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Special Report Roundtable - August 29

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume


HASSAN NASRALLAH, HEZBOLLAH LEADER (through translator): I want to be clear in my response and I hope that people are listening to me now. We did not think even one percent that the capture of two Israelis would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude.


HUME: And so, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah seemed to say it was a mistake, this from someone who has been widely thought in the American media and some political quarters as well, to have been victorious in the conflict with Israel.

Some thoughts on this now from Fred Barnes, executive editor of the "Weekly Standard"; Mort Kondracke, executive editor of "Roll Call"; and the syndicated columnist, Charles Krauthammer, FOX NEWS contributors all.

Well, gentlemen, what about this statement from Nasrallah? He has suggested something like this in the past. Now he is saying it with some emphasis.

MORT KONDRACKE, "ROLL CALL": Well, it looks like it was not an unvarnished victory for Hezbollah. They lost 500 fighters, they lost a lot of medium range missiles as the Israelis said they destroyed, and there appears to be more political blowback within Lebanon than we -- then any of the western press has reported. The -- Nasrallah wanted to have these victory marches all over the place and had to cancel a lot of them because In any event, they lacerate themselves and stuff like that in prayers, in some cases, and victory laps and stuff like that is not -- is not in keeping with them, so there is -- you know, this is not, as I say, unvarnished.

FRED BARNES, "WEEKLY STANDARD": You mean there was not devine victory?

KONDRACKE: That's what he says.

BARNES: Devine victory. Well look, I think there are two different things here. In Lebanon, people can see what the war has cost. Hezbollah, 500 men were killed, a lot of civilians were killed, there was a lot of destruction from Israeli air power, all because of Nasrallah, and they can see that there. They can see that the country got screwed as a result of the action of his. I don't think people see that -- I'd be very surprised if they see it outside of Lebanon, however, where you're stuck with al- Jazeera, these other TV stations that spent all their time showing bodies, many of them are bodies of human shields put out by Hezbollah and attacking Israel as a result. So, Nezbollah -- I'm sorry, Nasrallah may be a weakened and shrunken figure in Lebanon, but I really doubt he is around the rest of the Middle East. Of course, politically, he has been to be an actor in Lebanon.

HUME: You know, problem is he's in Lebanon is where he operates.

BANES: True.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: But even in the rest of the Middle East, I'm not sure he's the hero he was two weeks ago. He scored a propaganda victory, a big one, initially. And it's true the Israelis had a chance to deliver a huge strategic blow and they didn't. But when everybody looks around, even outside of Lebanon, and says what did he achieve? He killed fewer Israelis in a month than died in a good suicide attack, a single suicide attack in the Intifada. He achieved nothing in Lebanon except destruction. His infrastructure was hugely degraded by the Israelis. Everybody understands that the Israelis had weak leadership, but they had the capacity, if there ever is a second round, Israel's going to deliver a blow that they won't ever forget.

And especially inside Lebanon, I think, the tide has changed. Look, there was a cycle here, initially, even the Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan attacked Hezbollah for having started the war. Then there was the Cana (ph) massacre hugely inflated by the world media and dramatized, as a result the Arab streak turned up for a couple of days, as a result the Arabs flinched and now that all of that has settled and when you look at the ground, you see the destruction that Hezbollah brought upon itself and Lebanon. You even have newspapers in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, again attacking Hezbollah. The cycle has shifted again and I think everybody understands that Hezbollah won in the propaganda war, but it lost on the ground. Its position in south Lebanon and in Lebanon itself, is much more retinues than it was at the beginning of the war.

KONDRACKE: You know, it would be interesting to see whether the Western press catches up with this. I mean, it was the West -- on the cover of the "Economist" of London, for example, it was "Nasrallah the Victor." And all over the Western press -- and I must say I had to believe it, too, because that's what I was reading all the time that Nasrallah came out the victor. Whether -- now we will have a reconsideration on the front pages of the paper and not on some editorial pages.

BARNES: I hope the -- what Charles is talking about, the criticism of Hezbollah in the Middle Eastern press, reaches television, reaches Al Jazeera and it may well, and it may have already. In Al Arabia and other station, you know, having flown over Iraq once in a helicopter, you see even there, I mean this was just after the war, they have people all over the Middle East, have dishes and watch TV, so I hope they're hearing the same thing, but I'm dubious.

KRAUTHAMMER: Al Jazeera will remain a spokesman for Hezbollah, but these papers are reflections of the governments and it means that the governments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and others have recovered their nerve after a day of fear because of the mob and understand that their interests lies in weakening Hezbollah and also Syria. Assad is much more isolated.

