July 19, 2014
Guest: Hillary Mann-Leverett, Earl Catagnus, Bobby Ghosh, Nina
Khrushcheva, John Herbst, Devone Boggan, Bryan Smith, Jonathan Metzl, Donna
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC ANCHOR: This morning, my question -- can we
stop murder with a paycheck? Plus, the ground invasion in Gaza. And what
President Obama calls a wake-up call for the world. But first
understanding what brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
Good morning, I`m Melissa Harris-Perry. 298 lives lost. President Obama
confirmed Friday that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was downed on
Thursday and was flying in a section of airspace deemed safe by
international aviation authorities was shot down by a surface-to-air
missile from an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists inside of
Ukraine. What remains unclear as of this morning, is exactly who is
responsible for firing the missile. The finger pointing continues as both
Russia and separatists continue to deny responsibility. The rebels suggest
Ukrainian forces could be to blame. Though that theory was refuted
yesterday in statements from Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAMANTHA POWER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Separatists
initially claimed responsibility for shooting down a military transport
plane and posted videos that are now being connected to the Malaysian
Airlines crash. Separatists` leaders also boasted on social media about
shooting down a plane, but later deleted these messages.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: And according to the Interfax News Agency, Russian President
Vladimir Putin put the blame directly on the country of Ukraine saying
"without question, the state over whose territory this happened bears the
responsibility for the terrible tragedy. This tragedy would not have
happened have there been peace in this land, if hostilities has not resumed
in the southeast of Ukraine."
Addressing media Friday afternoon, President Obama took the issue directly
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We know that they
are heavily armed and that they are trained. And we know that that is not
an accident that is happening because of Russian support. A group of
separatists can`t shoot down military transport planes, or they claim shoot
down fighter jets without sophisticated equipment and sophisticated
training. And that is coming from Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: President Obama also called for an immediate cease-fire in
Ukraine and a credible international investigation. Over the ports of
rebels blocking access to parts of the crash site it is anyone`s guess how
soon that will happen. I want to bring in now NBC News chief Pentagon
correspondent Jim Miklaszewski. Jim, how are officials piecing together
this investigation to find out who fired that surface to air missile in
Malaysia - excuse me, at Malaysia Flight 17?
JIM MIKLASZEWSKI, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Melissa, U.S. military and
intelligence officials are absolutely certain about one thing, that the
missile as you reported that brought down a Malaysian airliner was fired
from a rebel-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine. And as the president
said, those rebels couldn`t do that, without sophisticated training on the
missile systems and how to use them. But U.S. military and intelligence
officials are going one step further in terms of that. And are -- and
actually I suspect that those rebels had a big-time time assist from
Russian forces, positioned across the border. Now, it`s been known for
some time, that Russian military forces have been embedded with some of
those rebel fighters that are inside eastern Ukraine to help train them on
such items as heavy artillery, tanks that the Russians have been shipping
across the border. And, yes, those missile launchers.
So now, however, it appears that there is some intelligence that points to
the possibility that a Russian soldier or soldiers themselves could have
actually pulled the trigger. Or at least, at the very least, the command
to shoot down that plane, whether they knew it was an airliner or not,
appears it may have come from some kind of Russian commander, Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Jim, let me ask you a bit more about that. So is the
question then about Russian culpability primarily one of how proximate the
relationship is, in other words, how soon or how close to the firing of
this missile there was actually either a conversation or training or
provision of the weapon?
MIKLASZEWSKI: When it comes to culpability, nothing else matters, except
the fact that as President Obama himself has said, the Russians have
continued to escalate the violence in eastern Ukraine. They continued to
provide sophisticated weaponry to the rebels. So, even -- even if on an
off chance that the missile went off accidentally, and accidentally hit the
airplane, U.S. officials would consider the Russians and President Vladimir
Putin himself still culpable.
HARRIS-PERRY: Jim Miklaszewski in Washington this morning, thank you for
HARRIS-PERRY: In the studio this morning, we have a panel guest to help us
better understand the implications of this story. At the table, Bobby
Ghosh, managing editor of the Atlantic Group news site corps, which you can
find at QZ.com. Hillary Mann-Leverett was professor at the School of
International Service at American University. Earl Catagnus who is
assistant professor of history and security studies at Valley Forge
Military College and Nina Khrushcheva, associate professor of International
Affairs at the New School. Thank you all for being here.
Earl, I want to start with you. In part on what we heard there from Jim
about the question of beginning to try to build the case about the
culpability of the Russian state, but also of Vladimir Putin in particular.
I want to take a moment and listen to our U.N. - our ambassador to the
U.N., Samantha Power doing some of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POWER: Early Thursday, an SA-11 SAM system was reported near by a western
reporter near Snizhne by a Western reporter and separatists were spotted
hours before the incident with an SA-11 system at a location close to the
site where the plane came down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Is there actual confusion about what happened or is this
just about building the case in terms of an evidentiary basis?
EARL J. CATAGNUS JR., PROF., VALLEY FORGE MILITARY ACADEMY: I think that
everybody is in agreement that it was Russian separatists, except the
separatists themselves, that it was their - that came from their particular
territory. Whether or not who was in command, whether a Russian adviser,
that`s the key here. They were possibly Russian advisers, I doubt they
were Russian military advisers, possibly in part of their intelligence
services. It probably were not in Russian uniforms. If they were there.
There has been constant training -- you have to understand, the Ukrainian
military, the one in the Soviet system was a conscript - there was a
conscript army. So many people were trained in these weapons system. And
the SA-11 that was fired was a late-70s type of technology. Soviet systems
are notoriously not as technical as what we would seem because they were
meant for the conscript army, as well as they`re designed for - in the
socialist massive production technique.
HARRIS-PERRY: So making this kind of error might make more sense if we`re
talking about that sort of weapon?
CATAGNUS: I wouldn`t call this --
HARRIS-PERRY: And I`m presuming that there is an error - that there was
not - there`s no, as far as we know at this point, strategic interest in
bringing down a passenger plane?
CATAGNUS: Absolutely. This was an error -- they say there`s no doubt that
they probably thought it was a Ukrainian transport flight. There`s no
doubt about that. And I don`t think that - I think Russia is directly
culpable for funding it -- for helping with the Ukrainian separatists, or
Russian separatists. I don`t know if we have to have the case here that we
have to really have to do this. This is not like weapons of mass
CATAGNUS: This is just - this is the way it is so we can proceed on with
the sanctions whether or not that E.U., regardless of all of this is going
to buy into those sanctions because they`re so integrated economically,
that`s the question.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So, when you bring up that point, when you say the
one (INAUDIBLE), my sort of nervous laughter, there was, you know, it`s a
last time we saw a U.S. ambassador to U.N. making a case like this. OK, so
HARRIS-PERRY: The case is wrong.
HILLARY MANN LEVERETT, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: I was in the U.S. government,
this is part of the reason I resigned from the White House at the time.
That was not just a wrong case. That was a fraudulent case. And I say
that with all due respect to General Colin Powell who I really deeply
respect and respected at the time. But he was given a fraudulent case.
And we`ve had - this is a bipartisan failure of our political class, and we
buy into over and over again based on assumptions on who we deem to be the
bad guys. We did it in Iraq. We did it in Libya, we`ve done it in Syria.
And this time, we`re daring to do it with Russia. That`s still a huge
power with nuclear weapons, a cyber-army and lots of oil and dollars.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, I`m so glad you brought that - because I think - I guess
that`s maybe the discomfort that I`m feeling in part here, which is - and I
asked Jim about it. And so, what are we talking about, the former Cold War
powers, the U.S. and the Soviet Union, right? The former Soviet Union,
that provided all kinds of weapons and training, kind of across the world.
And now we`re talking about the culpability of Russia. Now, I get that
this is more proximate. But how is this at Putin`s door step? Why is this
case different than simply saying, this is about this general old existing
NINA KHRUSCHEVA, ASSOC., PROF., THE NEW SCHOOL: Well, it`s not about this
old existing relationship. I think we make it about the old existing
relationship. But this is a new relationship. And I actually disagree. I
have to say this is a very good case against Putin and against the Kremlin
and against the way he runs foreign policy or domestic policy or any policy
for that matter. Because he`s culpable. He does support those rebels.
Instead of saying fine, Russia is involved one way or another. I agree,
they did not give -- I mean, it`s hard to imagine, and we actually know
from transcripts that they did not give the direct order that the rebels
actually did think of themselves as the heroes, when they shot down the
plane. But then they decided to dial it back.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right, right, right. So, this is right- this is this body
evidence is beginning to come out.
