Transcript: Sec. Gates and Sen. McCain

And I think if you look at the way this is going, they -- General Jones today said very publicly, "We are going to go and develop the strategy." Then we're going back to McChrystal and saying, "Do you still need those resources if we come up with a new strategy?" So that preempts the numbers.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to get to Iran, but just very quickly, because I'm struck listening to all of you, does anybody here think the president has actually made up his mind yet?

WILL: No.

FRIEDMAN: No. You know, it's -- someone said to me last week, George, you know, problems have solutions, dilemmas have horns. He's on the horns of the dilemma.

WOODWARD: No, and even if he has an inclination and strong feelings about this, because he's lived it in the few months he's been president, he's going to listen. And this is what makes him unique.

Now, just on this idea of a middle course, there's always a middle course. If you go back to World War II, the initial plan for victory in World War II that the Army submitted to the political leadership said, "We need 200 divisions." You know how many they got? Eighty-nine.

RADDATZ: I don't think he's made up his mind, either. And I think he'll listen. But I -- what I'm hearing is it will be sooner, rather than later. And you know what?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, Secretary Gates said just a few weeks.

RADDATZ: You might want to back-time from the midterms next year. You might want to figure out your plan in how to get troops in there, if that's what you're going to do, and have things hopefully improve by -- by midterms.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I think we'll see this decision well before Thanksgiving.

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: I think that's right. Let's talk about Iran for a second. George Will, the big revelation -- I guess it shouldn't have been too much of a surprise, but the president calling Iran out on -- on Friday. And you saw Secretary Gates there, and you heard something similar, I think, from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu this week, a real sense, more than in the past, that sanctions now may actually get through and may work.

WILL: Severe sanctions, is what Secretary Gates said here this morning. We didn't learn about the tunnel last week. The tunnel -- the president was briefed on this during the transition. We didn't learn just last week about the activity around the tunnel. We haven't just learned, A, that Iran is building nuclear weapons or trying to or, B, that they lie constantly.

I thought the most striking and depressing aspect of this was that, when the president came out with Prime Minister Gordon Brown and President Sarkozy of France, who wasn't there? The Russians and the Chinese, without whom sanctions mean nothing.

Now, I know that Medvedev, the semi-fake president, the potential president of -- of -- of Russia, says he's open to this. But until we've heard from Putin, nothing matters.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He says they may be inevitable. And, Tom -- Tom, you actually wrote, the secretary seemed to be echoing something you -- you wrote about this week, these divisions in Iran, in the Iranian leadership now may create an opening for sanctions to work.

FRIEDMAN: Well, there's no question that the fracture within the elite there, I would say, has opened a slight, you know, opportunity for really, what George said, severe sanctions to work. And the critical factor -- I really agree with this -- is Russia and China.

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