'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Monday, November 16th, 2015
Read the transcript to the Monday show
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: November 16, 2015
Guest: Phyllis Bennis; Anthony Schaffer; Jon Meacham, Christopher Dickey,
Graeme Wood, Hassan Hassan
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: This is MSNBCs continuing coverage of
terror in Paris.
The Islamic State issued a threat to attack Washington today, making a
question of how to stop Islamic State, all the more urgent.
But first, we go to Brian Williams with the latest developments in the
investigation. Brian --
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: Lawrence, thank you and good evening. It is a
cold and rainy night in Paris tonight.
We`re still within the 72-hour envelope after these terrorist attacks that
have left 129 people dead, hundreds more injured.
The suspected terrorists who escaped the attacks alive is still at large.
The international manhunt is on now for this 26-year-old Belgian.
It escalated today with intense police raids in and around the Brussels
neighborhood known as Molenbeek; Salah Abdeslam`s brother was one of the
suicide bombers who died in the Friday attacks, the families spoke to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Also today, authorities identified this man, also a Belgian
national from the Molenbeek area, well known to police there for his
extremist connections as the mastermind of the Paris terrorist attacks.
In France, the French Interior Minister said police had arrested 23 people
in 168 separate raids in cities across that country starting early today.
They are warning this is just the beginning. The Islamic State released a
chilling propaganda video today, it threatens that any country that attacks
it will suffer the same fate as we just seen in Paris.
Specifically it named the United States as a target, saying it would hit
America, "in its center, in Washington". We want to go to our Justice
correspondent Pete Williams in Washington.
And Pete, earlier tonight in your reporting, we were talking about the good
guys catching up to and catching the bad guys.
Am I mistaken that you reported ISIS has something approaching a 24-hour
computer help desk for all their electronic means they use to communicate
beyond the reach of law enforcement?
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: That`s what we`ve been told, that this is a
development that ISIS has been working on for probably the past several
months, ramping this capability up.
We should emphasize that intelligence officials say they don`t yet know how
the plotters kept in touch. But one senior official says he would be
shocked if they didn`t use some method of communication that the police
And that`s been a question here. Why weren`t the French authorities better
aware that this was going to happen?
But what you`re talking about is counterterrorism officials telling us that
ISIS has been manning this 24-hour help desk manned by half a dozen senior
operatives who can tell would be Jihadists around the world how to use
popularly available encryption software to allude the authorities.
Commonly used apps like Whatsapp, Threema and Telegram. And what they`ve
said in the past here in the U.S. is that they know from cases that they`ve
made earlier this year, where they`ve actually arrested people.
That when ISIS recruiters find somebody after their vast outreach through
propaganda with Twitter, after they find somebody sympathetic who bites,
who says, yes, I might be willing to do something, then the people in ISIS
say, shift to these applications.
They encrypt a message at the moment it`s sent and it`s not unscrambled
until it`s received at the other end.
So it`s impossible for the government to monitor even if they get a court
order to the company and say, go unscramble this for us.
The company can`t do it either. And these applications, some of them have
a feature that can be set to erase the message once it`s read.
So, it`s gone forever. And there`s another aspect to this, that`s kind of
interesting here, that the Belgian authorities had actually warned about
before the Paris attack another way to allude surveillance.
They say that even gaming consoles like PlayStation 4 that Sony makes have
this internet group play capability where you can get people together on
the internet and play a game and talk and text to each other while you`re
playing the game.
And it`s very hard for the government to keep track of because these online
groups come and go so quickly. One cyber expert today called it security
So, it`s a double problem. The encryption on the one hand and then these
other means that the government -- they`re not encrypted, but it`s just
hard to find them.
WILLIAMS: All right, Pete Williams, our Justice correspondent in our D.C.
newsroom tonight to start off our breaking news coverage.
Pete, thanks. Let`s go to the streets of Paris, Msnbc`s Richard Lui, and
Richard, an initial question, the presence of police and French military,
you`ve been there for a while now.
How has their public stance changed and also, we should add, it`s coming up
on the early morning hours there?
RICHARD LUI, MSNBC: The early morning hours, good day to you there, Brian.
