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Panel on Biden and Iraq

By Special Report w/Bret Baier, Special Report w/Bret Baier - August 23, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

Special Guests | Juan Williams, Nina Easton, Charles Krauthammer

Watch the latest video at FoxNews.com

This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Bret Baier" from August 23, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.adsonar_placementId=1499756;adsonar_pid=150758;adsonar_ps=-1;adsonar_zw=336;adsonar_zh=170;adsonar_jv='ads.adsonar.com';

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I am absolutely confident that Iraq will form a national unity government that will be able to sustain that country.

Politics and not war has broken out in Iraq.

THEN-SENATOR JOE BIDEN: Not in the lifetime including these talented young pages will there be a unity government in Baghdad that has the confidence of all the Iraqi people, able to maintain security, provide opportunity and have a stable unity government. It will not happen.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Vice President Biden today; Senator Biden back in 2007 -- July of 2007. About Iraq and where we are now, let's bring in our panel: Juan Williams, news analyst for National Public Radio; Nina Easton, Washington bureau chief of Fortune magazine, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

Charles, thoughts?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, when I hear vice president saying that he -- giving us assurances absolutely, there is going to be unity government, this is the wrong way to go about it, I think.

First of all, you shouldn't announce it publicly if you are working behind the scenes. It gives the impression that this is a U.S. creation, the coalition that he says will emerge and it undermines the legitimacy and independence of such a government.

Secondly, we are not exerting that influence behind the scenes. We have a very weak ambassador. We have a president who has shown no interest whatsoever in Iraq. He talks only about ending the war and leaving, not about success.

And, we have an administration that is linked and tied to a rigid withdrawal schedule, arbitrarily chosen by Obama a year-and-a-half ago, thinking we would have a stable government now. But in the absence of it, we have a drawdown, which weakens whatever influence America has in the first place.

So for all of those reasons we've had little influence. The Iranians have had influence on the shaping of the government, the Saudis have and the Syrians and the Turks, each riding its own horse, each creating a stalemate. We have not.

What essentially has happened with the Biden speech is we are talking loudly and carrying no stick at all. Let's be quiet about this and try to exert influence. But again, having withdrawn our troops down to a level where they are going to be in garrison and nowhere else, I'm not sure how strong that influence could be. We should have at least held out until there was a government formed.

BAIER: Nina, combat troops out by the end of August next week and down to 50,000, then all U.S. troops out by the end of 2011. General Ray Odierno this weekend said in order for that to change something strategic would have to -- the strategic dynamic would have to change. In other words, security forces would have to have big political divisions within them that cause them to fracture. He doesn't see that happening, but said if it did, they would be back n a heartbeat.

That's, perhaps, why some of the eyebrow raising happened today with these statements by the vice president.

NINA EASTON, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, FORTUNE MAGAZINE: The vice president and the president want to make the case that Iraq is ready to take charge with or without this unity government. And it's -- when you look into the next year, 50,000 troops will be there, will probably be drawn into some combat operations even though they are not formally a combat force.

What's going to happen beyond that? It's not clear that Iraq is going to be able to protect its borders. Syria and Iran are champing at the bit to get in. Violence has dropped 90 percent since 2006, but there is still violence there. And you have to raise the question, which this administration doesn't want to address, of whether we shouldn't be leaving in 10,000 or 20,000 troops for the long-term, like a Bosnia or Kosovo. You have to look at potential sectarian violence reigniting and you have to look at the ability of Iraq to actually defend itself and to defend our interests that we fought hard for all those years in Iraq and we lost lives for.

BAIER: Juan, we have talked about it many times here on the panel, the difference between Senator Biden and Senator Obama speaking about the surge and now president and vice president. What about the soundbite we played at the beginning getting in, the stark difference of whether a unity government could be formed?

continued...

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Connect with Special Report MyspaceFacebookTwitterEmailAudio PodcastPanel Podcast All-Star Panelists -- Tuesday, August 24 Charles Krauthammer

Krauthammer writes a syndicated column for The Washington Post. He is also a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and The New Republic, and a weekly panelist on Inside Washington.

Juan Williams

Juan Williams joined FOX News in 1997 as a political contributor. He is a regular panelist on FOX Broadcasting's Sunday morning public affairs program, "FOX News Sunday."

Read his bio

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is the at-large editor at the National Review. He also serves as a columnist for the LA Times and is a visiting fellow for the American Enterprise Institute.

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This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Bret Baier" from August 23, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I am absolutely confident that Iraq will form a national unity government that will be able to sustain that country.

Politics and not war has broken out in Iraq.

THEN-SENATOR JOE BIDEN: Not in the lifetime including these talented young pages will there be a unity government in Baghdad that has the confidence of all the Iraqi people, able to maintain security, provide opportunity and have a stable unity government. It will not happen.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Vice President Biden today; Senator Biden back in 2007 -- July of 2007. About Iraq and where we are now, let's bring in our panel: Juan Williams, news analyst for National Public Radio; Nina Easton, Washington bureau chief of Fortune magazine, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

Charles, thoughts?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, when I hear vice president saying that he -- giving us assurances absolutely, there is going to be unity government, this is the wrong way to go about it, I think.

First of all, you shouldn't announce it publicly if you are working behind the scenes. It gives the impression that this is a U.S. creation, the coalition that he says will emerge and it undermines the legitimacy and independence of such a government.

