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All In With Chris Hayes, Tuesday, September 10th, 2013
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ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
September 10, 2013
Guests: Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Jason Chaffetz, John Garamendi, Lois Frankel, Lara Setrakian, Miriam Elder
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Hello from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. And this
is a special edition of ALL IN.
Tonight, the president`s address to the country and the response. First,
domestic, three Congress people including one who is still undecided on
whether to attack Syria will be with me in a moment. Then the in the
international, I will be joined by journalists who cover the Middle East
for their take on the president`s address.
Plus, it was Election Day in some places around the country today including
here in New York where I feel like I have completely memorized every
mayoral TV campaign ad by now. We will bring you the results as they come
But we begin tonight with President Obama`s address to the nation, only his
9th such address since he took office, and address on a night which until
very recent developments would have arrived on the eve of the key Senate
vote to begin debate on the U.S. military attack on Syria. An address on
which President Obama is well aware of America`s deep skepticism towards
war in the Middle East and the precarious decision of his own political
And tonight, the president threw his support behind a delay on
congressional action based on early signs of an unexpected diplomatic
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In part because of the
credible threat of U.S. military action as well as constructive talks that
I had with President Putin, the Russian government has indicated a
willingness to join with the international community in pushing Assad to
give up his chemical weapons.
It`s too early to tell whether this offer will succeed and a agreement must
verify that the Assad regime keeps its commitments. But this initiative
has potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of
force. Particularly because Russia is one of Assad`s strongest allies.
I have therefore asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to
authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path. I am
sending secretary of state John Kerry to meet his Russian counterpart on
Thursday and I will continue my own discussions with President Putin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Diplomatic sources tonight, tell NBC News that Russia is already
blocking the U.S., France, and Great Britain as they try to work on a new
U.N. resolution to enforce the Russian plan for Syria to turn over its
Tonight, President Obama did not remove the threat of U.S. military action
saying he had ordered the military to maintain its current posture. And in
an explaining the kind of military action he thought appropriate, the
president took on critics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Others have asked whether it is worth acting if we didn`t take out
Assad. Some members of Congress have said there is no point in simply
doing a pinprick strike in Syria.
Let me make something clear. The United States military doesn`t do
pinpricks. Even a limited strike will send a message to Assad that no
other nation can deliver. I don`t think we should remove another dictator
with force. We learned from Iraq that doing so makes us responsible for
all that comes next. But a targeted strike can make Assad or any other
dictator think twice before using chemical weapons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That pinprick remark was direct reference to this from Senator John
McCain a week ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We have to have a plan. It has to be a
strategy. It cannot be in my view, pinprick cruise missiles.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: But above all, the president was making a case for a certain vision
of America`s role in the world and implored the citizens to consider what
he believes is the moral responsibility that comes hand in hand with the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: America is not the world`s policeman. Terrible things happen
across the globe. And it is beyond our means to right every wrong. But
when with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to
death and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe
we should act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now is Congressman John Garamendi, Democrat from
California, a member of the armed house services committee. He is opposed
to military intervention in Syria.
And Congressman, did anything you saw tonight change your mind on that
REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D-CA), HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: No, not
underscore of military action in Syria, but certainly, I am enthusiastic,
optimistic and excited about the potential which could take the chemical
weapons out of Syria and eliminate that entire problem. That need to be
pushed. We need to embrace it. And we need to really make it happen.
HAYES: So far, we have seen promising signs from a number of parties in
terms of that possible diplomatic solution. Clearly, the president is
working towards it. Secretary of state John Kerry will be going to Geneva
to meet with his counterpart from Russia.
What is Congress` role over the next week? I think we all have someone
clear under understanding of where Congress stood in relation to this when
the president announced he was going to come to Congress for a vote.
Now the vote has been delayed. What do you see as your role over the next
week, two weeks, or however long it takes for this diplomatic process to
GARAMENDI: I think there is two things. The first is we need to make
Russia own this. It`s their concept, it is their idea. Syria is their
client. And we need to make them own it. It`s the credibility of Russia
that is at stake now and we need to make that very, very clear.
We also, I am sure that many of my colleague who want to see some sort of
resolution pass the house and the Senate, they will be working on language.
But this is an ever-evolving situation. One in which we may not be able to
have final language. I expect I will oppose it, but nonetheless, final
language, just in case, just in case this doesn`t work out.
HAYES: Do you think if you had to place a wager right now, that there will
ever be a vote in the house on language. It seems to me that the delay
now, opens up the likelihood of there never actually being language come
before the House of Representatives?
GARAMENDI: I hope that`s the case. I hope that`s the case because that
would be a direct result of the success of this particular effort to try to
take the chemical weapons out of Saddam -- out of Assad`s hands and put
them into international control and, hopefully the quick disposal of them.
