terms
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of the numbers of weapons, as michael said, the capability, and in terms of developing over a course now of missile testing the ability to strike the united states or its allies. in and this proliferation point, it is not just the direct threat but proliferation issue. going forward, it needs a lot more attention. one is that i do think that we can significantly increase pressure on north korea through economic and other kinds of pressure. i think michael and i worked very closely together on the iran sanctions efforts here we do not currently have in place, we haven't had in place for a relevant period of time here the kind of regime threatening economic sanctions i think you can put in place. second we need to continue to build up our defenses and our presence in the region. third, i think there is importantly a conversation to be had with the chinese about the various scenarios on the kor kwan peninsula going forward here. i don't think that took place in florida. this past week but we really should have this conversation with china. and fourth, to really communicate that in fact all
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options really are on the table with respect to dealing with this problem. >> dickerson:. >> all right. we are going to have to end it there. thanks to all of you and we will be back, these aren't going away and we will be right back with our political panel in a momentv our political panel in a momentv stay with us. >> tiful just like you. [woman] oh, why thank you. [burke] and we covered it, november sixth, two-thousand-nine. talk to farmers. we know a thing or two because we've seen a thing or two. ♪ we are farmers. bum-pa-dum, bum-bum-bum-bum ♪
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>> dickerson: and we are back with our political panel. ruth marcus is a columnist and deputy editorial page editor for the "washington post". ramesh ponnuru is the national -- is with the "national review". and ed o'keefe covers politics for the "washington post", and is now a cbs news contributor. and michael duffy is deputy managing editor for time magazine. nine let me start with you. what did we learn with the syrian operation about president trump? >> i think we learned a couple of things, john. first he is able to move quickly, the whole thing from the original attack to the u.s. counterattack less than two days, 70 hours or something like that. >> and in a limited, very limited way. that may have surprised some of his critics on the left. at the same time, he was able to, in opposition to his campaign rhetoric and much of his tweeting over the last years go against his sort of isolationist perspective and actually intervene in a complicated situation overseas. what happens next is just as complicated. but he did it at the same time when he was hosting a visit from the largest, the leader of the largest country in the world,
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that had to be interesting for the chinese to watch and certainly sent a signal i think not only to that, to his guests but also leaders around the world that perhaps they had to recalculate how president trump might think about his role and finally he did this in a way that garnered bipartisan support and i think that let the public follow. >> dickerson: ramesh, talking about what a departure this was so we have neoconservatives in the conservative brackets, we have nationalist and a lot of words that get thrown around about sill, philosophical approaches to foreign policy, where did this action fit in that canon and also relative to where donald trump was maybe just a week ago? >> i think it may be the real foreign policy doctrine of this administration is keep them guessing and not jus just in operational terms. if you think about what president trump said in discussing these strikes, he said america has to stand for justice. secretary of state rex tillerson said earlier in the week that we needed to act on behalf of the
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international community. that fits squarely in a liberal internationalist and neoconservative foreign policy establishment that trump seeped to object root and branch in his campaign if you take the rhetoric this week seriously then the sort of things senator mccain follow from it, if we really stand for justice we need to have a broader intervention in syria. is trump willing to take his own words to their logical conclusion that way? i am not sure he should, and i am not sure he will. >> dickerson: do you think, ruth, that there is a down side, when you speak this moral terms as ramesh justifiesly pointed out you speak in moral terms is it just a one off, doesn't that put you on the hook when it transfers to other places? >> if you believe what you need to do is set a consistent theme and be part of a consistent whole, yes, consistency has not always been donald trump's strong point. and i would -- you talked about a week ago, the flip was even quicker than that on tuesday president trump said
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i don't want to be the president of the world, and on wednesday, he said, i now have the responsibility. so i don't think we know yet what the trump doctrine is. this is the trump doctrine that if there is video of dead beautiful babies that we will act? secretary tillerson spoke about earlier chemical attacks that we did not respond to, or is it more of the logical conclusion that war crimes are war crimes, dead people are dead people whether they are killed by barrel bombs or by chemical attacks. this is a data point, a really interesting one as michael said. we don't know precisely where it leads. >> dickerson:. >> and i think the real test could come in response to what happened in egypt today, two coptic christian churches bombed. this was a presidential candidate who ran around the country saying w we cannot allow isis to attack christians around the word. isis has already taken responsibility for these attacks this morning, look what he said last february after the pope questioned his christianity, i won't allow christianity to be attacked and