KHRUSHCHEVA: Decided to dial it down when they found out that actually it
was a passenger plane. But Putin didn`t come out right away, he didn`t go
on your show, and every other show to say this is a horrible mistake. He
immediately went out and went after Ukraine and said this is your problem,
this is your guilt. And so, he should be held responsible for running such
an insufficient foreign policy or domestic policy.
HARRIS-PERRY: All right. There`s so much more on this because I do want
to talk -- I do want to continue to talk about this. Just real quickly, I
want to point out, there is - you said that we have a transcript. I just
want people to understand what it is we`re talking about in that case. So
this is an intercepted communication released by the Ukrainian government.
It`s allegedly a conversation between a Russian commander and a Ukrainian
separatist following the crash of flight 17. It is audio that the "New
York Times" posted to its website. I do want to know that NBC News has not
independently verified the authenticity of this recording. But I want to
listen for a moment, because this is what Professor Khrushcheva is
responding to here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (SPEAKING RUSSIAN)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (SPEAKING RUSSIAN)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (SPEAKING RUSSIAN)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (SPEAKING RUSSIAN)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: Again, not yet verified, but if that ends up being authentic
recording, it is chilling.
BOBBY GHOSH, MANAGING EDITOR, QZ.COM: It is pretty chilling. It`s also,
you know, it`s the key phrase that have not yet verified, and - we
shouldn`t put it past the Ukrainian government. They do have a rest of
interest here. And it`s a little interesting that everyone is speaking in
GHOSH: So there`s reason. No?
KHRUSHCHEVA: They don`t speak in complete sentences?
GHOSH: Well, the translation, anyway.
GHOSH: You would know better.
KHRUSHCHEVA: But they don`t - and the amount of curse words that they use,
KHRUSHCHEVA: That to suggest that it could be offender .
HARRIS-PERRY: It could be real, OK?
GHOSH: But the thing is that, just go back to the point that you`re making
earlier, Putin has gone on the offensive from the beginning. But he has
been careful not to say in so many words the Ukrainians in it. And he`s
also - not that he nor and his senior officials making official statements,
no one has said the rebels didn`t do it. So, that`s a very crucial point.
He`s still giving himself room to maneuver in case rhetorical.
CATAGNUS: Maybe Putin, but on Russia state media it is.
GHOSH: State media is different.
CATAGNUS: That is the prime -- where you look and you see where they`re
trying to get to the people. They are saying that Ukrainian jets have
followed. They were tracking this plane. And that there could have been
an air-to-air missile. The amount of anti-Western media in the Russian
state, controlled state media, it`s some correspondents have said it`s even
worse than during Soviet time.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK, so stick with us, because - that`s a good point, that I
want to come to as soon as we get back, which is this questions of what`s
happening internally within Russian politics that is part of sort of what`s
going on with Putin and with all of this. There is one country and really
one man squarely at the focus of the U.S. government finding a way out of
the escalating tensions in Ukraine. And our ambassador to the United
Nations made that very plain on Friday morning in an impassioned speech.
Part of that is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POWERS: Most council members and most members of the international
community have been warning for months about the devastation that would
come if Russia did not stop what it started. If it did not rein in what it
unleashed. This war can be ended. Russia can end this war. Russia must
end this war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United
Nations speaking in front of an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security
Council on Friday. So, here`s the question, if we`re remembering the Colin
Powell moment, as you recalled for us, then is this -- is there an ending
here? What is Samantha Power asking for when she says end this war? What
is the action?
MANN LEVERETT: Look, the United States, the foreign policy of the United
States have acted from day one after the crash of the Soviet Union, that we
have defeated Russia. And we have acted that way ever since. And what
Putin represents is a rise to that attitude that we defeated him. And we
have basically no response. There is no end game in trying to bring Putin
down, to bring Russia down. We have tried that in Iraq, in Libya and
Syria. It has failed. And now we`ve taken it to the doorsteps of one of
the world`s historic superpowers. The power with nuclear weapons, a cyber-
army, dollars and oil. This is not going to turn out well for us. I`m
afraid we`re in an even more dangerous moments than in some of the worst
moments during the Cold War. I would harken this back to the Cuban missile
crisis. Because we`ve taken this to the borders of Russia as Russia did to
us during - in Cuba. At least in the Cold War we had - we had - there was
a buffer. Now, we`ve taken it up to the borders of Russia and we`ve
unleashed something very dangerous.
HARRIS-PERRY: But Nina, you know, I`ve seen you on our air this week
talking a fair bit about this. And it seems to me that your position has
generally been, that in fact we did not bring this, that Mr. Putin brought
it. And that he brought it in large part, because of this standing up over
and against America which claims to have defeated Russia, and that worked
for the internal politics of the Russians.
KHRUSHCHEVA: Well, I completely agree with Hillary that the United States
was really not at its best when it was screaming victory in the Cold War.
KHRUSHCHEVA: But also, I would not observe Putin from playing the victim,
but also a bully victim who says while the United States did it to us, so
we can do it back - and do it back to the whole world. So, if somebody is
a bully, you do not respond this way. Not that I`m saying, the United
States is a particularly bully in this regard, because he`s worse. So,
that is, and I think actually today with what`s happened now, I don`t know
if there`s no turning - if there`s a turning back and trying to end this
crisis. I think there was a window of opportunity. There was six months
we`ve been talking about it on this show. There were better diplomacy that
could have been used before. But now it`s really - I mean Russia has
become an international murderer, or as implicated or involved .
HARRIS-PERRY: And so, does this - this don`t change the position of the
Europeans. I mean this is a plane where most of the deaths are observed by
other European nations. Does this change their calculus?
GHOSH: You put your finger on the problem. We don`t need to see Samantha
Power mouthing off about the Russians. We know her position. We need to
see the Dutch do that, we need to see the Germans do that, we need to see
the French do that and we`re not seeing that.
GHOSH: It`s not just - yeah, but and they`ve said, they have agreed that
we should have an international investigation. That`s not a position of
CATAGNUS: Here`s the solution, and here`s the possible solution, and this
is one that we`re going to change, again, change this discourse that we`re
having in this - about sanctions. How, the U.N. Security Council can
authorize peace - peacekeeping troops there.
HARRIS-PERRY: To Ukraine?
CATAGNUS: To Ukraine. And we get for it - if we ask for the Russian
support to actually have Russian troops in place and you work in concert
with them, and then that way, they keep it as checks and balances. This is
again, this is a possible solution.
MANN LEVERETT: This is about Russia`s re-emergence to power. And its
challenge to the United States. So, this really does need to be dealt
with, I think, on a Russian-American level where there is an American
assurance that we will not encourage support or in any way facilitate
Ukraine or any of these other countries close to Russia their entrance into
NATO. That is the red line for Putin. And if we could do that, that opens
the door to conflict resolution. Everything else is that way.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stick with us, we can pick up there. Because there`s still
more news on this developing story. The latest word out of Moscow is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: This certainly will be a wake-up call for Europe and the world that
there are consequences to an escalating conflict in eastern Ukraine that it
is not going to be localized. That it is not going to be contained.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was President Obama on Friday conveying that what
happens in eastern Ukraine does not stay there. As evidence by the tragedy
of flight 17. And according to reports Russia is trying to show that they
are not part of the problem calling on Kiev and rebels to give
international experts access to the airplane crash site earlier today.
Russia`s foreign minister has also indicated that Moscow will retaliate for
new sanctions imposed by the U.S. over Ukraine. What was the missed
window? So, you all suggested earlier that there was a missed window?
CATAGNUS: In the very beginning if the president would have come out and
said Ukraine will not gain entrance into NATO. And that would have stopped
Crimea that would have stopped this whole - this whole mess right away from
the beginning. As of now, I`m not so sure that would work with President
Putin. I do think that we need to change our idea of solution, sanctions
are not working. And the E.U. will not do it. They`re too economically
integrated. And that is a consequence of globalization. Really, I mean,
it`s one of the things that we thought would reduce conflict.
Unfortunately, it has a reverse effect on making minor conflicts persist
longer because we can`t exert those economic influences.
KHRUSHCHEVA: I just thought that the moment was after the Geneva
Agreement, when was that, May, right? May? And that was a moment, but
unfortunately Joe Biden went to Ukraine and gave one of his fiery speeches
and Barack Obama went to Asia and was talking about Ukraine and Russia at
all times. And what I was suggesting at the time, he should have gone to
Moscow, sit down with Putin, then .
HARRIS-PERRY: The president should have gone?
KHRUSHCHEVA: Right. The president he`s gone to Moscow, sit down with
Putin man-to-man. Said look, man, we are not perfect, we understand your
frustration, but let`s have a conversation about this. And Putin actually
would probably have gone for it. Because America would have admitted that
it`s not always .