We are not there yet. But if that happens, you are right, there will not
be a vote. If on the other hand it fails, I think there must be a vote. I
don`t think the president has the power to do this on his own, but we`ll
I`m optimistic. I am very, very optimistic. This thing is evolving very
fast. There will be language issues and the U.N. resolution for sure. But
we need to get past that. We need to really put the pressure on all of us
particularly on Russia, to honor its commitment to make this happen.
HAYES: One possible negative consequence of this and I agree with you. I
am optimistic about the developments today. One possible negative
consequence is that the longer this plays out and the more Congress,
congressional oxygen is sucked up with this, the less congressional oxygen
there are for things like the continuing resolution, and for debt ceiling
and for getting rid of sequestration and comprehensive immigration reform.
Do you worry about the clock being eaten up in a crowded legislative
calendar for the fall.
GARAMENDI: Of course, and you forgot the farm bill which also expires.
We have got a lot of work to do. The Syria`s thing came up and it clearly
is diverted the attention of Congress and appropriately so. But we need to
get back to those other issues.
I do understand that the Republicans are going to put a continuing
resolution which will continue to fund the government after the end of
September. And they are likely to go even below the level of funding of
this year which is equal to the 2008 funding. That is going to create an
enormous crisis throughout the United States. So we`ll see. We have a lot
of heavy lifting out ahead over the next couple weeks.
HAYES: Congressman John Garamendi, thank you so much for your time
GARAMENDI: Thank you.
HAYES: Joining me is the congressman Jason Chaffetz, Republican from Utah.
He is opposed to military intervention in Syria.
Congressman, your response to the president`s speech tonight?
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: Well, I see a lot of inconsistencies. We
want our president particularly abroad to be successful and strong and
bold, but I see a lot inconsistencies. There is no mention, for instance,
of what he did in Libya. He didn`t come to the United States Congress to
take action in Libya. We did help oust a dictator there. It seems to me a
In the 20 days since attack, I see a lot, almost daily basis, a change
here. And I still haven`t heard from the president of the United States
what happens in steps, two, three, four. What are the consequences if we
actually use this military force. There are those of us that are concerned
that injecting ourselves into a civil war in Syria has a lot of
consequences and that, again, still has not been thoroughly discussed.
HAYES: Was a living intervention the wrong thing to do?
CHAFFETZ: I believe that we should have come to Congress and we shouldn`t
have that discussion. I don`t believe that we should have been doing that.
I don`t believe when there is not a clear and present danger to the United
States of America we have got to have a long thorough discussion about
whether or not we should actually do that. And I don`t see a clear and
present danger to the United States of America and Syria. It is a civil
war. And I have a great hesitancy to get involved in just a very -- and by
the way, I also do believe that if, if you are going to go to war, you go
with everything you fight to win. You go with everything. You don`t just
send a hallmark card, couple --
HAYES: No one listens.
CHAFFETZ: Again, the president made a point.
CHAFFETZ: Doesn`t do pinpricks, I get and understand that. I don`t know
that it would actually totally solve the problem.
HAYES: Well, that`s different. I humbly submit that on the receiving end
of 300 tomahawk missiles, it doesn`t feel like getting a hallmark card.
My question to you about the diplomatic developments today is, one of the
things I am really curious to see play out is it seems to me there is a lot
of enthusiasm for a diplomatic solution to this. And many of your
colleagues on the Republican side. Do you see your colleagues embracing a
diplomatic solution even if that means relying heavily on a kind of
tortured process that goes through international body. A lot of back and
forth. Lot of wrangling at the U.N. and Vladimir Putin, possibly throwing
up obstacles. Is there the patience amongst your colleagues on the
Republican side to stick to a diplomatic process?
CHAFFETZ: Well, hopefully there is a lot of optimism. Because right now,
there is a great deal of bipartisan support in opposition to using military
force. I think that probably surprised a lot of people. But it is a
reflection of our constituencies. And we see that on both side of the
aisle. If there is a diplomatic solution.
And again, we can`t just have delay tactics. I think the president, the
vice president, I was able to meet with him today, as very gracious at this
time. He understands there is need to be a lot of verification to go
through the process. It would probably necessitate some sort of cease-
fire. So, the proper people can get in there and do that sort of
verification. So, the odds are tough and difficult. It is an uphill
battle. But of course we want to be optimistic of that.
HAYES: Do you think there is an opportunity here to change the trajectory
of how we think of the relationship between Congress and the executive over
the last 12 years, particularly in the post 9/11 era in which more and more
power, as the president himself said, has accrued in the executive, do you
see this as a turning point?
CHAFFETZ: Well I hope there is more collaboration. I can tell you having
in my five short years, been here in the United States Congress, about
seven, eight minutes after the president`s speech, I got a call from the
White House chief of staff. I was able to go today. I was invited by the
White House to go visit for an hour and a half with the vice president.
