All In   |  August 30, 2013

The liberal case for war

Chris Hayes talks about the liberal interventionist argument for military action in Syria, with former Congressman Tom Perriello, Amy Goodman, host of "Democracy Now!" and Eli Lake, senior national security correspondent for Newsweek and The Daily Beast.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we know that after a decade of conflict, the american people are tired of war. believe me, i am, too. but fatigue does not absolve us of our responsibility.

>> that was secretary of state john kerry making the explicit liberal interventionist argument for military action in syria earlier today. joining me now, former democratic congressman from virginia, tom periello, serves as president for the center of american progress fund. amy goodman , host of democracy now. eli lake, senior national security correspondent for "newsweek" and the daily beast . tom, you wrote today that you favor military intervention in is seyria and favor it from the perspective john kerry laid out, the perspective i believe samantha power , u.n. ambassador, from a perspective. what is the case there?

>> you have 125,000 people dead and also have the use of chemical weapons . one of the great progressive victories of the 20th century was to say though human beings have the capacity to use these particularly toxic and torturous weapons, we're going to set them outside of what the civilized nations can use. there have been exceptions but they've been rare. that red line was not a random line drawn in the sand. it's a line drawn for a reason. we put certain things outside the reach of what is acceptable in the human community. 400 dead children. 1 1,400 killed by this gas. assad poking to see how much further he can take this. it's an incredible difficult situation. the stakes are high of action and inaction. we have to be honest about that. this is clearly a situation where we both have a broader humanitarian crisis. what the president is talking about at the moment is a targeted intervention, specifically around the issue of the use of chemical and biological weapons . this is not about a hypothetical possession of the weapons as in iraq, but an actual wruse of weapons against civilians in syria .

>> amy, my sense is you're opposed to this intervention. when you hear that argument and see the footage of what happened of the gassing of these 1,400 people which it looks like did happen and looks like was done by at least the assad forces, whether it was through that chain of command , do you think enforcing this chemical weapons norm is an important thing for the international community to do?

>> you know, it's really interesting to listen to secretary kerry today because he went back in history. he said how we have the chemical weapons ban from after world war i. you look at the number of times the u.s. has violated that. unfortunately, sadly. and you look at napalm and agent orange in the vietnam war . you look at actually just newly declassified cia documents that can foreign policy " got ahold of, the united states , saddam hussein in the '80s knowing he had chemical weapons gave him the coordinants of soldiers. terrible model that the u.s. has set. we don't know who did this. the u.s. government is saying, john kerry said we know that it was the syrian government. even if it were, though i am not so confident as a journalist just to accept the word of the u.s. government , of course we see what happened ten years ago with colin powell , who when he gave that speech at the united nations believed what he said and now says that it was the greatest blot on his career, even if it was. i think the u.s. has to be a model in the world for waging peace. what does his -- what is his goal of not even destabilizing the government?

>> is there an -- eli , i want to bring you in. is there a tipping point? if it were the case that assad gassed 10,000 people or the case assad gassed 30,000 people --

>> we know close to, perhaps even 200,000 people have died in syria . that is horrendous. these images are horrific. how does this end? ultimately it's going to be diplomacy. why doesn't that start now? why isn't president obama saying this is what happen now? instead of canceling meetings with putin in russia because putin supports the syrian government. why not say we have to double down on --

>> eli , john kerry both called assad a, i believe, a thug and a murderer today and then closed this speech by saying, but there's no solution other than a diplomatic and political solution. those two things it seems like fit uncomfortably together. when we come back, eli , i want you to answer whether there is a d diplomatic solution and whether there's a diplomatic strategy, right after this break. food.