tv Charlie Rose PBS April 8, 2017 12:00am-1:01am PDT
>> rose: welcome to the program. we begin this evening with tom friedman, columnist for the "new york times," and talk about syria china, russia and other foreign policy questions for president trump. >> i think it was important for the united states to use its power to send a signal that people use poison gas, as we were talking about the hundredth anniversary of world war i, at the that is just not on. it doesn't mean we can right every wrong or reverse every atrocity but when we have a chance to do this at a cost that's tolerable and a message that's loud, it's important. because you don't want a world where people think that's okay. >> rose: we continue with the same questions with ian bremmer, president of eurasia group. >> obama agonized over this
decision and ultimately decided not to take it not because he thought there was a problem with the pinpoint strikes but because he didn't know where we were going to go from there. trump i don't think looked further than the striefntle he got the advice on what can i do to respond to the abomination of chemical attacks against these children. then what do we do? >> rose: we conclude with dr. rolla hallan and dr. annie sparrow. >> we know the data collected by human rights that this has been an intentional destruction of healthcare rather than as a collateral damage of war. so that children's hospital that was run by the independent doctors association had actually been bombed a staggering six times beforehand and, really,
that was what galvanized this global movement to rebuild the children's hospital in aleppo and it was our way of saying if war criminals are going to commit these murders and governments are going to stand by and let them act with absolute impunity we humanitarians and doctors will not be deterred from doing life saving work, we'll galvanize global action and rebuild and that's what we did with the convoy. >> rose: syria and the the airstrikes next. >> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by the following: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications
from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: we begin with syria this evening. last night president trump announced the united states carried out a missile strike in syria following bashar al-assad's chemical weapons attack on tuesday which targeted civilians. >> tonight, i ordered a targeted immigrant attack on the air feld in syria from where the chemical attack was launched. it is in this vital national security interest of the united states to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons. there can be no dispute that syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the chemical
weapons convention and ignored the urging of the u.n. security council. >> rose: it is the first direct american assault against the assad regime. the move is a reversal from trump's earlier anti-interventionist position. president vladimir putin of russia called ate significant blow to the russian-american relationship. tom friedman wrote about the challenges trump faces in syria in his "new york times" column earlier this week. he joins me and is the author of "thank you for being late," a "new york times" best seller and been there for 16 weeks. so this president in the midst of a lot of foreign policy this week, meeting with a lot of people including a crucial meeting on thursday night, orders an airstrike against an air force base. what do you see as the repercussions of this? >> well, i sort of think about this, charlie, in three buckets. the first is that i think it was
important for the united states to use its power to ascend -- to send a signal that people use poison gas, as we were talking of the anniversary of world war i, that that is just not on. it doesn't mean we can right every wrong, that we can reverse every atrocity, but when we have a chance to do this at a cost that's tolerable and a message that's loud, i think it's really important, because you don't want a world where people are thinking that's okay. secondly, i think it is useful for the united states at a time when we're being tested by north korea and in probably a much more dangerous situation with nuclear weapons that could be possibly delivered to the united states to at least interject, charlie, some uncertainty about american power that don't count on us just to sit back and let you do this. i think that's a healthy by-product of this.
the big question is a third bucket which is the weakness that president obama faced in dealing with syria is you had john kerry always trying to negotiate a solution, god bless him for that, but we really had no leverage. >> rose: right. the question is by doing this does it give us marginally more leverage? does it say to putin and others, you know, we're not just going to sit back entirely. we're not diving in, that's clear, there is no desire on the american public to do that, but does it get their attention more? because it relates for me, charlie, to a fourth bucket which is that i believe all important politics in the middle east always happens the morning after the morning after. so the morning after putin denounces us, u.s. relations will suffer with us, we're standing with syrian brothers, but i bet putin was on the phone the morning after with bashar al-assad saying what exactly
were you thinking? poison gas a day taf the american secretary of state and the american u.n. ambassador basically say syria is for the syrians to decide? they were basically in the process of turning it over to you and you now do this? what are you thinking? the reason that becomes important is that some point down the road the morning after the morning after the morning after, does putin just say this guy is too much trouble and i'm ready to ease him aside, can we broker a deal with the great powers, a power-sharing agreement, i don't know, that would be the best-case scenario. >> rose: doesn't seem like he's doing that. but as you say, it's not the day after the day after the day after. >> exactly. >> rose: couple of questions. number one, some are suggesting -- some -- that perhaps this attack was a consequence of what the secretary of state said -- we're going to let them do what they're going to do, we're not
going after assad -- then he goes and makes a very dramatic step knowing there are pictures. >> knowing in the age of twitter and cell phones it will get out. >> rose: not knowing what this president's response would be. >> because this is a president that watches tv, that was the main sums, and he saw the pictures from television. i don't know what the policy was the day before yesterday, what tillerson and the u.n. ambassador nikki haley were talking about in the sense it's up to the syrians to decide. i don't think the policy's radically changed. on syria, charlie, i have nothing but humility, i think it's the problem from hell, it's one of many problems and if somebody says, charlie, i want you to be secretary of state, tell them you had your heart set on agriculture because it's the worst job in the world now. every problem is obamacare,
big, complicated, more difficult to solve than you think, your own constituency isn't happy and costs more than the american public wants to pay. >> rose: it seems one more time that the president has to link his action with a failure to act by the predecessor. >> well, you know, there is a lot of controversy around obama's decision, charlie, to draw a red line and not bomb syria when it crossed the red line by using poison gas the first time. but i would say this for president obama, he didn't bomb syria but he used the leverage of the threat of bombing syria to get a deal for syria to surrender supposedly all its poison gas under the supervision of the russians. we know two things, one is that they didn't surrender all their poison gas and that should be an embarrassment to the russians who guaranteed this deal, but i will say one thing, had we not done that deal, the poison gas syria had, some of it would not be in thehands of i.s.i.s.