And I told them both, to look, to have the sort of dialog and discuss from
somebody who has normally viewed as one of those, you know, right-wing tea
party type of guys is encouraging. That is the kind of discussion we
should be having. I hope it continues. I hope it is not temporary in
HAYES: That is a fascinating little tidbit there.
Congressman Jason Chaffetz, thank you so much for your time tonight.
CHAFFETZ: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Joining me now is Congresswoman Lois Frankel, Democrat from
Florida, member of the House foreign affairs committee. She is undecided
about whether the U.S. should militarily intervene in Syria.
And Congresswoman, did anything tonight that you heard from the president,
both in laying out the case and also laying out the case to push off a vote
so that diplomacy can have some time to work, did any of it push you in one
direction or the other?
REP. LOIS FRANKEL (D-FL), HOUSE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Well Chris,
let me start and say I am the mother of a marine war veteran. He served
both in Iraq and Afghanistan. And I come to this process probably like
most Americans. I am against war. And the last thing I want to do is send
anybody`s daughter or son into a war.
The president has come to Congress, a man who I respect very much, and ask
for authorization for military action in Syria. And so, despite my bias, I
want to take the time to be very deliberate. What the president -- the
president gave a 15-minute speech. I mean, I have spent the last ten days
or so, talking to world leaders, I was on a trip, to the Mideast when,
when, he started this conversation with Congress.
Myself and colleagues we have read classified briefings. We have had many,
many discussions today. I spent a couple of hours, colleagues with the
vice president. So we have taken a lot of time -- so there was nothing new
for me. But I want to add, to what my colleague said, that I am also very
hopeful. That we will have a breakthrough. And that this can be resolved
without military action.
HAYES: So you still find yourself essentially undecided on the question of
whether the Congress should grant the president the authority that she was
seeking prior to today when it was delayed.
FRANKEL: Well, I`m not sure exactly what your question is. But here is my
anxiety. I think there are potential unintended consequences with an
action even though the president believes or he says it will be limited.
You know from what I have heard, and read, it`s a very unstable situation
in Syria. And my concern is especially that not only do we have a country
that is militarily fatigued, but as important to me is I am not sure if we
push too hard on the side, who fills that void?
There are actually worse actors, if that`s hard to believe, but there are
terrible actors on both side of this civil war. And so, it is the unknown
that I think is causing a tremendous amount of anxiety for many of us in
HAYES: That anxiety is broadly shared in congress, among citizens and
throughout the region.
Congressman Lois Frankel, thank you for your time tonight.
FRANKEL: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: We will be back with analysis of the president`s address, from
Katrina Vanden Heuvel from the nation and MSNBC`s Joy Reid.
Stay with us.
HAYES: Ahead, more analysis of the president`s address, and we will catch
up on some other of the day`s big news, including results from crucial
elections around the country. We will have some results, stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Many of you have asked a broader question, why should we get
involved at all in a place that`s so complicated and where, as one person
wrote to me, those who come after Assad maybe enemies of human rights.
Finally, many of you have asked, why not leave this to other countries or
seek solutions short of force? As several people wrote to me, we should
not be the world`s policeman. I agree.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So do the majority of Americans according to a new "Wall Street
Journal"/NBC News poll, almost 75 percent of those polls said that we focus
on domestic problems instead of working to promote democracy abroad. That
is a big shift from 2005 when 54 percent said the U.S. should keep its
focus at home.
Joining me now is Katrina Vanden Heuvel, my boss at "the Nation" where he
is editor and publisher and MSNBC contributor, managing editor of
thegrio.com, Joy Reid.
And the most striking thing to me about this speech today was that the
president attempting to articulate a kind of vision of America`s role in
the world as the foundational way of making the case for why this should
matter to us at all.
JOY REID, MANAGING EDITOR, THE GRIO/MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. And you know,
I went back the last couple days and re-read the speech he gave when he got
his Nobel prize. And that speech was sort of similar to that in a lot of
ways, talking about sort of fundamental and moral authority of American
power as the guarantor of these international norms.
Now, you know, it must be said that it is in the years since the 1945, the
U.N. charter, you know, those have been violated over and over and over
again. And the U.N. has proved itself surprisingly unable to reign them
in. And the United States sort of, our power, our military might has been
for a very long time, the guarantor of those norms, or we have been the
ones on the one- street.
HAYES: That`s right.
REID: You can`t violate them. And that sort of where we are. And I think
that you made a strong moral case. If you believe still that we are the
loan, true guarantor of this.
