The Case Against Intervention in Syria

Thursday, May 09, 2013

A vehicle sits smoldering in flames after being set on fire inside the American consulate compound in Benghazi late on September 11, 2012. (Getty)

Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation, discusses what we learned at yesterday's hearings on Benghazi, and why she believes the situation in Syria needs diplomacy, not military intervention.


Katrina vanden Heuvel

Comments [25]

Bob from California

My God, Brian Lehrer in arguing on behalf of humanitarian intervention in Syria sounds like Colin Powell making the case to go to war with Iraq. What dumbfounding lack of irony.

May. 10 2013 07:38 PM
jf from the future

The Army should Actually use peaceful chemical weapons on the Syrian army, while everyone is passed out, confiscate their guns and treat them with psychologists and mediators when they wake up. Jail the decision makers.

May. 09 2013 07:54 PM
amalgam from NYC by day, NJ by night

@ Sydney -

The majority of the Libyan population, the Arab League and the vast majority of the international community wanted Qaddafi ousted, so NOTHING that happened in Benghazi "put Clinton and Obama's entire policy during the Arab Spring into question."

You can argue on political grounds that Clinton and the Obama admin. lied and covered up to win an election (go ahead), but the only policy ramifications that need hashed out were the poor security at the Benghazi consulate, which was addressed and repudiated for various reasons in the Pickering report. They are separate, discrete matters that you rolled up into one.

May. 09 2013 01:59 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Sydney, your last comment is really off. The attackers in Benghazi were *not* from the Libyan gov't. In fact, afterwards the army went after the attackers & forced them out, & there were large demonstrations at the consulate against the extremists, w/signs saying "Chris Stevens was our friend." That's hardly handing the country over to the extremists.

May. 09 2013 12:57 PM


The problem is that the vast majority of people, having willingly chosen between the Giant Douche and the Turd Sandwich, have convinced themselves that their choice was the best of all possible choices. If you question their Giant Douche, they just point at the Turd Sandwich.

May. 09 2013 11:25 AM

Has anyone considered that as the head of the State Department, Hillary Clinton helped "liberate" Libya ... aka handed over the country to Islamic extremists who brutally killed 4 Americans and then told the American people.... "how could this happen!??!?!!? this youtube video must have done it" ... come on guys, that's a little disturbing, no? Truly claiming responsibility for lying about this (and also for the attack) would also put Clinton and Obama's entire policy during the Arab Spring into question which would not be so good for the election(s).

May. 09 2013 11:15 AM

Ed from Northern New Jersey - you are absolutely right. He did try to pry an answer out of her but neither her answer nor his response did his listeners any justice. I value WNYC and especially Brian Lehrer for well-rounded, comprehensive reporting but we are NOT getting our fair share of the news or the discussion on this station or show. Its very dissapointing and I hope its addressed immediately. Escpecially condidering this is a public radio station.

May. 09 2013 11:11 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

No American should risk their life in Syria trying to stop the slaughter in Syria.

Leave that dirty task to the united nations, arab league.

Let's see how influential they are.

May. 09 2013 11:08 AM
Diane L McNamara

Oddly on both "The Takeaway" and "The Brian Lehrer Show" the Benghazi segments are will not play. Guess someone at WNYC believes we are not entitled to info on Benghazi.

May. 09 2013 11:05 AM

And quite frankly, RUCB, I am not a right ring extremist and I do hold the Obama administration to the same skepticism I did the Bush administration. If this happned under Bush's nose, Liberals would be outraged. But no, this is our precious Obama and our darling Clinton we're talking about - no Liberal could even fathom either one of them lying to the American public and covering up a terrorist attack for the sake of winning an election. Because oonnlllyy dirty Republicans do that, right? (By the way, do you see what's going on in NY State - dems being lead of the statehouse in handcuffs every day) I think we have drummed them both up to be so darn close to perfection that considering that they did somethign wrong is out of the question. Ridiculous!

May. 09 2013 11:02 AM

RUCB... The cover up is very clearly that the State Department lied to the Amercan people about the nature of a terrorist attack two months before an election so as not to readily admit that a terrorist attack that killed 4 Americans happened under their watch. Listen, stuff happens! I get it. Budget cuts, crazy Islamic rebels, an angry Middle East. Things will happen.

Susan Rice lost her job because she repeatedly lied to the American people when she knew, as well did other members of the state departmetn that this was corrdinated terrorist attack. The State department lied to save Obama's behind. I'm an Obama and Clinton supporter but I'm not going to turn my cheek to CHEATING. If this wasnt during an election, they woudln't have lied. If Hillary Clinton didn't have dreams of running in 2016, they wouln't have lied. They were NOT about to admit two months beore the election that a terrorist attack happend under their noses. NO on has taken responsibility for lying so they are still lying. I do not perceive Clinton and Obama as Godly creatures. They are politicians and should be judged as such when they verly clearly lie to the American people.