Secondly, we are not exerting that influence behind the scenes. We have a very weak ambassador. We have a president who has shown no interest whatsoever in Iraq. He talks only about ending the war and leaving, not about success.

And, we have an administration that is linked and tied to a rigid withdrawal schedule, arbitrarily chosen by Obama a year-and-a-half ago, thinking we would have a stable government now. But in the absence of it, we have a drawdown, which weakens whatever influence America has in the first place.

So for all of those reasons we've had little influence. The Iranians have had influence on the shaping of the government, the Saudis have and the Syrians and the Turks, each riding its own horse, each creating a stalemate. We have not.

What essentially has happened with the Biden speech is we are talking loudly and carrying no stick at all. Let's be quiet about this and try to exert influence. But again, having withdrawn our troops down to a level where they are going to be in garrison and nowhere else, I'm not sure how strong that influence could be. We should have at least held out until there was a government formed.

BAIER: Nina, combat troops out by the end of August next week and down to 50,000, then all U.S. troops out by the end of 2011. General Ray Odierno this weekend said in order for that to change something strategic would have to -- the strategic dynamic would have to change. In other words, security forces would have to have big political divisions within them that cause them to fracture. He doesn't see that happening, but said if it did, they would be back n a heartbeat.

That's, perhaps, why some of the eyebrow raising happened today with these statements by the vice president.

NINA EASTON, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, FORTUNE MAGAZINE: The vice president and the president want to make the case that Iraq is ready to take charge with or without this unity government. And it's -- when you look into the next year, 50,000 troops will be there, will probably be drawn into some combat operations even though they are not formally a combat force.

What's going to happen beyond that? It's not clear that Iraq is going to be able to protect its borders. Syria and Iran are champing at the bit to get in. Violence has dropped 90 percent since 2006, but there is still violence there. And you have to raise the question, which this administration doesn't want to address, of whether we shouldn't be leaving in 10,000 or 20,000 troops for the long-term, like a Bosnia or Kosovo. You have to look at potential sectarian violence reigniting and you have to look at the ability of Iraq to actually defend itself and to defend our interests that we fought hard for all those years in Iraq and we lost lives for.

BAIER: Juan, we have talked about it many times here on the panel, the difference between Senator Biden and Senator Obama speaking about the surge and now president and vice president. What about the soundbite we played at the beginning getting in, the stark difference of whether a unity government could be formed?

continued...

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Choose a category

The Grapevine The GrapevineBrit Hume's CommentaryAll-Star Panelist Interviews

Latest Transcript

August 23, 2010

Please click on a date for previous transcripts:

Loading Datepicker Tuesday on Special Report

It's Primary Day in Alaska, Arizona, Florida and Vermont.  We'll have updates on the hottest races.

Exclusive Interview With President Obama

• Part 1: Obama on health care

• Part 2: Obama on foreign policy

• Read the transcript

Special Report Poll (survey software) Special Report Online

Every Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. ET After the Show

Join our live-streaming webcast and chat, for the reactions you didn’t hear from the panel, and a chance for you to weigh in with your thoughts and questions LIVE.

Connect with Special Report MyspaceFacebookTwitterEmailAudio PodcastPanel Podcast All-Star Panelists -- Tuesday, August 24 Charles Krauthammer

Krauthammer writes a syndicated column for The Washington Post. He is also a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and The New Republic, and a weekly panelist on Inside Washington.

Juan Williams

Juan Williams joined FOX News in 1997 as a political contributor. He is a regular panelist on FOX Broadcasting's Sunday morning public affairs program, "FOX News Sunday."

Read his bio

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is the at-large editor at the National Review. He also serves as a columnist for the LA Times and is a visiting fellow for the American Enterprise Institute.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I am absolutely confident that Iraq will form a national unity government that will be able to sustain that country.

Politics and not war has broken out in Iraq.

THEN-SENATOR JOE BIDEN: Not in the lifetime including these talented young pages will there be a unity government in Baghdad that has the confidence of all the Iraqi people, able to maintain security, provide opportunity and have a stable unity government. It will not happen.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Vice President Biden today; Senator Biden back in 2007 -- July of 2007. About Iraq and where we are now, let's bring in our panel: Juan Williams, news analyst for National Public Radio; Nina Easton, Washington bureau chief of Fortune magazine, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

Charles, thoughts?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, when I hear vice president saying that he -- giving us assurances absolutely, there is going to be unity government, this is the wrong way to go about it, I think.

First of all, you shouldn't announce it publicly if you are working behind the scenes. It gives the impression that this is a U.S. creation, the coalition that he says will emerge and it undermines the legitimacy and independence of such a government.

Secondly, we are not exerting that influence behind the scenes. We have a very weak ambassador. We have a president who has shown no interest whatsoever in Iraq. He talks only about ending the war and leaving, not about success.

And, we have an administration that is linked and tied to a rigid withdrawal schedule, arbitrarily chosen by Obama a year-and-a-half ago, thinking we would have a stable government now. But in the absence of it, we have a drawdown, which weakens whatever influence America has in the first place.

So for all of those reasons we've had little influence. The Iranians have had influence on the shaping of the government, the Saudis have and the Syrians and the Turks, each riding its own horse, each creating a stalemate. We have not.

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