You know, as we have heard about the news today of the over 160 anti-terror
raids that have happened over the last 48 hours.
We were thinking to ourselves as we have stood here on the Place de la
Republique as well as plus Bataclan concert area, the concert theater
there, to think back to see whether we saw a heightened activity.
And to be very honest, we did not necessarily hear sirens blaring 24 hours
a day, though, you might think so, given the number of anti-terror raids
and investigations that were undertaken within that time period.
But this was an important day for French President Francois Hollande, no
doubt, because on Sunday we knew he was meeting with his advisors, the
question today was, what would he say in his historic address to his
Congress here in Paris.
And we learned so many things as you were outlining earlier, again, the
mastermind, that was a big part of what he was saying today.
Abaaoud Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 27 years old, Belgian-born as has been
reported. He organized the attacks here in Paris, in Syria, it is
believed, planned it, rather in Syria and then organized it in Belgium and
then executed it here in Paris.
And the interesting part about his background, known to be a happy-go lucky
individual, smiling and very intellectual. He was successful in his high
school, going to a very prestigious one in Belgium.
That is a manhunt that we understand is so important to, of course, the
Parisian authorities here as well as the national government.
Second of all, there is that eighth individual that`s involved in the
attack that happened on Friday -- and Salah Abdeslam, 26 years old. Now,
we understand he was also stopped by French authorities as he made his way
So, those two manhunts that are on right now are the key developments today
as we have seen now four names of those eight attackers identified.
So, a lot of progress, and Francois Hollande as I was saying adding to that
by saying I`m going to add 5,000 heads to law enforcement as well as to the
That`s an addition here, Brian, to the 1,500 that they added after the
"Charlie Hebdo" attacks back in January. So it was a big day for the
President, we`ll see how the public reacts to that in the coming days.
WILLIAMS: Msnbc`s Richard Lui, again, early morning hours Paris, we`re
appreciative of you either staying up with us or getting up to talk to us
Richard, thank you. We`re also appreciative to be able to talk to
Christopher Dickey; veteran journalist for a long time and editor at
"Newsweek" these days with "The Daily Beast".
And a long time American resident of Paris, an American in Paris, as it
were. Christopher, let`s start there. As we watch France move into what
their president has described as a wartime footing.
What are the behavioral, cultural differences that American viewers should
look for between the French and the Americans?
CHRISTOPHER DICKEY, EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, I think one thing that
you have to look for is the resilience of the French. They have been
through a lot of terrorists experiences.
People forget, but I`ve lived here since the late 1980s. And in the `80s,
in the `90s, there were lots of terrorists incidents. There were bombings.
There were incidents that were very ugly indeed.
And the French always sprang back, they always came back. I think they
have enormous resilience. I`m not saying the Americans don`t, but the
French have just had a lot of experience with terrorism.
Even though this is, you know, more appalling than any of the previous
incidents, it`s something that they know how to deal with.
WILLIAMS: Christopher, if you agree that after a trauma there, are these
stages of, you know, fear and flight and denial and acceptance and anger.
Where do you think the French are right now on that spectrum?
DICKEY: I think they`re in the anger spectrum. But they`re also -- and I
guess you could say the solidarity spectrum. It`s a little bit different.
It`s that coming together. It`s that thing that you see in Place de la
Republique, it`s something you see all over town during the day where
people want to be with each other.
They`re going out, they`re going to restaurants, they`re going to --
they`re talking to each other in the street, in the metro. There`s this
kind of solidarity that exists in French society that`s very striking.
I guess it`s that part of it that (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) --
fraternity comes out very strongly in French society after these kinds of
WILLIAMS: The "New York Times" has a story for tomorrow morning`s editions
and the subhead generally says January is not November.
And what they mean is after the attacks at these satirical magazines, there
were many public figures coming forward to keep the lid on.
To say remember these were a select few Muslims, not all. But you`re
hearing fewer public champions of the religion now in France. And do you
fear a more abrupt turn?
DICKEY: Well, you know, there was a lot of optimism after "Charlie Hebdo"
that somehow the right would not be able to take advantage of that and use
that as a -- to do what amounts to race baiting and Muslim baiting.
