Meet the Press | September 15, 2013
>>> here was the cover of "the week" magazine. sick of the job. that is the u.s. as the world's policeman and you wrote something in your column this week that really struck me and i'll put that on the screen, as well. you said, "give obama credit for standing up for an important principle in a chaotic region but also give the american people some credit. they're telling our leaders something important. it's hard to keep facing down middle east hitlers when there are no churchills on the other side." where are we this morning with a potential deal at hand, and a real statement of nonintervention on the part of this president and the american public.
>> well, let me take it from several perspective, david, one, i think the deal that's been proposed would be if it can be implemented would be a great deal. affirmed the ban on chemical weapons . we will have avoided a military strike . we also may have laid the foundation for a cease-fire, maybe through further negotiations with the russians. if this can be implemented i think it's an unambiguous win for the united states and the regionment at the same tyke, what was i talking about there, the american people . we know in the last few days people were overwhelmingly opposed to the use of force . i say a couple of things. one is this has not been a left/right issue. this has been an elite base focus. i don't think the bases -- i think the base has concluded something. they've done the math on iraq, afghanistan, libya. now syria and i think what they've said is, okay, every time we face these issues you ask three questions, do we have an interest, can we accomplish what we want to accomplish with a reasonable price and in a reasonable time ? i think the american people are saying there's a fourth question we need to start asking. do we have real partners? do we have partners for when we actually bomb or strike or whatever that will actually take ownership of what we've done and make it self-sustains and i think a lot of people might not articulate this exactly that are asking do we have people there who really share our values? because what happened in the whole middle east with the arab awaken something that people got their freedom from these regimes, but, you know, one of my teachers said, there's freedom but there's freedom too. what do you want freedom to do what, some want to be free to be more islamist or more tribal. some want to be more sectarian. some want to be free to be citizens but not a critical mass mere.
>> jeffrey, you were writing this morning as you were coming in saying, wow, this looks like a pretty big victory for assad given where things stand.
>> i think it's an unambiguous victory for assad and maybe for obama too but, look, a year ago we were talking about removing assad . now in a kind of perverse way we're partnering with assad on this huge project which i think is an outlandish project given that there's a war going on to remove all of the chemical weapons from syria . now he's invested in this. we're invested in this process in the same way and what is off the table is working to remove the regime because, remember, chemical weapons are ultimately not the problem. the problem is the people who use them and they're not only in place but they are now endorsed, they are part of a process.
>> well, look, this is something that concerns me a great deal because we are involved in what is just a deliver of this problem. and it's not just syria that's at stake it's really the whole middle east and middle of a transition to a new order and we are being very kind of political and parochial in our views of what we do kind of with each country, there's no grand principle. there's no helping design whether it's using our aid, using our -- the kind of infrastructure we have to assist people in writing constitutions, in getting there. now, one of the messages out of the middle east today they want to be the ones to make their decision of what their future looks like but at the same time when you look at the middle east you can argue we haven't had a real success since jimmy carter . even the gulf war in 1990 /'91 was a tactical victory but a strategic failure in that it unleashed, you know, al qaeda , osama bin laden and a period where islamic extremism really began to define the region. we need something much bigger to put out there to deal with the issue of syria , the issue of egypt, the issue