What's Next in Syria?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Free Syrian Army rebels cleaning their AK47s in Aleppo, Syria during the civil war. October 2012. (VOA News; Scott Bobb/Wikimedia Commons)

Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and author of Foreign Policy Begins at Home: The Case for Putting America's House in Order, talks about how the international community should respond to the ongoing crisis in Syria.


Richard Haass

Comments [36]

jf from reality

Does anyone at all still doubt that Obama is another puppet meant to scam smart people into voting for the same superiors of bush?

Sep. 02 2013 10:16 AM

" . . . In short, the United States is heading toward an intervention in Syria that administration officials clearly believe to be right, necessary, and humane. Their cause may be just. But it won’t be legal, and no creative amount of lawyering can make it so."

The link purports to deal with "international" law;
I believe there is a similar case for the president's apparent intent to not seek a formal, constitutional, authorization for a use of military force.

(anyone have a link to Kerry's initial Senate vote authorizing the U.S. use of military force in Iraq?)

Aug. 30 2013 03:20 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

I'd rather hear from Elaine Bennis.

Aug. 30 2013 12:50 PM

Brian Lehrer needs to ask better questions. How many different rebel groups are in Syria? Has there ever been a case where different rebel groups have fired on each other? Do we have any further information on the rebels found by Turks who had 2kg of chemical material? Considering Iraq found 2 chemical labs operated by al Qaeda is it possible those chemical weapons could be in the hands of al Nusra rebels?

Aug. 30 2013 12:39 PM
Lenore from Manhattan

Has Phyllis Bennis ever been on this show? I am listening to the noontime coverage now, and there is Anthony Cordesman. In the morning edition there was some guy who works for some think tank on war. And here is Richard Haass.

How about having an actual interview in depth with an antiwar person who opposes all this??? It seems as the only people who actually get sustained voices are the military/political establishment. There are others!!

Aug. 30 2013 12:21 PM

Mr Lehrer asked a good question as to whether Pres Obama should compound his error of drawing a red line re chemical weapon use by now launching a military attack. I hope he will follow up to identify what political actors inveigled the President into that initial error, and what their intentions were.

Isn’t it clear, further, that any action we take to “level the playing field” will prolong the war in Syria and cause continuing atrocities such as the massacre of the children in Aleppo reported on the BBC earlier this morning?

What political actors in the region are supplying arms to fuel the conflict and want to see it prolonged?

Aug. 30 2013 11:52 AM

Let's not forget to discuss our own use of chemical weapons

Aug. 30 2013 11:41 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan,

Hat tip.

Aug. 30 2013 11:08 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

@Edward from Washington Heights-

good points

Aug. 30 2013 11:00 AM
Valya from Brooklyn

Strange - even as knowledgeable as Mr. Haas is saying that President doesn't need a Congress authorization to attack, bks he has "authorization" by the War Powers Act. Not true! The Act gives president the power to use force immediately only if the US is attacked.

Aug. 30 2013 10:58 AM

The "red line" was pitched when McCain and other Republicans were clamoring for taking action. Obama gets it from both sides, and then some; sanctimony and cynicism abound, even in the comments here. So the Brits put the brakes on, probably to Obama's relief as that would have "green-lighted" our joint effort - pending a positive posturing in our defunct parliament. [But let's not forget the BOGUS (and even by-then discredited) BRIT INTEL BUSH WENT BEFORE CONGRESS WITH.] This is significantly different from Libya, where Obama was able to "let the Europeans lead from behind" as France & Italy had interest there; France has said it would (unilaterally) move a carrier to Syria - with which it has had semi-colonial ties. We forget that before Iraq, we chagrined the Brits AND France over Suez. Let France exercise their moral/military clout, they're the 5th biggie at the UN, with a large Muslim population and the Mediterranean laps their southern shore. After you, Alphonse.

Aug. 30 2013 10:50 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

- 100,000+ dead in Syria - Islamists killing Islamists
- use of poison gas, a WMD on civiliians
- actual cannibalism
- FAKE "anti-war" turning a blind eye to Crimes Against Humanity committed by their guys

How unsurprising.

Aug. 30 2013 10:49 AM

@Joyce from NYC, 1. the Constitution allows the President to send armed forces abroad without the consent of Congress but only Congress can declare war. A 1973 law makes it so that military action must end within 60 days if Congress does not declare war. 2. So how is Bush's Iraq war going so far? You can get all the consent you want but if it's wrong, it's wrong!

Aug. 30 2013 10:43 AM

@ Lance from Manhattan and Joyce from NYC:

Remember what Jeremy Scahill, Noam Chomsky and any number of others have been saying all along about Obama: *Worse*, in many respects, than G.W. Bush.

And I've said many times before, I will never forget hearing none other than Daniel Ellsberg, back during the first Obama administration, say that with regard to how it treats whistleblowers, the Obama administration has been the all-time worst.

Aug. 30 2013 10:41 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

With KGB Putin (and China and the Islamist Regime of Iran) backing Assad, we see that socialists are fine with the use of WMDs - on civilians.

Aug. 30 2013 10:36 AM
la from Manhattan

RUCB_Alum - if you recall, Bush did go to congress for Iraq. So I'm not sure what you are on about.

Aug. 30 2013 10:33 AM

@ both Lance and Joyce -

The commentary from the GOP yesterday was that the President should act WITH Congress. Not use the authority of the WPA - War Power Act - to go in first and get permission to stay beyond 60 days. However, the leadership has made no effort to call either chamber back to DC.

The potential exists that this could turn into world war US-Russia-China-Arabs. Congress consent *should* be sought but an nerve agent attack that kills 400 people (and violates a treaty signed by Syria) cannot go unanswered. (despite our history of looking the other way when Saddam did it).