But, in fact, over time, they were able to take advantage of it. And now,
this is coming right on top of a huge sense of crisis about the immigration
I mean, when you have hundreds, literally, hundreds of thousands of people
coming across the Mediterranean to try and find homes in Europe, all of a
sudden people were worried about that to begin with.
Now you`ve got a situation where some of those people may have been
associated with this terrorist act. That`s still not absolutely clear.
But it certainly is something that politicians, particularly Marine Le Pen
on the far right and also former President Sarkozy are trying to exploit.
And that of course will drive a lot of divisions into society. But that`s
not what you feel on the street right now. But that`s what you`re seeing
WILLIAMS: Christopher Dickey, it`s always a pleasure to --
DICKEY: Politicians --
WILLIAMS: To be able to talk to you, thank you, too, for staying up with
us so late as the morning approaches in Paris. Chris Dickey of "The Daily
Lawrence, we`ll be back on the air a little later on in your hour to talk
about the status of the investigation, vis-a-vis the terrorists in this
O`DONNELL: Thanks, Brian. Coming up, Belgium has raised its terror threat
level and canceled tomorrow`s soccer game against Spain as they search for
one of the terrorists that escaped after the Paris attacks.
We will have a report from Belgium, and how do we stop the Islamic State?
President Obama says putting large number of U.S. troops on the ground in
Syria would be a mistake.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Chair
asks that the house now observe a moment of silence in memory of the
victims of the terrorists attacks in France.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We are slowly still gathering information on some of the
victims of the attack in Paris on Friday.
Matthew Hoche(ph) was a technician who worked for "France 24", he was one
of the victims of the massacre at the Bataclan theater, he was 37 years old
and the father of one.
Francois Savier Prebost(ph) was another victim at the Bataclan, he had been
an exchange student at the University of North Texas in 2007.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He and his friends visited lots of places and went to
the rodeo here in town, at the beginning of the semester and that`s always
good Texas fun.
So they would just come in the office and it was wonderful to see him
enjoying his experience and learning about Texas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: He was 29 years old.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ISIL is the face of evil.
Our goal, as I`ve said many times is to degrade and ultimately destroy this
barbaric terrorist organization.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: But can military force destroy the Islamic State? Today, the
Islamic State released a video celebrating the attack in Paris and
specifically threatening that if the United States continues its strikes
against the Islamic State, they will strike America in Washington D.C.
Joining us now from London, Hassan Hassan, co-author of "ISIS: Inside the
Army of Terror" and with us here in New York, Graeme Wood, contributing
editor for "The Atlantic" who`s written extensively on the Islamic State.
Graeme, in -- one thing you`ve written over the weekend, you questioned
whether the Islamic State actually did authorize this ahead of time or
whether they just -- whether it was one of those things where people
they`ve inspired did it and they kind of went along with it.
GRAEME WOOD, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Yes, so far the model for
attacks on the west has been an inspirational model for the Islamic State.
That is, we haven`t seen direct connections where we`ve seen planning,
funding, provision of weapons.
Instead, it`s been a matter of saying, by the Islamic State, yes, go ahead,
we bless you if you have these kinds of activities.
Now, we don`t really know what`s happened yet, but it could very well be a
centrally-planned, funded and provisioned attack.
O`DONNELL: You saw some details in the Islamic State statements about this
that were inconsistent with their past claims of credit.
WOOD: Yes, there were little aspects of the claim of credit that were
interesting. They didn`t give any of the names of the attackers, not even
They were a little bit slip shard in some of their translation. You know,
the Islamic State has in some cases been really punctilious about the copy-
editing, the grammar, the spelling.
There`s little things that were screwed up. So it looked like at least
their PR department was a little bit taken on a back foot.
O`DONNELL: And Hassan Hassan, we have new calls here in the United States
for sending troops into Syria. We have president of France saying that
this is war.
It`s not clear to me what he means by war. What can be done at this point
to change the dynamics with the Islamic State?
