tv Democracy Now LINKTV April 13, 2017 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
04/13/17 04/13/17 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! pres. trump: : right now we are not gettining along witith russt all. we may b be at an all-time lowon terms of relationship with russia. amy: president trump warns relations with russia are deteriorating as u.s. accuses moscow of covering up the syrian government alleged role in last week's chemical attack that killed 87 people. meanwhile, russia is accusing the u.s. of raking international law by launching airstrikes
against a syrian airbase. we will get the latest. calls are mounting for white house has a richer sean spicer to resign over comments he made about hitler. >> as despicable as hitler, who did not even sink to using chemical weapons. he was not using the gas on his own people the same way that a ssad is done. amy: we will get resesponse from the ananne frank center. all of that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. secretary of state rex tillerson has wrapped up a visit to moscow where he met with russian president vladimir putin and russian foreign minister sergey lavrovov. the meetings come at a time of increased tension between washington and moscow. on wednesday during a press conference with nato's secretary
general, president trump said relations with russia had reached a new low point. pres. trump: i it would be wonderfufu a as we were discussg just a litittle whilile ago if o and our country could get along with russia. riright now we're not getting along with rurussia at all. wewe may be atat an all-time lon termss of relatioionship with russia. this has built for a long period of time. amy: trump's comments came a day after the white house accused russssia of attempting to coverp the role of the syrian government in the recent chchemical attack in syryria ttt killed 87 pepeople. russia has rejected the claim saying the u.s. has been too quick to blame syrian president bashar al-assad. at the united nations, russia blocked a security council resolution wednesday to denounce the chemical attack and to call on assad's government to cocooperate with an internatioil probe. meanwhile, russia has accused the united states of violating international law by bombing a syrian airbase last weweek.
the rising tension with russia came as president trump wednesday reversed his long-running criticism of nato, saying in a joint press conference with nato's secretary general that he no longer believes the military alliance is obsolete. pres. trump: secretary-general and i hahad a productive discussion about what more nato can do in the e fight againstt terrorism. i complained about that a long time ago and they made a change. and now they do fight terrorism. i said it was obsolete. it is no longer obsolete. president trump described nato is obsolete on the campaign trail and doubt to reconsider u.s. membership unless other nato members increased their share of military spending. meanwhile, donald trump's adult son eric trump cited mounting tensions between the u.s. and russia as evidence that top trump associates were not colluding with russia to sway the 2016 election.
in an interview with the telegraph, eric trump said -- "if there was anything that syria did, it was to validate the fact that there is no russia tie." eric trump's comment came as the ap reported donald trump's former campaign manager, paul manafort, will register with the justice department retroactively as a foreign agent for lobbying he carried out between 2012 and 2014 on behalf of of a pro-russian ukrainian think tank. the revelation came a day after a bunk with washington post" reported the fbi obtained a secret fisa warrant to monitor the communications of trump adviser carter page last summer , arguing carter was acting as a russian agent. president trump said he ordered last week's tomahawk missile attack over a dessert of chocolate cake with visiting chinese president xi jinping. trump made the remarks in an interview broadcast wednesday by fox business. pres. trump: we had finished
dinner and we are now having dessert. and we had the most beautiful these of chocolate cake that you have ever seen. president xi was enjoying it. i said, we have just launched 59 missiles heading to iraq. >> headed to syria? pres. trump: yes, heading toward syria. and i want you to know that. amy: president trump's commentt came as he reversed his long-running campaign pledge to brand chinina as a currency manipulatotor. the u-turn came as trump sought president xi's help in pressusuring northth korea overs nunuclear program. u.s. intelligence officials said wednesday satellite photos show north korea is making preparations for what could be sixth nuclear weapons test. president donald trump signaled wednesday he's souring on his chief strategist, steve bannon. in an interview with the "new york post," trump said -- "i like steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late.
i'm my own strategist and it wasn't like i was going to change strategies because i was facing crooked hillary." trump also confirmed a reported rift between bannon and trump's son-in-law and senior adviser jared kushner. according to the daily beast, the conflict became so fierce that at one point bannon called christer a "glglobalist." bannon is ththe former ediditorf the website breitbart.com, which frequently publishes racisist, sexist, and white supremacist views. the united nations warned wednesday the risk of mass starvation is rapidly rising in yemen, nigeria, somalia, south sudan. u.n. spokesperson adrian edwards said a preventable humanitarian catastrophe is fast becoming an inevitability. >> the risk of mass deaths from starvation in the horn of africa in yemen and nigeria is growing.