Aug. 30 2013 10:32 AM
adele from Queens

why do we need to police the middle east. all we end up doing is being the 3rd party scape goat for all sides and no peace is had. war unfortunately may be the only solution in the region. Instead, we stick our nose in, provide no peace, and prolong the agony - and become the enemy in the process. This also includes the Israel-Palistinean conflict where we again create an environment where the groups can talk past each other since we stand in the middle.

Aug. 30 2013 10:30 AM

David Brooks? *Lubricious*, above all else. Does anyone remember what this man actually had the chutzpah, the gaul, to say in support and then defense of the invasion of Iraq? To take but one, notable example.

Aug. 30 2013 10:30 AM

Talking about recent history without even a nod to the many dead American and otherwise is breathtaking. Listening to your guest wax wisely about this latest crisis I am reminded of the words of Harold Pinter many years ago. He said, “I'll tell you what I really think about politicians. The other night I watched some politicians on television talking about Vietnam. I wanted very much to burst through the screen with a flame thrower and burn their eyes out and their balls off and then inquire from them how they would assess the action from a political point of view.”

Aug. 30 2013 10:28 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Saddam Hussein never had WMD's?

Tell that to the Kurds of Halabja Iraq.

Aug. 30 2013 10:27 AM

If only we could hear Mr. Haas vigorously challenged by any number of people. Phyllis Benis, George Galloway, Andrew Bacevich, Ron Paul, Noam Chomsky, Ralph Nader, Patrick J. Buchanan: just some of the people who it would be great to hear debate the likes Haas on this issue.

Aug. 30 2013 10:25 AM
Lance from Manhattan

RUCB_Alum - huh? strangely, the GOP (outside of a very few chicken hawks) is not pushing for this. this is the Obama show right now, and another reason I regret my vote (1st time, not second)

Aug. 30 2013 10:24 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Don't blame me. I didn't vote for Obama.

Aug. 30 2013 10:23 AM
Joyce from NYC

Seems I got it wrong on the constitution. If you don't like one of the parities in congress


the War Powers Act gets suspended.

OK, now I get it -- sorry about that.

Aug. 30 2013 10:22 AM
Joe Montuori

I think Richard Haass's take on the history of the rush to war in 2003 is inaccurate. While WMDs may not have been the President Bush's primary reason for going to war, WMDs and Saddam Hussein's alleged connections to al Qaeda --both of which were proven erroneous -- were the American people's main reasons for sanctioning the war.

Any rush to military action in Syria -- which can have unanticipated blowback or lead to escalation -- must be vetted by Congress and the American people. War and other military action is the greatest power our government wields, and the people's representatives must approve.

Aug. 30 2013 10:22 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I remember Colin Powell saying angrily that he'd been deliberately misinformed, although I don't remember his exact words or whether he used the word "lie."

On whether Syria would attack Israel, I haven't heard anything about that as a possibility, but Iran has threatened to do so. On the other hand, is it at all plausible that Syria would attack Israel to provoke its retaliation & then blame Israel for the violence in Syria, maybe even accusing them of being behind the rebellion?

Aug. 30 2013 10:21 AM
Joyce from NYC

I got a question -- how is Syria using chemical weapons different from us napalming Vietnam, or us causing 100,000 civilian collateral deaths in Iraq?

Aug. 30 2013 10:19 AM

Has the Congressional leadership made a move to call the Congress back to DC? No. Too busy gathering bucks for the next campaign....err...I mean connecting to their constituencies.

The GOP are so full of sh*t that I am surprised their tongues aren't brown.

Obama should wait for the UN report but ratchet up the military presence so that the Syrians see that it won't take long for the hammer to drop once members of Congress are updated.

Aug. 30 2013 10:17 AM
Smokey from LES

To attack Syria the way Obama wants to - which will not take away the chemical weapons - which will not take away Assad - sounds a lot like terrorism to me.

Aug. 30 2013 10:17 AM
Joyce from NYC

Yea, who needs the constitution -- the President has ignored it so far -- he has stated that he does not like it. Go ahead. Be a dictator. (Oh -- my mistake -- that applies only to Bush --WHO DID GO TO CONGRESS)

Aug. 30 2013 10:16 AM

On Colin Powell

Aug. 30 2013 10:14 AM

Brian why ask IF the president should go to war...he HAS to! This guest is the problem, he is evil.

Aug. 30 2013 10:13 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Barry , the HYPOCRITE.


“As a candidate, Barack Obama blasted George W. Bush for waging the Iraq war without key European allies; now President Obama finds himself on the verge of pursuing a go-it-alone approach in Syria, after British lawmakers rejected military action.”
“In a 2007 essay in Foreign Affairs, he specifically warned about breaking off from European allies: "In the case of Europe, we dismissed European reservations about the wisdom and necessity of the Iraq war."

Aug. 30 2013 10:09 AM

Yet another establishment gate-keeper on the BL Show, presenting a carefully-scripted, approved, U.S.-centric narrative on events in other countries.

And still noone Sharif-Abdul Kodous, a native Egyptian, to report from his home country. Have any native Syrians been on?

Aug. 30 2013 10:07 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

British Parliament rejects Barry Obama’s play-acting as military general with a half-baked “war plan.”

Sarah Wollaston – Member of Parliament – GUARDIAN UK

“A military strike could escalate into a wider conflict with many hundreds of thousands more victims and no exit strategy.”


“Obama's Syria plans in disarray after Britain rejects use of force
White House forced to consider unilateral strikes against Assad after British PM unexpectedly loses key motion on intervention.”


Aug. 30 2013 09:20 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.