HASSAN HASSAN, AUTHOR: Well, I think that sort of rhetoric is, you know,
common. Every time a foreign national, foreign national -- foreign country
is killed by ISIS, we tend to hear, you know, tough talk by the government
of that country.
You know, a recent example was Jordan, when the Jordanian pilot was burned
alive by ISIS. What we saw was Jordan launching very heavy-handed air
campaign against ISIS in Raqqa and elsewhere.
But that faded. The -- you know, the Jordanians did not continue to do
that. What we -- what we see -- well, you know, the fear is that we might
see the same thing with France.
I think the way forward is either two things and not the third one. Which
is either continue with the measure of campaign that is now led by the
United States to contain ISIS militarily while you kind of formulate, you
know, a plan to resolve the conflict in both Iraq and Syria.
Because unless you deal with the situation in these two countries, it`s
very hard to -- you know, undermine the ideology of ISIS because ISIS
success on the ground feeds into its global ideological appeal.
Because it presents itself as a caliphate building enterprise that is
actually working for some people. So unless you deal with the -- with this
-- with the ISIS physically on the ground, you can`t defeat it.
The other option which is, I think is the right one which is basically to
go all in. Not only in a military sense, but more importantly, in a
As in to resolve the conflict in both Iraq and Syria because ISIS was borne
out of the political failures that have been -- you know, that have defined
the unshaped past decade in Iraq and the past half decade in Syria.
And the third one is basically what some people are now calling for, and I
think that`s a misguided approach which is basically to increase the pace
and the rate of bombs in these countries.
O`DONNELL: And what -- Graeme Wood, what do you see a strategy developing
or suggested strategy that the United States hasn`t tried that it should
WOOD: No, I think that Hassan Hassan is quite right. That the strategies
that he`s outlined are -- he`s presented them roughly in order of wisdom.
And yes, to continue to roll back ISIS` territory is what we should do. We
so far have been slowly but surely successful with that.
And just continuing along that path I think is probably the right way to
go. But adding, of course, the importance of this political solution which
is quite a difficult one --
O`DONNELL: And does that -- and so what about a larger troop commitment to
WOOD: That would, I think be, still -- first of all, something that ISIS
would, I think, largely welcome. But --
O`DONNELL: Why would they welcome it?
WOOD: Well, for one thing here, it would be a very good recruiting tool.
You know, they have been saying from the beginning that we want an
We want Americans to show up. We want to show that this is a fight between
Christians and Muslims. So far, at least in Iraq and Syria, it`s been a
fight mostly between Muslims and Muslims.
So to give them that wish I think is something that we should do with great
O`DONNELL: Hassan, do you agree that ISIS would like to get American
troops, American so-called boots on the ground?
HASSAN: Absolutely. I think, you know, this approach has already been
tested. We`ve seen, you know, the lessons from the Iraq war.
It was the -- you can defeat ISIS, you can trim it, you can like contain it
militarily, but it won`t come back again because it`s not a sustainable
solution to have boots on the ground and fight ISIS.
And temporarily as President Obama said, roll it back because it would come
back. What you need to do is basically create an alternative, a real
alternative, a viable alternative that appeals to people on the ground.
And make that ideology absolute that sort of the idea of a caliphate or a
good government body that knows how to regulate the areas under its
ISIS has provided a very important product, if you like, to people living
under its control, which is security. People no longer -- are no longer
kidnapped randomly or killed randomly.
The only violent group, you know, ISIS has a monopoly over violence. So,
it`s the only group that kills, not other people.
So that kind of gives some people psychological uncertainty that appeals to
some people because they don`t have another option.
In Iraq, the other option is Iranian-backed militias that actually do a
similar, vicious acts like ISIS and Syria, the same thing.
O`DONNELL: Graeme, how long would it take to replace ISIS in that sense in
the way that Hassan is saying. Kind of take -- completely convert that
WOOD: Well, to provide what ISIS is giving, which is governance, is
security, it`s a lack of chaos, it`s a huge undertaking. It`s not
something that I think we as Americans or as our foreign coalition could
So really, what we`re talking about here is creating Iraqi governance,
creating Syrian governance that would be acceptable to a Sunni Arab
We`re a long way away from seeing any entity that can provide that.