HARRIS-PERRY: OK, all right, so I appreciate that point. There`s such
difficulty between these men, you can see in their body language even. But
just as we talked about there being a kind of masculine, muscular domestic
politics to which Putin is playing. So, too, with the president of the
United States had he sat down with Putin and said, hey, sometimes, we make
mistakes, too. I mean what would have happened on the domestic scene for
him back at home?
MANN LEVERETT: But it`s really bad mistakes. Even during the Cold War,
the United States recognized that Russia had interests as a country. That
we respect it, even during the Cold War, we had proxy conflicts with them
in other places, but not on Russia`s borders. That`s the key here. It`s
not that they make mistakes. It`s that we have to acknowledge that part of
Russia`s interest are in part of the former Soviet space.
HARRIS-PERRY: But so - let me just - What are the domestic politics
different at that moment. Like that the level of infighting with a
president who is actively trying to stand on his own borders and represent
the interest of the United States were quite different for those who
governed in the context of the Cold War.
MANN LEVERETT: And this is where -- this is where I voted - This is one of
the reasons I voted for Obama in 2008. This was his brilliant, but
basically simple insight. You don`t negotiate with your friends. You
actually negotiate with your enemies or your foes, you try to achieve
conflict resolution. This is where he distinguished himself from Hillary
Clinton in the primaries where he focused on his opposition to the war in
Iraq. And he said that instead of demonizing and sanctioning ourselves off
the table and away from countries, we will deal with them as they are.
That`s a critical insight. And he needs to find that inner Obama, bring it
back and negotiate with Russia .
KHRUSHCHEVA: And he hadn`t been doing it - at all.
MANN LEVERETT: It`s not at all.
KHRUSHCHEVA: He actually treated him like he was one of his worst enemies
and that was, I think, part of the .
GHOSH: He and Biden are sort of taking this position against Russia as if
they`re writing checks that are big on cash.
GHOSH: They are taking a position that requires the Europeans to be - to
take a hard line against the Russians but the Europeans have absolutely no
interest in doing this.
HARRIS-PERRY: Even after the loss of 200 people?
GHOSH: Even after .
GHOSH: They said if we haven`t yet heard the Dutch prime minister or the
Dutch government come up with a strong statement against Russia, then that
tells us something. That they have lost 183 people and the realities of
Europe, and the realities of their economic dependence on Russia override
the deaths of 183 of their nationals.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stick with us. Nina Khrushcheva, thank you for your
insight. We`ll see you a little later here back at the table. But up
next, we`re going to turn to the other enormous international story that
we`re following this morning. The ground invasion in Gaza when we come
HARRIS-PERRY: The fighting in the Gaza Strip continued to intensify last
night. The second night of Israel`s ground invasion of the Palestinian
territory. 34 people were killed bringing the death toll among
Palestinians to 333, including 77 children, according to the Gaza health
ministry. More than 2,000 people have been injured. One Israeli civilian
was also killed last night by rocket fire. Bringing the Israeli death toll
to three. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu says the goal of the ground
invasion is to dismantle tunnels used by Hamas, the militant Palestinian
political group that controls the Gaza Strip. Hamas uses the tunnels to
smuggle supplies and fighters past its borders which are tightly controlled
by Israel and Egypt. The ground invasion came after more than a week of
fighting in the form of Israeli air strikes and rockets launched from Gaza.
Ceasefire negotiations are ongoing, but have made little headway with both
sides accusing the other of committing war crimes. United Nations General
Secretary Ban Ki-moon is headed to the area today to try to mediate the
And the conflict has created a humanitarian crisis. Half of Gaza`s 1.8
million residents do not have access to clean water according to the United
Nations and nearly 50,000 Palestinians have fled their homes. Joining us
now from Tel Aviv, NBC News correspondent Martin Fletcher. Martin, at this
point, is there any sign of the fighting slowing down or is the situation
still headed towards escalation?
MARTIN FLETCHER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Oh, Melissa. No sign it`s laying down
whatsoever. Definitely towards escalation. The Israelis are now moving
slowly, carefully deeper inside Gaza. They`ve taken over about a one-mile
corridor along the edge of Gaza, most in the north and the central area.
And that`s where they`re looking for these tunnels that Hamas militants
have dug from - from Gaza into Israel to attacks Israeli soldiers and
civilians. And in fact, today, there was a confrontation, Palestinian
gunmen went through the tunnel and they did emerge inside Israel today.
They were spotted by an Israeli patrol. And there was a gun fight -
gunfire. The Israelis - two Israeli soldiers were wounded. One
Palestinian was killed. And the other Palestinians managed to apparently
escape into the tunnel and back into Gaza. So that was a success for Hamas
getting their gunmen and their fighters inside Israel. And Hamas
publicized that massively on their social media, saying they`ve taken the
fight to the enemy.
Inside Gaza, the Israeli soldiers are moving, as I said earlier, slowly and
carefully into the areas, in particular, in the north, where they`re going
from house to house looking for rocket launchers. They say they found
about 25 to 30 rocket launchers in those buildings. They also say they
found about 15 of the tunnels. They found about more than 30 entrance
shafts to the tunnels. Because bear in mind, that tunnels often have more
than one entrance into them. So the fighting is getting -- is getting more
intense, the more the Israelis go into Gaza. They`re hoping to limit their
objectives to the outskirts and to take out those rocket launchers. But
Hamas, which in the beginning of the ground invasion was holding back.
There was no real confrontations, direct Hamas fighters with Israeli
soldiers until earlier today. Now, Hamas is beginning to come out and take
the fighting to the Israeli soldiers. So there will be more -- there will
be more casualties on both sides. One Israeli soldier was killed yesterday
by it turned out the Israeli army confirmed a shell fired by an Israeli
tank. So, that was an Israeli soldier killed by Israeli soldiers. And the
longer the fighting goes on it is escalating and it will get worse and
therefore more civilian casualties. Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: Martin Fletcher in Tel Aviv. Thank you for your reporting
I want to bring my panel here in New York back into the discussion. Help
me to understand, why in this moment, because the conversation is about the
tunnels. The tunnels are preexisting, why is this the moment when Israel
made a strategic decision to invade the ground war?
MANN LEVERETT: The tunnels have been a problem for many, many years,
because you`re talking about a population, under occupation and under
siege. The Israelis and the Egyptians have these civilian population
completely, entirely under siege. They regulate even what kind of potato
chips can get in when they allow potato chips in, and I`m not even - that
doesn`t even get to medicine or anything else. So, this is a population
completely under siege, and it is doing whatever it can to break that
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. I mean some of the smuggling that occurs in the
tunnels is militaristic in nature, but some of this also .
GHOSH: These are different tunnels. These are not the tunnels going into
Egypt, those are the smuggling tunnels.
GHOSH: These are tunnels going to Israel that have only one real purpose.
HARRIS-PERRY: And they are .
GHOSH: They are not there to bring in food supplies. OK, they are to give
Hamas the ability to strike inside Israel.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK, which .
GHOSH: Military tunnels.
HARRIS-PERRY: Which Martin is telling us in fact happened. So, but,
again, still help me to understand, because they`re not necessarily new.
MANN LEVERETT: But my implication wasn`t the tunnels are only used for
potato chips or anything humanitarian. My -what I`m trying to say is that
this is a population under siege doing whatever it can, largely in an
asymmetric way because it doesn`t have an army to fight the siege. And so,
they are going to continue to use tunnels. And that`s why the Israelis
call this type of operation mowing the grass. To periodically trim back,
they`ve done this now for several years, 2008, 2009, 2012. And they`ll do
it, maybe, another year - year and a half.
CATAGNUS: There`s distinction now between you use population at lumps
(ph). There is Hamas and there is the population that`s in Gaza. And you
can even see in some of the correspondence, where today they talked to the
Palestinians that say I`m not leaving my home because then Hamas is going
to use it to attack Israeli soldiers. So what is happening here, is that
Israel, using the three - the kidnapping of the three Israelis, they`re now
going to go into a ground offensive. You see that there is minimal
casualties on the Israeli part.
CATAGNUS: There`s acceptable loss right now, again, acceptable loss,
civilian loss. It may be exploited because it is coming from the Gaza
Authority. And acceptable loss through the air campaign. They`re going to
go poke in and then they are going to try to get Hamas to attack. Hamas
just demonstrated that they`re willing to come across and use these tunnels
which then gave them legitimacy within the Israeli people to actually go
in. And the thing is that Israel knows it`s going to lose on the PR, on
the world spectrum. So what they`re going to do, and the reason why they
do the leaflet campaign. The reason why they make phone calls before they
go in and bomb these places, the reason why they`re actually doing it slow
and methodical, actually taking in clearing, is to reduce civilian
casualties. And that`s not necessarily the kindness of their hearts. It
is. But it is because you can get over somebody breaking into your house
and looting it. But you can`t get over your brother or your son getting
HARRIS-PERRY: OK, all right, so you`ve taken us to a lot of places that I
think are both very difficult and hard for us, but important for us to
parse. So I want to start with one of them and promising to get to the
others. So, one of the question about acceptable civilian losses and also
about sort of how Israel is thinking about that issue. And how they`re
making choices. But before we get to that, I want to ask about what you
said in terms of winning and losing. So, what would constitute a win,
Bobby? For Israel and Islamic - if it`s mowing the grass, when is - when
is it short enough? What is a win? And what would constitute a win for
Hamas? Without an army, they don`t expect to defeat Israel. But there
could be aspects of this, it could somehow be a win for them?