because it was being stored in places that i.s.i.s. controls. so that was ant total zero what obama did. i think it was important to remember that we did get a lot of this junk out of the country. but, again, i just think the problem here is, when a country breaks apart, a country that's been held together basically from the top-down by an iron fist and it breaks apart, putting it back together again is well nigh impossible. for an outside power or an inside power. everything you're looking at is how do we limit the damage. one thing i would urge people to consider because i think there are two issues here from an american strategic point of view. there's the humanitarian question and it's horrific what's been going on. we are huge donors of humanitarian aid to syria, people don't know how much is pouring in from the united states. >> rose: we donate more aid than take in refugees. >> exactly. but there is spill over from
jordan and lebanon which is destabilizing those states which we have a strategic interest in not happening. >> and the rise of populism in western europe. >> putin weaponized the refugees and by flooding them into europe as he did he triggered a nationalist populist backlash in the european union which is now straining and stressing the e.u. i know most americans don't really like to think about the european union. it seems like a big boring thing. i once wrote about the e.u. and called it trump's european union just to fool the search engine. ( laughter ) the fact is the e.u. is the other united states of the world. it's the other great center of liberal ideas, of democracy and free markets and free people. it's the other united states. >> rose: and as a whole, it's big. >> it's big. it's the world's biggest market. and two united states, charlie are better than one.
they're kind of our wing man in the world. you go anywhere in africa, you will see a e.u. mission there, go to the west bank, e.u. the e.u. fragments under the stress of refugees -- not just from syria, but also sub-saharan africa -- that is a huge strategic loss for the united states. so there are a lot of dimensions. >> rose: suppose i said, some argue the following that this kind of proportionate attack will never change the behavior of bashar al-assad. >> yes. >> rose: because he can lose an air base tomorrow. >> yes. >> rose: the only thing that will change him is the fear of survival, the loss of power. >> yes. >> rose: so unless you do something that threatens that, you're not going to get anybody's attention. >> it's true, and i think, you know, my friend michael said the other day, the only thing standing in the way of an
american intervention in syria is american democracy because the american people don't want to do it. and that is a fact. now, i don't think anyone in their right mind, you know, says, you know, we should want to -- we want to invade syria and a take it over the way we did iraq. no one's talking about that. i think the question, is could you partner with the arab league, with n.a.t.o., where they put troops on the ground where we contribute to it to create a safe zone, just a small beachhead that would create the pressure to topple assad. that's not going to happen. but to get the russians and iranians to negotiate seriously. because what we actually don't want to do is we don't want to topple assad, we don't want to collapse the state because you end up with iraq where the whole system falls apart. you want the russians and iranians to move assad aside, because he's killed so many
people. put in some leader who's not got all this blood on their hands, and then see can you negotiate some kind of power sharing arrangement, devo luges of power, like the sunnis have their area -- >> rose: that's exactly what john kerry was trying to do for years. >> the problem is he had no leverage. >> rose: he said that. he had 51 diplomats in the state department said that. >> they complained to obama about it. >> rose: right. obama took the view it was all or nothing, that once you started with something, you would end up with a big footprint on the ground. again, i want to be totally humble about it. it's the problem from hell. i sympathize with anyone who has to deal wit, but i do think that what we are going to have to think about and what trump will have to think about is is there a way to build an international coalition. we are not going to do this on our own. that creates some kind of leverage there. it's a "no fly" zone or safe zone where the russias finally
say, you know what, this is more trouble than it's worth. the problem for us -- for putin, excuse me -- putin is like a guy playing at the casino in syria, a big pile of chips but never can go to the cashier. >> rose: and they said you can't even win. >> exactly, he can't go to the cashier's booth because the minute he leaves it all falls apart on him. so he's got a problem, too, at some point. is he going to stay there forever propping up the guy? >> rose: so why has he been so resistant to finding a transition government is this. >> i think partly because there hasn't been a lot of pressure, up to now, basically. >> rose: and there was nothing threatening assad on the ground that would have made him -- >> exactly, they would have beaten back the sane opposition -- >> rose: and all the cities like aleppo that they had -- >> and it gets to the mystery of why assad did this. in a sense, they had what they wanted and what assad has done by doing this is really reopening the whole case and the