O`DONNELL: Hassan Hassan and Graeme Wood, thank you both very much for
joining us tonight. Coming up, a report from Belgium where an intense
search is underway for one of the terrorists who escaped after the Paris
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: We have more on what the United States can
do to combat the militants coming up. But first for the latest on the
manhunt for one of the suspected Paris terrorist, we go back to Brian
Williams at the breaking news desk - Brian.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Lawrence, thanks.
It`s been reported that the first of the French investigators actually left
Paris for Brussels before the violence was all over Friday night. In all,
they conducted more than 150 raids in cities across France and, notably, in
the Belgian capital of Brussels today, in the search for the suspected
terrorists who escaped the Paris attacks still alive.
NBC`s Keir Simmons is in Brussels for us tonight.
KEIR SIMMONS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Brian. That fugitive,
that wanted man, who is believed fled Paris with two others got to the
border of France and Belgium was stopped but then was released by police.
Salah Abdeslam (ph) comes from this suburb of Brussels and the fear is that
he is still in this vicinity. The police have been searching for him.
Earlier today they closed off a number of streets. Police commandos went
from house to house. There were snipers on the roof. Witnesses talked
about hearing gunfire. But in the end while they led some people away from
a building, they do not appear to have found him.
Some of his family lives just across this square. And this is an area
where there has been increasing concerns about rising jihadism. There is a
link between this area and a number of terrorist attacks including the 2004
Madrid bombings and attacks on the "Charlie Hebdo" magazine offices in
The question is, how did it happen? Some people are saying the politicians
here have just turned away. That they closed their eyes and covered their
ears and hope the problem will go away instead of course it hasn`t and
hasn`t and have been increasing links to ISIS here, perhaps leading to
those Paris attacks. Back to you.
WILLIAMS: Keir Simmons in Brussels.
And while Keir was delivering that report we have just learned that French
warplanes have again been in action in the skies over Raqqa in Syria
tonight. The French have a single aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle.
They`ve been moving that toward the gulf. We don`t know if these were
carrier-based or land-based aircraft. How many of them, how many sword,
how much ordinance was dropped except that they were in action again in the
skies over Syria.
We`re happy to be joined in the studio tonight by Evan Coleman, chief of
research and development for an organization called Flash Point. They do
intelligence consulting. He is also a long-time MSNBC terrorism analyst.
Thank you for being with us.
EVAN COLEMAN, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Thank you.
WILLIAMS: To begin with, as we`re all getting used to this story, what is
it about Belgium?
COLEMAN: You know, it is interesting. A lot of people don`t think about
Belgium as a hotbed of Islamic mill tansy but it is actually this goes way
back. I mean, as early as 1995, 1996, 1997. There were sold (ph) emerging
both in France by in northern France along the Belgium border of heavily
armed individuals with training in foreign conflict zone, primarily back
then, Afghanistan, Bosnia. And they were bringing back these heavy weapons
and they wanted to go to war with the states.
And unfortunately what we seen is that Belgium has welcomed immigrant
communities, but has done a poor job of integrating those immigrants into
Belgian society. And as long as we have that sense of segregation, people
don`t always feel a sense of belonging.
And so I think that feeds into the figures, the numbers. Look at the
numbers of people from Belgium and France that have gone to fight in Syria,
500 or more from Belgium, a country of 11 million people, 1500, maybe more,
from France. It`s amazing when you consider that a country like the United
States, 300 million people, at most, maybe 100, maybe a few more have left
to go to Syria and Iraq. And that tells you something, there`s something
about these countries, and there`s something about this societies there
that is allowing these folks to come up.
These were not Syrians or Iraqis. Many of these folks were French. They
were French nationals. They were Belgian nationals. They were born there.
They grew up there. Something happened there that pushed them along this
route. They were certainly weaponized and appears anyway by ISIS. But
something else radicalized them. And it`s important that we understand
WILLIAMS: Isn`t that dynamic going to worsen as Muslim populations in
Europe that have been part of this refugee wave perhaps now get some
distance on them from the standing populations in these countries in.
