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Special Report Roundtable - July 18

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Everybody abhors the loss of innocent life, on the other hand, what we recognize is that the root cause of the problem is Hezbollah and that problem must be addressed.


HUME: And Israel is seeking to address it now with military action or some might say military reaction. Some thoughts on all this now from Fred Barnes, executive editor of the "Weekly Standard"; Mort Kondracke, executive editor of "Roll Call"; and Mara Liasson, national political correspondent of National Public Radio. FOX News contributors all three.

So, the president is perhaps notable for what he said, which is that Hezbollah, and perhaps Iran and Syria are to blame, and what he did say, no call for a cease-fire -- Mara.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: No, and Nicholas Burns was interviewed on NPR today and pressed about this matter: how long will the United States basically give Israel the green light to do what it's doing before it thinks a cease-fire is necessary. The Israeli army seems to thinks it needs several more weeks to finish the job to undermine Hezbollah to the point where it isn't a threat anymore, but there are the calls for a cease-fire and some kind of diplomatic solutions are growing, and -- but the White House and administration are not pushing for that just yet.

HUME: Burns said much the same thing of FOX today, as well.

MORT KONDRACKE, "ROLL CALL": Well, if there's a diplomatic solution, it's not going to be a cease-fire period. It's going to have to be a cease-fire in the context of the implementation of U.N. Resolution 1559.

HUME: Which is?

KONDRACKE: .which calls for Hezbollah to be disarmed and.

HUME: And for the Lebanese army to over that -- to patrol that area.

KONDRACKE: Right. Exactly. So, if those two things go together, then the good guys win, presumably and the Israelis can stop, but the Israelis are not in a mood to stop until then and we're not in a mood to make them stop.

HUME: It certainly didn't look, Fred, from Jennifer Griffin's report tonight, from up on the border, as if, from what she could tell, this is an area the Lebanese army isn't capable of policing and of course you've got this little U.N. garrison up there that sits there like a lonely outpost with nobody, apparently, ever emerging from it, I guess, except for a coke (ph).

FRED BARNES, "WEEKLY STANDARD": Yeah, but there is a lesson when you look at that pathetic U.N. contingent there, bringing in some international force is not the answer.

HUME: Unless it's beefed up a lot.

BARNES: Well no, even if it's beefed up a lot, you know, you'll have those troops from Fiji again, and maybe some from Sweden and who know what else, but there's one thing we know they won't do, and that's fight. So, it's useless to even think about having them in. There is no diplomatic solution here, at least the time being. There's only a military solution.

And if you want to implement, actually, a U.N. Resolution 1559 that Mort was talking about, that would disarm and get out -- and drive away Hezbollah, that can only be achieved militarily. They're not going to agree because of some diplomatic solution to hand over their arms and all of a sudden be nice guys and move to Syria or something. They have to be taken out militarily and it is a different kind of president that Bush is being now from all other presidents I remember going back to Richard Nixon in allowing the Israelis to do that. Republican, democratic presidents have always joined in the cease-fire call and, you know, and a pox on both your houses and so on. Bush is doing none of that.

KONDRACKE: Well, what's also remarkable is that at the G-8, basically, there may have been call for a cease-fire in principle, but the idea of the root cause being Hezbollah was endorsed by practically everybody. I mean, I'm surprised at how little pressure there has been so far on the Israelis from the international community.

HUME: And not just from the G-8 participants, Mara, but also remarkable reaction in the Arab world.

LIASSON: Right, from the Arab world. They have not -- they don't like Hezbollah, I think that in private they'd be perfectly happy for the Israelis to finish them off. The other thing the president talked about today was Syria, and he mentioned that maybe Syria wants to get back into Lebanon he said in his -- what was meant to be an off the record comment that was captured by the open microphone, that somebody should call Syria and tell them to stop.

HUME: Kofi Annan needs to.

LIASSON: Kofi Annan should call Syria and tell them to stop -- stop this stuff.

HUME: Stop this stuff, but he didn't say "stuff."

LIASSON: Yeah right. And the big question is who has leverage with Syria and how is that going to happen if President Bush thinks that's that's the key, how do you make that happen?

HUME: Should Israel contemplate some kind of a strike on, say, Hezbollah headquarters in Syria and if so, what would the consequences likely be?

KONDRACKE: You know, presumably, it would be allegedly widening the war, but if it was a fairly surgical strike, they might get away with it without the Syrians being able to do anything about it.

LIASSON: I think Israel's made it pretty clear that's not going to happen.

BARNES: Well, the Iranians have threatened that horrible things will happen to Israel if they do that. I don't think so. If Iran got into is the war and started firing missile, it would be an invitation to Israel, the United States, somebody, to take out their nuclear facilities. It would be inviting that, and I think they know that. Iran's not going to get involved militarily. So, I think the Israelis have a free hand to do that, bomb the Hamas headquarters as well, which is in Damascus. Look the Syrians, do you think the Syrians would put up their air force and try to fight? No, they're not going to do that because they know the Israelis would take them out.

LIASSON: But the Hezbollah headquarters in Syria is not the biggest problem for the Israelis, it's 13,000 missiles in southern Lebanon.

