Mitchell Reports | February 06, 2013
>>> for the first time since he took office, president obama is traveling to israel. ambassador dennis ross with the washington institute for nearest policy was a special assistant to president obama and adviser to hillary clinton and is msnbc diplomacy analyst. great to see you. you've spent so much time on this never ending mission of middle east peace. john kerry wants to tackle it, the president is going it tackle it early on. what is the cost benefit analysis for what can be accomplished now?
>> i don't think the expectations are very high in terms of the president going out now and trying to produce something p i think what he's trying to do is send a signal that this is an issue that we care about, the secretary of state, john kerry , will be working on it. this is not going to be something that we ignore, but i think it's also going to be put into context. there are an enormous array of issues insyria, egypt. so i think his going to israel to seet see the pld and president and king ever jordan, it allows him to talk about although issues.
>> how much does the past tension with netanyahu play here or is this netanyahu weakened by his own smaller than anticipated re-election margin? does he need president obama to a certain extent to validate himself as one willing to reach across the lines?
>> by the time the president goes, you'll have a new israeli government , but it will be a new israeli government and i think the president coming in some ways may help him in advance because it allows him to say we've got the president coming, we have to have a government that can actually do things. and not only on peace, it needs to do something on iran as well. and so i think from his standpoint, it actually is a good thing. i think from the standpoint of president obama , it also gives him a chance to connect with the israeli public at a point where there are not expectations that he has to produce something. but connecting with the israeli public is a good thing at this point particularly when you're talking about peace or iran . when he goes there and he speaks about iran , he's able to address a public that will series quite serious. and that, too, set as context in which prime minister netanyahu will be operating, as well.
>> is the israeli public open to barack obama or has the relationship been poisoned?
>> i think they are open to president obama . i think they always see the importance of u.s. relationship and i think it matters to them to have him come and address them. so i think there is a chance for a new beginning for the president, for prime minister netanyahu . i think it's a good moment to try to focus on all the challenges in the region. this is an extraordinary time in the region. we haven't seen the middle east look like this since the end of world war ii .
>> and syria. the worst fighting around damascus that we've seen in quite some time. more than 60,000 dead. pressure. we know john kerry as a senator was more eager to take a look at the no-fly zone, to take a look some of the things that john mccain has been pushing hard. doesn't the united states have to do more?
>> i think the answer is yes. i mean, it's clear that there are risks in acting, but i think we have to take a look at what are the risks and costs of not acting. and i think we have to keep in mind the kind of red lines that the president has established in the use of chemical weapons or the israelis have established in terms of --
>> just look at what they've acknowledged in munich that they were involved in that strike which everyone sort of knew, but interesting that he would say so.
>> and what it highlights is things are going to happen. you'd rather put us in a position that rather than being driven to do something, we're in a position to try to effect the landscape more and we don't wait to be in a position where we have to react, but we're in a position where we try to influence more what the shape of the landscape is going to be.
>> finally, as we look forward to john when in anbrennan's confirmation hearing, how much blow back is in the united states because of the drone attacks and civilians who we call collateral damage, but basically civilian deaths and lack of due process?
>> you know, i don't know that there is an enormous amount of blow back on that because i don't think it's the focal point for most of what'sians are not thinking ab out that. the gulf states in saudi arabia , they probably applaud this because they see it as attacks against al qaeda .
>> attack against awlaki was launched from a base inside saudi arabia apparently.
>> one can assume the saudis are not troubled by attacks on al qaeda element in yemen and they see it as something that protects them. you can ask the yes how is it seen in yemen itself. and is it something that contributes to stability there or not. and i think that's probably a harder question. that's a much more difficult issue to sort of sort through. once again, you have to look at what are the costs of action, but what are the costs of inaction. and you try to weigh both before you decide what you're going to do.
>> great to see you. thank