whole question. but there is no military solution to syria, there's only a power-sharing solution that's going to have to bring the united states, saudi arabia and iran and russia to the table. >> rose: and iran. can't do it without iran. they have the main fighters. between iranian fighters and hezbollah and iranian mercenaries they recruited from central asia and pakistan, the iranians are key players. >> rose: coming back to sir. i can't mean time, i.s.i.s., the battle goes on in mosul. they have a plan using kurds as a part of the plan, base fighting force, boots on the ground in syria. >> you know, there is no question the i.s.i.s. problem still remains there, but it's not happening in a vacuum. it's derivative of this other issue. >> rose: it's a recruiting tool. >> exactly. i.s.i.s. is really a by-product of the pro-iranian militias in
iraq and the my lackey government trying to crush the sonyys of iraq and then i have islamist trends in the gulf feeding these guys money. it's a bloody mess because these states were basically propped up by the cold war. >> rose: what does it do to the attention on russian meddling in the russian elections? kicks it off the front page for sure. >> yeah. >> rose: the investigation continues by the f.b.i. >> it will continue and i think it will come back. i don't think that story is over, i don't think that story should be over. we need to know what russia did and how they did it to prevent it next time around. >> rose: and we feed to know if there was any coordination or collusion. >> right, was there any collusion. i'm never going to sleep easily on this issue until i see donald trump's tax returns. there is two issues. there is the issue of actual collusion between trump people and the russians to tilt the election his way. from what i've seen so far,
don't really see any hard evidence of that in any significant way. but then there is the question of is he compromised? and until we see his tax returns we won't know the answer to that. i assume there is a reason he's hiding them from us. >> rose: clearly. basically, the people around him says he'll never show you his tax returns. >> i assume there is a reason. that's what they care about more than the f.b.i. investigation. >> rose: there is also the summit going on in palm beach. >> yeah. >> rose: i forgot the column you wrote -- the title -- >> i said trump is a russian agent. >> rose: by taking the policy positions it plays into the hands of the chinese because alternative sources of energy, can provide jobs. rst, he says, i want to be tough with china on trade. how would i get tough with china on trade is this i would organize an 11-nation trading
block in asia, in the asian-pacific based on our values, our interests. >> rose: call it t.p.p. great name for it, charlie! that's what i would do. what does trump do the first day in office? rips up t.p.p. do you know what the real story of t.p.p. is? don't tell your listeners this -- we fleeced all these guys in asia, we got so much of what we wanted, why is it? because they want to be with us. the vietnamese want to be in a trading bloc with us. >> rose: they're scared of china. >> they want to organize, exactly. we had this great deal. he rips first day. day, two gets rid of the climate research and commitment to mitigate climate change. here's what i would say to him, mr. president, you don't believe in climate change, i do. let's put that aside. that's between you and your beach house. i believe in it, you don't. we'll set that here. do you believe in math? we are at now 7.2 billion
people, according to the u.n. population statistics, by 2030, 8.1. so basically another billion people will be here by 2030, charlie! hopefully you and i will still be here then. another billion people who will want to eat like us, drive like us and live in homes like us. that will put so much pressure on the plant that clean airstrikes water, power and energy efficiency have to be or else we'll be a bad biological experiment. please raise your hand in you phi america can be the greatest power in the world and not lead the global industry. i don't think so. we're ceding it to china. china can't breathe, so they have no choice but to invest in solar, batteries and efficiency, and they're doing it in holistic ways, buying american companies here to do it. so for both those reasons, trump must be a chinese agent, forget the russian agent, because he's
ceding these two issues to china. >> rose: that brings us to north korea, topping one or two to trade, probably one because they have more national security implications. we need china like we need russia on syria, we need china on north korea. >> absolutely, and you can bet when they get in the difficult trade talks there will be some kind of tradeoff. i'll squeeze north korea on this if you unsqueeze me on that. so i think that's where the bargaining will be. >> rose: that's his element. maybe he will be good at it. god bless him if he is. >> rose: yeah. but, charlie, we have three choices on north korea and they were actually the three obama faced on iran. bomb, acquiesce or negotiate. in the end, obama didn't want to bomb iran. he didn't want to acquiesce to the iranians getting bombed, so he negotiated. and i think that the same is
going to be true with north korea. >> rose: the interesting thing about north korea, it seems to me, is they're further along than the iranians. >> yes, and that makes it much harder. >> rose: i'm told by people who know these kinds of things but not necessarily 100% right, they're much closer than we even think they are. >> and that's scary. >> rose: that's what they said, and that's scary. >> closer to having the ability to miniaturize their fissile material into warheads and now put it on intercontinental ballistic missiles that could hit los angeles and that's why this is going to be a very unpleasant negotiation because we won't be able to get them back to zero as in 15 years with the iranians. we'll reduce the stockpile from maybe closer from 100 to the tens, and stop missile testing so they cannot perfect a system to get close us to. i think that's the best deal. the problem with north korea is we kept chasing the perfect and giving away the good. goes back to the bush