this warning is in light of the drought situations you have been hearing about t also affecting many neighboring countries, and a funding shortfall that is become so severe that unavoidable humanitarian crisis in the region, possibly worse than that in the case of the horn of africa in 2011, is fast becoming nevitt ability. amy: e earlier this year, the u. appealed for $4.4 billion to prevent famine, but has received only about one-fifth of those funds. the u.n. warning came as a group of 55 u.s. lawmakers wrote to donald trump warning the president needs congressional approval if he seeks to expandnd u.s. support for the saudi-led bombing campaign and blockade of yemen. white house press secretary sean spicer continued an apology tour wednesday after he tried to drum up support for more u.s. military attacksks againstst the syrian regime by comparing president bashar al-assad to adolph hitler and falsely claiming even hitler never used chemical weapons. one of spicer's apologies came at a public forum in washington,
d.c., with tv personality greta van susteren. >> i made a mistake. therere is no ---- there is no r way to say it.t. got into a topicic i should not have. i screwed up. amy: meanwhile, the office of billionaire jewish casino magnate sheldon adelson said that spicer called adelson to apologize for his comments. last year, adelson spent tens of millions of dollars to support trump and republican campaigns.. there's no indication spicer called jewish organizations or jewish members of congress to apologize. there have been widespread calls for spicer to step down. steven goldstein, the executive director of the anne frank center for mutual respect, said spicer is guilty of holocaust denial and should be fired at once. we'll have more on sean spicer with steven goldstein after headlines. in kansas, republican ron estes won a congressional seat in a special election tuesday by a surprisingly small margin for a
heavily conservative district. estes beat democratic challenger james thompson by a slim 53-to-46 margin in a district that donald trump carried by 27 percentage points last november. the narrow victory could signal trouble for republicans in another congressional special election in georgia next week and could be a sign of voter anger against the republican party less than 100 days into the trump administration. in afghanistan, a suicide bomber killed five people and injured 10 others wednesday in an attack near government offices in the capital city kabul. isis claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred in one of kabul's safest neighborhoods and was timed with the end of the working day for government employees. inin washington state, immigrant rights groups say a hunger strike at an ice jail grew to more than 700 people or about , the population at the for-profit detention center in tacoma.
they're demanding better food and conditions and protesting the fact they are paid only one dollar a deal for jail work assignments. this is jonathan rodriguez guzmanan. we e don't have contact. that is one of the things we want to point out to them. better food. better medical care. we are held indoors 23 hours. we should get more than just one hour. ice policy dictates they can have force-feeding after 72 hours. it is not clear if they will impose a today when some of the protesters will have been on hunger strike for three days. the prison is runun by geo grou. in florida, prosecutors have charged a north miami police officer with attempted manslaughter for shooting the unarmed bebehavioral therapist f
an autistic man. videdeo ofhe incident last summer shows charleses kinsey lying on his back with his hands up and telling police, "all he has s is a toy truruck." kikinsey was shot by north miami police o officer jonathan alalea in the leg, and says he was handcuffeded and left bleedingnr 20 minutes without medical aid. at the time of the shooting, kinsey was helping to calm his patient, a a young autisistic mn who had wawandered away from a a grgroup home. if convied, aleddada faces u upo five years in prison. in sacramento, california, police have launched a criminal investigation into a white police officer who w was caughtn video slamming a black man to the ground and pummeling him. cell phone footage, as well as newly released dashcam video, shows the officer, whose name has not been released, tacklklig
and then repeatedly punching 24-year-old nandi cain, jr., i n the face. >> oh, my god. hey! why are you doing him like that? ait! what are you treating him lilike that? amy: the incident began when cain questioned why the officer stopped him for allegedly jaywalking. sacramento's police department on wednesday called the ofofficer's behavior ununprofessiononal and disturbi. the officer has been placed on paid leave pending an investigation. after it's completed, the sacramento county district attorney will decide whether to press criminal charges. in new york city, the family of ramarley graham filed a lawsuit wednesday against the nypd demanding it comply with open records laws and hand over documents related to graham's killing more than five years ago. on february 2, 2012, police officer richard haste shot the teenager inside his home in
front of his grandmother and six-year-old brother. haste was initially charged with manslaughter, but a judge later threw out the indictment on procedural grounds. a second grand jury elected not to indict. wednesday's lawsuit seeks police disciplinary records, evidence logs, and other information. graham's family is also demanding the police department fire other officers involved in the killing and put them on trial. the lawsuit was filed on what would have been ramarley graham's 24th birthday. united airlines said wednesday it will fully refund the tickets of all passengers on board saturday's flight from which a doctor was beaten before beingng forcibly dragged off the plane. video of the incident, which left dr. david dao bleeding and disoriented, went viral, prompting a backlash against united that sparked boycotts and wiped hundreds of millions of dollars from the company stock price. chicago's aviation department
said wednesday that two more officers involved d in the beatg had been placed on leaeave. meanwhile, lawyers f for dr. dao filed an emergency request wednesdaday that wouould require united to o preserveve all videf the incident as they prepare a civil case against the airline. the police went after dr. dao when he refused to give up his paid seat when the united airlines asked people if anyone would give up their seat. in south africa, more than 30,000 protesters marched in the capital pretoria wednesday, calling on president jacob zuma to resign over charges of corruption and mismanagement of the economy. this is protester queen marema. >> we want to remove zuma from his presidency. we are tired of his corruption. we are not happy about how he does things. please, help us. zuma westfall.
