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tv   All In With Chris Hayes  MSNBC  April 7, 2017 12:00am-1:01am PDT

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in the mediterranean fired 59 tomahawk cruise missiles at a single target in syria. this video you see here are those exact missiles shared with us by the u.s. defense department. well, those department. the missiles rained down on the shayrat airfield in western syria where military officials tell nbc news the united states believes syrian president bashar al assad fired chemical weapons into the rebel-held syrian territory of idlib. >> the pinpoint missile strike ordered by president trump was targeting aircraft shelters, fuel, and ammunition supplies as well as air defense systems. now the strikes were a response to tuesday's horrific chemical weapons attack that killed and injured hundreds of people. this according to the white house. many of those women and children as seen in these disturbing images. images that moved the president to change his years-long stance against intervention in syria. as he confirmed in his brief statement overnight at his mar-a-lago resort. take a listen.
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>> tonight i ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in syria from where the chemical attack was launched. using a deadly nerve agent, assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women, and children. it was a slow and brutal death for so many. even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. no child of god should ever suffer such horror. >> the syrian government, however, claims charges they were responsible for the chemical attack were fabricated, while the u.s. official confirms the russians who backed bashar al assad ahead were warn to have had missile launch. more than 200 members of congress, including the beginning of eight that includes
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both democratic and republican leaders of the house and senate were briefed prior to the strikes. however, new reaction this morning from moscow with putin sp spokesman's saying putin considers it an aggression against a sovereign country, violating the norms of international law and under a trumped up pretext at that. so now the question, is this just a retaliatory strike or the first step in a greater incursion in syria? to delve into this i want to bring in medal of honor recipient colonel jack jacobs and nbc calipari. to both of you, it's been a very long evening as we walk ourselves through this. with many asking now, especially in the last hour, what is next? what is next for this administration. but there is also the question of what is next in the immediate future and what is next in the long run as far as the strategy overall and our goal. >> well, i think it's proper to ask what the strategy is. and i think the answer is we don't actually have one. i think that's one of the reasons why general mcmaster is a national security adviser.
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one of his principle tasks is to put together strategies. and particularly this one we better be working very quickly to put one to determine where does it end. where do we want to wind up and how are we going to get there? you have to start at the end and work backwards. you to articulate what it is you're trying to accomplish before you allocate resources to do it. if you do things in the piecemeal manner, as we discovered long throughout our history, you wind up down a road you don't want to be. i'm old enough to have fought in a war in vietnam where we incrementalized everything with no real overall strategy, no longer term objective toward which we were working with the means that we had at our disposal. and we have been doing that in this area for a long time. i think one of the reasons that mcmaster is in that job, one of the reasons that general mattis recommended him to the president to be the national security
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adviser is because first and foremost, general mcmaster is a strategic thinker. whether or not he'll be allowed to do that is a different story altogether. i think if he is frustrated, he won't continue. but he is heavily focused on starting at the end and working backwards. he has always done that in every job he has had. >> you lived in the middle east. you actually interviewed president assad twice. you spent a lot of time in syria. help us understand the syrian mind-set today when president assad wakes up. has his calculus changed? do you think this is going to in some capacity deter him from what he has been doing all along in the syrian civil war? >> i think this is a man fighting for his survival, literally. so no. i don't think this is going to deter him in his quest to take back control of this country with the help of the russians. why now i think is the question to ask. we had this horrible chemical attack. but we've had horrible chemical attacks in the last few years. >> it's not the first nor the worst. >> not the first nor the worst.