GHOSH: Well, for Israel, the victory is-you`re right. There`s no final
victory for either side here. If Israel can degrade Hamas` ability to a
substantial degree that would count as a win from the Israeli point of
view. If they can stop the rocket - the hail of rockets, that will count
as a victory. But knowing fully well, that in time, Hamas will find more
rockets as they have done over and over and over again. You can break down
100 tunnels and they`ll build the 101st tunnel. From Hamas`s point of
view, victory is far less - I mean to define it is much more difficult. In
some respects they`ve already won. They were on the political back where
they were under enormous pressure within Gaza and from the West Bank. They
had been forced to make a conciliation towards Fatah, towards the
Palestinian Authority. This gives them in some degree at least a spike of
revival. I mean I think in the long term, the Gazans will not forget that
Hamas is incompetent, as well as murderous. But at least for the next few
months, they will get a little bit of the glow, if you like from having
launched the .
HARRIS-PERRY: OK, so. I`m going to stay -we`re going to stay exactly on
this topic and on the question of civilian loss when we come back.
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to listen for a moment to a moment for my colleague
Chris Hayes` program "All In" last night. This is the spokesman for the
Israeli prime minister, he was discussing reports that Hamas fires - had
fired on Israel from near a hospital.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UM: Another example of Hamas using human shields. Using Gaza civilians,
deliberately. My prime minister I thought put it very well when he said in
Israel, we`ve got missiles to protect people. In Gaza, they use - Hamas
uses people to protect its missiles. It`s disgusting and it`s the entire
difference between us and them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: So who we got - that has become a discursive strategy right
now, is to say that the civilian losses -- Hamas said the civilian losses
are the result of Israeli policy in its war-making and Israel says it is a
result of Hamas`s policies relative to how it shields itself with citizens.
MANN LEVERETT: You know, I was first in Gaza, initially as a student,
later as a diplomat at the U.S. embassy, and when I was a student, I was in
Gaza when Hamas was first born during the first intifada. Hamas is in
Arabic, is an acronym that means a movement for resistance. It`s not a
fighter here or a fighter there, an army organization. It is a movement.
It is one and the same with the population. There may be particular people
in the population that are afraid of the particular fighters, but it is the
population. And so, that`s the problem that Israel has. Wherever any
rocket is fired from Gaza, whether it`s from a hospital, whether it`s from
an apartment, whether it`s from the beach, it is part of the population,
because that`s where Hamas is. It`s in the population. You cannot
distinguish. And that`s why the Israelis have such a hard time, and that`s
why they have to call it mowing the grass. Because there aren`t military
targets, the Israelis have hit 1800 sites. They call it sites. There are
no military targets. The population is the target.
CATAGNUS: But you just militarized the population. When you just - when
you just said that it was the resistance, it`s the movement. The Israelis
are trying to force that, and as well as westernizers are trying to force
that separation and the individual Palestinians are doing that. Because
they don`t want to engage in this violent conflict. They may have
sentiments. They may feel for it that they don`t - But they`re not willing
to risk it, but once you just state what you did, where you militarized the
population, then it game on, because that`s exactly .
MANN LEVERETT: That`s what it is. We put different - we put nice terms
around it, but that`s what the problem is.
CATAGNUS: So, what I`m saying is that - those sites not necessarily that
they are as effective reducing all of the rockets, but they`re actually
demonstrating, as they hit them, they`re making these phone calls saying,
look, we know where you live, we know what you are at, we know what your
family is. We know there it is. And we are infiltrated into your system -
into your actual system. And now when they engage those targets then they
just demonstrated their power that they could have.
Now, at the same time, I think Israel with its astute intelligence
apparatus, has infiltrated in some way capacity doing backroom deals with
different Hamas leaders, with the West Bank. There is no doubt in my mind
that there is a power struggle going on within Hamas along with the West
Bank. And that they`re playing off of this, as well as with Egypt. And
there are - these are things that we don`t know about. But you cannot
militarize a population because then it`s game on.
HARRIS-PERRY: But .
MANN-LEVERETT: That`s where we are today, we are in game on, and the only
out here is now one that is disastrous for the United States. You either
have the Palestinians go unilaterally for statehood to sign up to the
International Criminal Court to get Israel constrained and the United
States constrained that way. Or you`re on the path to a one state
solution. Each - either way, you`re talking about a great diminution and
constraint of Israeli and American power and that`s why both the United
States and Israel oppose those two paths, but that`s all we`re left with
because we are at game-on.
HARRIS-PERRY: But let me, let me talk about the game-on for a second.
Because - so, when we use that language, there is, I think, an assumption
about a kind of evenly matched sides here. And, you know, I hate
comparative suffering of all kinds because suffering is its own selves.
But vulnerability can be determined. And it does seem that one side of
this is more vulnerable to civilian losses than another side. And, yet,
Israel is reasonably, I think, operating with a sense of existential
threat, right? So that even it is demonstrable, that there are - that
there is greater civilian vulnerability for the people living in Gaza that
sense of the existential threat to the entire existence of both Israel and
the Jewish people makes it feel as though these are evenly matched. And I
don`t know how to parse through that in a meaningful way. So that we are
not - I mean whoever Hamas is, it just - isn`t four little boys on the
beach, it`s just .
MANN-LEVERETT: You get to such a critical matter. There is an existential
threat to Israel. But it is not - it is not Hamas. It`s the population.
You are talking about in terms of the territory that Israel controls, the
number of Jews in the territory that Israel controls is 5.2 million. The
number of Arabs the territory that Israel controls is 5.4 million. You`re
already talking about a minority political order over Arabs who don`t want
it. That is an existential threat to the state of Israel. To the
political order and that is a crisis.
GHOSH: There`s a logic question --
HARRIS-PERRY: I`m not going to let you in. As soon as we get back, I`m
going straight to you.
HARRIS-PERRY: We have to take a break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Although we support military efforts by the Israelis to make sure
that rockets are not being fired into their territory, we also have said
that our understanding as the current military ground operations designed
to deal with the tunnels, and we are hopeful that Israel will continue to
approach this process in a way that minimizes civilian casualties.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: That was President Obama speaking to reporters yesterday
about the situation in Gaza. And sounding very much like every American
president that we`ve heard on this. He`s sort of begun talking about that.
GHOSH: Yeah, and, you know, if Israelis are responding to what it sees as
an existential threat, why is it doing the exact same thing as it did the
last time and the time before, and the time before that. When these
policies by definition don`t work. If you have to do this every two years,
it means it doesn`t work. I think it was Einstein who said the true
insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a
different result. Now, this is not just the result. All the parties in
this are trapped in this sort of horrible Groundhog Day situation where
they`re repeating their behavior with no effort to change it.
HARRIS-PERRY: So what leadership on either side provides an alternative
imagination for what is possible?
MANN-LEVERETT: Hamas does. Hamas does.
HARRIS-PERRY: Hamas does?
MANN-LEVERETT: We don`t talk about it because we demonize - I mean this is
a terrible terrorist organization that can`t possibly have the same idea,
but what they have put on the table is a ten-year - ten-year cease-fire
with Israel, in exchange for Israel lifting the siege of the civilian
population in Gaza with an internationally - internationally supervised
airport and seaport. Now, that may not be perfect, but that is a
critically important contribution to conflict resolution.
HARRIS-PERRY: But beyond the question of whether or not it`s perfect, I
think obviously at the core of any negotiation, particularly of a cease-
fire of a decade long is to believe that you are operating in good faith,
and that seems to be so fundamentally undermined here, right? So, beyond
the question of who is the bad guy, whether or not Hamas is demonized, that
it`s hard to imagine there`s honest brokering between these parties?
CATAGNUS: So it`s kind of like, you know, they are brokering it back and
forth. It is - I think the Israeli government and the Israeli people have
accepted that conflict is just -- it`s just ongoing. It`s continual. So
it`s about the management of conflict in reducing as much as possible
casualties and resources and all of that. And I think that`s a fundamental
difference a way we can see things in America where we can actually see a
clear end of things and see possible solutions where there`s an acceptance,
I think it`s a pragmatic acceptance that conflict is continual. It`s a
management of conflict and how do we reduce this to the point of nil.
HARRIS-PERRY: And I get - I guess part of what`s standing, to me, is like
hear you say that, perhaps from the context of the safety of bordered by
the Pacific and the Atlantic ocean, and sort of where we are as Americans,
that we see a potential end, the resolution to conflict. I just keep
trying to think about what must it mean to live in that perpetual state of
horror of the air strikes. And then a ground invasion. Like what that
actually feels like. I think it`s so - there`s no American who`s lived on
this land, in living memory of an invasion of our sovereign land.
MANN-LEVERETT: And it`s not just -- it`s not just that it`s hard for us TO
imagine this kind of maintenance of a constant conflict of constant worry.
It`s hard for people on the ground. So the Israelis want to manage an
occupation. They want to manage a siege. The Palestinians don`t want
that. It`s as simple as that. I`ve been to Gaza several times as a
student, as a U.S. official, as a U.S. diplomat. It is under the best of
circumstances, a horrific place to live. Nobody wants to live there. The
vast majority of the population are refugees without clean water, without
decent health care, without basic necessities. They don`t want a siege.
What Hamas is offering is to change that situation. To change that
dynamic. The problem, I think, for the United States and Israel is we
would prefer to have the management of conflict, to prefer to have the
management of an occupation. We don`t really want to see a resolution of
that. That`s why the Middle East peace process has always failed because
we don`t really want a two-state solution. We don`t want the constraint of
Israeli and American power.
HARRIS-PERRY: Because we prefer U.S. - in the region. Is the claim?
HARRIS-PERRY: I mean your claim isn`t we don`t want the solution because
we want people to suffer, right? It`s a claim - I`m not saying - it`s a
claim about American .
MANN-LEVERETT: It`s about power. Power - not just in old Cold War
context, but power today, and a changing where you have rising powers, the
last great place that the United States can hold on to in terms of
resources and wealth is the Middle East.
CATAGNUS: It`s hard to believe. I really do, that it`s about the U.S.
hegemony. Just because there`s - two state solution there. I think if
that going to happen, I think the U.S. would gain I think much more clout
in the region. I think that there`s just a general misunderstanding of
culture, of the conflict, of the history behind things and mismanagement
from going back for many, many, many years. I - maybe I`m not a cynic, I`m
an optimist that thinks the United States wants perpetual conflicts. I
think it really does ..
HARRIS-PERRY: And this is the genuine challenger. So much more to get to
the morning. We`re going to bring you the story of a California town that
may have hit up on a solution for decreasing murder.
But first, at the top of the hour, the latest on the downed Malaysian
Airlines plane. And what it means for ongoing tension between the U.S. and
Russia. Please stay with us.
HARRIS-PERRY: Welcome back. I`m Melissa Harris-Perry.
The downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Thursday killed 298 people.
Most of the passengers were Dutch nationals. Though the death of at least
one American citizen Quinn Lucas Schansman has been confirmed.
President Obama and other world leaders called for an immediate cease-fire
in Ukraine where the plane crashed. The president also addressed media,
calling on Flight 17 an outrage of unspeakable proportions, and stopped
just short of putting the blame for the tragedy on Russian-backed
separatists. He did not, however, shy away from calling to task Russian
President Vladimir Putin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If Mr. Putin makes a
decision that we are not going to allow heavy armaments, and the flow of
fighters, into Ukraine, across the Ukrainian/Russian border, then it will
stop. He has the most control over that situation. And so far, at least,
he has not exercised it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS-PERRY: I want to bring in NBC News White House correspondent
Kristen, we`ve been discussing for sometime now, this ongoing tension
between President Obama and President Putin. But we now know that the two
haven`t spoken since the crash. How is it were that we know that the
president is pressuring Russia?
KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Melissa, we have
heard the president starts to talk about next steps. He made a number of
phone calls to his foreign counterparts yesterday, including to German
Chancellor Angela Merkel. And according to the official White House
readout, the two leaders discussed what additional actions might be
required. That essentially means they are discovering the possibility of
possible sanctions against Russia, if it is confirmed that the plane was
shut down by Russian-backed separatists with weaponry that was provided by
That`s significant, Melissa, because you`ll recall this past week, the day
before the plane was shot down, President Obama announced the stiffest
round of sanctions yet against Russia. The E.U. also announced new
sanctions but they did not go nearly as far as the United States.
So, what`s happening behind the scenes right now in these phone calls and
back channel discussions is that the U.S. is trying to get on the same page
as the E.U. when it comes to sanctions. And if the decision is made to
levy additional sanctions against Russia, the goal is to have both the U.S.
and the E.U. be on the same page, and for those sanctions to be incredibly
tough. We could possibly see those sectoral sanctions that we have spoken
so much about, Melissa, those would be the broadest sanctions and the most
heavily felt sanctions.
So, the focus right now from the perspective of the administration is the
investigation. White House officials say it is critical that they
establish a rock-solid case against Russia. That they are able to point to
exactly what happened here, so that ultimately if it`s determined that
additional sanctions and additional actions are necessary. There are no
questions. There are no question marks. Nothing, basically, no stones
So that is the focus right now. And that`s why you hear President Obama
calling for an international investigation and calling for a cease-fire.
One more point about that, German Chancellor Angela Merkel did speak with
Vladimir Putin and urged him to call for a cease-fire so that those
investigators can get to the crash site -- Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: And so, Kristen, let me ask just one question about that.
So, I heard what you`re saying about this need to establish the case, and
to establish the evidence. But if the issue for the E.U. has to do with an
economic intertwining and their interest, the long-term interests vis-a-vis
Russia, then does it make a difference even if you could have the, sort of,
smoking gun so to speak and show the definitive link between Russia and
this downing of this aircraft?
WELKER: Right. That is the critical question, how could they move forward
without destabilizing their own economies. And you`ll recall that the way
that the U.S. for example, this past week, levied the sanctions, those
sanctions were very carefully done. They`re done in the way that -- or the
aim, of course, is they would have an impact on energy firms, defense
firms. Some of those big financial institutions but they left some wiggle
So that is certainly going to be part of the discussions. How can they
enact he`s broad sanctions without having a sweeping impact on the E.U. as
But here`s one of the key points, Melissa. There`s so much anger right now
within Europe about this plane getting shot down as well. Pressure`s
really mounting on those leaders to do something significant.
And one thing I`ll just say in a wrap is that the president has said
there`s not going to be U.S. military intervention here -- Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: Kristen Welker live from the White House this morning --
thank you so much.
Let`s go now to Moscow and to speak with NBC News correspondent Jim Maceda.
Jim, we`ve just heard about this kind of attempt on the part of the U.S. to
bring this criticism from the international community onto President
Vladimir Putin. How is he responding to this criticism that he`s taking
from the international community?
JIM MACEDA, NBC NEWS: Well, he`s hardly contrite about it. In fact, he`s
put the blame squarely on Ukraine, saying that if Kiev had followed his
calls for peace, rather than reaching the cease-fire as it did earlier this
month, then this tragedy would not have happened.
But, generally speaking, Melissa, Putin, who, let`s face is, must know what
happened to Flight MH17 was trying to presidential. He was reaching out as
well, perhaps not to President Obama. But he`s speaking to world leaders
like Merkel on the phone, calling for immediate peace talks, agreeing that
international investigators must have full access to the crash site.
In other words, he`s hitting all the right notes, but he`s leaving to his
henchmen the rest. That means people like Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry
Rogozin who tweeted today that the White House has found Putin guilty
before any investigation, like when it said Saddam Hussein had weapons of
Or the example of the ministry of defense, also a chiming in today,
claiming that it had detected Ukrainian missile systems that were active in
that part of eastern Ukraine, right around the time of the incident. Now,
normally, Putin just sucks up international anger. That`s, of course, easy
to do when your approval rating at home is at 83 percent, according to the
most recent Gallup poll. And those numbers do go up every time Putin takes
on the West.
The Kremlin has said it will remain quiet on the matter. That it`s going
to wait for the investigation to produce its findings but that may mean
that Putin is biding his time to find out what to do next, because bottom
line, he`s facing somewhat of a dilemma here. If he doubles down, he risks
those serious sectoral sanctions that Kristen was talking about, which
could really hurt Russia. But if he cuts all ties with those ethic Russian
proxies who are fighting a war in Ukraine, his status here at home will
take a huge dive and he becomes a target.
So, he may just go faceless as they say at the KGB, or low profile for a
while and just wait things out -- Melissa.
HARRIS-PERRY: Jim Maceda in Moscow, thank you so much.
I want to bring my panel back in, Bobby Ghosh, managing editor of the
Atlantic Group news site Quartz, which you can find at QZ.com. Hillary
Mann Leverett, senior adjunct professorial lecturer at American University.