HAYES: Yes, that was it. That was the case. The case was America is the
indispensable nation. America has the superpower. And the burden of
superpower, take up a superpower`s burden.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR/PUBLISHER, THE NATION: But I take away
something else from this speech. I mean, he said we should not be the
world`s policeman. I also think we saw in this past week some very
important turning points, which this country could build on.
First of all, I think the democratic process work to a large extent. You
had a president going to the Congress, may he hid the Congress` wisdom. We
have not seen that enough. I think you saw a world wary Republic. Across
the board, across partisan coalition saying, we don`t want this. And you
have a few weeks ago in Britain, you had a parliament stand up. That was a
remarkable rebuke to that remarkable alliance between the special lines,
between the United States and Britain. And then you saw something we have
not seen enough of. We have seen a contempt, a disdain for diplomacy in
dealing with international crises. We are seeing a drumbeat of --
HAYES: We have a Putin/Assad deal? Man, count me in.
HEUVEL: I think this is the turning point because too often, this country
has resorted to military solutions. And so many good people in Congress
and in this country in the last days has said, it is a false choice to say
that it is either bombing or no action.
HAYES: And let me just back it up before you jump on that, let me just --
the data here is pretty overwhelming in terms of where the Republicans, I
mean. You know, in August, it was 44 percent disapproved of the
president`s handling of this, now it is a 57 percent. Should Congress vote
-- approve those reaction, 58 percent saying no, 33 percent, I mean, public
opinion on this is pretty -- and the president, I mean, I think the
president has been incredibly aware of that. I mean, when he said in that
interview, I think it was in (INAUDIBLE) that Michelle, she doesn`t want me
to do this. I was kind -- that is an amazing thing for the president to
REID: But I mean, Barack Obama has always been a president that has been
reluctant on the idea of committing U.S. troops. I mean, he has been very
reluctant, even as he saw the error of spring unfold, the president has not
gone in with a heavy hand than with the Bush administration did and said,
we are going to go in and we are going to create a new government and new
realities in the Middle East. We have watched that unfold in front of the
rear guard position. We have supported the idea of these democratic
revolutions. Once this wash over to Syria, this guy reacted to the
peaceful protest in Syria that were part of that Arab Spring, and he
reacted with incredible brute force. And then the question is, what do we
HEUVEL: I think this is also a critical moment when there is an opening
for a new foreign policy. And not an isolationist one, but one where
America is a partner with other nations. In addition to what staying for
diplomacy, we need to distain for the United Nation which is now going to
be need to become a centerpiece of action and I think that is critical.
And you know, what will happen, and the president has spoken of the need to
enforce international norms against chemical weapons, and what we are
seeing in the possibility of this diplomatic deal is far more effective and
a deterrent, because we will see dismantling, destruction of chemical
HAYES: We should not get ahead of ourselves.
HEUVEL: But you know what, President Reagan had an expression in dealing
with former Soviet leader (INAUDIBLE), trust but verify. I would say,
test, test Putin`s resolve to find a resolution of this crisis. Test and
test, because in that we could see a revival of the U.S./Russian
relationship which anti-Russian, pro-war lobby in this country put aside is
vital, I think, for all kinds of challenges this country faces.
REID: At the same time, before we praise too much the U.N., I think we
need to recognize the brokenness of the U.N. security council process
precisely because countries like Russia become the patrons of countries
like Syria, in part because they thought their own issues -- .
HAYES: Would also become the patrons of other countries as well.
HEUVEL: How do you support international laws and norms by violating
international laws and norms? It`s a very vexing issue. There are no easy
answers. But, I think we are at a moment where we have to try diplomatic
resolution. And by the way, a political settlement is the answer to a
stable Syria. And you need the region -- you know, political settlement.
HAYES: Maybe it is, maybe it isn`t.
HEUVEL: What is military might going to bring? I mean, you have spoke so
eloquently on your show a few days ago. You know, there are other ways to
-- our humanitarian intervention can well deepen a humanitarian disaster in
Syria. We must search for alternatives. And I think Russia and the
international community, France and UK have jumped on this proposition. We
REID: But absent the threat of American forests. Remember, Bashar al-
Assad only interest is staying in power. His only interest is to remain in
place and not letting the revolution wash him out, right? And he
understand he was actually winning against the rebels. That they probably
cannot defeat him militarily.
We also understand the American military power. And absent the threat of
force, I don`t think that you bring -- and listen, a solution, remember a
diplomatic solution, we all are in favor of it, but it leaves him in place,
and that`s what he wants.
HAYES: Although, that is also weirdly, I think, in some ways that what a
lot of people of the world want.
Coming up, we will be joined by "Huff Post`s" Ryan Grim from Washington`s
take on president`s address.
Stay with us.
HAYES: There are some big, breaking election news we will bring you in a
Still with me is Katrina Vanden Heuvel from "the Nation" and MSNBC
contributor Joy Reid. Joining me now is Ryan Grim, MSNBC contributor,
Washington bureau chief of the "Huffington Post."
