Mitchell Reports | December 03, 2012
>>> deploy patriot missile defenses to turkey and votes coming up this week, secretary of state hillary clinton in europe this week has warned the assad regime and syria against resorting to chemical weapons .
>> their behavior is reprehensible. their actions against their own people have been tragic. but there is no doubt that there's a line between even the horrors they have already inflicted on the syrian people and moving to what would be an internationally condemned step of utilizing their chemical weapons .
>> joining me is former california congresswoman and president of the woodrow wilson center , jane harman . congresswoman, let's talk first about syria and the chemical weapon threat and all of the pressure now on the u.s. to recognize the opposition and to become more engaged. are there any options that you hear are likely to be taken?
>> well, the focus is now on syria . events on the ground are changing. if these published reports are to be believed and there's some efforts to move chemical weapons i believe as hillary clinton has hinted, that will bring the entire international community into this game. that includes russia, which has been on the sidelines actually arming the syrian government until now, but hopefully russia, no one wants to see syria use, again it was reported in 1982 that hall fa al assad used chemical weapons on his people. our government again is reported to be moving to recognize this more unified opposition. the fact that it exists is partially a credit to secretary of state clinton, but also to egypt and other neighbors who have pushed for this to happen. its headquarters is currently in cairo, by the way. and so if this happens and if the international community focuses i think there is finally a chance of a -- not just a way for the end of this -- the assad regime to be achieved, but for a responsible government to move into its place.
>> and now let me ask you, move you to the israeli/u.s. relationship, because israel has now taken one more step, first last week as we reported they took a key step in deciding to build this e-1 settlement which if they were to proceed, is a red line , i know that the british have warned them that they have crossed a red line , that israel should not even tactically be taking this step to further push down abbas after the hamas victory recently, and by taking this line it would make it impossible to ever have a palestinian state because it would be dividing ramallah from jerusalem. ramallah and the other west bank cities. what about the united states ? are we taking a hard enough line with israel ? this was a total surprise and i understand that u.s. officials are very, very upset about it?
>> well, the timing was -- is very difficult for us, especially after the u.s. took a principled vote which many in our country disagreed with, to oppose just this aspirational vote on palestinian statehood and we were there with israel and seven other countries, canada and a number of other small countries . this is difficult. as you know, andrea, this is just a preliminary step and there are lots of permits to go and this housing may never be built and it is certainly u.s. policy to oppose more building like this. i think it's -- we're at a tough step and i don't think public argument is helpful. hopefully behind the scenes a the lo of conversation -- lot of conversations going on not just between the u.s. and israel but the u.s. and our allies who are obviously dismayed by israel 's actions.
>> speaking of behind the scenes conversations, what about what's happened to susan rice and all of the speculation about john kerry . should the president move sooner rather than later to resolve this one way or the other? because either way , both of these individuals can be damaged in the eyes of the world and the eyes politically here?
>> well, a lot of people are observing that susan rice had very little to do with the benghazi situation. she read off of talking points. she's talented and capable woman whom i have known for many years. it's the president's call. he's entitled to have people in the positions that he chooses to have them. congress has to confirm these people. they have been warned that the susan rice confirmation could be difficult, but the president has a right to choose her if he wishes and with respect to john kerry , very capable man, according to press reports he's also being considered for the secretary of defense position. again, i don't know what happens there. he does a marvelous job in the united states congress as head of the foreign relations committee . we have all good options for john in my view. john kerry could serve ably in any number of positions. want to say about egypt , i don't know how much time you have, andrea, but some key egyptian national security officials are in washington now explaining egypt 's recent actions. again that's a whole --
>> we were going to --
>> big pile of moves. i mean many good, some troubling, hopefully egypt and the people of egypt can find their way through this latest constitutional crisis and there can be a adopted by referendum a constitution that most of the people in egypt fear -- feel is fair. my comment there is sadly, both sides don't do politics very well. they're good at protesting and boycotting and issue decrees, they're not as good and our congress isn't so good at the moment either in working out compromises. after all, if both sides are a little unhappy it's probably the best way forward .
>> jane harman , thank you very