administration basically and i think at some point we'll have to bite the bullet or engage in a military action that would be horrific. there could be ten million people killed in it. we have 30,000 american troops here. trump has some leverage. one piece is to say to the chinese, i'm actually going to pull our troops out of south korea because we're going to leave this to you. when that happens, then the south koreans say, you're going? then they're going to want to get their own nuke. when that happens to the japanese, they will want to get their own nuke. we could say to the chinese, would you like to have a nuclear south korea and a nuclear japan on your doorstep? >> rose: it is said the japanese could do it overnight. >> they're like two screws away. if they can make the cars they make, you can bet they figured this out already. so there is leverage we have on the chinese to basically, come on, guys. by the way, how do you think the
russians feel? ever looked at the map to how russia curls around the north korea? they have a nuclear weapon on their doorstep. >> rose: and some worry about his temperament, to say it kindly, who believes that nuclear weapons are the only thing that will gain him respect. >> yeah, and unfortunately, charlie, we're going to have to give him a few toys because he's already got too many. the key thing to limit his delivery system so he can't hit us. and we've reported, my colleagues at the "times," that i know we've got a lot of really excellent cyber activity going on to really mess up their missile systems, but you can't count on it indefinitely. >> rose: let me go back to syria. >> please. >> rose: do you think, in the end, this was an appropriate action, even though the future is almost impossible to figure
out a way to find any solution without having the russians change their mind about seeking a transition government? >> yes, i believe that in response to this poison gas attack, this horrific, vial -- vile, violation of just the basic norms of humanity that it was the right thing on one day for the united states to use its power this way. >> rose: and no one else was doing it. many people tell me traveling around the world, whatever criticism there is of the united states, they look to the united states or have been for leadership. >> charlie, you know, still, and it's one of the things, you know, donald trump's never lived abroad, never did a junior year abroad, never looked at america from the outside. >> rose: bought some golf courses. >> and goes for little trips here and there. when you live abroad and look at america from the outside in, everyone loves to think america has the solution -- >> rose: capitalism. and all that. but at the end of the day, they
envy our optimism, our naivety. american optimism makes the world go around, the place where you can chase your dreams, where people do believe problems have a solution, and when we go dark as a country, when we go dark and cynical and mercantile as a country, it affects the mood of the whole world. so this was just one day for trump. i'm not going to exaggerate or whatever, but on this day, on this thing, i'm glad the united states of america drew this red line and said this is not on. i don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, but i think it was an important thing to do, and i'm glad my country did it? i'm glad you came to the table. >> thanks, charlie. >> rose: back in a moment. stay with us. >> rose: it has been a benchmark week in the trump presidency, the confirmation of his nominee to the supreme court, a key summit meeting with the president of china, and in a major policy shift thursday, president trump ordered a military strike on a government
air base in northern syria. 59 cruise missiles targeted syrian warplanes and facilities implicated in tuesday's deadly sarin gas attack on civilians. with me ian bremmer of eurasia group. he recently returned from the region. welcome back to this program. >> thank you, charlie. good to see you. >> rose: set out for me where you think this is, what did it accomplish and what are the risks? >> what it accomplished by far, it's the most significant foreign policy move that's been lauded both domestically and internationally for trump since he became president, right? i mean, the entire foreign policy establishment to the united states, many of which was never trump, both democrat and republican coming out full-throated support for what trump did, also allies around the world, australia, new zealand, saudi arabia, israel, germany, the u.k., canada, these are folks that have all been unnerved in various degrees with things about the trump administration
coming in and they're now all together saying we're glad he did this so that's clearly a plus. >> rose: the possible exceptions, china, russia, syria. >> and obviously iran. yeah, that's basically it. so russia being the big one because it and trump expected he would be able to develop a better relationship with russia, that's clearly well off the table right now, and the potential for real confrontation between those two is significant, but tillerson is still going to moscow in a week and the russians could have canceled, they chose not to, but they are clearly being tempered in the way they want to respond. the question is what has he accomplished aside from getting support for this one-off act. in terms to have the the war in syria he's accomplished very little because this isn't going to change the way assad behaves, isn't going to changes russian-iranian support for the regime. >> rose: what would change the way he behaves? >> a threat to assad's well being. >> rose: physical survival and