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weakened up like what is happening with our current president. if he says that kind of stuff on the campaign trail and he doesn't really respond to what happened today, i think there are a lot of supporters frankly who will wonder how consistent he is being. those earned him some of the loudest applause lines back in the day when he would talk about attacks on christians around the world and this is a pretty brazen one today. >> another one that earned him applause lines is talking about america first. >> right. >> so there are a lot of trump supporters who are wondering where they stand in here, that is another strain on him. >> i wonder, ramesh, do you think he pays any political price within his own group of supporters who said, you with respect going to be adventurous like this, president trump said on the campaign trail he wouldn't do the things he did. >> some of his earliest supporters have expressing serious doubts about the action. is it a one off is the question. if he gets more deeply involved in syria, i think some of those people start becoming out right opponents of him, but if he
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doesn't -- if he just moves on, then i don't think that happens. the other thing is what happens to the opposition? nothing the president has done has earned more praise from the democrats than this military action this week, which is kind of odd in a way, they have been portraying him as this great me nas until the time he starts firing missiles and all of a sudden he is a statesman. >> dickerson: one question of the ongoing trump administration what happens in a crisis, who is in the room, who is in the room, the secretary of state, assess the secretary of state if you would like to, b, you have seen him and other administration officials talking about how the real estate was asking questions, and there seemed to be an effort to make a case for his competency in this kind of moment. how do you read the internal workings of the trump team? >> it is way to early to begin to read it. you and i both know that every time there is a first foreign policy crisis the anecdotes tumble out of the white house, that the president was asking a lot of questions no matter who the president is, no matter what
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decade it is. i think there is a moment in every presidency where the commander in chief becomes president. this isn't a job you can presidenpreparefor, you only geb training, even those who are particularly qualified which this one wasn't, only can really understand what it is like once you are faced, facing a test like this, wednesday in the rose garden moment there was this bite of president trump saying i have the responsibility, as just the day after the tweet about i don't want to be president, which made me think -- >> of the world. >> of the world, right which is good because he wasn't elected to that but it made me think oh he is finally putting on this uniform for the first time, that it is just now kind of, on this respect, getting to him and that's one of the things about whether it is his critics on the left or right or supporters or people who don't like him will have to contend with, is every president grows into the job as they face the challenges and the in-box gets more complicated. >> dickerson: all right we will go to other items in the in-box. stay with us. we will be right back after the break. stay with us.
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>> dickerson: and we are back with our panel. ramesh i, i want to start with you and do a tea leave reading about the white house staff, because there have been lots of stories this week, some related to the syrian action, others not
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connected with it about turmoil within the white house. and a confrontation at some level between steve bannon, sr. advisor to the president and jared kushner, his son-in-law. what do you make of that conflict, does it exist and what do you make of the millions of stories about it which are themselves the product of a certain set of behavior at the white house? >> the fact that you mean that everybody is leaking about their internal opposition? i think that this is a highly factual lized administration, it has been a the highly factual lized administration from the very beginning .. and that doesn't seem to be something that president trump minds. he seems to, that seems to be part of the management structure that he prefers. he does seem, though, to get upset if too much of it spills into the papers and then it gets rained back in, but i don't think that is going to change because i think that is just built into the way he runs things. >> dickerson: the white house is using the messaging channels of the white house to say there
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was a meeting, kushner and bannon were told by the president to knock it out, work together, and so, you know -- but when you are issuing press releases essentially to say everybody is on the same page, isn't that a itself a sign -- >> and when the secretary of state himself had to point out everybody worked together as a good team, to get ahead of the questions i think it is a sign it is a real problem. i could tell you up at the capitol republicans are privately frustrated by all of, this because they see it as a big distraction and keeps them from being able to do the big things. they couldn't get healthcare reform done despite all of the reliance they were putting on the white house chief of staff and the health & human services secretary, you know, steve bannon strong arming a bunch of house republicans at the 11th hour didn't work. he has few fans up on capitol hill, i think the only one who will really bring pause to lawmakers especially is if reince priebus is somehow shown the door. they see him as a critical component in getting the legislative agenda passed that the president wants and republicans want because he is one of the few who can really speak as an equal or someone who