Ryan, here is my question. Before this week started, I knew what this week
looked like legislatively. There was a big, high stakes vote. It looked
like the president was rushing toward a vote he was going to lose. It was
going to be a big, dramatic moment. And have all sorts of political
Now I have no clue what this week looks like and what the hell is role is
in this, what the calendar looks like? Are we going to have 435 members of
Congress weighing in on like which diplomatic tweaks they want to see?
That the language of the U.N. security council resolutions? Like how does
this play out?
RYAN GRIM, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, HUFFINGTON POST/MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I
think what you are mostly going to see is the hill kind of say, hey, move
along, everybody. Nothing to see here. OK, there was a train wreck here,
but we are getting this cleaned up. Let`s move on.
And you know, fortunately for them, they have all kinds of new crises that
they can result. You got the budget coming up, you got the debt ceiling
crisis, Obamacare is about to go into effect. So, there are going to be
focusing on defunding that.
You know, I think your head could snap at how fast Congress could move
passed, you know, decision.
HAYES: I think you are clearly right. I think no one wants to vote on
this. No one wants to really deal with it. I think everybody will take an
opportunity of this speech and the vote being delayed and they are being a
diplomatic process working a lot to be like OK, enough with Syria.
REID: But I mean, there is already a process that is working its way
through the Senate which sounds a lot like the same thing that the French
are proposing. And they are sort crafting something that I think would
actually pass because it`s very -- it rains in any action and ties it all
to the U.N. diplomatic process. They are sort of shuffling an off land to
the U.N. And I think that is where the hell wants to be because no, they
don`t want to be On the Record.
HEUVEL: I`m be cautious. I would not underestimate though, I hope this is
the day where we the neo liberal forces slow down. But you is you could
see it pushed back where people will begin to accuse the president of not
having credibility or strength if he doesn`t move.
Now, I think the president could very nimbly move and say, my legacy is
going to be rebuilding this country, and I have put this process on the
diplomatic track. And we will test, and we will push, but we have to
rebuild. And the Congress, since you too follow it more closely, but it is
not working too well as it is.
HEUVEL: And I do think the president, if he wants to burnish his legacy,
may well want to use his executive authority wisely as he has started to do
in his second term. The drug wars, minimum wage, Keystone.
HAYES: That`s become a question right? It is like the president, I mean,
the hill doesn`t want to deal with this. The president, and you know, and
he even made, Ryan, reference tonight, the domestic priorities, part of the
mood of the country in terms of being opposed to intervention is a mood
about exhaustion with work but also exhaustion with the cost of anything
that we are doing outside the country, the idea that we have very high
unemployment, we have domestic priorities being ignored.
The question here, Ryan, is does the hill take a signal from the White
House about turning the agenda back to domestic concerns very quickly when
we are, you know, doing the show Monday night? is our a-block going to be,
you know, the continuing resolution?
GRIM: I don`t think so because Congress is in a place now where not
passing legislation is paradoxically the same as passing legislation.
Because, you know, Obama wants the option to strike Syria to remain on the
table. And as long as Congress doesn`t vote down that possibility, then
it`s much more conceivably on the table than if they actually held a vote
and knocked it down. So, what`s the point then of actually, you know,
everybody getting together and debating a resolution that says if something
doesn`t happen, then we will bomb. So, they might just, I think, we will
just leave it as is.
HEUVEL: But this is a major test, I would argue, for both President Obama
and President Putin to test non-military solutions. And by the way, it is
not just Syria. You have a region of flame, you have moderates in some way
has come to power in Iran. There has been talk of how this a shot across
the bow to show Iran.
So, I think that test, as President Obama came to office was elected to
extricate this country from two words. He has spoke with the new aged of
diplomacy may we see this flourish in his second term. Because I think he
sees in the American people, not the isolationism, but an unwillingness to
spend a million per tomahawked when you can do better things in this world
and show your values in stronger than powerful ways.
REID: But at the same time, we need not forget, I think, we have to
remember that at the end of the day, a solution that leaves Bashar al-Assad
in power, a solution that does not bring to a some kind of closer to civil
war in that country means that we stand by and allowed this brutal, brutal
dictator to go on.
HAYES: But that has been the case. That is American policy.
REID: Right. And the thing is this president, if you look at everything
he said from the Cairo speech whether it is Nobel speech, is opposed to
that. He had not interventionist in terms of wanting to send the American
troops all around the world. But he does express and has expressed for
many years a deep belief that American power should be used to stop this
HEUVEL: But he did tonight try to redefine American power when he said we
can`t be the world`s policemen. And I think to be honest peace, a peaceful
settlement is going to run partly through Moscow, and it is going to
require political settlement. I think so many people in this country hear
diplomacy and political settlement and think weakness, force more diplomacy
HAYES: No, and I think --
REID: It`s to get him to stop killing his own people.
