Thomas Roberts | September 10, 2013
>>> if you ask michelle, do we want to be involved in another war, the answer's no. people are wary about it. understandably. they have seen the consequences of this last decade.
>> this was president obama speaking with nbc's sam vana guthrie on monday. we have new video. a lot of detail going into the draft of the speech the president will be making at 9:00 p.m . eastern tonight from the east room of the white house on any potential syrian strike. one hour from now, president obama will make a trip to capitol hill to reset his case for any type of military action . this is vladimir putin , of all people, negotiates a possible way out for the president. a deal that would have syria give up its chemical weapons stockpile. one group not happy, the rebels. nbc is in beirut. the rebels are blasting at this proposal. they were anxious to see something done to bashar al assad 's regime.
>> that's correct. in an op-ed in the " washington post ," both the leaders of the free syrian army and the syrian national council made the argument why the united states congress needs to authorize president obama to use military strikes. they say president assad only knows green lights and red lights . for the past 2 1/2 years, the commus international community 's indifference has allowed him to kill his own people. some syria opposition members we've been speaking to here in the region, they say the regime cannot be trusted. along with russia , they're simply trying to manipulate global public opinion. they keep saying the syrian regime has signed many previous agreements. there was that kofi annan plan th that called for the regime to withdraw from certain areas. they didn't live up to that either. so no belief the syrian government will allow the international community full control over its chemical weapons . they say this is a stall tactic which the united states and other countries should not fall for.
>> joining me now is florida congresswoman debbie wasserman schultz . great to have you here. a lot of fast moving parts. you have come out publicly supporting any strikes on syria . what do you make of the, now, proposal of syria saying it will agree to russia 's idea to put their chemical weapons under international control?
>> well, as the expression goes, trust but verify. we have to make sure we reverse it and say let's verify, then trust. then what president obama has always said throughout this conflict is that our first priority and our strong preference is to make sure we facilitate a diplomatic solution. the credible threat of a limited military strike has brought syria and russia to the point where they for the first time have, one, acknowledged that syria used chemical weapons and, essentially, and, two, they would be willing to turn them over to international control. and so it's a positive development. but that credible threat, because of the abhorrent, immoral attack that killed 1,500 of his own people still has to row main in place because that's the only thing i think that's going to keep the actors honest here, to make sure that goal is achieved.
>> it is posh to make sure who is going to be the best honest broker in all of this. as we see what the aprpetite is in america. we have the new poll showing when asked if a strike would be in our international interest, 24% said yes. 29% said they didn't know enough. what are your florida constituents saying to your directly? because everyone in congress is going to be held accountable for any vote on this resolution for any type of military strike . so what are you hearing?
>> like our whole country and me, quite frankly, my constituents are weary of war and they're wary of war. but that's why it's important to note that president obama 's proposal is not war. is not, like iraq, not like afghanistan. not even like libya. what we're proposing here is a limited strike to address the immoral abhorrent conduct by assad , who has murdered almost people, including hundreds of children. now we've seen the video of that. the classified intelligence i've seen confirms that for me. i have to tell you, as a mother, thomas, this is something that just -- i mean, my heartaches and i feel a moral responsibility to make sure that there is -- you talk about red lights and green lights, that assad understands there is a firm red light , that if he doesn't -- if he isn't deterred from this conduct, that there's going to be action taken and it's going to be certain and severe from the united states .
>> when we think about the connective tissue of what that means, we think of israel . senator kerry was testifying in front of the house armed services committee and said consequences for the region around syria could be truly dire. take a listen.
>> failure to act now will make this already volatile neighborhood even more combustible and will almost certainly pave the way for a more serious challenge in the future. and you can just ask our friends in israel or elsewhere. in israel , they can't get enough gas masks .
>> so bashar all assad said no matter what, we can expect everything, and certainly that means for military bases , certainly for our allies which is israel in that area. secretary kerry went on to say the risk of not acting is much greateren that the risk of acting, so regardless of this proposal, under u.n. supervision, do you still want to see a military strike consequence for bashar al assad and syria ?
>> i think we need to make sure that the president has the authorization from congress to do that. because it is clear that our national security interests are in jeopardy. theme been threatened. without the understanding by assad that the united states will give them a response to the conduct of murdering their own people in cold blood , then we know iran will believe that they can act with impunity. we know turkey and jordan and israel , our our allies in the region, will be in potential jeopardy. if assad doesn't believe there will be a certain and severe response from the united states and that we have it there, ready, if he doesn't actually go through with the political and diplomatic solution of securing those chemical weapons , then he's not only not likely to make sure they're secured but he's likely to commit that abhorrent act again. and that's unacceptable. the united states has to exercise our leadership to make sure it doesn't happen again.
>> as always, great to have you on the show. thank you.