#zumamustfall. amy: wednenesday's protests came on zuma's 75th birthday and less than a week before zumuma facesa nono-confidee vote inn parliamentnt. and in new yoror the first muslim woman to serve as a u.s. judge was found dead in the hudson river wednesday. police say sheila abdus-salaam was found floating in the river near upper manhattan, not far from her home in harlem. her body was fully clothed and showed no signs of trauma, although her familily said an autopsy will determine the cause of death. judge abdus-salaam was appointed to the new york court of appeals in 2013 by governor andrew cuomo. in a video for the citizens committee for new york city, abdus-salaam recalalled tracing her ancecestry. >> researchihing that t historyi discovereded that i am the great-t-granddauaughter of slal. that is important because this greaeat-granddaughteter of slavs the first african-american woman on the highest court of the
state of new york. amy: judge sheila abdus-salaam was 65 years old. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. nermeen: and i'm nermeen shaikh. welcome to all of our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. we turn now to look at u.s.-russian relations. secretary of state rex tillerson has wrapped up a visit to moscow where he met with russian president vladimir putin and russian foreign minister sergey lavrov. the meetings come at a time of increased tension between washington and moscow. on wednesday during a press conference, president trump said rerelations with rusussia hadd reached a new low point. pres. . trump: it would be wondererful, , as we wewere disg just a litittle while ago, if no and our country to geget alongng with russia. right now w we're not gettiting along g with russia a allll. we m may be at a an all-timeme n terms of relationship p with
russia. this h has builtlt for a long pd of time. it we'e're going to sesee what hahappens. putitin is the leader r of russ. a strong country. we are very, very strong country. amy: trump's comments came a day after the white house accused russia of attempting to cover up the role of the syrian government in the recent chemical attack in syria that killed 87 people. russia has rejected the claim saying the u.s. has been too , quick to blame syrian president bashar al-assad. at the united nations, russia blocked a security council resolution wednesday to denounce the chemical attack and d to cal on assad's government to cooperate with an international probe. meanwhile russia has accused the , united states of violating international law by bombing a syrian airbase last week. nermeen: the rising tension also comes at a a time when president trump is reveversing hisis critm of nato.o. on the campaign trail, trtrump described nato as obsolete and vowed to recononsider u.s. membership because it was
"costing us a fortune." bubut on wedndnesday, trump stra didifferent totone. pres. trump: the secretary-general and i had a productive discussion about what more natato can do in the fight against terrorism. i complained about that a long time ago, and they made a change. and now they do fight terrorism. i said it was obsolete.. it is no longer obsolete. it is my hope that nato will take on an increased role in supporting our iraqi partntns in ththeir battttle against isis. amy: president trump's remark came one day after trump signed off on allowing the former yugoslav republic montenegro to join nato, a move opposed by russia which has c criticized te , continued expansion of nato. we're joined by stephen cohen professor emeritus of russian , studies and politics at new york university and princeton university. his most recent book, "soviet
fates and lost alternatives: from stalinism to the new cold war" is out in paperback. he's a contributing editor at the nation magazine. and joining us from london, jonathan steele former moscow , correspondent for the guardian. he is chief reporter at the website middle east eye. he is the author of "eternal russia: yeltsin, gorbachev, and the mirage of democracy." stephen cohen, let's begin with you. explain what you understand took place in moscow yesterday and this meeting between the foreign rexster lavrov and tillerson, the secretary of state, joined by the president putin. leadership knows mr. tillerson very, very well. for six or seven years, they dealt directly with him, including putin, i'm one of the largest energy deals russia had ever made with the western energy giant. in this case, exxonmobil.