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we've had 7,000 air strikes on this country since 2014. >> but the first against the assad regime or an asset of the regime. >> directly, yes. >> most of the targets have been at least as i understand a target against isis or al qaeda affiliates. >> but if it turns out we killed four syrian soldiers and we limited air strikes for a short period of time, my question is was this literally the least we could have done this we didn't put any u.s. troops in danger. there was no manned flights. the tomahawk missile flies short off the deck. it's hard to shoot down there. is no manned aircraft there. limited damage. we've got a response from the russians that is a verbal response, not a military response. so this feels like a very calculated strike, which is probably a testament to general mcmaster who wrote the book, we should say, literally wrote the become on how to advise politicians during times of war. so hopefully this is the beginning of a strategy. unfortunately, it does today feel like it was the least we could do to send a message, a very important message that
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should not be lost here. a very important message that chemical weapon hoss not be aloud. >> that's why i want to bring colonel jacobs back 23in. you start at the end and work backwards. what does it tell you about this particular strike, an airfield where we're targeting hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and ammunition supply bunkers, knowing that can be easily rebuilt down the line or other means can be used as well. >> well, it's a message to the assad regime. i don't think they -- they're probably not any time soon going to use chemical weapons again because we're going to do that again. and they don't want us to do that again. it's a message to assad. it's a message to the russians. it's a message to perhaps korea, north korea. but it's also a big message to the american people. >> how would that -- what is the effectiveness of that message? we've heard in our last hour our guests saying all right, maybe it may give assad a reason for
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pause. but overall, not deterred. he'll continue to use that. so what is the effectiveness of that message? >> look, a lot of it is driven by domestic politics. almost everything in every country is driven at least partially by domestic politics. the president couldn't say that assad crossed the line. >> many lines. >> many lines. >> and just like obama, i'm not going to do anything about it. he couldn't do that. and so this is the least he could do under those circumstances. it's not going to change the arc of the war in syria. it just isn't. there are a lot of other things that might. but we're not going to make a commitment to be there as part of a multinational force for two decades or any of that kind of stuff. >> you heard senator mccain today make the argument that the u.s. should go ahead with the strikes and should even contribute to the rebuilding of syria. a suggestion perhaps that he wants the u.s. to do more to
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force the ouster of president assad. that's not likely going to happen. this administration early on signaled that even we heard it again reiterated today with the comments from rex tillerson that the fate of president assad will be to some extent up to the syrian people. >> which is ridiculous. i mean, listen, you asked what do the syrian people want today as they wake up? they want an end to the six years of war that has crippled this country and caused a refugee crisis of biblical proportions. half a million people are dead. millions of people are on the move. they want to go home. so if this helps that in any way, great. if this sets it back, that's a problem. and that's an international problem. >> and that's what we may see in terms of what is next. well keep asking what's next of this administration. but what is move in upping the ante for the assad regime as well. again, more images that we've seen of these children with a mask, convulsing that brought us to this plays the first place. >> if you want assad gone, if that's what you want, there are
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probably only two groups of people who can make it happen. one is the top of the food chain among the syrian military. and it doesn't mean necessarily any replacement is going to be any better. and two, the russians. the russians have -- having an increasing amount of influence there. and if anybody is going to make that happen, it's going to be the russians. but i don't see that happening. >> and that has been a bloody horrible war for everybody. the russians want out of it as bad as anybody. circumstances there an irony here that president trump evoked images of innocent civilians in syria, young children, women, even elderly that were killed as his reason for action, but those very same people are banned from coming into the u.s. because they're deemed to be too dangerous? >> well, i think he is compartmental -- he compartmentalizes ideas in his mind. immigration to the united states involves the united states directly. so that's one box. but i think he was genuinely moved by these horrible images.
