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Special Report Roundtable - May 28

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN CROCKER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: And I laid out, before the Iranians, a number of our direct, specific concerns about their behavior in Iraq, their support for militias that are fighting both the Iraqi security forces and coalition forces.

GEN DAVID PETRAEUS, MULTI-NATL FORCE-Iraq CMDR: Potentially, it's the start to something. And what we'll have to see is how the Iranians follow through with some of the statements that they made inside that conference.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Well, there's the top two U.S. leaders in Iraq, Ambassador Ryan Crocker and General David Petraeus talking about the meetings today between the U.S. and Iran in Baghdad. Now some analytical observations by Fred Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard; Mort Kondracke, executive editor of Roll Call; and Nina Easton, Washington Bureau chief from Fortune magazine, FOX NEWS contributors, all.

Fred, does anything come out of these meetings?

FRED BARNES, WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, I guess another meeting will come out of this, but I don't see how anything can come out of it when inside the meeting and afterwards the Iraqis say they don't take these charges we just heard from Ryan Crocker seriously...

BAIER: The Iranians.

BARNES: The Iranians, rather. And they -- and so, they're pretending like these things we know are happening, the feeding weapons to the Mahdi army and others that are used to kill Americans, they deny that they're happening and pretend and Crocker said, this is what amazed me, he said there was, "amazing congruence between the two of us, support for a secure, stable Democratic federal Iraq in control of its own security, at peace with its neighbors," well now, the Iranians may say that's their policy, but that's obviously not their policy. Their policy is to destabilize Iraq, to kill Americans, and then create a horrible situation. That's what they've been doing month after month after month no matter what they say in these meetings.

NINA EASTON, FORTUNE: That's fine, Fred, but the fact of the matter is you need to engage Iran. They -- and -- these -- you can't expect a lot to come out of the first conversation. These are the first high-level bilateral talks between these nations in decades and they actually did have -- cooperate to some extent on Afghanistan and the Iranians do have an interest in Iraq not imploding, not becoming a Shia- Sunni conflict that engulfs the entire region. They may be our enemy, but they have an interest in stabilizing Iraq. And you need to bring them into the process; it hasn't worked keeping them out so far.

BARNES: They have a funny way of showing it. Look, if their interest is a stable Iraq why do they keep sending weapons in there? Why do they...

MORT KONDRACKE, ROLL CALL: They...

BARNES: Stop, Mort. Wait a minute.

(CROSSTALK)

BARNES: Why would they arm one of the most destabilizing forces in Iraq and that's Mahdi army? Why would they offer sanctuary Sunnis?

KONDRACKE: Just a second. It's very simple. They want a stable Iraq that they dominate. And they are -- they have every reason to think that they will dominate someday. Why? Here we are, the surge is not even completed yet, it's two to three weeks before the surge and even the White House is talking about retreating back to the Iraq Study Group proposal where we're -- all we do is we train Iraqi troops, we get out of Baghdad and all that stuff that was recommended before which was exactly what we were doing before we started the surge.

So, the Iranians have been signaled by everybody in Washington, America is leaving. And so, sure, let's have some discussions about things and what the Iranians have proposed in this meeting with Crocker is that they start arming the Iraqi army.

Well, guess what part of the Iraqi army they are going to arm? The same outfit that they've been arming, namely, the insurgents, and especially Sadr. Sadr is back in town. You know? They are building up toward a victory, an Iranian victory and we're letting it happen

BAIER: The Iranians -- they said they didn't talk about the nuclear issue, they didn't talk about the U.S. in the Persian Gulf, they didn't talk about any of that, yet they went into those meetings probably with the upper hand. Didn't they -- Nina.

EASTON: You can't talk about that other basket of issues because Iraq is the linchpin. Until you stabilize Iraq we don't have credibility there and we don't have the strength there to deal with Iran on the nuclear issue. You've to -- and you've got...

KONDRACKE: We are not headed in the direction of stabilizing Iraq.

BARNES: Wait a minute. Mort's right about what they ultimately...

