Bill Richardson: We Need A "Coalition Of The Willing" For Attack On Syria


FMR. GOV. BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER U.N. AMBASSADOR: First, Chris, I support the president. I thought Secretary Kerry was very eloquent in laying out the moral, the legal justifications. I was U.N. ambassador. It'd be nice to get a resolution under Chapter 7 authorizing military force. The problem is the Russians will veto It, they've said they would. Short of that, I would try to get some kind of ban on arm shipments, send Assad to the International Court of Justice, that the Security Council can do, a condemnation statement. I would continue this U.N. effort.

At the same time, what we need to assemble -- to get some legal justification, as we did, for instance, with Libya -- is what is called a coalition of the willing. European countries, Arab countries, the Arab League has condemned this. I think this -- this is a very tough decision for the president. I was also, Chris, a member of Congress. I would like the Congress to be brought in, but I think here the president has to make the judgment on what's in the national security of the United States. And what he has said and what Secretary Kerry has said is that there has been a violation of international norms. The gassing, the killing of 1,500 people with nerve gas.

CHRIS HAYES: But, Governor --

RICHARDSON: At the same time --

HAYES: If I could interject for one second.

RICHARDSON: This is a violation of international law.

HAYES: Let me just say two points on this. When you say -- I just want to make this clear -- when you use the term 'coalition of the willing,' are you aware that there are Americans screaming at their television sets around the country because It is precisely the term used by the Bush administration when the U.N. refused to go along with his war in Iraq. And of course, we now look back and say, 'You know what? The U.N. security council was right to not go along with the war in Iraq. Coalition of the willing has very uncomfortable resonances, doesn't It?

RICHARDSON: Well, there's no question, the American people are skeptical, there's no question about this. But a president has to do what's in the best interest of the United States. And I believe the case has been made for us to respond. Again, we're not putting boots on the ground. We're not assaulting and trying to have a regime change. It's a very tactical effort: degrade the bomb, the military bomb sites; find ways to destroy the artillery, the launches of the Syrian military; find ways to shift the military momentum away from the Syrian military that is winning the war right now; most importantly, a response to these butchering killings.

Assad cannot get away with what he did, and what I think the president is doing, if you get a lot of countries taking stands, is they will put together a coalition. Hopefully, there will be some action at the U.N. He is consulting with the the Congress. The major national security leaders of the Congress are being brought in. But this is a very tough decision. I support the president.

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