COLEMAN: Yes. And it goes beyond that, too, because you think about it,
their critical elections coming up in places like France and Germany. Far
right parties that are posed to make major victories.
When I was a kid living in France, national front was a joke. It was a
joke. No one was seriously vote for that party. Now this is a major
party. I mean, their posed to be a majority influence in the French
government. These folks are neo-fascists. And the danger is that because
of these attacks, French people are going to vote for these folks. It`s
WILLIAMS: Evan Coleman, thank you very much for stopping by the studios
Lawrence, back to you.
O`DONNELL: Thanks, Brian.
Coming up, stopping the Islamic state and why President Obama says sending
American ground troops to Syria is a mistake.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Our thoughts and prayers
of course are very much with the victims, their families, and all of the
people of France. And we will continue to keep them in our hearts in the
days ahead. As my husband said on Friday, this was an attack not just on
France, our dear friend and ally, but on all of humanity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We have some breaking news now in the continuing airstrikes in
U.S. officials tell NBC News for the third time in two days French and
other coalition aircraft launched airstrikes against Islamic state targets
tonight near Raqqa which of course is the ISIS headquarters area in Syria.
And today, in Washington the push for war grew louder among Republicans and
got an assist from most of the American reporters at the president`s press
conference today in Turkey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: I guess the question is, and if you will
forgive the language, is why can`t we take out these bastards?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The president said an American ground war against the Islamic
state would be a mistake.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There had been a few who
suggested that we should put large numbers of U.S. troops on the ground.
It is not just my view but the view of my closest military and civilian
advisers, that that would be a mistake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now lieutenant colonel Anthony Schaffer, senior
fellow with the London center for policy research who served as an
intelligence officer in the army, and also with us Phyllis Bennis, a fellow
at the institute for policy studies in Washington and author of
"Understanding Isis and the new global war on terror."
Anthony Schaffer, do you hear anything in the strategies being suggested as
alternatives to what the president is doing, anything that would be more
effective than what the president is doing?
ANTHONY SCHAFFER, SENIOR FELLOW, LONDON CENTER FOR POLICY RESEARCH: I
think we have to understand, Lawrence, that there are things we must do
regarding, quote-unquote "boots on the ground." It doesn`t have to be U.S.
boots on the ground. And I have said this amongst my conservative friends
on Capitol Hill time and time again. We have trained the Arab armies. And
your previous guest talked about the Sunni and Shia issue. We have to
train a Shia - I`m sorry, Sunni force which is going to be representative
and accepted by the populations we have to go back in and help resettle the
land which ISIS taken over.
We proposed NATO, London center for policy research proposed a NATO-type
organization led by Egypt, Jordan, funded probably by the Saudis. And the
idea here is to actually work with compatible boots on the ground accepted
by the population, not U.S. boots. So I really don`t -- I don`t understand
the conservatives call for quote-unquote "boots on the ground." It should
not be U.S. boots on the ground. The moment we show up we become the
issue, we become the target. Nothing will be resolved.
O`DONNELL: Phyllis Bennis, war talk has started once again in Washington.
We have heard it many times since 9/11 and there`s something awfully
repetitive about it. And it seems pretty consistent that everybody who is
supporting the boots on the ground concept today was very much in favor of
sending all those boots in to Iraq.
PHYLLIS BENNIS, INSTITUTE FOR POLICY STUDIES: That`s absolutely right,
Lawrence. I think though one of the problems is the range of discussion is
actually quite narrow. We are hearing about boots on the ground or not
boots on the ground. Everybody is assuming that of course air strikes go
forward. The reality is we have used military force in what we called a
war against terror for almost 15 years now. And clearly it`s failed.
We saw the failure in Paris on Friday night. We saw the failure in Beirut
on Thursday night. We saw the failure in Ankara several weeks ago. So we
are seeing the failure of using military force of variety of kind, boots on
the ground, not boots on the ground, other people`s boots on the ground,
sneaker on the ground from special force, airstrikes, drone strikes, none
of that has worked.