health. >> yeah, so either threat of a decapitation attack against syria and assad which is something that, given the territory he's taken and his support from the russians and iranians, he feels confident that's not coming o if he felt the diplomatic process led by the russians had the potential of throwing him under the bus, there is no reason to believe the russians are prepared to do that. >> rose: a lot of people said barack obama at every turn resisted doing this. i guess we'll find out whether it was a correct decision by donald trump. >> yes, but not for a while. you know, obama agoo -- agonized over this decision and ultimately decided not to take it, not because he thought there was a problem with the pinpoint strikes, but because he didn't know where we were going to go from there. now, trump, i think, killed not look any further than the strikes, right. he got the advice on what can i do to respond to these
abomination of chemical attacks against these civilians, against these children and he was able to come up with something that looks really good in the near term, but then what do we do? he has said in the last 48 hours that we want a transition in the near term from assad and he also said these photos affected him. in the next few weeks, we're going to see more photos of kids dead and there is no move away the from assad. the ball is in trump's court unless he wants to be left with continued failure. >> rose: and options. one is the slippery slope obama wanted to avoid. it's more military engagement which doesn't come just against assad with the risks to american soldiers' lives on the line but also comes with the russians and iranians supporting them and the potential for direct confrontation with a russian plane, with iranians getting killed on the ground, obviously those are vastly significant
more steps. >> rose: and more likely because the russians pulled out of the agreement. >> between the minister and the the russians in terms of deconflicting the air force on both sides. >> rose: right. yes, the russians made clear while trump can get away with this, they want to make it costly and quite risky for trump to take further escalatory steps against the regime. there is clearly no point for russians to throw assad under the bus. >> rose: does putin really want a confrontation with donald trump? >> no, but he wants to embarrass trump. putin believes and was advised by some kremlin officials, some no longer with us, that if trump became president, that the relationship with russia would be noticeably better and that's one of the reasons, the primary reason that putin decided not to go ahead with sanctions or steps against the u.s. when obama took those sanctions for the d.n.c. hacks. now, trump is now president. the relationship is not
improving. in fact, it's deteriorating faster and, at the very least, putin has a whole bunch of information from hacks on the republican national committee that never were released. i suspect we're probably going to start seeing some of that information. i think there are a lot of things russia can do -- >> rose: they'll funnel it through wikileaks? >> wikileaks or other sources, but it's hard for me to imagine that trump with all his domestic vulnerability around the ongoing f.b.i. investigation of collusion between suspected trump officials, those advising him and the russians, if the russians have information that can further embarrass trump, i suspect some of that's going to start coming out. >> rose: but i suspect also that the c.i.a. had lots of information that will embarrass vladimir putin. >> i'm sure that's true but how vulnerable is putin to that domestically? i'd argue virtually not at all. we see obama was unwilling to go that route.
despite the elections were delegitimized by putin, he could have put information out against putin showing compromising political information with key allies. he chose not to because it would have escalated in a way that doesn't necessarily hurt putin, it just angers him, and i think trump will be up against the same thing. the pop ganda -- propaganda organization the kremlin has is stronger than anything the united states could put into play. >> rose: it is, but the c.i.a. knows how to find secrets. >> sure. >> rose: they have lots of sashes and means to figure out everything there is bad to know. >> but your point is that we are moving back towards a cold war. >> rose: no, that's your point. >> i think that -- well, the russians don't have the same economic capabilities, they don't have the same political reach they used to, but i do think the level of confrontation between the u.s. and russia, the perception of zero sumness, if we win they lose, vice versaa, in russia's extended backyard,
including european elections, including things like libya, yemen, syria, that that is becoming real. >> rose: what also is becoming real as we know, that the f.b.i. has acknowledged there is an ongoing investigation to look whether there was any collusion between russians and trump operatives. >> exactly, and that the one of the most interesting things here is the fact that, you know, in the near term, democrats and republicans are going to be talking less about trump colluding with the russians because he's now on the right side, the right side of the russian issue -- lindsey graham, john mccain supporting very strongly what trump is doing against the russians in syria, but that doesn't change the f.b.i. investigation, which is going to continue at its own pace. that's going to come out, the media is going to be following it and the russians are now an increasingly interested player, not very cooperative with trump. >> rose: how do you think the chinese view this? >> i think the cheese are both surprised and annoyed that,