Earl Catagnus Jr., who`s assistant professor of history and security
studies at Valley Forge Military College, and Nina Khrushcheva, associate
professor of international affairs at the New School.
So, do you want to respond to some of what we`ve heard there?
KHRUSHCHEVA: I just want to say even when the premise of the sanctions
would be announced the way the White House talks about it, if the proof
will be absolute. They will never get the proof. I don`t believe they
will get the proof, because one of the party lines that has already been
going on for a few days now is that this is -- I think you mentioned that
this particular military equipment is the old one. So what the Kremlin is
saying and his henchmen as the journalist put it, or what the media is
saying, that this was left from the time of the Soviet Union.
So, if the rebels got ahold of it. It`s because Ukrainians did not secure.
So, that`s really a no-go. That is not going to be proven ever.
But as for international view, that actually with probably pressure could
influence it -- from your point, the sanctions could influence the
politicians. So, what is circulating into the Russian Twitter sphere and
maybe even got into the international one, there`s all these newsstands in
London and Netherlands. And all of the newspapers, most of them say,
"Putin killed my son."
KHRUSHCHEVA: That can go up.
HARRIS-PERRY: Right. So, that`s what Kristen was sort of suggesting here,
that -- you know, earlier, when you said, okay, we don`t need to be hearing
from the Netherlands. And, Earl, as you`re saying there`s too much
economic interdependency, but if Putin killed my son, right, that headline,
then I don`t care about -- I don`t necessarily care about that, I can bring
pressure in a democracy on my leader?
GHOSH: That`s true. But tabloid headlines sort of go up and go down. A
week from now, those headlines will have faded. What will remain --
HARRIS-PERRY: In a week, what remains will be those being buried in their
GHOSH: That`s true. But what remains is the leaders of all of this
countries will constantly remind us, directly or indirectly, to
aggressively to pursue some sort of a sanction regime against Moscow is
going to hurt your other son.
HARRIS-PERRY: Oh, man, that`s tough, though.
If you think about what we were just talking about in emergency room its of
Israel and Palestine, it is tough to be a duly elected democratic leader of
a nation and say, I know that your child is gone.
HARRIS-PERRY: But, you know, it`s just too expensive for us to address it.
I mean, I don`t know, it does feel, too, like it may happen, but that feels
like a tough position.
I promise I`m going to do more. When I come back, I`m going to bring into
the conversation John Herbst, who is the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
HARRIS-PERRY: Allow me to bring into our conversation, former U.S.
ambassador to Ukraine, John Herbst.
Professor Herbst, let me ask about how this moment can potentially change
the internal conflict within Ukraine itself.
JOHN HERBST, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: There is no internal
conflict in Ukraine. What you right now is not a civil war, as your
correspondent in Moscow said. What you have is irregular war led by Russia
The leader, the military leader of this war, is a Russian colonel, Colonel
Girkin Strelkov. He complained about a month ago that there are few
Ukrainians willing to fight on this side. That`s why the Kremlin has been
sending in hundreds of fighters. This is a Russian war against Ukraine.
Not a Ukrainian civil war.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, in that context, is there a way that Putin can behave in
this moment that can further destabilize Ukraine, or conversely, could
actually lead Ukraine to behave in ways that might stabilize it in the
context of this potential sort of European conflict with the loss of these
HERBST: Mr. Putin could end the war in Ukraine by stopping the flow of
weapons and people into Ukraine, and ordering all Russian assets out of
Ukraine. That would leave maybe a few score, local Ukrainians,
essentially, thugs, to fight a campaign which, of course, they cannot win.
HARRSI-PERRY: And what would be the political payoff to Mr. Putin for
doing such a thing?
HERBST: To avoid international isolation.
Again, Russia has been conducting a war against Ukraine since it seized
Crimea, in violation of numerous international agreements, in violation of
the post-Cold War order in Europe. He has faced some sanctions rather
limited because Europe is afraid to put down serious sanctions.
But in light of the shoot down of the jetliner, almost certainly by rebels
who are Russian-led, Russian-supplied, international pressure on him is
You said in your previous segment, your guest talking about headlines in
the European papers, those headlines are largely accurate. Obviously, the
shoot down was a mistake. It`s a mistake enabled by a Russian supply of
heavy equipment and fighters to the rebels in eastern Ukraine.
HARRIS-PERRY: Ambassador, hold for me a moment. I do want to bring the
panel back in.
So, can you respond to what the ambassador is saying here, particularly on
the question of, clearly, Mr. Putin, as we heard our president say, has the
power to behave in a different way, but whether or not he has incentives to
MANN LEVERETT, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: I think there`s no chance that Mr.
Putin is going to do what Mr. Herbst suggested in terms of withdrawing
assets from Ukraine or treating Ukraine any differently, as long as he sees
Russia`s interest threaten.
The response we have is and will continue to grow against Putin is very
distorted. We equate some European opposition with the international
community. The world has changed. Mr. Putin was warmly welcomed last week
in Brazil where Brazil, India China and South Africa hugged Mr. Putin, and
they established a bank -- a bank that will not be subject to U.S.-led
We are going to do ourselves, not just Europe, but ourselves great harm by
pursuing sanctions, which will accelerate the demise of the dollar and the
rise of other currencies. And what we`re doing is we`re pushing Russia
very closely to China and to other countries, as the world is changing.
We`re missing this critical moment in time to play better with others and
insist on continued U.S. leadership.
HARRIS-PERRY: Ambassador, may I ask you to respond to that idea that we`re
sort of euro-centric, maybe even sort of World War II version of what the
globe is or what relevant international pressure looks like?
HERBST: I don`t understand why anyone would want to provide arguments
enabling Russia to destabilize another country against international
Point of fact, if we were to take serious sanctions, for example, if we
were to forbid dollar transactions with key financial institutions in
Russia, the Europeans would go along, and all countries would go along and
risk facing fines from the United States as the French bank BNP faced for
sanctions on Iran and the Sudan.
We are at a point in history where it`s true of the powers are rising, but
we`re also at a point in history where we`re seeing two of the rising
power, actually, Russia`s not a rising power, it`s a declining power and we
can talk about if you like.
One legitimate rising power, China, is likewise testing international laws
and the seas around it. And China`s watching as we deal with Russia. And
if Russia is able to get away with aggression in Ukraine, that will
encourage China to pursue aggressive policies in the seas, South China Sea,
East China Sea and so on.
So, this is a very important moment. An important moment if the United
States exercised the right leadership, we will impose serious costs on Mr.
Putin and he may will change his policies.
HARRIS-PERRY: Ambassador John Herbst in Washington, D.C. -- thank you. I
think you will sit at my table a bit for tomorrow and raise some questions
that we will continue to engage.
I also want to thank my panel here in New York, Bobby Ghosh, Hillary Mann
Leverett, also Earl Catagnus and Nina Khrushcheva. We will continue to
watch obviously this continuing story.
And, of course, we will continue to monitor the developing story. Stay
with MSNBC throughout the day for the latest on the downing of Malaysian
Airlines Flight 17.
But when we come back here on MHP show, we`re going to shift gears and talk
about a growing problem right here in this country, violent crime. And
there`s at least one city that is trying to bring down its homicide rate
with a very different kind of strategy.
HARRIS-PERRY: On the northeast end of the San Francisco Bay is the city of
Richmond, California, a city of just more than 100,000 residents. It`s a
city "The Nation" magazine described as hosting some of the most fiercest
local and environmental politics and activism anywhere in the country in
response to protests against the local Chevron oil refinery, one of the
largest in the nation and the city`s number one employer.
And it is a city where last year, the local government considered use
eminent domain to relieve homeowners of debt to prevent foreclosures.
In 2007, the city had a more dubious distinction. One of the highest
murder rates in the country, 47 murders that year for a city of about
100,000 residents. Richmond, California, was among the nation`s 10 most
dangerous cities. In 2005, the city council even considered a resolution
declaring a state of emergency in Richmond due to the high rate of violent
But in 2010, the number of murders dropped to 21. In 2013, it dropped
again to a 33-year low, 16 murders. Last year, the city had five months
with no murders at all.
Why? Well, listen. Correlation does not imply causation. But in 2007,
Richmond, California, launched a new program, quite plainly named the
Office of Neighborhood Safety.
But it`s a government agency that has a very unique approach to addressing
crime in the city. It is not law enforcement. Officially, the office
identifies individuals involved in gun violence but instead of sending
police to monitor those neighborhoods, they send neighborhood change
agents, who conduct outreach, build relations, often with young men and
connect them with resources. The men are offered an opportunity to become
part of a fellowship with the office, one that offers travel opportunities,
counseling, career focus internships.
But one aspect of the fellowship has been talked about more than others,
and it is generating pretty stunning headlines -- like this one, paying
people not to kill, paying criminals to behave. Is that how Richmond has
reduced gun violence?
Sensational headlines that may not capture the full complexity of the
effort, but they are based on a key aspect, after six months of the
fellowship, individuals can earn up to $1,000 a month for their
participation gauged by their level of commitment to goals they`ve set for
The man behind this program is Devone Boggan, director of the Office of
Neighborhood Safety in Richmond, California. And he joins us this morning
from Austin, Texas, where he is working with policymakers to help improve
the outcome for Austin`s high risk youth populations.
DEVONE BOGGAN, OFFICE OF NEIGHBORHOOD SAFETY, RICHMOND, CA: Good morning,
Melissa. Good morning, everybody.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, talk to me for a second about how the process works for
identifying who will be the targets of your intervention.
BOGGAN: Well, you mentioned in the opening, the neighborhood change
agents. And those guys are out there in the neighborhoods where gun
violence is most prevalent. And they`re out there every day, engaging
community, engaging young people.
And as you know, the streets talk and being out there, you observe a great
deal, and you`re able to achieve a great deal of information about what`s
We also have access to law enforcement intelligence that lets us know who
they believe are the most lethal active offenders who avoided sustained
criminal consequences walking our street.
So, combined gives us a good target on which to focus our energy and
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. So, I really get this strategy. You know, I just
recently moved from New Orleans, where I`ve been living in the Seventh
Ward, also an extremely high rate. But every time I talked to sort of
those on the know about it, they were saying they have this high murder
rate, but it was actually sort of around these nodes. They`re really just
a few sort of mobile handful of individuals most likely to be at the root
of all of this.
But what -- is it about enormous outlay of city resources in order to be
able to do the kind of targeting that you`re talking about here?
BOGGAN: Oh, absolutely. And common to most communities where this is
It`s a relatively small group of people that are engaged in this
destructive behavior. As it relates to Richmond, the city contribution to
our budget is about $1 million. But we raise about $1 million to provide
opportunities for these young men.
We serve approximately 200 individuals or so annually who have a firearm
offense in their background. But all of those individuals aren`t lethal,
aren`t active. And then we focus a lot more energy on those that are.
HARRIS-PERRY: So let me ask you about the payment portion of it.
Obviously, the program has to do with a variety of interventions. But at
least one part is this stipend. I was thinking aft parable of the prodigal
son and he comes home and they cook the fatted calf for him. And one of
the dear friends used to say, I hate that story, because what about the kid
that stayed home and did all the good things, right? Why didn`t they get
the fatted calf?
So, why isn`t the money going as a stipend to the kids making A`s or being
on the honor roll, or sort of doing the right thing? Why pay folks who we
know are most likely to engage in potential violent action?
BOGGAN: Sure. Well, we`re definitely I think equally concerned about all
youth populations is critical. Unfortunately, for this population, a lot
of money has been raised in the past to reduce the activity and statistics
created by them. But rarely did the resources ever find their way to these
particular young people. Nor did they reach or meet them.
We saw that as a serious problem. And so, as an allowance per se, and
these young men helping us and partnering with us to reduce firearm
results, we thought it was a good idea. And not all the young men are
receiving this allowance, this privilege of a stipend.
But we believe that psychologically, it was important for to us reward
these young men for their partnership and their contributions to increasing
and improving our city`s public safety.
HARRIS-PERRY: Can it work in bigger cities?
BOGGAN: You know, I don`t know. And that`s the way that, you know, gets
asked a lot. We didn`t think about that, obviously, when we were
developing the strategy, when it came up.
You know, context is so very important. Obviously, people talk about
scaling it up to much larger cities. I don`t know.
The other thing I think you have to take into consideration, and you can
never underestimate, is the importance of leadership. City leadership --
our city manager has stood behind us through some very difficult times.
And, you know, that doesn`t happen all the time.
And the folks we have on the ground, doing the work, unlike a lot of
outreach apparatus in other cities, we don`t have a whole lot of
turnaround. These are men who themselves have had backgrounds like some of
the other young men that we are engaging. And they are now vested city
And they are the most stable consistent part of our work. They`re
champions. They`re heroes in these communities. And they have a great
deal of credibility and legitimacy because they`ve been stable and
consistent over the last four or five years.
HARRIS-PERRY: Devone Boggan from Austin, Texas, talking to us however
about Richmond, California.
And I got to tell you, I don`t care what it is, five months without murder
is five months without murder. Thank you.
BOGGAN: We`re excited about that. Thank you.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thank you for joining us this morning.
And up next, we`re going to Chicago. You already know the story of that
city`s ongoing violence plaguing its streets and young people. But you may
not know the story of master chef star contestant Josh Marks. His story is
HARRIS-PERRY: Many of the facts involved in the death of a Chicago man
last October have by now become a popular refrain in news reports about the
violence that has plagued the city, a young African-American male who died
after being shot in an alley on the city`s south side. The gun that killed
him obtained illegally, with a permitted retailer but on the street passed
hand to hand from acquaintance.
The young man, a casualty of a broken social and economic support system
that left him vulnerable and exposed to the violence that ultimately ended
We are by now well-versed in the details of that story but it doesn`t
encompass the full scope of the consequences of gun violence because the
young man in this story, used that gun to take his own life. In this case,
we didn`t learn his name in the headlines after his death. This was
somebody we already knew, Josh Marks, the 26-year-old breakout star of the
reality show "Master Chef", whose story is told by writer Bryan Smith in
the July issue of "Chicago Magazine".
The story begins just before Josh`s life ended as his mother, after hearing
he`d been spotted wandering the neighborhood with a gun drove frantically
to reach him before too late. It was at the end of the year that begun
with Marks becoming an overnight celebrity after this infectious
personality and skills to cook made him a standout in the televised
But in the months following the show, what would begin as a single panic
attack quickly descended into a day-to-day struggle with mental illness.
And his mother was trying to put together the treatment that her son needed
and navigating to what remained after budget cuts slashed the city`s system
for mental health care.
Writes Smith, "She set off on what would prove to be a confusing and
frustrating search for treatment to address the complex set of long-term
psychiatric issues that come with such a diagnosis."
Much of her search was trying to figure out the limited options available
for someone who is uninsured. But in the end, she would lose the fight to
save her son, not only because of the lack of accessible mental health
care, but also because of the easy access to available guns.
With me, Jonathan Metzl, professor of psychiatry at Vanderbilt University
and director of the university`s Center for Medicine, Health and Society.
Donna Barnes, president and co-founder of the National Organization for
People of Color Against Suicide. She`s also a professor of sociology at
And Eugene O`Donnell, professor of law and police studies at John Jay
College of Criminal Justice. He`s also a former New York police officer
But, first, joining me from Chicago is Bryan Smith, the senior writer of
"Chicago Magazine" who wrote the story about Josh Marks.
Bryan, nice to have you.
BRYAN SMITH, CHICAGO MAGAZINE: Good morning.
HARRIS-PERRY: What does this story, I read it, I was so compelled about
it. What does it tell us about gun violence in America that is normally
left out of the conversation?
SMITH: Well, I think you put your finger on it, easy access to guns on the
streets. It`s been said often that Chicago has very strict gun laws and
yet has so much gun violence.
But the issue is, anyone who wants a gun can go right across the border to
Indiana and bring guns back and there`s also gun show loopholes so that the
supply is always there. So, I think the first thing it says is that there
has to be some kind of, you know, common sense gun measures beyond just a
SMITH: So that people can`t go right across the border and grab guns.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stick with me for a second, Brian.
I want to come out to you, Jonathan, because this story sits right at the
nexus of so many of the things that you do and I couldn`t help but notice
the similarity between the California story we covered last -- a few months
ago where the family is rushing to try to get to the young person who has
the gun and that ends up being a story of homicide. And this story, which
the family was rushing to get to a young person who has the gun and the
mental illness, and it ends up being a story of suicide.
What does it tell us about the overall landscape of mental illness and gun
JONATHAN METZL, VANDERBILT UNIV.: Well, this story is a story about a lot
of things. And for people who read the article, it`s about race, it`s
about social class, it`s about access.
But I think the broader issue here is really that -- to my mind, the NRA
has done a very successful job in this country of framing the conversation
about mental illness and guns as being one about strangers. You know, this
crazy person is going to come kill us and let`s set policy this way.
It turns out gun suicides are two to one more likely than gun homicides.