they would not have made that for many billions of dollars if they did not think -- excuse me -- that mr. tillerson was a deeply serious, confident, and honorable man. we can have our own views about the power of global oil companies in world affairs, but this is a bilateral relationship. therefore, when tillerson came to moscow yesterday in his new capacity, they knew they were talking with a man of immense experience because exxonmobil has its own state department and intelligence services. and a man that they could trust to be candid with them. and they had questions for mr. tillerson. we only y heard echoes of that n the public statements. one question was -- by the way, lavrov, the foreign minister, met first with tillerson and then putin joined them.
altogether, about five hours. the first was, what is going on in washington? what is all this talk that putin is our covet? are you people operating on the assumption? secondly, who is making policy toward us in washington? remember that when president obama had reached an agreement last year with president putin for joint military cooperation in syria, our department of defense sabotaged that policy by bombing a syrian troop camp. putin publicly said, who is making policy in washington? i think those were the two fundamental questions they were going to ask. the third question was, that we had agreed, said putin to tillerson, that you now accepted our position which we have held to for years, but which president obama rejected, that
the choice is between president assad in damascus or the islamic state in damascus. you said y you accepted that position, but after this chemical gas attack, you seem to have drifted from that position. we need to know now your position because we're going to base our military calculations in syria on what you tell us today. tillerson anding president trump extremely important yesterday. it has been lost in all of this madcap kremlin game in washshington, ththat american-relatioions relations y be at an all-time low. that is a very poor and statement. it gets our attention back on the essential. tillerson said, there is don't trust between us. and that is not acceptable when we're talking about the two nuclear superpowers. so where all of the media riff on this, the mainstream media here is what it -- here's what
it wants to hear, i thought that was very important. the news is very bad, but that was a piece of good news. nermeen: when you say russia wanted to know who is making policy and washington, what do they suspect if it is not trump and tillerson? who might be making policy in washington? >> what do you suspect? nermeen: you tell us. >> i'm not a conspiracy buff, but we have a certain reality. i did not vote for president trump, but i certainly supported his campaign promise that cooperation with russia would be, as he put it, great. and if i have a minute, let me tell you why i think it is great. i think, and i have been doing this for 40 years, studying american-russian relations as a professor, but i have also been inside occasionally. i think this is the most dangerous moment in american-russian relations, at least since the cuban missile
crisis. arguably, it is more dangerous because it is more complex. we -- meanwhile, in washington, we have these, in my judgment, factual's accusations that trump has somehow been copper rise by the kremlin. in americant moment have an russian relations, we have an american president being crippled by the worst imaginable -- let's stop and think. no american president has ever been accused essentially of treason. this is what we're talking about, or that h his associates haveve committed t treason. imagine, for example, john kennnnedy during the cuban misse crisis, for the viewers who are not of a certain age, the kennedy administration was presented and the evidence, by the way, was presented to is, they showed us surveillance photos. there was no doubt with the soviets had done. missile silos in cuba. no evidence has been presented today of anything. an adjective kennedy had been
accused -- imagine if kennedy had been accused of being a secret can let agent. he would have been crippled. the only way he could have proved he wasn't, was to launch a war against the soviet union. at that time, the option was nuclear war. so the question arises, why did trump launch 50 tomahawk missiles at a syrian air force base, god help us, he did kill some people, but was of no military value whatsoever? was this meant to show i am not a kremlin agent? havelly, a president would done the following. you would go to the united nations --putin says you should go to the hague -- and ask for an investigation about what happened with those chemical weapons. and then you would decide what to do. but while having dinner at mar-a-lago with the leader of china, who was deeply humiliated because he is an ally of russia,
they rushed off these tomahawk missiles. over chocolate cake. your donald trump himself describe -- >> i often say that about care cake. i often say, god, this is the best care cake i had ever seen in the world. that is an american expression. nermeen: initially said barak come in a syria. >> i'm not in the mode of bashing trump if he gets something right. we have to cling to what we have. so we asked this question, why did they do that? why did trump do it? fed bad intelligence informrmation or dububious information? we have a long history of that in america. that is why the russians wanted to ask tillerson, who is making policy? because we tell you that your narratives are not true. -- me add one thing because then i will stop. this is very important.