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understands congress in that way. >> and with connections to the house speaker paul ryan. >> to freeze frame it this morning and that's a risky hinge to do it feels to me at least reince priebus has managed to implement a truth between kushner and bannon, how long this truce holds is anybody's guess, a week, maybe two. and the reason it is going to be hard to hold is some of it is about tactics and some is just ideology. this is a white house with a broad spectrum of views ranging there bannon and the sort of isolate -- nationalist view on the right to jared kushner and gary coen if they are not moderate democrats they certainly are ideological that is half of the political spec sprum and that is more than jim baker and ted meets, it is a big gulf, and they won't be able to, until they have a decision-making process that includes everyone, they are not going to get past this and we will have another blowup soon. >> dickerson: and also, ruth, as michael pointed out, when you
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have a spectrum like that, that spectrum comes into conflict with issues. i mean, these people care about what they care about and the issues are complicated and so isn't that, i mean, isn't, as they deal with issues, this conflict is going to arise no matter how much they try to paper it over. >> they will try to paper it over. as michael said this is different than other white houses they are usually jockeying for power. there is jockeying for i' ideology and te is another big difference we haven't talked about which is one of these people is not like the other, because his father-in-law is the president of the united states. that makes him a little bit unfirable. so, you know, i have never been a president but i have been a parent, you tell the kids to knock it off, but it doesn't always work the first time or even the second time. >> reince priebus doesn't belong in either of these factions, he is not a nationalist or a new york liberal he is a fairly conventional conservative that could give him a position to be kind of a balancing point if he lasts, but the other thing, if you think about the impact this is having on this
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administration, during crucial debates in capitol hill about tax policy, about healthcare reform, nobody has quite known what the administration wants, because it is not clear the administration knows what it wants. >> exactly. >> and that's the key deal. this is just not inside, kind of interesting behind the scenes stuff. this matters to actual policy. let assad switch now to, let's mosquito now to supreme court, tell me what happened this week and of course neil gorsuch is now an associate just but other things happened too. >> that's right. well they got rid of a longstanding procedural rule that they used, the filibuster, and now it means that virtually -- well, no, all presidential nominees, whether you are a cabinet secretary, a commissioned chairman, a district judge or a supreme court justice gets in with a majority vote. that will matter more, i think, when the party that controls the white house controls the senate and that you will be able to get through more ideological or partisan picks in all cases. but it will be interesting if one day we have a white house and a senate controlled by either party, and it requires a
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little more negotiation. i will say this. while a lot of us might bemoan the end of this, senators themselves were kind of over it. this began you will remember back in 2013, the democrats started eliminating the filibuster. this week, to quote the old martina mcbride wrong, my give a damn is busted, their give a damn is busted. >> just get it over with, let's move on, the hope is after the two-week recess they can work more seriously and in a bipartisan way on tax reform and all the other things they want to get done this year. >> dickerson: why, ruth, didn't democrats wait and have this fight for the next justice that donald trump is likely to have to nominate? >> that would have been smarter. it would have put them in a better position. it would have helped to hold off a more extreme nominee, and it would have put them in a better position if they were going to eventually lose the fight. but we were in this position where both of the leaders, both mitch mcconnell, the republican leader and chuck shiewmer the democrat leader actually wanted this fight, were arguing with
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their members who wanted to find the solution, and it really leaves a lot of poisonous feelings. >> dickerson: we will end on that joyful note, poisonous feelings. thanks to all of you, thanks for watching and we will be back in a moment. >> growing up, we were german. we danced in a german dance group. i wore lederhosen. when i first got on ancestry i was really surprised that i wasn't finding all of these germans in my tree. i decided to have my dna tested through ancestry dna. the big surprise was we're not german at all.
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>> dickerson: that's it for us today. thanks for watching. until next week for "face the nation", i am john dickerson. >>
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