Mitchell Reports | March 05, 2013
>> and joining me now is the washington post david ignacious and jeffrey goldberg . to you, dennis rodman , given everything that's happening in north korea ?
>> well, i mean, i actually was thinking dennis rodman might be useful in the middle east peace process . his sense of the absurd might come in handy. that's just my idea.
>> that's just my idea.
>> if not the tattoos.
>> that would be fun.
>> not a bad idea at that. well, speaking of the middle east , earlier on the program nick burns said that he thought that what prime minister netanyahu did in his remarks to apac yesterday were not helpful because he was laying too tough a line and being too negative about the diplomacy that is just become engaged. what is your take on that?
>> obviously he is setting up for his meeting, which is a very crucial meeting with the president in a couple of weeks many jerusalem. you know, the -- they're going to have quite a bit of time together. obama obviously wants to talk about iran, but he also wants to talk about the palestinians. the prime minister of israel would rather only talk about iran, and he is sort of pushing publicly now to get president obama to say the toughest possible thing he would be able to say when he goes to jerusalem. i think obviously the nick burns is right more or less right that sanctions are having some impact, and i think netanyahu at different points has acknowledged that fact. i think there is more about previsit posturing.
>> now, david , let's talk about syria for a second because what the secretary said today is that they have confidence that the u.s. aid , the nonlethal aid, is getting into the right hands, getting into the hands of legitimate moderate opposition leaders. at the same time testifying today general mattis from cent com said there is a reason not to arm the opposition because the weapons could get into the wrong hands. what about our posture in refusing the weapons that the occupation leaders pleaded with secretary kerry for when they met him in rome just last week?
>> well, the opposition is disappointed that it's not getting everything that it would like for the u.s., but as kerry stressed, this is a kind of joint effort, and things may not be coming directly from the u.s., but the u.s. is aware of them, coordinating the process. i think the reason why it is important to work more closely with the opposition military leadership, kerry has been talking more about the political leadership, but there are efforts to reach out to the presyrian army now for real is that unless they have a stronger, more coherent command and control structure, that country is going to be a mess for the foreseeable future, whether assad falls or not, and so i think the idea of the u.s. getting in, working with people, getting to know them, those are all positive things. i didn't find it particularly surprising when kerry said, look, we're working as a coalition. some will take care of the arms. we'll take care of the other pieces, and the i think the opposition basically gets it.
>> and, in fact, kerry has managed move the needle. this is the first direct aid. jeff goldberg, one of the things that i asked him you heard at the tail end of that interview was about his role. he was a senator. he was his own boss. now he has to answer to the national security counsel , and this is a white house that has been very controlling of its secretaries of state . even hillary clinton had to put up with a lot. how is he going to navigate this, and how is he doing so far?
>> it makes it easier when you get your own plane, for one thing. i mean, he was in the senate, and he was his own independent power center , but there are some wonderful perks of this job, and i'm not making light of the role. look, i think, you know, you do have a centralized bureaucracy making foreign policy , national security policy in the white house . i think -- my initial sense is that those people in the white house have a great deal of respect for senator kerry , for secretary kerry , and there's none of the lingering bad taste , ill will that we remember from the 2008 democratic primary . that had a bigger -- i think we're going to find out over the months and years ahead that that had a much bigger impact -- we think think at the moment. i don't anticipate this being a very rough ride. that said, secretary kerry , for instance, wants to really push hard on middle east peace, and if the president comes out of the middle east in a couple of weeks thinking, eh, this is not going to work, you know, he is not going to give the secretary that much running room.
>> and briefly, david , there is news out of car auk yas where -- they're describing that he is back home in venezuela , and now they've expelled a defense atache which they've accused of u.s. defense attache who they accused of spying on them. it seems we'll have a lot of turmoil coming up in venezuela , one way or the other.
>> absolutely. the door is opening now with chavez in his final days. certainly of exercising power. the door is opening for venezuela . it's something they take very seriously. it will be interesting to see in this post- chavez era how brazil falls, whether brazil alines itself as a pro- american force in the region or sort of hit its anti-americanism behind chavez . he won't be able. just to add one thing. i was really struck in your interview with john kerry , he is on the team. i mean, you know, he rate is happy to be president of the united states . he mentioned kerry more times than he mentioned helms. he wants to be seen as a team player . he didn't mention the d-word, destanding for tom done lan national security advisor , but tom donnell is a strong national security advisor who likes everybody to be in the same direction. for the most everybody is. i thought that was really the theme of your interview.
>> indeed. the deputy -- the former deputy national security advisor dennis mcdonough is now the chief of staff. he certainly has to follow the leads from the white house , but he seemed to be very happy doing it. we'll be heading back tomorrow. thank you