the number two man in the kremlin leadership, the prime minister of russia, dmitry medvedev. he is considered to be the most pro-western membership of the leadership. he is the man on whom president obama and secretary of state clinton based their entire so-called reset. he was sitting in the presidency at the moment. or we keep him in power. so everybody liked prime minister medvedev. set in the aftermath of this, we are on the brink of war and american-russian relations are utterly ruined. so the pro-western faction in the kremlin is saying that, need i tell you what the so-called state patriots are telling putin about what is going on. that is why what tillerson said is so important. amy: we're going to go to break and come back to this discussion. , weddition to stephen cohen will be joined by jonathan
amy: "there's a new world coming." this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. nermeen: donald trump's adult n said a mounting tensions as evidence that top trump not colludinge with russia to sway the 2016 election. in an interview with "the telegraph" eric said -- "if there was anything that syria did, it was to validate the fact that therere is no russian tie." we are joined now by two guests,
here in new york, stephen cohen, professor emeritus of russian studies and politics at new york university and princeton university. amy: joining us from london jonathan steele, former moscow , correspondent for the guardian. he is chief reporter at the website middle east eye. he is the author of "eternal russia: yeltsin, gorbachev, and the mirage of democracy." thank you for joining us again. you spent years in moscow. the significance of what donald trump's son said, really what was pointingen out, that perhaps this bombing was about, given what is happening in washington right now, questioning donald trump's relationship with russia, that they wanted to prove something once and for all? >> well, i think the people who benefited from this terrible gas incident last week was certainly theassad, certainly not russian government. the people who benefited, as you
suggested in the question, the people who were defending themselves against the optimization that trump was of moscow. -- accusation a trump was of moscow. what we would now call deep state, kind of alliance between the top military brass in washington, the arms manufacturers, and the intelligence agencies who were worried that trump was somehow getting out of control and opening up good relations with russia, and they wanted to get him back on the traditional track of confrontation with russia. of course, the third group that will benefit, the armed opposition to assad because they suddenly have a new lease of life when it looked as if they were on the verge of losing their last sliver of territory around idlib in northwest syria, they have been given the perhaps the option of being defended military elite by nato -- militarily by nato. they have had one airstrike, and honestly hoping for more. they're not going to compromise in the geneva talks.
everyone who has been fitted is on the non-syrian, non-russian side. nermeen: there are those that argue that the assad regime has benefited, simply by warning the rebels not to continue their fight against the regime. not by these of chemical weapons. that is why it seems so unlikely that the syrians would have used chemical weapons. of course, they're still using conventional bombing and using their ground forces to try to push them out of idlib. the gas attack was the last thing they wanted. it is important to point out that although the russians vetoed the resolution in the un security council last night, calling for syria to cooperate, the element of cooperation which the west wanted, the u.s. and britain, and france, was they should show their flight logbooks other aircraft. that is a huge intrusion of sovereignty, which the syrians
could not accept. as lavrov pointed out in his amarks with tillerson in joint press conference, the syrian government has written to the organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons, offering access to the field that was hit by the american cruise missiles, but also calling quite legitimately for the rebels to give accesess to e site where the sarin gas was used, to see whether indeed it was caused by an airstrike or somebody on the ground who was doing a dirty trick to try to discredit the syrian government. amy: kareem shaheen was the first western reporter to visit the site, the chemical weapons attack. in a piece headlined "'the dead were wherever you looked': inside syrian town after gas attack," the guardian examined the warehouse and silos directly next to where the missile had landed. and shaheen says they "found nothing but an abandoned space covered in dust and half-destroyed silos reeking of leftover grain and animal
manure." he went on to write -- "residents said the silos had been damaged in air raids six months ago, and had stood unused since then." your response? well, that is true. i mean, that report is accurate. at a crucial evidence is, where did the sarin gas come from? -- hasssor of m.i.t. was just come out with a report trying to discredit the white house statement the d day befor, for page whitete house statetem. millimeterhat 122 rocket tube lying on the ground that has been shown to reporters and others who a come to the bye was not broken open impact with the ground, but by someone that crashed onto it from above. that suggests it had to have been broken by somebody standing on the ground, putting
explosives onto it. from above, rather than being something dropped from an aircraft from on high. , i would: stephen c cohen like to ask you, if in fact, as russia and the assad regime claim they had nothing to do with this chemical weapons attack, what do they believe -- who do they believe is responsible? >> well, we come back to where we began. that is what they asked tillerson. they showed them their intelligence, which corresponds to what jonathan said. other way, jonathan steele is one of the preeminent journalistic authorities on russia and knows a lot about the middle east. i take very seriously what he told you. putin went on to say -- maybe he should not say, but the one thing about putin, he is very candid. he said twice yesterday, sometimes i get the day's
confused because of the time difference in moscow, it was a provocation. forsed the russian words provocation. he said someone is try to provoke war between the united states and russia. .e did not say who but jonathan has given us a suggestion, that powerful forces in washington did not like --mp's stated policy cooperation with russia. and have done everything they can to destroy the possibility. let's be a little bit grown-up here. especially on this program. you have a lot of people -- you had a lot of people on this program over the years who are deeply suspicious of the american intelligence services and what they were up to. suddenly, the whole democratic party now seems to think that "intel reports" are so authoritative that people such as myself, who simply ask a question about them, are putin
