ABC'S "THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS"
APRIL 5, 2009
SPEAKERS: GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST
U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N. SUSAN RICE
[*] STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning and welcome to "This Week.
Breaking news overnight. A missile test from North Korea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: North Korea must know that the path to security and respect will never come through threats and illegal weapons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: How will the president and the world confront this nuclear challenge? The top question today for our exclusive
headliner, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice in her first Sunday interview.
Plus, Obama's diplomatic debut.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: It is a great honor for me to be here in Europe.
I've come to Europe this week to renew our partnership.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: That, plus all the week's politics and a special expanded roundtable, with George Will, ABC's chief diplomatic correspondent Martha Raddatz, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Haass, plus prominent new media voices from both the left and right -- Arianna Huffington and David Frum.
And as always, the Sunday Funnies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(UNKNOWN): The Germans tried to make him feel at home. They offered to let him fire the CEO of Volkswagen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Hello, again.
We begin today with the news that North Korea has tested a long range ballistic missile. The country's state media claimed the missile put a satellite into orbit. But the U.S. Northern Command says the satellite dropped into the Pacific. U.S. officials believe the missile was really being tested to see if it could carry a nuclear warhead over Japan potentially as far as Alaska.
Speaking out against the threat of nuclear weapons in Prague
today, President Obama slammed North Korea for violating U.N. resolutions. And he promised to act.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Rules must be binding, violations must be punished. Words must mean something. The world must stand together to prevent the spread of these weapons. Now is the time for a strong international response.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: And joining us now for an exclusive interview, the official who will represent President Obama and the United States at an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council this afternoon, America's U.N. ambassador, Susan Rice.
Welcome to THIS WEEK.
RICE: Thanks, George. Good to be with you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So what will this international response be?
RICE: Well, George, we have been in close consultation with our allies in Asia, in particular, Japan and South Korea about the appropriate response. We have consulted over the last several days, including this morning as well with the Russians and the Chinese.
So the U.N. Security Council will meet this afternoon in emergency session. I'll be going up there straightaway. And we will be discussing the appropriate response. The United States believes that this action is best dealt with -- the most appropriate response would a United Nations Security Council resolution.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Japan wants sanctions, will the U.S. co-sponsor a sanctions resolution?
RICE: The U.S. is working very closely with Japan and we will be in consultation with our partners inside the council, trying to get the most appropriate and strong response we can possibly get.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But this is already a violation of U.N. resolutions -- two U.N. resolutions...
RICE: Yes, it is.
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... just to have this test. So what good does it do for the United Nations to come back and say, hey, we really mean it this time?
RICE: Now, well, the first resolution that is really the operative one was from 2006, when the North Koreans launched a missile and the United Nations Security Council demanded a halt to future missile-related activity and any future missile launches.
We feel very strongly that what occurred today was a violation of that resolution. So we will go back and work, George, to both toughen existing regimes, but to add to that resolution. In fact, that resolution did not...
STEPHANOPOULOS: So there will be new sanctions toughening...
RICE: George, we have 15 members of the Security Council and -- including the permanent five, so we all need to come together around this. But the United States' view is, this is serious, it's a violation, and it merits and appropriately strong United Nations response. We'll be… STEPHANOPOULOS: You mentioned...
RICE: ...working for that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You mentioned the 15 members. One of them, of course, as you mentioned, is China. China has made it pretty clear they don't want any sanctions. And because of that, your predecessor, John Bolton, says that any kind of U.N. resolution is going to be close to meaningless.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: I think the real pressure has to be applied on China, which gives North Korea 80 to 90 percent of its energy and a substantial amount of its food and other humanitarian needs.
China has got the capability to stop this nuclear program, we've just never applied adequate pressure to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is the United States prepared to pressure China?
RICE: We're working very closely with China. China shares the same goal that we do, which is a de-nuclearized Korean Peninsula. China also is very proximate, on the border with North Korea, and shares our desire not to see this situation escalate, and to ensure that we can achieve, George, the long-term goal, which is de- nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula through the six-party talk process.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But because China is right on the border of North Korea, they've been reluctant to really pressure North Korea. They're afraid that if you turn the screws too hard on North Korea, the regime is going to collapse and there's going to be chaos.
And is that why they are not going along with tougher sanctions?
RICE: Well, I think they have multiple concerns. They are looking at the large long-term goal of ensuring that we don't have a nuclearized Korean Peninsula. There have been times when we have differed as to the best means of achieving that.
But we are unified with China and others in the six parties towards the goal, George, of ensuring that we roll back this nuclear program that North Korea is pursuing.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But is there any evidence at all that North Korea is going to respond to any of this? They've been steadily adding to their nuclear program, in fits and starts at times, but basically they've been able, over the last eight years or so, to develop a nuclear capability, to develop nuclear warheads, and they seem determined to keep going on that track. RICE: Well, George, it is fits and starts. I mean, there have been steps that have occurred over the last years that have been progress. For example, they did take steps to dismantle the facility at Yongbyon, which was the principal reactor.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But then they restarted it.
RICE: No. We have seen some serious dismantlement. The problem that we face now is ensuring that there is a verifiable regime to ensure de-nuclearization. And that's where the six-party talks have now stalled.
The challenge, George, is to convey with unity, as the president said today, on behalf of the international community that we will not stand for violations of international law which this launch today represented. That there will be consequences. And that, indeed, we will pursue together with resolve the goal of achieving a Korean Peninsula without nuclear weapons.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you can't say yet what those consequences will be. And there is no guarantee that the U.N. today or over the course of next week is going to impose sanctions on North Korea...