while they were meeting came over to mar-a-lago to meet with trump that this announcement was dropped upon them, so, as a consequence, you know, the importance, the pomp of that meeting is suc is succonded to. this they supported sur chiewlly all of the russian vetos at the security council when none of the other permanent members did. i'm not surprised if the chinese will be on the russian side on this issue. they won't go to the mat on syria the way they'd taiwan or north korea. >> rose: but as i understand a message when trump when he threatens north korea saying if the chinese won't help we may go it alone, the chinese may say, you know what? he's serious. >> that's right, and i think that was in some ways the most useful thing that came out of this entire episode for trump is the fact that he showed a level
of unpredictability to the chinese and makes the chinese now think, you know, we may need to give a little to get a little on north korea, but, still, what trump has shown so far is that when he goes to the negotiating table, he's really all about the stick, he's not about the carrot, and while the chinese might be more willing to accept that, the north koreans probably are not. keep in mind that kim jong un just had assassinated his half brother who was under the protection of the chinese government. now, someone doing -- willing to do that, when the chinese are responsible for 90% of your economy, is not someone that is easily going to cowed by threats of a strategic -- of a surgical strike. i mean, this was also a guy who was willing to launch a ballistic missile as xi jinping was on his way halfway around the world to visit donald trump. so his willingness to put himself on the map and
potentially embarrass the chinese is quite significant, actually. i'm hoping people who are advising trump are giving him some of that input. >> rose: the summit is now over. what has it accomplished? do you know? >> i think the summit, so many people in the media believed the support would be negative, that trump was saying the chinese are raping us on trade. the fact we ended up talking about syria and that trump was the aggressor, trump was the actor, he was the one making decisions makes xi jinping not look like he's calling the shots. for last two or three months, everyone including you and me have been talking about how xi jinping is the one who's able to make up more ground in the international environment. t.p.p., the trade agreement didn't get done, the chinese are the ones spending the money. now suddenly the americans are actually making the news. i think that helps, it helps resets and creates balance, it also creates diplomatic space, the two great men have met each other. now the professionals underneath them can spend time maybe
working through can there be some cooperation on these issues without the hot glare of the lights focusing on the body language, was there a good handshake, all the things the media would have torn apart in the next week they're not doing that, and if trump can avoid tweeting about china saying the chinese have to pay more and focus on syria -- >> rose: he could say i just love xi jinping. >> that would be awesome. he was very masculine bombing assad. >> rose: they know he's prepared to engage if he thinks is necessary. >> i think the biggest plus that comes out of this entire episode is actually u.s.-china, not syria or russia. >> rose: the other interesting thing, though, is they seem to have done it well in terms of whether it was proportionate, number one. >> yes. >> rose: number two, the military and the people he trusts in the military were there for the decision-making. >> yes. >> rose: it was handled
reasonably quick. >> mm-hmm. >> rose: it was, as i said, proportionate. >> and they told the russians -- >> rose: and they told the russians. >> -- in advance. the fact that he didn't go to congress, i have no problem with that. they go to congress, off vote, the syrians are prepared, they move their stuff away. i mean, here, it's definitive, you respond, that's that. i actually think the people who are criticizing him for not taking the time to go tore a vote, that's an ill-founded criticism. >> rose: but is it right, though? whether ill-founded or not, i mean, should we have the executive office go to the legislative under some separation of powers to get permission when they are going to engage in these kinds of military actions, invading another country, so to speak, in terms of an attack on one of their airports? >> the legal definition of whether american national security is at stake and therefore whether you need a congressional vote is nebulous.
many other presidents used that to their advantage. i think given the extraordinary issues trump was under -- >> rose: barack obama was going to go to congress. >> not on libya. >> rose: syria. ight. >> rose: and right after, the british have basically, their parliament had said no. >> but not many analysts of obama believe that he was going to do that if the brits actually had voted in his favor. so again it's hard for me to point the finger on trump on that issue. and your point which is that the process actually went well. so many things about trump have been, oh, my god, this process is a dumpster fire. we have no idea if this is guy who's unfit for office can actually make a decision with his fingers on the button. well, this is the first time we've seen his finger on an actual military button, something that's a significant escalation and, actually, thanks god, he handled it okay.