BARNES: I know, but it is -- it would be certainly be effectively chastening the Syrians and they need that

KONDRACKE: You know, one -- the president noted that the G-8 Summit was supposed to be about Iran and North Korea and actually we got a pretty good U.N. resolution about North Korea, at least one, but Iran -- I think Iran has sort of gotten off the hook here. If the administration really pounded on the irresponsibility of Iran, because after all, it's Iranian revolutionary guards who are based in Lebanon and are helping Hezbollah fire rockets and stuff like that, I think that it could help turn the tide of European opinion against Iran on the nuclear front.

LIASSON: So maybe you could make the argument that focusing on Syria is kind of the easy way out and he's ducking the more appropriate confrontation.

HUME: When we come back with "The Panel," the Senate approves a bill on stem cell research the president is destined to veto. Stay tuned for that discussion, next.



SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: There is now an avalanche of evidence that the use of embryonic stem cells in scientific research has boundless potential.

SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R), KANSAS: Much of the science has passed by the embryonic stem cell, the need for embryonic stem cells because the science has gone to the adult and cord blood and that's where the treatments are and all...


HUME: Well, there you go, strikingly different views on the state of the research. But of course it is not quite the state of the research that is the reason why President Bush has said firmly that he plans to veto this legislation. He has always been against federal support -- further federal support for embryonic stem cell research, supporting, instead other kinds of stem cell research of the kind that Senator Brownback was discussing. First of all, who's right in that debate over where the science is?

KONDRACKE: Well, I -- I'm -- I've been a Parkinson's disease advocate -- activist for a long time and all the information that I've ever read about this indicates that while there is a lot of promise in adult stem cells and in fact, there have been some therapies that have been successful, especially in using cord blood stem cells for leukemia and that kind of thing, and while the fruits of embryonic stem cell research is decades away, probably, the potential for these embryonic stem cells is much greater than adult stem cells simply because the inner.

HUME: How do they know that?

KONDRACKE: Well, this is science. I mean this is what the scientists are saying about the...

HUME: They don't know it yet, they suspect it.

KONDRACKE: Because, you know, this is theory, but it's a theory that they're pretty sure about, that the embryonic stem cells are capable of being any kind of tissue in the human body, and which adult stem cells cannot be under present science.

BARNES: Mort said -- there's where you're wrong and it's very easy to find out the evidence that shows you you're wrong, you can do it in about 15 minutes on the internet.

KONDRACKE: Well, I have.

BARNES: And, well, you didn't look in the right places because now they have found, and not just some cheesy studies, but the University of Texas Medical Center, and the University of (inaudible) in England and places like that, working together have found that it turns out that adult stem cells to the surprise of scientists are transformative. They can transform themselves into other issues, not just the one they originally were. So, it turns out the upside of adult stem cells is much greater than they thought. It's obviously true as well on embryonic stem cells, but because there's a moral question about using embryonic stem cells, it seem -- it would make sense to me to move ahead now on adult stem cells and if that's.

LIASSON: Well, then..


LIASSON: There's been nothing stopping anybody from working on adult stem cells. nothing. Nothing.

BARNES: So why do we need to pass the bill. Why?

LIASSON: Look, the thing that's interesting to me, politically on this, is how isolated President Bush is, the House passed this bill, the Senate passed it, not by a veto proof margin, so it's not going to become law, 70 percent of the public in some polls support this. This is an issue that is of extreme importance to one of -- the most important group on the republican base, the conservative Christian voters and he's isolated on this, which I think is extraordinary.

HUME: Isolated from who?

LIASSON: Isolated from the Senate, the House, and public opinion on this.

BARNES: It's not just conservative Christian voters it's the whole right to life movement...

LIASSON: Well, they've been polled. This is.


HUME: Mara made a point -- Mara ,seems to me made a couple of points here. One was, first of all, there is embryonic stem cell research going on some...


LIASSON: There is, but there's also adult -- there's no bars to adult stem cell.

HUME: Also a lot of privately funded research being done on embryonic stem cell, so that embryonic stem cell research in one form or another is still -- is going forward. And there's no ban on it. This is the.

LIASSON: Only if you get federal money.


BARNES: Alleged in 2000.

HUME: Which raises the question -- and if what Fred said, and do you agree that at least part of Fred said is right about the promise of other form of stem cell research, how in the world did the president get into a situation where he's politically isolated on the issue? No, I realize the important parts of his base support him, but the public opinion is against him. How did that happen?

BARNES: Well, I think this is it, as we learned in the 2004 presidential election, public opinion on this issue is either uninformed or extremely shallow.

LIASSON: Including.

BARNES: Wait a minute, let me finish. Let me finish. The John Kerry campaign thought that being for stem cell research and attacking the president on it would be a silver bullet in that campaign. It wasn't at all. Voters didn't vote on that. I don't think that this is one of those issues where polls do not really tell you the story, because most people don't know anything about adult or embryonic stem cells and so the polls really are not good.

KONDRACKE: The president gets high marks with his base for being consistent and expressing his morality.

HUME: Well, there is a moral issue here.

KONDRACKE: There is a moral issue, but look there are 400,000 leftover embryos at in vitro clinics, there are very few of those that are ever going to be adopted and turned into children. They're going to be thrown away, and the question is whether it is more moral to use them for research that could save lives.

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