May. 09 2013 10:56 AM


Does a "good woman" mean a "good person" or a "good team player"? The former would not have enthusiastically pushed such a ridiculously false story about an embassy attack on 9/11. Colin Powell made the same mistake. "Good people" maintain their integrity in the face of political pressure.

May. 09 2013 10:50 AM
Ed from Northern New Jersey

Brian deserves praise for finally pressing an issue and not letting a interviewee say anything that pops to mind. Katrina vanden Heuvel tried very hard to dismiss/ minimize the testimony from yesterdays Benghazi hearing. She made no mention of the comments of Elijah Cummings at the opening of the hearings. However she claims the Republicans are using the deaths of the Americans in Benghazi for politics. The people that testified have not been allowed to speak at the first hearings or allowed to speak to investigators plus they were threatened and in some cases demoted, all of which is illegal under federal law. Once again what is on display here is partisan politics masquerading as journalism.

May. 09 2013 10:49 AM


THAT is the point, Sydney. The only folks who think there is truly more to follow up on re: what happened in Benghazi versus resolving to 'do it better next time' are ultra-partisans and GOP leaders seeking to weaken HRC's 2016 campaign.

I hate to be ultra-cynical but the issue has already cost a good woman a nomination as Sec of State and now has the miscreant Karl Rove exploring how to roll John Kerry's Senate seat into the GOP column.

There was no cover-up. Just an under-protected embassy where Americans died. Over the previous two years, the House had cut $500M of Dept of State funds. Where's the GOP 'mea culpa'. There is none. Only more electioneering.

If you practiced the same level of accountability, Dubya and Cheney would get the rope.

May. 09 2013 10:42 AM

I don't understand why Americans are being so blind here. I am a supporter of President Obama and Secretary Clinton but that does NOT MEAN that I will turn my head and ignore something like this. The State Department very clearly covered up the Benghazi Terror attacks during an election. LIED repeatedly to the American people. WHY arent democrats enraged over this? The fact that they are not is terrifying and shows how blindly partisan our country has behcome. Death of the politcal system.

May. 09 2013 10:35 AM

@MC -

Travelgate? White Water? What's next Teapot Dome? Both of those 'scandals'-- and they were both examined and continue to be scandals only in the fevered imagination of the 'wingers -- have essentially no substance.

If you are so outraged by HRC's history, where is any of your anger of GWB's misfeasance in controlling the national treasury (national debt went from $5t to $11T while Dubya and the GOP controlled it) and mishandling of the national security that led to the 9/11 Attack.


May. 09 2013 10:27 AM
amalgam from NYC by day, NJ by night

@ Chuzz -

Using your tremendous ability to wield speculation, half-truths and partisanship (always present in your comments), I would love for you to "make a real case for getting to the bottom of" Benghazi.

May. 09 2013 10:25 AM

This woman is most partisan of them ALL! The fact that she so casually stated "well, i mean, maybe there was a cover up at the hands of the state department" and then accused Republicans of sensationalizign it is quite frankly terrifying. This WAS a really dispicable cover-up at the hands of the State departmetn during an election. Why aren't democrats outraged?! WHY is this a partisan issue!??!

May. 09 2013 10:25 AM
rj from prospect hts

Whatever happened to the UN "Responsibility to Protect":

May. 09 2013 10:22 AM

"What have we learned" you ask? Nothing, that is the point. We want to know who was responsible for lying to the public about the motive of the attack (on 9/11 no less). You cannot point at the Republicans for politicizing -- the Obama administration started politicizing when they covered up the truth to protect their election year narrative. Does the truth ever matter to journalists anymore?

May. 09 2013 10:20 AM
Fishmael from NYC

On the question Brian raises of "when is there a moral obligation for the international community to go in to stop slaughter".... I certainly don't know the answer, but, a reasonable person might ask, what about the Congo wars, with? I don't see those getting much print, or anyone ever suggesting that the US intervene there. What's the moral equation there?

May. 09 2013 10:19 AM

While Assad may indeed be a "moral monster", I think the US has lost its credibility in calling for intervention under the banner of "human rights".

May. 09 2013 10:15 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I support a peace conference along with Russia and the rebel groups.

May. 09 2013 10:06 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

LOL, oh, OK, so now we've added Benghazi to the show.

I'm sure KVD will make a real case for getting to the bottom of this, heh, heh.

May. 09 2013 09:25 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

OH, GOSH........ what a surprise ... no segment on Hillary Clinton's Benghazi cover up (via her chief of staff, our old friend Cheryl Mills of impeachment fame) and her attempt to intimidate state department personnel into not cooperating with the investigation.
Golly gee, this all sounds so familiar.

Probably the assistant producers and interns at the BLS are too young to remember Hillary's 1993 Travelgate scandal and then her obfuscation and lying in the 1995 Whitewater investigation.
But, hey, 2016 here we come.

May. 09 2013 09:20 AM

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