He made a mistake. He called the other Arab leaders "half men" and in that culture you don't do that. And the other Arabs have now been quit harsh with Syria, isolating against. And we actually have a real opportunity here to see a real shift again in Lebanon to the forces of democracy if we continue to press.

KONDRACKE: I checked An-Nahar on its website today and the prime minister of Lebanon is actually touting the fact that he seized weapons from Hezbollah. If that -- you know, that's a sign that the Lebanese are standing up to Hezbollah, too. That's a good sign.

HUME: When we come back with our panel, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld lays into critics on the war on terrorism and the news media, or its coverage thereof, that next.



DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: It's a time when Amnesty International refers to the military facility at Guantanamo Bay which holds terrorists who have vowed to kill Americans and which is arguably the best run and most scrutinized detention facility in the history of warfare, the gulag of our times. It's inexcusable.

Those who know the truth need to speak out against these kinds of myths and distortions that are being told about our troops and about our country. America is not what's wrong with the world.


HUME: And the secretary did not fail to criticize elements of the American news media for its coverage of the results of the war on terror. We're back with our panel now to discuss this.

This relates, in some respects I suppose, to the previous segment which we were talking about the idea that took hold in the U.S. media about the great victory that Hezbollah had in its war with Israel. But what about this? He's talking about the -- he's likening this period in history to the `30s when he says too many nations and too many people in those nations failed to recognize the nature of the threat, the threat from terrorism and the threat from places like Iran.

BARNES: There is no question about that. A good example of this is following the broken plot -- broken up plot of the young Pakistanis in England who were going to blow up the planes, allegedly, the America planes, flying to the U.S. The "Washington Post" runs a story that says "Britain has become a place for violent Islamic extremism. Its unemployment, its lack of educational achievement, its discrimination, and its highly class-oriented society, neglecting or rejecting entirely what is happening here where you have this evil ideology that is a part of -- an offshoot of Islam that has spread over the world. It's like Nazi youth coming out in the 1930s, I think that is a better analogy. Was it the fault of England and France because of the World War II -- the Versailles meeting after World War I, that it caused this? No. I mean sometimes there's an evil ideology that can sweep people up and that's what happened -- is happening with a lot of these young Muslims. It wasn't England's fault.

KONDRACKE: Look, look, look, look he -- look, there are people, there's no question there are people who want to blame America first and there are people who want to sow disunity and stuff like that and that the media is always looking for bad news. But I don't think that pointing that out or even likening this to the 1930s is going to help with the major problem, and that is the lack of satisfaction in the public with what's going on in Iraq. That's his basic problem. And he's got to produce success in Iraq and there was a symposium, the AIE, the American Enterprise Institute ran, with a bunch of conservatives, David Frum a former White House speech writher did with a bunch of conservatives. "The United States has not yet lost in Iraq, but is on the verge of losing at home. What's most urgently needed is a strategy to restore government atrocity in Baghdad." Newt Gingrich, today, "Iraq is certainly not where," in early 2003.

HUME: So, Rumsfeld is right, but that's not the problem, is that your argument?

KONDRACKE: That's right.

HUME: OK, Charles.

KRAUTHAMMER: Rumsfeld is right, because there is, No. 1, a lot of anti-Americanism, anti-Zionism, anti-Semitism behind a lot of this. Secondly, there's ignorance, as we spoke about in Lebanon, history of the conflict and who the players are.

But a third element here is some people really think that this is not 1938, but 1914 where the great powers stumbled into war, overestimating intentions of enemies and ended up in a catastrophe. And they look at the world and say it's not the `30s. How you can say that in the face of an Iran that is speaking in terms of a Nazi Germany domination of hatred, of taking over of other countries, of raising its own ideology above all others, and of acquiring ultimate weapons, I'm not sure I understand. But there are honest people who think that that is all internal politics, bluff, and it's overestimated in the West and that I think that is the fundamental difference. Is it 1914 or 1938?

BARNES: You know, I haven't asked Secretary Rumsfeld, with all due respect to Mort, I don't think he was referring to that AEI symposium.

KONDRACKE: No, no, what I'm saying, look.

BARNES: What he was talking about.

KONDRACKE: If you want.

BARNES: That's not what he was talking about, Mort.

KONDRACKE: If you want to establish.

BARNES: He was talking about the absence of heroes. He was talking about the entire coverage. He was talking about the hyping of Abu Ghraib. He was talking about the rush to judgment in the media about Haditha and all these things, Mort. It wasn't the AEI symposium.

KONDRACKE: What he needs to develop unity is success on the ground

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