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and i think it affected him deeply. >> but why now? >> you genuinely don't believe he was aware of these images before? >> exactly. knowing this is the first time and knowing that there have been worst attacks where we've seen war. and maybe these images will suddenly trigger that? >> i'm not going to psychoanalyze the guy from a great distance or even up close for that matter. but -- >> his statements in 2013 -- sorry to cut you off. his statements in 2013 were very clear. don't waste your powder on syria. not a smart move. illegal to do it if you're not getting authorization from congress. >> he is the guy in charge now. and i think you have very different look at it when you're the guy in charge. >> the guy in charge with the 35% approval rating. that's what's changed. >> that's not to be discounted. >> what is the point of the domestic approval rating? what is your point? >> well, listen, he is flexing his muscles. he is a commander in chief. he failed with the domestic health care plan, failed with an immigration plan. you're reading the headline. what you just said is going to
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be the headlines in papers across the arab world. the president who is bombing the very people that he is trying to keep out of the country. this has been the ghost that american foreign policy has been running from for 20 years. well seem to lash out with our military, and we're pulling back on soft power. we're not running air drops to people who are starving in syria. we're sending 59 tomahawk missiles into one target. >> but use also look at here at home and the politics in play after this. you have senator tim kaine who is basically calling this illegal, saying the president going through these strikes without a vote from congress. the constitution says war must be declared by congress. congress will work with the president, but his failure to seek congressional approval is unlawful. strikes could lead to nuclear war with russia. but then on the other side you have praise. from chuck schumer, you have marco rubio saying yes, or that this was, you know, not symbolic, but there was strategic value to it. so the politics at play here we'll continue to see. >> yeah. and i'll tell you this.
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you're not going to get the congress to act on this in any case. i remember back in the war in vietnam there was nothing but veit tup rati vituperation that came from congress. not once, and if it did it failed, to cut off funds for the war. at the end of the day, the congress can control how many checks are written by the treasury of the united states to pay the bills. if the continue doesn't want the president to be able to do this, the congress can make it not happen. so the congress is out of it. >> and don't forget, president obama went to congress and said decide. after that big -- decide. and congress balked. and part of that is the shadow of iraq. no one wants to take on the unintended consequences of a strike in syria. the difference that i would argue is you have a humanitarian crisis of biblical proportions. whether or not we had anything to do with starting it, that's the reality on the ground. better late than never i suppose. but what does today bring? i don't know.
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>> let me ask you guys a question from a critical mind-set, perhaps even a skeptical one. is this at all a distraction from some of the internal domestic challenges the president is facing with the russia investigation? is this the moment when you'll see americans rally behind the bullpen. we're now engaged in another military conflict? >> well, i'm probably the worst skeptic in the world. but i think that's an ancillary benefit to the president in the circumstances you're talking about. but it's not going to have any lasting effect in any case. because all this stops and people stop talking about it, it's going to be business as usual as the investigations continue. i wanted to add one other thing about the use of the military instrument of power. because you mentioned is this the least thing that he could do. and the answer is yes. >> when it comes to risk. >> exactly right. this has the least possible risk in using the military instrument of power. and all other things we could
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possibly do with the military instrument of power are all extremely dangerous. and then you will get the congress involved saying we're not going to do it. you're talking about putting lots more people on the ground and people -- we ain't doing that. so this is -- he can get away with using this part of the military instrument of power. >> keep in mind we have the capacity today to do something on the ground there are marines on the ground and there are special operations forces there. >> yeah, the u.s. can certainly change the dynamic of the battlefield. certainly change the tempo. >> that will open up again domestically here at home, capitol hill as well. stay with us. colonel jacobs, calipari, as always so we can get back with you. for now, we want to talk to a former fbi double agent. so that's going to be coming up, about a how president trump is handling russia's putin who is a firm supporter of syria's assad. that tangled web, next.
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breaking news. we are following overnight. the united states launching military strikes in syria.
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we'll continue to follow it here on msnbc and hear from an fbi double agent as we're getting world reaction on these strikes. keep it right here.
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tonight i ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield 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.
