Garry Kasparov, former World Chess Champion and Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation, sat down Monday with MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell to discuss President Barack Obama’s infamous “red line” remarks regarding the Syrian civil war.
Kasparov believes the president failed by not following through on his claim that the use of Chemical weapons in Syria would cross a “red line.” He believes the president’s use of the term required him to act after the supposed line was crossed.
Instead, Kasparov argues, Russian President Vladimir Putin was able to broker an extremely attractive deal with the U.S. and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is being treated as a partner and not as a war criminal.
Of course, MSNBC personalities don’t see it this way. They see the U.S./Russia deal as a victory for President Obama.
So MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell tried to argue this point — with a world chess champion.
The United States already “lost” in its negotiations with Syria, Kasparov said Monday. Because as long as Assad keeps “complying,” or pretends he’s complying, “he can keep killing his people.”
“Putin got everything he wanted, I think even beyond his wildest expectations,” he added, “and Obama who once said ‘red line’ he just, in my view, is just blowing up the reputation of his office.”
O’Donnell countered by saying the White House won because it “seems” to have stopped the use of chemical weapons.
But Kasparov believes the “red line” remark is particularly damning.
“I agree [stopping the use of chemical weapons] was the goal,” he said, “and that’s why the president said ‘red line.’ I understand that ‘red line’ means that if someone crosses ‘red line,’ then you act and don’t talk anymore.”
O’Donnell held to the line that the president didn’t actually mean he’d do something if the “red line” was crossed.
Again, Kasparov wasn’t having any of it.
“’Red line,’ whether it’s in Russian or English or any other language, it means that you act,” he said. “Barack Obama is the president of America and if he says ‘red line,’ he should, you know, put face value on his words.”
The rest of the discussion proceeds in a similar fashion. The two never shout and tempers never flare — and that’s probably because at least one of the men in that studio is noted for being both calm and patient.
Here’s the first part of their discussion:
And here’s the portion of the interview that aired online-only:
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