>> rose: on balance, do you think this is a smart action by the president or remains to be seen? >> i think that, if the united states had not responded to these chemical weapons strikes by assad, no one else was going to do so, no one. and that is a very good reason to bomb, and it's also a very good reason not to bomb. >> rose: that is also testament to the idea that, still, there are a lot of people around the world want america to lead. >> there's no question. and the willingness of america to actually lead on this issue, we perhaps may have induced assad to think a little more carefully before the next chemical weapons attack. we've already seen that assad has launched since those strikes more attacks against syrian civilians. we haven't changed the outcome of the war, we're still going to see more kids dying. trump isn't accepting syrian refugees. trump doesn't want the syrian kids here. he's planning on cutting back on foreign aid.
if trump decides to change his mind on some of those things, you and i can sit down and have a different conversation. for now most of america's first is firmly in place. >> rose: stay with us. >> rose: the humanitarian conflict the syria took another disastrous turn. tuesday assad launched a chemical weapons attack that left 86 dead including dozens overchildren. the trump administration retaliated by firing missiles at the air base. dr. rolla hallan is the c.e.o. and founder of can do. she recently led an effort to rebuild a children's hospital in aleppo. dr. anne schuchat is a professor at the icon school of medicine .
there has been another chemical weapons attack outside of damascus that happened today. >> today. >> rose: and you know this from your workers. >> i know this from my sources directly there in the field. so the doctor who actually responded to this told me about it, about four hours ago, which is shortly after it happened. >> rose: and what did he say? the first thing you know when there is a chemical attack is that -- it's usually the smell. you can smell something. today's was chlorine. that's not to say it's not mixed with sarin or something equally hideous which is what we saw on tuesday, of course, but that's the first thing that you often notice is the smell and then the patients start to writhe. >> rose: this is an important fact. if the fact that so soon after
retaliation against the use of chemical weapons they're using chemical weapons. >> yes, that's his response and that's what we've seen before is it's not first time and it will not be the last time. there have been actually been more than 200 attacks since 2013, chemical attacks. >> rose: how many? more than 200. >> rose: yeah, mostly chlorine or -- >> oh, a mixture. mostly chlorine, but a low-grade level. >> rose: so the intent is to kill civilians. >> this is a war on civilians. i take objection to it being called a civil war. this is not the civille half the civilians killing the other half. this is a regime that's attacking. >> rose: a terror tactic. absolutely, to quell the ongoing opposition and, as a doctor and as you know, there has been a use of destruction of healthcare as a weapon of war. physicians for human rights have documented that hospital after hospital, doctor and nurse have
been killed specifically for their medical -- for their medical support and for providing that because they think it's a much more effective way of attacking a civilian population. >> rose: where do you put barrel bombs in this? >> that's been one of the biggest and most deadly weapons used against civilian populations mainly in opposition-held areas and this is what i was meaning the airstrikes and aerial targeting of civilians has been mainly been by use of conventional, incindery weapons, barrel bombs and notwithstanding the use of chemical weapons but it's a small fraction compared to the other weaponnary. >> rose: what do you think is necessary for governments in the world th to do? >> first of all, the biggest difference between using chemical weapons which we care about the more conventional ways of killing people is that to die
through a chemical gas is the most obscene way to die that there is, and i say that as someone, as a doctor who has witnessed hundreds and hundreds of thousands of children die. so whether it's being paralyzed where you can't breathe with sarin, or where you're inhaling chlorine which turns your lungs into hydrochloric as id -- acid as you inhale it. chlorine doesn't kill you as effectively but the weapons that cause the most awful way to die, so parents watch their children dying in this worst way because children are the most vulnerable. parents lose their entire families at once, and i can understand that trump doesn't like seeing dead babies anymore than we do and anymore than all of our colleagues and friends and relatives in syria do who have to watch their babies dying either, and a baby is a baby.
it is not a terrorist. these attacks including the sarin attack a few miles away, are attacks on hospitals and civilian areas. it's very, very far from i.s.i.s. territory. they're not even close to the normal front lines on the ground. they're nowhere near i.s.i.s. >> rose: i'm asking two questions. one, you support what president trump did, you think this was a start? >> i do. i think that what needs to happen is the u.s. government needs to declare this not only as war crimes but assad and putin as war criminals. assad and all his gang, actually, and every important government around the world needs to do the same thing. then, secondly, what needs to happen is that the u.n. secretary general gutierrez needs to quit stalling and appoint a special prosecutor to
investigate and gather the evidence of these war crimes for a future tribunal, that was approved by the u.n. general assembly in december, and here we are in april and that needs to be done and that's where ambassador nikki haley can also leverage that. then thirdly, we need to look at the billions of dollars of humanitarian aid and medical supplies that are channeled through the u.n. directly to damascus where they are then being controlled by assad's family and friends and that is used to basically consolidate assad's political position and strength and is actually subsidizing and fueling the war, and we see these very unhealthy relationships being -- like the world health organization has a relationship directly with the ministry of defense. it actually buys all the blood bags -- >> rose: the world health organization. >> has a direct relationship with the ministry of defense
where it buys blood bags for all of assad's army. that's a good example of the weaponization of blood. so on the one hand you have jets and helicopters dropping barrel bombs and missiles destroying hospitals and creating this blood bath we've seen and we have no blood going where it's needed, it's going directly to the assad army. that's what we mean also where the targeting of hospitals is a very clear use of what we call the weaponization of healthcare. so we are using people's needs for health as a weapon against them. >> rose: are you disappointed in the obama administration's action against syria? >> what trump did last night is what obama should have done in 2013 where we saw 1100 civilians killed. what he did last night needs to be done again and again because
what he has said, what obama said is that this is intolerable. and what trump has said is this is not just intolerable but we will not tolerate it, and that's a very strong position. >> rose: and no one else is prepared to lead so we are. >> i think that's the first step forward, but it needs to show we will not tolerate the assad government that is continuing to do this as we've seen with today's further use of the chemical. >> rose: i think there are a few cities in syria that have suffered more than aleep o. you had factions right at each other there for a long time. >> mm-hmm. >> rose: you had a hospital there. >> so i have been involved in this area of humanitarian response since the beginning for the last six yearsenned involved in the building of six hospitals in northern syria and in the aleppo government. and what we saw in governor in the besiegement of aleppo happened and the attack there was in weekend five hospitals were bombed, including a
children's hospital, by the independent -- >> rose: and you assume intentionally? >> we don't assume. we know that the data collected by physicians for human rights, by amnesty international, that this has been an intentional destruction of healthcare rather than collateral damage of war. so that children's hospital that was run by the independent doctors association had actually been bombed a staggering six times beforehand and, really, that was what galvanized this global movement to rebuild the children's hospital in aleppo. it was our way of saying, if war criminals are going to commit these murders and governments are going to stand by and let them act with absolute impunity, we humanitarians and doctors will not be deterred from doing our life saving work, we're going to galvanize global action and we'll continue to rebuild and that's what we did with the people's convoy. >> rose: are chemical weapons used anywhere else in the world? >> they have been, of course,
used in iraq extensively, and we know how they were used in world war i, of course. that's why we have the convention. >> rose: the iraqis used chemical weapons against the iranians, didn't they? >> yes, they used it throughout the gulf war, and they used mainly sulfur mustard. >> rose: the iran yon war was before the gulf war. >> yes, they have used it and a problem with a lot of those gass they hang around for a very long time, and we know that. even though they have been used in other place, but we also know more importantly is that, you know, in syria they have been importing the ingredients for chemical weapons for several decades. >> rose: and how many of them did they eliminate because of the agreement that was put together in 2013? >> well, we know from what they said at the time that the sites they cleared were not all the sites. >> rose: we also heard reports they had more than 90% of the
chemical weapons. >> and if you look for how long they have been stoc stockpilingd importing them not only from the soviet union in the '80s, but with the help of soviet, czechoslovakia, western european firms, germany, still exporting the ingredients for sarin, after 2006, britain did it extensively between 2006 and 2010, so they have enormous stockpiles. to say 90% means what, so we still have -- >> rose: the reason i'm asking is one of the principal reasons obama said he did not retaliate after they crossed the red line is because they made the agreement to eliminate a significant part of the chemical weapons from syria, and many observed and have said a significant part of those were taken out of the country. obviously not all because they've used them most recently. >> we don't know russia wasn't
bringing back the same sarin it took away after 2013. what we also do know is with something like chore lean which is a dual use compound, it's the most important tool of medicine, we use it to disinfect our water, in fact, it is also important legitimately, but you can make chlorine bombs very easily and cheaply, so chlorine becomes a cheap and effective way of causing mass tearization of a population in the end where we think very clearly tuesday's massacre was indeed an overkill. they didn't intend to draw this much international attention because we've seen this operate on a strategy where we had these low-level attacks that killed just a few people here and there, and which the international media doesn't really care about, until you see something like tuesday, which is almost certainly because they didn't get the mixture of is a reason and chlorine quite right and there was a great deal of
sarin and as we've seen they did do it in a very pre-determined way to cause maximum effect and that's what we saw and why we got the attention. >> rose: thank you for coming and thank you for the humanitarian work that you do. >> my pleasure. thank you. >> rose: thank you for joining us. see you next time. for more about this program and earlier episodes, visit us online at pbs.org and charlierose.com. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
hello and welcome to "kqed newsroom." i'm marisa lagos filling in for thuy vu. coming up on our program, yesterday lawmakers in sacramento narrowly approved a plan to repair the state's aging roads and bridges. and we talked to steve lee, the first to be elected to mayor of a u.s. city. plus musician chuck prophet joins us in studio to perform a song from his latest album which he describes as california noir. but first as part of our ongoing coverage of the first 100 days of the trump administration, yesterday president trump authorized a missile strike against syria in retaliation for its alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians. and today the u.s. senate confirmed ne