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>> that was president trump just hours ago, announcing his decision to strike the assad regime just days after that horrific chemical weapons attack that killed over 80 women and children in syria. that was an attack that the u.s. blames squarely on assad and his forces. here with an early read on how president trump has handled this first major military thus far, naveed jamali, senior fellow in the program at national security at the foreign policy research institute. and i should say a former fbi double agent. naveed, it's good to have you with us. let's talk about this from a few different perspectives. one is i want to ask you about the overall strategy here. you look at what happened tonight. you say to yourself what is the purpose, what was the gel of tonight's strike in the larger battle in the syrian civil war. >> if we go exactly with what the president said, which is to limit the ability of syria to use and to deter them the ability to use chemical weapons, i'm not exactly sure how we've
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accomplished that. we haven't actually impacted either the chemical weapons, the infrastructure that supports them. well didn't target those. and, you know, as the colonel has said, 59 tom headquarters while it seems like a lot, and we double tapped, which means we hit targets twice, it's one airfield. we now know that, look, when you do this type of stuff, you telegraph, taupe the russians to make sure there are russians that are inadvertently hit, i'm sure if the russians had any personnel and equipment, they moved them out. if the russians are moving out, guess what? the syrians are moving out as well. i wonder from a tactical perspective how effective this strike was. and i certainly am fairly confident it had no impact in assad's chemical weapon capability at all. >> and naveed, let me play devil's advocate for a second and take the mind-set of somebody in the middle east watching this, the united states making an accusation that an arab leader used chemical weapons, and for that reason we're intervening to prevent the
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use of weapons of mass destruction. we haven't seen any evidence from the u.s. to say that syria did this definitively. should we be even skeptical of that claim by the white house that it was assad an his forces that used chemical weapons against his people? >> no. i think that that is -- i'm sure that there are people that are going to call this fake news there are people that are calling it that. i don't think that's -- i think that we have the right to do something here. and i don't mean that in a legal sense. i mean that this is -- the united states has always been the -- we've had a moral compass. and i think that, look, you just watch those videos and any normal person is going the want the see something happen that doesn't mean that you don't have a strategy. what i'm concerned about is this is very much a shoot first, ask questions later there is no follow-up to this. it is very much doing something for the sake of doing something without a larger plan. and i think it's that second part, the context of not having
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a plan that i think is frankly disturbing to me. >> disturbing to you without the plan. you also have the kremlin coming out with the reaction, calling this air strike aggression against a sovereign country that violates international laws, saying this distracts from the many civilians who are dying in iraq as well. and also, you have senior russian officials say this will hamper the relationships, the cooperation between united states and russia when it comes to syria. so where do we go from here given that that, that we held this message sent out and we have also the regime, we're sayisay saying waiting to see how that will be taken in a possible retaliation against his own people? >> etake what russia says with very much a grain of salt. they're completely biased. and remember russia is essentially using syria as a playground to test new weapons. that's what they're doing. so i wouldn't put too much stock and credibility into what they're saying. look, but there is a legal actual rationale to what they're
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saying. in the sense that when it comes to these sort of things we go back to bosnia, for example. there wasn't a clear imminent threat to our national authority when we launched the bombing. this is always going to be a problem when you're talk about crimes against humanity, things like genocide. those are things that don't impact directly the national security of another country. but a humanitarian crisis calls for all civilized nations to do something. and i think, you know, that's why we acted. so, yes, very well there could be potentially a charge brought to the hague or the international criminal court. that doesn't mean that we shouldn't have acted from that moral compass. >> all right, naveed jamali, we appreciate it. thank you for your time. just ahead, other world leaders ahead of this missile strike, and what is the likely fallout for the united states today. and ask if your heart is healthy enough for sex. do not take cialis if you take nitrates for chest pain, or adempasĀ® for pulmonary hypertension,
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today the united states has responded, launching 59 cruise missiles from two u.s. navy destroyers against the airfield from which the attack was effected. the effect of the american response has been to reduce the ability of the syrian government to deliver women weapons in the shocking manner in which they did a few days ago.
