Mitchell Reports | October 08, 2012
>> escalating between syria and turkey after another shell landed in turkey today. the turkish military returned artillery fire for the sixth straight day. this is a major flash point. joining me now ambassador ross who held top jobs in three administrations most recently in the obama administration but also for the former presidents bush, one and two, i think.
>> bush one, reagan -- yes.
>> all the way back.
>> you come with bonified credentials in foreign policy . let's talk about what this speech really indicated on syria . it seemed to me what mitt romney presented today was not to directly arm some. he was talking about working through allies.
>> if you read the speech he'll work with allies to see that arms are provided. it's a passive voice. what i heard them saying to you is we'll be more active in terms of trying to make that happen. i think the longer we wait to do it, the harder it will be.
>> you would go farther than mitt romney .
>> i would.
>> the administration is worried about the weapons getting into the wrong hands.
>> it is a legitimate concern. what you have to do is focus heavily on identifying those you are prepared to work with, create tests for them. provide the weapons that would create less concern for us like anti-tank weapons as opposed to anti-air weapons. see how they operate, if they live up to what they say they will do, see if they are well coordinated, if they keep a counting of every weapon they have. the more they prove themselves and the more you can provide them.
>> i have gotten hints from people, good sources, that we are doing more. do you think we are not doing enough and some of the arab allies think we are not doing enough.
>> the key now isn't increasing the weight of those within the opposition who would be our natural friends. i think while there are risks, there are ways to manage risks. i would like to see more of a clearinghouse in terms of overall assistance, whether nonlethal but lethal assistance so in fact there is one address for the opposition in syria to come to. there was strong criticism. you were at the state department on iran policy when the president decided not to do more for the green revolution . that's one of mitt romney 's biggest criticisms. why didn't the white house want to do more.
>> it's a fair question. it's what people tend to forget that at the time we were getting mixed messages from those within the green movement . they were basically saying -- some were saying the last thing we need is for america to be out front on this. it makes it look like we are a creation of the americans. this is authentic. others were saying we should provide more of a leadership. there was a division on their side. the basic reason we didn't do more at that time was because of mixed messages.
>> did the president drag his feet on sanctions on iran , particularly on the central bank ?
>> that's not the case. the critical thing here is how could we ensure e e with would get our partners internationally to join us in this? if it's only the united states doing it and others don't join us we don't have the same impact.
>> congress eventually went along with it.
>> it's true. because we took the time to bring our allies along when the congress did it the allies said, okay, we understand it. had the allies not joined us they would not have imposed a boycott on the purchase of iranian oil or you wouldn't have the same impact. it's the boycott of the iranian oil producing the big impact today. we see what's happening to their currency, the revenue they are generating. you're now seeing, in fact, more of an economic consequence within iran . that may well affect iran 's behavior. i do agree the key measure is do they change behavior? it's pressure that's not sufficient. we are putting ourselves in a position where we now have the potential to change behavior. that's key.
>> finally on benghazi , the hearings this week will be very, very tough. the chairman proved on fast and furious he knows how to go after a soft target . there is a soft target . in terms of security there is growing evidence they ignored appeals from tip lee at least to keep an airplane which may or may not have had an impact on saving the lives. clearly not. to at least keep more security there and in benghazi .
>> you're in a situation that was highly fluid, unclear, uncertain. these things look a lot clearer in retrospect than they do in advance. having worked with chris stevens , he was always on the cutting edge, wanting to be able to do more and not wanting to be restricted in terms of what he could do. calls were made. obviously in the after math it looks like the approach of security should have been different. it's easier to say after than before the fact.
>> it's hard to say this about someone who tragically lost his life but some say because he was so beloved in benghazi that he department pay enough attention to the militias and al qaeda elements.
>> i think he paid attention to everything but put them in perspective. what he felt was if you look at the reality of benghazi , the bulk of the population was pro american. i think he may have placed more faith and others placed faith in the militias that were supportive of the united states than those that were against.
>> dennis, if i didn't say so, you are one of our foreign policy analysts here. we are happy to have you here.
>> thank uh you.