We kill each other 19,000 times a year. And, unfortunately, this is a
question of gun access. If you look at a map of the United States and look
at where gun suicides happens, it`s happens where it`s the easiest to get a
And so, for me, this question of somebody in a dire moment like this, how
hard is it for them to get a gun. And I hear stories like this all the
HARRIS-PERRY: And there`s almost, when you look at that map, where gun
homicides occur versus where gun suicides occur, and I guess part of what
I`m wondering here is -- with this young man, we know the story, the story
that`s written, in part, because we know his name before he takes his life.
But when -- my producers were talking about the fact that gun suicides are
double the size the number of the rate of homicides. We are a little bit
stunned because it`s not part of -- do we not care about suicide?
DONNA BARNES, NOPCAS: It`s unbelievable.
SMITH: May I take that?
BARNES: Because we lose what 32,000 people to gunfire every year. And
two-thirds of that are suicides, and it`s never even really mentioned that
Even the mass murders that we have, and they kill seven or eight people,
those are suicides. When they wake up in the morning, they`re not trying
to say I`m going to kill some people and then get away. They`re ready to
end their life and they`re just talking other people out with them. It`s
And these people engage in destructive behavior with the program in
Richmond, I think that`s excellent. Destructive behavior is still suicidal
behavior. We have very low rates of suicide in our African-American
communities, but very high rates of suicidal behavior.
HARRIS-PERRY: Substance abuse, destructive behavior --
BARNES: Right, all of these things that they know is going to eventually
end their life.
HARRIS-PERRY: Bryan, let me come back to you here you wanted to jump in on
the question I asked earlier.
SMITH: Yes, Melissa, I think you put your finger right on it. You know,
we hear these stats about suicide rates and are shocked and alarmed by
them. And as you said, we don`t hear about that.
And I think the reason this story resonated so powerfully with people, is
that it was a personal story. It wasn`t an abstract story about numbers
and facts and figures. It was about someone who, as you said, people know,
He was a kind, gentle, very charming person. One of us, anybody. You
know, it could have been anybody.
And so that when he started to struggle with mental health issues, and his
mother, you know, the ordeal that his mother went through to try and get
him help is laid out in a way that`s personal and intimate. I think that`s
when people -- it really hits them in the heart. And they can see the sort
of crucial nature of needing to change things. Beyond, you know, just some
numbers and statistics and light papers.
HARRIS-PERRY: So, Bryan, what I so respected and appreciated about the way
you wrote the piece, it is both that personal story, but that you frame it
within a context of that the inability to get those resources being
structural and contextual, and that`s what I -- I want to say thank you
both for the piece and also joining us this morning.
When we come back, I`m bringing Eugene in, because I do want to talk
specifically about that aspect, particularly to the extent that police
officers have to end up dealing with those who are mentally ill because we
don`t have the other resources around us.
HARRIS-PERRY: The October day that Josh Marks died was not the first time
he pointed a gun at himself and pulled the trigger. Just months before, he
shot himself in the ear while sitting in his car.
According to "Chicago Magazine", his family believes it was either a
suicide attempt or a desperate act to quiet the voices in his head.
Afterwards, when Marks made a call on a University of Chicago emergency
phone, he attacked the campus officer who responded and tried to take his
gun. It`s ultimately took a second officer with pepper spray and being
tackled by three additional officers to subdue him.
After being taken for treatment for his injuries, Marks was charged with a
felony assault against a police officer and locked up in the general
population at the Cook County jail.
This isn`t just Josh Marks` story. Increasingly, this is also the story of
America`s institutional response to people who are mentally ill. A 911
call that brings the police instead of the paramedics, and a health crisis
that lands the person suffering not in a hospital, but in a jail.
How prepared or ill-prepared are police officers on the street to cope with
a moment like Josh Marks, someone who is not homicidal, but suicidal, who
is mentally ill?
EUGENE O`DONNELL, PROF. OF LAW & POLICE STUDIES: Josh Marks doesn`t need
the police. Josh Marks needs a reliable mental health infrastructure
missing in the country. What you really have to call is this deliberate
indifference. We have this notion that 70,000 police departments can all
sort of find their own policies. So, until it happens in somebody`s town,
a mentally person is hurt by the police or killed by the police, we shrug.
The reality is that the police are the worst equipped people to be dealing
with these issues. They bring deadly force into these situations. They`re
oriented towards force. They`re oriented towards thinking about law
breaking rather than a caring kind of capacity.
So, this repeatedly disregarding the reality that we have this huge
problem. And, by the way, we are not only not tackling this. There`s a
report this past week, that says more and more cities are criminalizing
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes, right.
O`DONNELL: So, that`s going to put the police directly into tension with
the people that need help, that does not involve the police.
HARRIS-PERRY: And in fact, we saw just in recent weeks the kind of
sickening video of the woman being beaten by a police officer. We know
that is a circumstance of someone who is mentally ill.
And so, you know, we see that, of course, the first responder -- it`s hard
to even look at. But I do keep wondering, so is this a training issue? Is
this because she should never have been there, because she should have been
in a caring mental health environment? What is the solution in a moment
BARNES: Training probably is one of the issues. I mean, there could be a
plethora of issues but police officers really do need to be trained on how
to recognize the signs when dealing with someone in a crisis, a mental
health crisis, and discern whether that`s criminal behavior or mental
HARRIS-PERRY: And you`re thinking there`s always the presumption of the
criminal and the force rather than the caring?
O`DONNELL: It`s awfully hard for a police officer in real time to go from
the enforcement -- kind of force-oriented mind-set that they bring in. But
it`s absolutely true, that the more they know about mental health, they
don`t have to be experts, the more they know, the more they feel
comfortable. It fills the vacuum of fear that otherwise is there. And
sometimes with the mental ill, that`s your worst enemy, not knowing,
fearing the worse, having a very little bit of information often can be
very powerful tool for the police.
METZL: Well, mental illness stigma is also a story about race. And it`s
pretty unavoidable. If you look at also the stories about other breakers
this week and other kinds of stories, and I speak a lot, as you now, to
psychiatrists and police officers in my book, "The Protest Psychosis". And
what I argue is that if you want to train the police officers or doctors
intervene into mental illness stigma, increasingly in the society, stigma
is very closely aligned to racism.
METZL: And this is really a story about --
HARRIS-PERRY: The ability to see that African-American woman as sick, not
as dangerous. To see Josh Marks who is a very tall, you know, big kid on
the south side of Chicago, your presumption is that kid is homicidal, not
METZL: And in a way, you know, we`ve changed the treatment system from one
of caring or recovery to one of incarceration in a way. Automatically, the
automatic response is this angry black man in front of me is a criminal and
if he`s acting crazy, you know, we`re going to do something about it.
So, really to address the question of mental illness stigma in this way, we
also have to have a deeper conversation about the ways that race and mental
illness stigma intersect.
HARRIS-PERRY: OK. We`ve talked a little bit here about race and mental
illness stigma intersecting when the viewer is -- particularly a white
police officer, but what about race and mental health stigma within the
community itself and the challenge of getting help and assistance? Because
we sometimes don`t see, as you pointed out, the destructive behaviors. We
see them as bad actions rather than as responses to illness, to depression,
BARNES: Exactly. It`s very prevalent in our neighborhoods. Stigma is a
barrier to getting the help they need. That`s so unfortunate.
If I can get a message out there to these young people who don`t really
know what`s going on with them, but know there`s something that`s not
right, they need to, please, talk to somebody, to help them get the help
they need, instead of trying to take care of it themselves.
I mean, surely, I think Josh was trying to take care of himself, but he
just couldn`t. His mother was trying to help, she just couldn`t.
HARRIS-PERRY: And yet, as you point out, the ability to get the help you
need has everything to do with whether or not you have insurance, whether
or not you live in a city where there is public -- I mean, this is a
structural question. So, how do we also push the policymakers to do that
O`DONNELL: It`s a human dignity question. The people who really need to
step up are police chiefs and sheriffs. They need to do more. They know
this is the wrong idea, to be criminalizing people that need help. The
jailers in particular, when they look in their jail population, how
prevalent these issues are. And, by the way, law enforcement has its own
depression issues, speaking of mental health.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. I like that idea, in part because there`s stigma for
the mentally ill, there`s also still the kind of position that law
enforcement officers have that is not stigmatized. And so, to the extent
that law enforcement officers can be the ones out front calling for
something different, maybe it would lead to the sort of policy changes that
I have no time, I tape two hour shows and still feel like I have no time.
So, I want to thank my guests for joining me this morning, Jonathan Metzl
and Donna Barnes. Also, Eugene O`Donnell.
Just for beginning to touch this very important topic. There is more
ahead. Please stay with us.
HARRIS-PERRY: Stay with MSNBC throughout the day today for continuing
coverage of both the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 and the ground
invasion under way in Gaza.
That is our show for today. I`m going to see you tomorrow morning at 10:00
Right now, it`s time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT."
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