(CROSSTALK)

EASTON: What do you do? Keep Iraq and Iranians and Syria...

KONDRACKE: I don't mind talking to the Iranians. The Iraqis...

EASTON: You talk to them and find out what you can use out of a negotiation with them.

KONDRACKE: Iraqis want to us talk to the Iranians. So, to please the Iraqis we're talking to the Iranians. We are not going to get anywhere talking to the Iranians. They think they have the upper hand and we're pulling out and why should they not -- why should they give us a thing?

BAIER: Mort's going to have the last word there.

BARNES: Well no, wait a minute. I was going to talk about the ultimate goal of the Iranians.

(CROSSTALK)

BAIER: I'm not Brit, but I'm putting down the wall right here. That's it.

BARNES: It's all yours.

How does Brit deal with all these folks?

(LAUGHTER)

Up next, John Edwards uses the Memorial Day weekend to step up his opposition to the Iraq war. FOX all-stars will assess that, a little more cordially, after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It basically tell a story that's untold. These bricks stand for the freedom that we have today as Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This Memorial Day weekend, don't stand quietly, don't just go to picnics, don't just gather with your friends. Engage in an act of patriotism. Show how much you love this country, and speak in support of these troops and bring an end to this war.

SEN BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This isn't a day for overt politics.

We know even in our foreign policy, as bleak as it is, people recognize that the day this president steps down from office, the entire world will breathe a sigh of relief.

(CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Well, there you get a sense of politicking. You heard Senator John Edwards on his website that his campaign supports, talking about Memorial Day, then Senator Barack Obama saying don't politic on Memorial Day and an hour later basically doing that.

Fred, let's talk about this. What is the job for these Democrats to walk the line? And how tough is it to be anti-war, yet on a day like this, honor the troops?

BARNES: Well they -- they just went against the war. They didn't honor the troops. I mean, John Edwards' exploited a holiday for honoring the troops and then he said, you do this in support of the troops. Well, who are the troops in this case he's talking about? He's talking about the troops in Iraq. He doesn't support those troops. Those are the troops that have an incredible reenlistment rate. These are the troops that have come back for a second, and third, and fourth tour in Iraq. Those are the troops who support their mission. For John Edwards to say he supports the troops is, I think, breathtakingly cynical. And, look, I'm not sure whether -- you know, to exploit a holiday like this, whether it's merely tacky or deeply offensive, but it's one or the other or somewhere in between.

BAIER: Nina.

KONDRACKE: I think the Democrats have completely convinced themselves that they are supporting the troops by wanting to bring the troops home safe and sound in the United States of America with their mommy's and daddy's and wives and sisters and, you know, where they will not be in harm's way and that this is the way to be patriotic and support the troops. I don't think they are being cynical or they're consciously cynical at all.

What really bothers me is this vote on the part of Obama and Hillary Clinton against the funding of the war. Now, this is a war ongoing. This is a war that has to be paid for. This is a war we are not pulling out tomorrow, the troops have to be -- the way to support the troops is to at least maintain their activity. And for these people who want to be president of the United States to vote against the funding of the troops, I think is a disgrace.

BAIER: Nina, we should point that Senator Edwards, his website, that was a statement that was out, but he did not campaign today. He chose to lay low.

EASTON: Well, it's been very interesting because nobody wants to repeat the national shame from the Vietnam era where opposition to the war was wrapped up with condemnation of Vietnam veterans. No one wants to do that. The Democrats have been incredibly careful about trying to say I you oppose, but I support the vets.

John Edwards, classic example, he came out with this sacred contract with veterans on Friday where he supports medical funding and support services when they come home, but it's dangerous. I mean, these guys are right, it becomes dangerous if they running up against the line, and you mentioned his website, John Edwards' website, on his blog today, I went to it, and there was -- there were some people supporting him, but then there was there this Vietnam veteran who said, "You've dishonored this day for your political gain. You will never receive my support. I put you in the same category as Jane Fonda." So I do think that this kind of thing will come back to haunt him in the general election.

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