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the united states advised us as a coalition partner shortly prior to the attack. >> that was australia's prime minister malcolm turnbull with fresh reaction this morning on president trump's decision to strike syria. join uh from christopher dickey, world editor news for the daily beast. chris, as we're getting reaction this, russians and iranians need to understand that supporting assad makes no sense. we do not want a confrontation with them. i'm sure in the international world stages a well, people are asking what's next. but even more swhoorks o, what end game here. >> well, i think that's absolutely the question now. you know, the french, for instance, they're saying they were informed before these strikes took off. but while they have been opposed to assad for a long time, nobody here in france has ever presented a clear case of how you replace him and maintain a stable syria after that. that's what nobody knows how to do. the real problem here is that there is no force capable of
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moving in on assad and taking his position and stabilizing the country that is a syrian force on the ground. so the question then becomes do you send in a european force? an american force? a joint force? or do you just bomb and step back, in which case very little will have been accomplished. >> christopher, let me ask you from all your times in the middle east. it's a question i was asking our guests a little bit earlier. the notion or the perception that the united states intervening in another middle eastern country directly under the guise of weapons of mass destruction and preventing the use of weapons of mass destruction, to a lot of people in the arab world, it rings a little bit hollow. do you think there is any validity to that question whether or not the assad regime used those chemical weapons, and whether or not the u.s.'s motivations are really because of those chemical weapons? >> well, ayman, that's a very
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good question because it's one that is being asked and will be asked for a long time all over the middle east. you know, there is a fundamental mistrust of the united states and its motives on this kind of thing, particularly after the whole wmd debate and fantasy that led to or contributed to the invasion of iraq in 2003, with the results that we know. i think that's one of the things that people are concerned about. but the other part of it is that they just don't see what the proof is. they just don't see any evidence to back up the assertions of the united states government. >> all right, christopher dickey for us in paris, france. hopefully we can check in with you a little later. thank you. and we'll be right back. thanks for loading, sweetie.
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all right. welcome back, everyone. we continue to follow developing following the united states carrying out its first air strikes against the assad regime inside syria. we have a team of experts here in studio and overseas. we want to go back now to paris, bring back into the conversation
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christopher dickey, who was with us just before the break. chris, good to have you back with us once more. let me ask you about the irony of a little bit of what has unfolded this evening. you see a president of the united states evoke the image of innocent syrian civilians as his reason for action inside of syria to prevent further bloodshed and to protect them. ironically, that same president is banning those people and making the argument that they should not be allowed to go to europe or to the united states for refuge. what do you make of that? >> well, i think it's wildly inconsistent, which has been kind of a trademark of this administration. of course, the president says that he can change his mind, and does change his mind. and it seems that something clicked after he saw these photographs. but any of us, you, me, any of us that have been covering the syrian war for a while know that these are far from the first babies to die, beautiful baby, as president trump calls them. the assad regime has been killing them in wholesale
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numbers for a very long time. >> when you're saying something clicked with the president, chris, what could that have possible be? and how that that come into play when it comes to what's next on his side? there is any kind of retaliation in any form that we're going to see from assad, whether that be against his own civilians. what might we see? and what is that clicking that we can anticipate? >> well, i think there are a couple of things. first of all, there is the president's own emotional reaction. i think that was probably played on by his daughter ivanka and his son-in-law jared kushner to some extend be. you also have the generals around him, mcmaster, mattis, who are essentially people who believe that if you are going to act, you need to act quickly and decisively, and then you can figure out a little bit later where you're going to go. it's not the best approach. but they figure if you're going
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to act, at least make the point cleanly and quickly. i think that would have contributed to trump's decision. but it was a very quick decision. i mean, he consulted eventually right before the bombing with the french and the british, but the british as recently as tuesday were saying military action wasn't even on the table, wasn't even being discussed. so it looks like this was something that really came together to the extent that it came together very, very quickly indeed. >> and chris, let me ask you, if you're in tehran today and you're watching what unfolded, are you at all concerned that the united states is going to be more robust with its military operations and could possibly with the talk about wanting to rip up the iran nuclear deal, could tonight be a precursor for some further american involvement in the region, particularly against iran down the road? >> you know, i think that will be discussed in iran. but i don't think they're going to be too worried about it. and i think getting back to the question of retaliation, i think
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the iranians and hezbollah are the ones who are most likely to carry out some kind of actions either in syria or outside of syria in response to this. remember that hezbollah, an iranian client, is probably the world's most effective and diverse dispersed terrorist organization. so we'll see what happens on that front. >> and certainly on that same front, reaction as well and how that will be received in the other parts of the world stage, in asia and china and in north korea as the president was hosting president xi jinping as well. we'll continue this conversation with you, christopher dickey, along with our other panelists here cal perry. we'll do that after the break.
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continuing our breaking news coverage here on msnbc as the united states makes air strikes against the assad regime in syria. continuing coverage on reaction on the world scope and here at home. keep it right here.
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tonight is not symbolic.
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i do think it has a strategic value to it. but the question now is what happens next. there a comprehensive plan that follows this up? that's perhaps the most critical question. what i hope is going to happen, which is the conditions for an alternative to assad to emerge. i don't think syria is going to be a stable unitary government any time in the very near future. but i do think we can begin to take steps to provide alternatives to assad's rule. . that was republican senator marco rubio asking what many lawmakers will be asking this morning, what's next. still with us colonel jack jacobs and nbc's cal perry. let me ask that question to both of you. cal perry, if you're a lawmaker on capitol hill, if you're a politician who wants to know where does the u.s. go from here? do we widen? do we escalate operations? what is the political end game? >> i think you want to know if there is a plan of any kind. we've been talking about this all night. what happens now. is there some kind of diplomatic engagement with russia? that's going to be the key. we have news coming out of turkey that the government wants
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some kind of a no-fly zone. there already is a no-fly zone. the russians run it. do we engage with the russians about building some kind of no-fly zone or did we just bomb syria to get syria to stop bombing syria? >> i think the congress can be helpful here in having closed door sessions with the national security apparatus. and pointedly ask them if they have in the works at the moment a strategy for syria, a strategy for the region, where are we actually headed and get them to report to them. i think it's going to happen in any case. but i think it's worthwhile to do something that hasn't been done in a long time. and that is to coalesce both ends of pennsylvania avenue in a concerted effort to get something done. i think that mcmaster is wholly focused on doing exactly that. but it's going to take a while because we have not had a strategy for a long, long time. but he is very much a strategic
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person. i think marco rubio was completely wrong when he said this had some strategic value. maybe to text stent that he ext everybody else to. that's a tactical strike. you have a national security adviser who has lived his entire professional life focused on strategy. i think he would be well advised to go down to the other end of pennsylvania avenue and tell them what you're up to. >> iraq and the kind of shadow that it casts over u.s. military involvement in the middle east. as a country, we look at the images of dead children, those that were gassed. and a part of us has this impulse to act. maybe feeling that there is a moral authority to act. but at the same time, a part of us says it's not our war. it's another middle eastern country that's a mess. we should not get involved in it. how much, cal, do you think that the legacy of the failure of the iraq war casts a shadow on
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american policymakers and the american public's appetite for war in another middle eastern conflict? >> i think it's another reason why we haven't fully engaged in syria. we saw it when president obama left it to congress whether or not we were going to engage in syria after what was a major chemical attack in syria a few years ago. we have u.s. troops on the ground in syria. we have at least 500 u.s. special force, at least a thousand marines running artillery missions into raqqah. but that is a huge hangover from the iraq war. this idea that look, we were wrong about weapons of mass destruction. it took us down a road in which we had to face the fact that we didn't have a policy on how to put the country back together. the same holds true for syria. there is no question when you look at what president trump has said in the past before he became president, don't attack syria, don't go into syria, that was born out of the fiailures o iraq war. >> in iraq military people knew all along that there was more than going into a place and
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knocking off the bad guys, and then a miracle happens and there is peace. all of our strategic operational plans have to be vetted each year from the combatant commander back to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, secretary of defense, that they've all been reviewed. and by the way we have plans for everything. we have plans to defend western europe against a western incursion. you name it. >> there is a plan for it. >> there is plan for it. and what way didn't do in iraq was that we didn't follow the plan. the plan included another phase which meant that after all the shooting is ended, then we've got to do whatever we need to do in order to stabilize the place there is an old adage that says it always takes more resources to hold on to an objective than it does to take mitt the first place. this is no more true than it is in the middle east. we didn't do it in iraq. and we realized it would take a long time and a lot of troops and we didn't want to make the commitment. and we ain't doing it in syria
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either. >> all right, guys. i want to ask you to stick around because i want to go over to london real quick and bring in the chair of contemporary middle eastern studies at the london school of political science. great to have you with us. let's talk a little bit what we were just discussing and that is the implications of what we saw tonight on some of the multiple threads, if you will, that are unfold manage the battle inside syria. do you envision tonight as being a tipping point of some sorts? does it change the dynamic? does it change the battlefield whatsoever andus closer to an end game in this syrian civil war? >> no, i don't. i take it any particular military action should be part of a broader strategy. part of a strategic vision. if you ask me what's the strategic vision of the trump administration, i would say his vision or his result is isis first and isis last.
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in fact, what i am in the heart of europe. european diplomat, including the u.n. special representative have been saying repeatedly what are the american ideas for a diplomatic political solution inside syria. it's one thing to launch a targeted focused attack on a syrian air bass. and informing the russians before you launch the attack. and the russian probably have informed the assad regime. what's next? what's the trump administration strategy to resolve this bloodbath that has been taken place for the past six years. in fact, i fear that once the syrians absorb the shocks of this particular attack, once the iranians absorb the particular shocks of this particular attacks, back to square one. syria is a very complex theater. american hard power on its own, powerful as it is, the american armada we know will not make a dense in the complex syrian
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conflict without a strategic vision involving american diplomatic and strategic assets, engaging the russians in a serious way, in a grand bargain, exerting pressure, not just on assad and the opposition, but iran and turkey i fear. that the morning after will be like the morning before. that is little will change inside syria. >> there is always this hard ability to assess how something like this will play out domestically among those that are under the control of the syrian regime. but do you see this in any way, shape or form emboldening the syrian president among his own population? could there be people in syria who are looking at this with the same mind-set of what happened in iraq and saying oh, no, here come the americans again, bombing another arab country and another arab leader? >> you know, ayman, as an american myself who has lived in the united states for many, many years, most of my life, i think
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we the united states sometimes really tend to think, we don't take into account how our actions sometimes processed or internalized by regional players and local players. one of the lessons that we have learned over the past 30 or 40 years is that, again, we should not overestimate the american hard power, particularly in the middle east. we have been there before. and we have learned the hard lessons. that is american military power of course, you can reach anywhere. the reality on the ground now, not just the syrians, the syrian, the iraqis and other players have learned a lesson after the iraq war. that basically, they have the persistence, they have the resistance, they can really basically make sure that the united states does not really achieve its strategic objectives. we know that assad has committed many crimes. with know that assad has used
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poisonous gas more than once. we know assad, there is so much blood on his hand. at the end of the day it's not just retaliation. i know now the trump administration is celebrating the muscular approach of the new president. contrasting trump with his predecessor. playing on -- for the domestic arguments in the united states. at the the end of the day, american military actions have to be part of an american strategy to resolve the conflict politically. and so far the trump administration has no ideas, no concrete ideas, no vision in order to really help shape the strategic situation inside syria. to answer your question very bluntly, the assad regime and its supporters and iran. let's remember you have multiple players supporting the regime. once they absorb the shocks of the american attacks, they're going to be very emboldened. one point i don't think assad will ever use poison after this particular attack. in this particular sense, the
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american message has been received. not only in damascus, but also in moscow and tehran as well. >> all right, doctor. it's a great pleasure to talk to you. thank you for joining us with that insight and perspective. >> not to be missed is the president's decision to fire missiles into syria as he met with chinese president xi jinping for the very first time. joining us from seoul, south korea is general nice mar -- je mackey. the crisis in north korea, the threat that country poses. a lot of people interpreting what happened tonight in syria as a message to the chinese president we will act alone when our international security interests are at stake. and we're willing to do the same in north korea. that a message that is playing out on the korean peninsula tonight? >> well, it is a valid interpretation the. and what has happened will most definitely reframe the discussion that president trump and xi jinping will be having
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about north korea. this is the one urgent issue that they share. the regime of kim jong un has shown a steady escalation over the last couple of months with tests and escalations. it's showing increased capability, despite functioning u.n. sanctions. in the past president trump has said look, if china is not going to solve the north korea problem, then we will. so in ordering this strike on syria, he is showing that he is willing to use force and to flex that muscle. the question is what will xi jinping do with that? he too is frustrated with the regime in pyongyang. at times embarrassed by the actions of kim jong un. china is north korea's main economic lifeline. but it's still remains to be seen exactly how much pressure china could exert without forcing collapse or chaos in north korea or inviting the sort of escalation that would come with unilateral strike by the
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u.s. on pyongyang. so there are all of these issues that xi jinping is trying to weigh. and what is a very important summit for him. we can't forget that this is a key year for xi jinping at home. he is very conscious of how this is playing out in a domestic audience. he has invited president trump to visit china. it has apparently been accepted. so it will be interesting to see what sort of statement may come from this summit as those two men meet on north korea in the hours to come. >> all right. nbc news's janice mackey live for us from seoul, south korea. thank you very much. still with me in new york colonel jack jacobs and nbc news correspondent cal perry. gentlemen, a few minutes left here before we switch gears. but let me get your thoughts obviously on vladimir putin. he is in moscow this morning. he is watching the united states change its position 180 degrees from an administration that was unwilling to confront the assad regime, particularly on the issue of chemical weapons.
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that has changed. does it change his calculus now about how russia engages in syria? does he have to now respond with something inside syria? >> i'm not convinced he has to respond. he has responded verbally. i'm not sure it's hurt capabilities. certainly not on the russian side. they have got all their equipment out. >> in terms of response or reaction. not necessarily directly against the u.s. but do they wake up tomorrow morning and say okay, you got your strikes out of the way. we're back into full operations. we're going to go back and bomb the same exact area in idlib that the syrians hit with chemical weapons and really show that we're doubling down on the assad regime? >> they think likely. i think he is fighting for his survival. i think the russian arrest fighting for a footprint in the middle east. in many ways it feels like the u.s. military is spitting in the ocean. >> no, i don't think it has changed anything strategically. we talked about this being a tactical strike for a number of different audiences.
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and probably not bashar al assad, except to the extend he is probably not going to use chemical weapons again. with respect to the russians, though, i mean, you can take a long view and say, look, this is an opportunity for the united states if it were skilled in international diplomacy to start having serious conversations with russia in the quiet of a small room about roll our sleeves up and say how are we going to -- russia and the united states, how are we going to deal with this. >> is that going to bring russia closer? >> only if we follow it up by saying, look, we got that out of the way. we had to do that. you know we had to do that. now it's time for us to talk seriously. but i'm not convinced that we've got the -- the diplomatic chops to do it. if we do, then we might be going down a productive road.
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otherwise. no. >> all right, colonel jack jacobs, cal perry, thank you very much for joining us. i'm going ask you guys to stick around. we're going have a reset after the break when we hit 4:00 a.m. eastern time. it's been a very busy night following these preliminary airstrikes. could possibly be the first of what may be more to come if the syrian regime continues to use chemical weapons as the white house has alleged this evening. so stay with us. we'll be right back after the break.
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east coast. this is msnbc live with our continuing coverage of the airstrikes against syria, launched by president trump a few hours ago. i'm ayman mohyeldin. let's give you a rundown of what happened this evening. at missiles launched on the syrian airfield. 59 tomahawk cruise missiles inside a target in syria. department of defense released this video showing those missiles at the moment they were launched. they rained down on shayrat airfield. launching the planes that carried those chemical weapons. ammunition supplies, air defense systems and radars. the strikes were a response to tuesday's horrific chemical weapons attack that killed and injured hundreds of op,

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