apologiststs. what we do know is for quite a while, intel has been leaking to "the washington post" and cnn and others in ways that are highly debt or mental, not only to trump as a president, but to trump's professed russia policy. i don't think what jonathan offff says should be taken the board of consideration, that powerful forces are out to make sure that there will be no improved elation ship with russia. let me mention one thing you may not have noticed. the one achievement that president obama has, in my judgment, in addition to the agreement with iran to freeze its nuclear weapons capacity, was the agreement he reached with putin in 2013 to destroy assad's chemical weapons. i trust all of your folks will remember that. as with the back, that was a
major achievement by president obama because the option was going to war. it was made possible because he and putin joined hands. it stands as a model of what might be possible in american-russian relations. what do we have now? we have a new narrative in the american media that putin lied, that obama was tricked when they said those weapons have been destroyed. but that is a misrepresentation. obama and putin turned the issue of weapons over to the united nations. the united nations has a special unit for collecting and destroying weapons of mass destruction. they did that with assad's weapons and it was the united nations, not putin, who certified the weapons have been destroyed. therefore, if anybody lied -- and i don't think anybody did -- when they said assad no longer had chemical weapons, it was the united nations. it was not putin. ththe least we can do if we aren the brink of war, the number two
russian leader says, get our facts straight. amy: jonathan steele, who do think should be the entity that invest the gates this attack? i also want to ask why russia ,upports the al-assad regime overall, with a gain by this, and if you see any shift taking place -- if you see any hope for syria? , i think there's not going to be the change. first of all, putin wouldn't suddenly backed down from pressure for the united states telling him to dump aside. -- don't assad. the question is, will the gradually or incrementally withdraw a little bit of support from assad. i don't think that is likely. as the russian say, the question they would have asked tillerson yesterday, both putin and lavrov, what is your game plan syria? post-assad
are you going to commit troops, commit yourself to the post-assad reconstruction? what are you going to do to prevent chaos like in iraq and libya? it is all well to get rid of an authoritarian ruler, but what is next? you can just leave it to chaos. that is the big question that they will have asked. so i think there is no expectation seriously that they will dump assad. the bad things from the russian point of view, far exceed the good things that could come out of that. there's a question also of reputation. as one russian analyst put it to me the other day, one of the big think tanks in moscow, you know, they may not like is for a much in the middle east outside syria and perhaps iraq, but they at least recognize that we stand by our friends, unlike some other countries that dump them. nermeen: what plan, if the u.s., which is to, does not have a
plan for what may happen if , what kind of proposal is russia putting forward for this war that, after all of as gone on for six years and claimed half a million lives, displaced almost half of syria plus population, and by all accounts, it appears since russia plus involvement, the number of utilities, civilian casualties, has increased? they're trying to implement what was agreed by the united states, and even the hard-line gulf allies, and some the called international series support group, which met in vienna 18 months ago. it came out with a blueprint for a new constitution for syria, free elections based on the new constitution, in the meantime, coalition government for reduction in the powers of the president, i.e., assad, and handing over more power to them executive government, which would be a coalition government, and that it would be a united
secular -- very important point -- secular syria that was agreed even by saudi arabia and the gulf states. in russia is trying to bring that back into the discussion. it is been completely brushed aside and forgotten about. it requires compromise, as lavrov said yesterday, there has bybe a compromise, decisions syrians themselves based on a construcuctive dialogue. and that means basically the united dates hasas to takeke awy the mirage from the rebels that they're going to win a military victory suddenly and they have to compromise, sit down with representatives of damascus come and work out some kind of compromised deal with concessions. similarly, russia will put pressure on assad to make serious compromises in the same kind of dialogue. and that is what they were trying to do, the russians organized this conference a few got someo where they members of the armed opposition
to set down with members of the damascus government. so that was the very first step. we hope that will be built on in geneva. there is option for compromise, as long as the shouting match between russia and the united states in the constant neck as asians, mutual accusations, are dampened down and they get back to proper r diplomacy. amy: jonathan steele, i wanted to turn to recent remarks president trump has made on a number sensitive issue between the u.s. and russia, that is north korea. this is trump began to fox news on wednesday. -- this is trump speaking to fox news on wednesday. >> what are we doing in terms of north korea? pres. trump: you never know. we're sending an armada, very powerful. we have submarines. very powerful. far more powerful than the aircraft carrier, that i can tell you. and we have the best military people on earth. and i will say this, he is doing
the wrong thing. amy: on tuesday, trump tweeted -- "north korea is looking for trouble. if china decides to help, that would bebe great. if not, we will solve the problem without them! usa." jonathan steele, the connections between russia, china, and north korea? inwell, obviously, rush it some sense is an ally of north korea. they will be worried about those comments you just played because they show the no adolescent by the united states. use of military force rather than diplomacy and negotiaiatio. and unpredicicbility. these are hallmarks of a regime or government in washington which is, from the russian point of view, extremely dangerous, provocative, and almost out of control. , howf finally, stephen cohen likely do you think there is right now of a direct confrontation between the u.s. and russia? the answer to that,
i would go to the racetrack and redeemer a lot of the money i lost over the years. but i would say way too close, way too possible. the other new cold war fronts are heating up. that is the north wall to carry a, the small baltic states and poland were nato is building up beyond reason. ukraine, where the american supported the government and give is melting down. but of course, it is syria. we have a lot of troops there. we don't know how many. they is probably more than have told us. american pharoah planes are flying. the battle for raqqa, which is the symbolic, real islamic state capitol in syria is coming up. both sides want to take it. the american coalition, the russian-serine-coalition. ideally, they cooperate. if they can be to take the city,
you're going to have american and russian aircraft flying in a very close area. do we have 30 seconds for final word? jonathan was right about the russian unwillingness to abandon assad, but i believe and the rurussian mind and i believe its correct. broader, more profound issue. they are not interested in assad is a person. they have said repeatedly, assad sen. kaine: eventually, and they say leave it to the syrian people. by the way, that is what tillerson said about a week ago. for russia, trying to think about this, assad is the syrian state. these are highly personalized state in these regions of the world. if you kill assad -- and that is talking about --ing abou the syrian state will collapse, just as it did in arachnophobia
when we basically assassinated the leaders in those countries. collapses,an state and leaves the syrian army, which is doing most of the fighting on the ground amidst the islamic state, will collapse. being the will desert to the syrian army. i would ask all o of these americans who vilify assad, i would ask all of your listeners and viewers, if you destroy the syrian state, who is going to do the fighting against terrorists in syria? are you going to ask russia to send troroops? are we going to send troops? for russia, and this is important, it is not assad. they could give a hoot about what happens. it is about the syrian state. that is why they will stand with assad until therere is some kind of mililitary victory, and in a so-called political peace process began, and then assad is on its own. amy: one last question, stephen cohen. like the russians
say that syrians will be able to decide or should be able to decide what happens to assad -- first of all, assad is not ceded power to his own people for many, many years. there is the reason to think his position will change. and second, i mean, it is an argument that is commonly made by the u.s. government when supporting dictatorial regimes that that regime is the only thing standing between them and islamist terrorist, extremist government. >> it is an old american habit. during the cold war, was supported a lot of very bad leaders and said they stood between us and communism. i think, but we don't this clarity out of washington, did not get it under obama, that the number one threat to all of us in the world today is international terrorism. we know a couple of weeks ago, there was the tragedy in st. petersburg where folks going to work, kids going to school were
aown up and killed and subway. -- in a subway. back at happen easily here. you cannot protect subways. the one thing russians have is immensnse experience in terrorim and other own country. casualties of tererrorists in te country of the world. we need an alliance with russia. that is what this is about. are we going to make an alliance with russia? that is the issue today. amy: we want to thank you, stephen cohen, professor emeritus of russian studies and politics at new york university and princeton university. and thank you to jonathan steele former moscow correspondent for , the guardian. he is chief reporter at the website middle east eye. when we come back, sean spicer's 'smments comparing assad comments to hitler. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
nermeen: stevie wonder singing "happy birthday girls got on this special day, amy goodman's birthday. amy: oh, my god. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. nermeen: lawmakers and jewish organizations, including the anne frank center, are continuing to call for white house spokesman sean spicer's resignation, after spicer tried to drum up support for more u.s. military attacks against the syrian regime by comparing assad to hitler, and falsely claiming hitler never used chemical weapons. this is spicer speaking on tuesday, the first day of the jewish holiday of passover. >> we didn't use chemical
weapons in world war ii. you had, you know, someone as despicable as hitler who did not even sink to using chemical weapons. so you have to, if you are russia, ask yourself, is this a country that you and a regime you want to align yourself with? amy: in fact, the nazis systematically used poison gas as part of its genocide of 6 million jews. the nazis began experimenting with gas with the specific purpose of carrying out mass murder in the late 1930's. after the nazis invaded the soviet union, they deployed gas vans to kill hundreds of thousands of people. by 1942, the nazis had set up a series of concentration camps where gas chambers were the main method of killing people. at its peak, as many as 6000 people, mostly jews, were gassed to death every day at auschwitz concentration camp alone. during his comments, spicer also referred to nazi concentration camps as holocaust centers. hours later, spicer apologized, although he made a number of mistakes during his apology, including mispronouncing syrian president bashar al-assad's
name. >> i mistakenly used in an appropriate and insensitive reference to the holocaust got for which, frankly, there is no comparison. for that, i apologize. it was a mistake to do that. i needed to make sure i clarified, and not in anyway shape or form come anymore for distraction from the presidents decisive action in syria and the attempt he is making to destabilize the region. there is no way i can see a stable and peaceful syria with bush are al-assad in charge. >> bashar al-assad. i know you mis pronounced his name several times. nermeen: spicer later said he meant to say president trump was seeking to stabilize the region, not to destabilize the region. on wednesday, white house press secretary sean spicer again attempted to apologize. he said he " " "let the presidit down." >> i made a mistake.