At the end of the day I think the reality is that terrorism survives war
very well. People don`t. We have the terrorism continuing and yet
hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in these wars. I think we
need to try something else. It`s not going to be quick. It`s not going to
be as dramatic as sending the -- sending the bombers, I think that
unfortunately president Hollande seems to be channeling president George W.
Bush in saying we will go to war without mercy. That we must go to war
against this crime. That you can go to war against terrorism. And it`s a
war of vengeance. It`s not a war of justice. I think that`s a huge
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to Jeb Bush said this morning on "Morning Joe."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is the war of our time and we
cannot do this by leading from behind.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Are you willing to say that we are going to
have to send our forces over there and fight this battle alongside our
BUSH: Absolutely we are. And we need to have a strategy. It needs to be
clearly defined. It needs to be a strategy where we fight to win and then
we pull out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We fight to win, and then we pull out. Your reaction to that,
SCHAFFER: Well, look, I disagree a little bit about the whole terror
issue. We have won every battle in the battlefield but we have to
understand is terrorism is drawn to ungoverned space. Libya is now become
chaos. Syria is chaos. Afghanistan were the 9/11 attacks were planned
from is chaos. I think we have to understand and we have to worry about
trying to bring order, governance to these areas. It doesn`t have to be
governance we accept. For example, the Taliban need to find a way to
reconcile with Afghanistan. We should be out of that.
I don`t care which governance is there as long as they don`t attack us.
That should be the issue. If we can work with the folks locally that come
to that conclusion, took who direct, I don`t care what governance is there
as long as they choose to not be radicals and attack us.
And I think this is where we have to be a lot more clear on how we go
forward on this. It is not simply about terrorism. It is about trying to
re-establish order within the construct of these nations of people.
BENNIS: Saudi Arabia as not being an extremist element here, I think that
you are really deluding yourself. Saudi Arabia, not only it is extremist
in its own policies, it decapitates people. It uses beheadings just like
SCHAFFER: They don`t attack us though. And that`s the issue I`m talking
BENNIS: They don`t attack us. I`m talking about what they do to their own
people and people in the region.
SCHAFFER: I got tell you, why do we care? Why do we care?
BENNIS: I care because we are human beings. They are human beings.
SCHAFFER: They don`t hold our values?
BENNIS: No, I think that we stop sending them $60 billion worth of weapons
that end up in the hands of extremists and that they use --
SCHAFFER: Saudi Arabia does not furnish extremist weapons.
SCHAFFER: No, the Saudi is the biggest source from outside beyond the oil
income and beyond the taxes.
SCHAFFER: I agree with you. Saudi Arabia is the source for (INAUDIBLE) in
which is the underlying current pushing these things forward.
BENNIS: I think that`s a given. It is also a source their weapons to
everybody and their brother in Syria who says that they are --
SCHAFFER: Turkey furnishes money to ISIS in the beginning.
BENNIS: Also Saudi. And Saudi did, too. Saudi has furnished money and
weapons to Al-Qaeda. We know that the 9/11 bombers were overwhelmingly
Saudi, some were Egyptian.
BENNIS: So, you know, this is not a government that we would -- we should
be in my view supporting. I`m just saying that the notion that you can
sort of declare, we are going to have these good guys that we think are
good guys and that other people are going to accept them is simply not the
SCHAFFER: I didn`t call them good guys. I would not put that construct on
these individuals. It`s governance we should seek and stability and what
form that is it may or may not be in favor of our side.
O`DONNELL: All right. We are going to leave that discussion there for
Thank you both for joining us tonight, Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Schaffer
and Phyllis Bennis.
A new poll shows most Americans oppose sending ground troops to fight the
Islamic state. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would encourage the
president really to rally the world. Their armies in a smart way,
integrate our forces within a regional army. He can come up with a ground
component to supplement the air campaign going on the ground and destroy
the caliphate at its headquarters and its capital in Raqqa.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The art of political campaigning is to of course make what you
want to do sound easy. Sound like the obvious thing to do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Will you at least be willing to send 10,000
U.S. troops over there?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, I would. But, Joe, I WOULD
engage other countries. And I would tell other countries it`s time for you
to get out and fight. And it`s time for you to put up your troops and it`s
time for you to put this so-called boots on the ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now Pulitzer Prize winning author Jon Meacham, the
author of the new book "Destiny and Power, the American odyssey of George
Herbert Walker Bush."