HAYES: It`s to the president`s credit that he does not view it as
HAYES: -- pursuing this and takes this up.
Katrina Vanden Heuvel from "the Nation," MSNBC contributors Joy Reid, and
Ryan Grim. Thank you both.
The president`s address is not the only think making news today. It`s also
Election Day. There are some big election news. We have the latest poll
results from elections that have drawn lots of national attention,
including the political fate of this man.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY WEINER, NEW YORK CITY MAYOR CANDIDATE: We have the best ideas.
Sadly, I was an imperfect messenger.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: There is other news to report, believe it or not. It was Election
day across the country. Most of us are heading to the polls to choose the
candidates we want to run in November. A few local elections have not only
garnered national attention, but could have national implications.
In New York City, we have been hitting refresh on the election results page
because we have an absolute nail-biter. All right, there is 94 percent
precincts reporting. And the city`s public advocate, Bill de Blasio. We
had on the show several times. He is the leading Democratic candidate and
he is leading right now with 39.98 percent of the vote.
Why is that number significant? Well, he needs to get above 40 percent to
avoid a runoff. But it maybe hours or even days before we know for certain
if there will indeed be a runoff. Mr. de Blasio ran as an unabashed
progressive on an anti-Bloomberg platform speaking concerns over income and
inequality and Stop-and-Frisk policies.
Mr. de Blasio`s campaign irking the city`s current mayor so much that Mr.
Bloomberg suggested in a recent interview that it was a racist campaign
because it used the candidate`s biracial family in ads.
If Mr. de Blasio gets above 40 percent or winds the runoff, he will face
the Republican Joe Loda (ph) in November who won the GOP primary race
today. As for former congressman Anthony Wiener, he finished almost but
not quite dead last. He conceded earlier calling himself and imperfect
Tonight, Mr. Weiner got a parting gift from the woman he allegedly sexed
with under the name Carlos Danger, (INAUDIBLE) showed to the mere election
night party telling reporters, it`s my duty to be here. I think we are all
pretty happy this race is over.
Meanwhile, former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, has lost his bid to
become the city`s comptroller losing to Manhattan Borough president Scott
Stringer. And polls are also closed out west, where in Colorado, voters
decide today whether or not to recall two democratic state senators from
State senate president John Morse and state senator Angela Giron, both
supported new gun regulation in the state, including universal background
checks and limiting high-capacity magazines. (INAUDIBLE) reporting the Mr.
Morse conceded his race just moments ago. The votes are still being
tallied. It looking to be an uphill battle from Ms. Giron.
Now, even if both senators are recalled, it will not change policy because
the Democrats will still hold control of the Senate. But it does say
something. The NRA was able to target both of these sitting members of the
state legislative body after they voted for gun safety.
All right, the past 24 hours have been an absolute whirlwind. It is a
debate over what to do about Syria has dramatically changed.
Coming up next, the latest developments including late breaking news
tonight. But according to NBC News, Russia is blocking the U.N. resolution
to enforce the Russian plan for Syria to turn over its chemical weapons.
We will be right back.
HAYES: Just a few hours ago, President Obama made his case to the American
people for a limited military intervention in Syria. but he also quite
pointedly left the door open to a possible diplomatic solution to get rid
of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad`s chemical weapons.
Tonight, that potential diplomatic solution is off to a rocky start with
Russia reportedly already blocking the U.N. security council resolution
being worked on by the United states, France and Great Britain to enforce
the Russian plan for Syria to turn over its chemical weapons to
Joining me now is author, journalist and MSNBC contributor Rula Jebreal and
Lara Setrakian, co-founder and executive editor of Syria Deeply,
independent digital media product. She is a former Middle East
Correspondent for ABC News and Bloomberg Television.
I am having trouble keeping up with the developments diplomatically that
have happened over the last 48 hours. Here is where I understand us to be.
An idea in an abstract has been floated that the idea in the abstract,
which is Syria turning over its chemical weapons to the U.N. or allowing
inspectors to come and either take custody of them or exposed of them is an
idea in the abstract that Syrians have endorsed, the Russians have
endorsed, the Great Britain -- the British have endorsed it, the president
seems open to if it enforceable. Now comes the hard part. What is the
hard part? What should we expect next, Lara?
LARA SETRAKIAN, ABC NEWS/BLOOMBERG NEWS: It will be very difficult for the
Russian to come up with something that the U.S. finds acceptable. We
interviews Secretary Kerry today, actually on a Google hang out. And he
said the U.N. security council resolution is an absolute must. It`s a
bottom line for the U.S. And that is when the Russians just came out and
said. They do not want to see the threat of military action hanging over
Bashar al-Assad`s head.
HAYES: Right. So, there is two different resolutions, the chapter seven
resolution would actually have binding, the binding authority of force
essentially, the U.N. security council resolution and it would say, if
these procedures aren`t met, if the targets are missed, then, we can
enforce this with force as sanctioned by the security council, right?
Russian has said that to nonstarter. They want some kind of resolution
that essentially is symbolic. Is there any way out of this box?
RULA JEBREAL, AUTHOR/JOURNALIST/MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: No. It`s unacceptable
because the Russians came around. Bashar al-Assad, for the first time, the
Syrian admitted that they had stockpiles that they denied for years only
because we waived the fact that we threaten them.
HAYES: You buy that argument. You think there is the credible threat of
JEBREAL: Absolutely. It`s the only thing that pushed Bashar al-Assad
today to give Charlie Rose an interview yesterday and come out saying wait
one second, you know. We don`t have them. We did not do this. And I
think they are terrified. The Syrian regime, for the first time know that
the balance of power is towards them. But if the Americans will intervene,
reality on the ground will change and very quickly and very fast.
HAYES: We have heard this. The balance of power has shifted from the
rebels to Assad recently. Now that it`s in this period of bloody
stalemate, what does the future of a conflict on the ground look like as
this diplomatic process plays out? One of the thing that is fascinating
is, if you can conceive of a diplomatic solution, what it would mean is
that Bashar al-Assad as the head of state of Syria would essentially be
your partner on the other end of the table in making this solution come
about, right? Does that do something to confer legitimacy on him as the
head of the Syrians state?
SETRAKIAN: Legitimacy, no. Longevity, yes. And now, the greater goal for
the U.S. in Syria has been a manager transition. Some sort of process by
which we get from the Assad`s regime of today to some sort of future Syria
without him at home. The Russians, obviously, don`t want that. They want
him to stay, practically, indefinitely. But from the perspective of
Syria`s war, this was the right speech to give tonight. Give way for --
HAYES: The president`s speech.
SETRAKIAN: Yes, because he gave room for the Russian plan to be explored
and potentially pursued, if it`s real, but still continuing to have that
threat of force. I agree with Rula and with Joy earlier in the show, that
credible use of force in Syria is crucial. It`s accountability. How can
have a political process? How can draw any line?
HAYES: OK. To push on this idea of a credible use of force, if
presumably, if it is true, as the U.S. intelligence case presented to us in
declassified form would suggest, and all of those caveats are there for a
reason. We have burn before by intelligence, if it is the case that Assad
was directly responsible for this sarin gas attack, presumably he
understood that this was possibly inviting U.S. force before him.
SETRAKIAN: When the U.S. was unwilling to do anything about Syria, not
three, four weeks ago.
HAYES: So, you think the message was sent in earlier --
JEBREAL: Look, he looked at the reality in what is happening in the Arab
world. Assad is very smart dictator, very brutal, but also smart. He
looks at what is happening in Egypt and he thought, OK, the generals came
back. They killed hundreds of Muslim brotherhood, and America did not even
stop or even -- .
HAYES: Barely could bring ourselves to do anything.
JEBREAL: Barely --exactly. Not only condemn it, we did not stop any
American aid. So he look at that and he thought, OK, they are releasing
Mubarak from jail. So, I am on my home, I`m in power because
fundamentally, the Americans will think that I am better than that
Islamists. He was wrong in his calculus.
SETRAKIAN: There are lots of parts of the narrative that Assad himself has
put forward that we have kind of taken hook line and sink through in the
U.S. One of it is that, part of it is that the only option are Assad or
SETRAKIAN: There is something in the middle for Syria. It`s not easy, but
it is what Syrians want, and they want stability.
JEBREAL: The Americans, and with all due respect, the Americans have this
idea. We disengage totally from the Middle East because it`s a mess, it is
too complicated or we eventually we strike. And these are the two options
12 years after September 11th. And it is tragedy because actually we
created that reality on the ground. We backed regimes, dictators with
weapons, with armament and with everything and with aides. And also, we
allowed Saudis captors to back the Islamists. We created these monsters.
HAYES: And of course, we are looking idly by as the Saudis just pour money
and fighters into it.
JEBREAL: Hundreds of millions of dollars. And we never stop them and we
ignored the mob.
HAYES: The big question now is what role Vladimir Putin plays in all this
and Russia which has become the kind of key player in all sorts of
international intrigue recently?
We will be right back with a former Moscow correspondent for her take on
Russia`s role in Syria situation. Stick around.
HAYES: Still with me, MSNBC contributor Rula Jebreal and Lara Setrakian
from Syria Deeply. Joining me now is Miriam Elder, foreign and nation
security editor for BuzzFeed.com, former Moscow correspondent for "the
And here is the big question of the hour, Miriam, is how seriously do we
take the Russian proposal which is that does Vladimir Putin have the vested
interest in actually finding the diplomatic way out, or is this a way of
essentially jerking around the Americans, of delaying of providing cover
for Assad? And I will say that Putin earlier today said that in order to
get any chemical weapons agreement, the U.S. must renounce strikes. Is
that, of course, all of this will only mean anything, that the U.S. and
other nations supporting it tell us they are giving up their plan to use
force against Syria. you can`t really ask Syria or any other country to
disarm unilaterally while military action against it is being contemplated.
What do you think Vladimir Putin plan is here?
MIRIAM ELDER, FOREIGN AND NATION SECURITY EDITOR FOR BUZZFEED.COM, FORMER
MOSCOW CORRESPONDENT FOR "THE GUARDIAN" NEWSPAPER: I think that the
ultimate goal of the Russians hasn`t changed. And it`s still stands in
contrast to what the Americans want to see. Russian wants to see Assad
stay. American wants to see Assad go. Nothing has changed that. No
matter what we have seen, the message, the diplomatic to infer over the
past few days, that remains the case.
So, I think Russia is in a way stalling for time. They do want to put off
a U.S. military strike. And it seems that they have seized upon the
perfect moment. It is clear that Obama doesn`t really want to deal with
this. Congress doesn`t want to deal with this. Everybody is kind of
passing the buck to the Russians. And they are happily taking it because
one of the ultimate goals also of the Putin regime is just to appear
relevant. And what do they have now aside from appearing absolutely
HAYES: Well, so the question then becomes, does it add to Vladimir Putin`s
appearance of relevance? Does it actually make him seem larger if he can
work out a viable solution which is to say are the incentives for Vladimir
Putin in Russia success in the diplomatic process, or are the incentives
towards failure, right? That is going to be in some ways a large part of
what comes out of this diplomatic process.
ELDER: Well, I think it depends on how you define success and failure. If
you define success from Putin`s point of view, that would be avoiding a
U.S. military strike and ensuring that Assad stays in power. And it seems
like he is well on his way to achieving his goal.
I do not think that Putin is very invested in achieving a sort of
diplomatic solution to the conflict at large. That is something that the
U.S. and Russia have been talking about, you know, for almost two years.
They have been trying to get a conference together in Geneva since May when
Kerry visited Moscow and first announced it while he was meeting with the
Russian foreign minister Lavrov. There has been absolutely no movement on
that. And I don`t necessarily see the events of the past few days changing
HAYES: Do you, do either of you feel that this diplomatic solution is
workable in any of the sense both diplomatically and also logistically,
Lara as someone who has been reporting on the region?
SETRAKIAN: Well, logistically, it depends on how you see the chemical
stockpile. You have a lot of analysts say it`s very difficult to
dismantle especially in the middle of the war zone. You are talking about
dozens of chemical weapons sites. Secretary Kerry told us in the
interview today. It`s actually not that hard for the regime in Syria, has
kept control and possession of these chemical stockpiles, moved them to
regime held areas. So, it is really not that than stock in the free for
all sort of thing.
HAYES: That`s interesting.
JEBREAL: I actually think that it`s less hard than we think because you
have a partner in the region that is monitoring these issues very carefully
in the last, maybe, I would say, eight, nine years. Israel has been
monitoring exactly where they put them, how they used them, when they used
them. They are the first one that actually denounced the Syrian regime six
months ago saying they started using them in small doses and they will
increase over and over and over.
So, I think if the Syrian regime wants to survive today, and probably they
want to survive and they are desperate to survive, they will follow the
path. I`m not sure that I can actually trust Bashar al-Assad. He is a
pathological liar or Putin. But they have a common interest to keep this
regime in place.
HAYES: Why does Putin not want to see U.S. air strikes? I mean, he wants
to see Assad win. He must envision that the balance of power really will
tip even though we are talking about limited strikes, Miriam.
ELDER: Yes, absolutely. I think, if you think of the U.S. and Russia as
kind of going through this cold war tussle except with a bit of nuance.
Whereas during the cold war, Russia was going around and trying to spread
its influence right now, its main goal of its foreign policy is to make
sure that U.S. influence is in check. That U.S. control isn`t check. It
doesn`t want to see the U.S. effect absolutely any change inside Syria, and
especially, of course, through military strikes. It will do anything it
can to stop that.
HAYES: MSNBC contributor Rula Jebreal, Lara Setrakian from Syria Deeply
which you should check out and Miriam Elder from BuzzFeed.com, thank you
all for your time tonight. Very appreciate it.
All right, that is it for a very special edition of ALL IN tonight. We are
live at 1100. We will see you back here tomorrow at our normal time, that
is 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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