there is no easy way to say y i. i got into a topic i should not have a screwed up. wednesdayay, the anne frank center for m mutual respet posted on facebook -- "that's not an apology. that's a bungled political strategy only in response to a public outcry. spicer needs to go." well, for more, we're joined now by steven goldstein, the executive director of the anne frank center for mutual respect. steven goldstein, welcome to democracy now! why is this so important to you? >> coming of passover, i like many other jews, was with my family during seders. my entire family wanted to throw up. here we have the press secretary to the president of the united states denying that adolf hitler gassed millions of jews. that means sean spicer has to go. ps to be fired. here is why. either sean spicer's comments were a matter of ignorance, and confidence, or prejudice. or all three are any commendation there of.
that does that make one fit to be press secretary. that does not make one fit to serve in government whatsoever. spicer is an embarrassment to the united states of amerera. nermeen: what about those who say, including a former spokesman, airy fleischer, that such mistakes are commonly made by people who speak asked for incident -- >> that was not a mere mistake. that comes in the grotesque is insensitive jews to. i holocaust members stay in january, this administration .efused to include jews i can take how many times this president has been offensive to other oppressed communities, including muslims and people of color. so this is a pattern. ththis is not a mere mistatake. amy: you have sean spicer, who apparently apologized, called the billionaire republican donor sheldon adelson, politico
reports that adelson's office issued a statement, confirming -- "sean called shortly after and said he made a terrible mistake and apologized if he was offensive." your response -- >> i am laughing because sheldon adelson is the recipient of an apology. amy: explain what you mean. >> sheldon adelson is a prominent republican donor. apologizing to republican donor politicizes what sean spicer did. sean spicer needs to apologize to the entire jewish community and two, frankly, all people of goodwill. sean spicer really did not apologize, folks. as you said, amy, when you have to pull teeth to get an apology and it takes three attempts to pull teeth, that is what you call an apology by committee behihind the scenes. you have the white house staff looking at the public outcry saying, sean, you better clarify your apology.
could not do it once or twice, took him three times pulling teeth. a national embarrassment. nermeen: what about comes consnstant refrain thatat his daughter is jewish, son-in-law is jewish, therefore -- >> it is so offensive when donald trump tries out his daughter and his son-in-law. talking points. is that what donald trump does in response to charges of anti-semitism, he trots out his token relatives who are jewish? that in itself is anti-semitic. amy: his reference to holocaust centers? >> i've never heard of that. is it a community center?r? it makes complete light of concentration camps. it shows sean spicer's ignorance . has this man never heard of the phrase "concentration camp"? if he hasn't, he has been through some bad education in his lifetime. if that is the case, he should
have gotten educated before he took his j job. amy: before we end today show, on behalf of everyone at democracy now!, we would like to wish amy goodman a very, very happy birthday. happy birthday. amy: thank you very much. not part of what we were supposed to be doing right now. i want to thank steven goldstein for joining us executive , director of the anne frank center for mutual respect. we will link to our previous interview with you at democracynow.org. that does it for our broadcast. democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to email@example.com or mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 new york, new york 10013. [captioning made possible by democracy now!]
two over blackwell believes local polilicymakers can stomach good decisisions even in an agef trump. it's more important than evever that t they used ththe local poy tools. as progressive p policy possible or a pipe dreamam? this week on the laura flanders show, the people who say can't be done take a backseat the people doing it. welcome. ♪ laura flanders: a movemement is not a flash of light, it's a flame, a torch passed from one