Jon Meacham, the get the offer there guys to put the boots on the ground is
the easy solution of the day.
JON MEACHAM, AUTHOR, DESTINY AND POWER: It is. You know, one of the
things that struck me the past couple of days and I don`t mean this as
criticism to the president, more an observation, in history, I really do
think that we need a true national education about the region, about the
issues, the origin, the options. Remember when FDR wanted to explain the
various theaters of World War II, he asked radio listeners to go get a map
and Rand McNally made a map.
I think that there`s a real opportunity here for a more serious
conversation about what the options are because right now this debate to me
anyway feels untethered from reality for so many people to complicated,
fluid situation. It is, as you suggest, it leads itself to reflect simply
partisans pre-disposed positions. And without more data, without more
explanation, I don`t think as a democracy we are going to come to a very
O`DONNELL: One of the political data points of the day is a new poll
showing 76 percent oppose sending ground troops to fight ISIS. A poll
conducted in November 14th and 15th, so in the aftermath of what we saw in
MEACHAM: Interesting number. I think that`s probably a reaction to our
experience of the last 14 years now in Iraq, in Afghanistan. But, is it
possible that those who want to project force on the ground there to also
have a point. And I just think it`s a debate worth having.
The president this afternoon seemed to assume in a way, a certain level of
familiarity with the facts, with his view that I just think could be better
expressed and more fully expressed. Those of us in the media, those of us
who go about our daily lives and don`t pay enough attention from time to
time are just as culpable in this. That`s why I say it is not a criticism.
But I think it`s an incredible important moment. And the more we know,
together with Jeffersonian point, you know, the value of the republic,
strengthen republic, is only as good as the education of its citizenry.
And I think right now we still live in a moment, in a time where talking
points Trump data points.
O`DONNELL: We now have now I think it`s about 19 governors saying some
version of I won`t allow any Syrian refugees to enter my state. Apparently
they don`t know what the borders of their states are used for nothing other
than in just determining taxation and who is taxed for living within those
borders. They have no control over who enters a state from another state.
But this passes at least the 19 states as a perfectly reasonable and
floatable proposal by a governor.
MEACHAM: It proves the point I`m trying to make. Apparently federalism
and separation of powers escape these governors today. And, you know, we
fought a rather bloody war in the middle of the 19th century over this
question. So, you know, and you want to understand the passions and, you
know, you`ve worked that side of the world. You know the capital. You
know that the political instinct is to move quickly and to capitalize on
this. But it`s not doing anybody any good. And I think that what we have
to figure out is how many Americans, when, if you allow me, when Saddam
Hussein went into Kuwait on 2nd of August, 1990, how many Americans had an
intelligence response to that? And right now I think still defining ISIS,
defining the threat, figuring it out is something that requires a use of
the educational part of the bully pulpit.
O`DONNELL: Well, that story about Saddam going into Kuwait is beautifully
told in your book. Jon, please come back on a night when we will have more
time to dig into your new book. We would really like to do that.
MEACHAM: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Jon Meacham, thanks very much.
Coming up, a look ahead on what to expect tomorrow as that manhunt
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Tonight we are all Parisians.
There`s the old motto of this resilient city says, and as Parisians have
painted across the social media in recent days. (INAUDIBLE) but sank.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Just about half hour ago the president landed in Manila in the
Philippines to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit.
Tomorrow President Obama will hold a meeting with Philippine senior defense
officials. Later in the day we will have one-on-one meeting with
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbo. Australia is a member in the
international coalition launching airstrikes against Islamist state
stronghold in Syria and Iraq.
In Paris, secretary of state John Kerry will meet tomorrow with French
president Francois Hollande to consider their strategic options against the
Islamist state. In Washington homeland security secretary Jeh Johnson and
FBI director James Comey will brief House members on the Paris attacks in a
Our coverage of the terror in Paris continues with Chris Hayes.
<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2015 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>
MORE FROM MSNBC
Add msnbc headlines to your news reader: