Mitchell Reports | February 19, 2013
>> china, of course, has flatly denied any responsibility for these cyber attacks, joix is former u.s. ambassador nicolas burns, professor of diplomacy at the harvard kennedy cool of government. nick, good to see you again. first of all, you're new secretary of state. you know john kerry well. is this the first thing you mentioned or the second thing you mentioned on your first shift to china ? is this the first thing the president mentions, or something sd this have to be handled delicately?
>> i think given the impact the story is having and given other reports, including the president's own reference to the state of the union address , this has to be very high up on the u.s.- china agenda for secretary kerry and for president obama because what it does, as you well know, it undercuts whatever trust there is, and it wasn't high. between the two governments. it has the potential of turning the american public, the american congress , and certainly the business community against china to a much greater extent than in the past, and so it makes the management of this relationship extraordinarily difficult, and by any definition this relationship with china is the most important that we have with any country in the world because of china 's size, its power, the agree of economic interaction between us . it's very damaging for the chinese. now, they have a very opaque system and authority tarn system. they're not going to be able, i think, to handle this issue in any public way. our government is going to have to raise it -- what is the diplomatic significance with this hard evidence now that the military -- but the chinese army is actually the perpetrator.
>> i think what's significant -- this is not a newspaper article by the "new york times". this is the report authored by one of the people you just interviewed by very reputable firm. it seems to be very solid in its methodology, hard to refute. so i think the balance of public opinion worldwide is going to be against china because not only are americans going to feel vulnerable as they read this, but you can imagine what the japanese, the indians, the russians are going to think if you are in business in any of those countries. how can we protect our intellectual property? how can any company protect --
>> dug the hole a little bit deeper.
>> now, let me understand today from the state department that secretary kerry in rome is going to have meetings with opposition leaders from syria and there has been a new skism exposed in recent weeks where leon panetta confirmed that he and hillary clinton and others and the chairman of the joint chiefs were at some point in favor of arming the rebels more to the point that the white house disagreed. what -- where do you think we can go forward now? we're approaching the second anniversary in syria . 70,000 reported dead. and the fear that if you arm the rebels that gets into the wrong hands because of the increasing al qaeda and radical and iranian influence within syria so what does a new secretary of state do?
>> andrea, i do think that the secretary of state kerry is right to try to go back at this problem and see if the united states can piece together a stronger alliance of countries to help the syrian resistance inside syria because that's all we've got to go on right now.l not stay in power forever, but he happens to be strong enough to hold on to power for the foreseeable future, for many months to come. secretary kerry has a tall task ahead of him. the united states government is going to have to ask themselves, and i'm sure they're thinking about this in the white house and state department . how long do we go before we begin to take some steps to type ofly try to weaken assad , and i mean the imposition of a no flight zone or go back to the idea of arming some of the rebel groups , not the radical islamic groups, but some of the groups that are more responsible because if we don't do that, then we're not going to have influenced the day that assad falls, with the people who will succeed him, and most people, andrea, as you know, now think that we're not going to see an easy transition at all. in fact, it may be that the violence gets worse after assad leaves, so i do think the united states needs to go back to the drawing board . we need to be more assertive. 70,000 people dead and that total is going to mount. hundreds of thousands of people now outside the country as refugees. hundreds of more thousands people on the roads. they've left their villages. they can't live where they had lived before. this is a desperate situation, and it requires much greater american leadership.
>> nicolas burns, ambassador, thank you very much.
>> thank you.
>> for being with us today.