RICE: George, we need to continue to work closely with our allies Japan and South Korea, with partners in the Security Council to achieve united action. And that's what we will do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What bothers the United States more, the chaos if this regime collapsed or the current regime?
RICE: Our concern is to prevent North Korea from pursuing and disseminating nuclear weapons. We view North Korea as a proliferation threat. Its actions today underscore our concern about its development of not only a nuclear weapons capability, but the capability to deliver it. That's what we're most concerned about preventing, and preventing North Korea from sharing that technology with others.
STEPHANOPOULOS: One more question on this, you talk about the capability to deliver a nuclear warhead. The Northern Command said the satellite -- no satellite was sent into orbit. But this test did seem to be more successful than the last North Korean test, the stages the rocket did get over Japan.
Are you now convinced -- is the United States now convinced that the North Koreans have a missile that could reach the United States?
RICE: I think, George, what today's experience showed is that they did not succeed according to our best assessment to putting that space launch vehicle into orbit. That, therefore, was something short of success for North Korea.
Our assessment is that their pursuit of a missile capability is of grave concern and that their aim is to achieve the capability to deliver a weapon as potentially as -- to North America.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do they have it yet?
RICE: I think we have to look at exactly what transpired today and make a new assessment of the consequences.
STEPHANOPOULOS: There are also, as you know, two U.S. journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who have been in North Korean custody for more than two weeks. They were arrested for illegally entering, the North Koreans say, their territory. And they're facing the potential of a trial that could land them 10 years of hard labor.
Two questions, are you confident they are safe and being treated well? And can the United States prevent them from being put into 10 years of hard labor?
RICE: George, we're very concerned about the circumstances of these two journalists. We are communicating directly through the -- a third country that represents our interests in North Korea our concern for these Americans in taking every possible action that we can to ensure their safe and swift release.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And do you have any guarantees?
RICE: Of course we have no guarantees.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And do you believe they're going to put on trial?
RICE: We don't have any reason to be certain that they'll put on trial. We remain hopeful that their release may be possible swiftly and safely.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But they're safe?
RICE: To the best of our knowledge, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me also talk about the issue of proliferation in Iran, which the president also talked about today. He said that Iran poses a real threat and that we will continue to engage -- look for ways to engage with Iran.
This weekend, another one of your predecessors, this week Ambassador Richard Holbrooke had a brief meeting with the Iranians at the international conference in Munich. What is the next step in that engagement?
RICE: Well, the president has been very clear that Iran has a choice. Iran can rejoin the community of nations, it can halt its illicit nuclear program. It has a right to peaceful nuclear processing. But its behavior to date has indicated that it's not pursuing simply a peaceful program.
We have extended, as the president said on a number of occasions an opportunity, an open hand to Iran. And we hope Iran will seize that opportunity to take the steps that would enable it to be a responsible member of the international community.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But the U.N. effort to put sanctions on Iran has not been effective in any way. Is the U.N. process at a dead end?
RICE: No, George, actually I think on the contrary. The sanctions that have been imposed by the United Nations and implemented by the United States and others have had some significant effect on the trade and the banking and the financial sector inside of Iran, and we certainly remain open to consideration of possible future measures.
The aim here, though, is to marshal all of the resources at our disposal, diplomatic, economic, and other to try to make this choice as clear as possible to Iran, to give them a path to end their nuclear -- illicit nuclear weapons program, enter the community of nations, or, if in fact, they ultimately choose not to do that, then to bring to bear the full force of the international community to put pressure on Iran to stop.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Israel has made it very clear, including the new prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, that they believe Iran is fully going after a nuclear capability and that if the United States doesn't act, they will act.
And Admiral Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has said the thought of such a strike concerns him. Does it concern you?
RICE: I think we share Israel's very grave concern about the threat that Iran's illicit nuclear weapons program poses, not only to Israel and the other countries in the region, but indeed to U.S. national security.
I don't think it's productive to speculate about what may transpire. As I said, and the president has said on a number of occasions, our aim is to use all of the elements at our disposal, including direct diplomacy, to offer Iran a path away from an illicit nuclear weapons program.
But obviously if that path is not chosen, we have not ruled out any options.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But are you confident that Israel will not strike without U.S. consent?
RICE: George, as I've said, I will not speculate about what the U.S. or others might do. At this stage our focus is on steering Iran to the extent we possibly can towards a different course.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What kind of contact have you had with your Iranian counterpart at the U.N.?
RICE: I work in an environment where there are 191 other member states. And I actually have encountered on a couple of occasions my Iranian counterpart in the course of my work up at the U.N.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you don't intentionally avoid him in any way, as previous ambassadors haven't either, in fact Ambassador Negroponte had what he considered a useful relationship with his Iranian counterpart.
RICE: No. I -- we've run into each other on a couple of occasions and I've had an opportunity to have some brief exchanges.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But no negotiations yet?
RICE: No negotiations.
STEPHANOPOULOS: On Afghanistan and Pakistan, the president spoke out yesterday against this new law in Afghanistan which -- where Shiite women are subject to Sharia, Muslim law. He said it was abhorrent. And Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, said he's going to review it.
At the same time, human rights activists have been circulating a video, and I just want to show a brief part of it, because it's horrific, of a Pakistani woman being beaten by the Taliban in the northwest part of Pakistan, of Swat, Pakistan that's now controlled by the Taliban.
So far the United States has not responded to requests for comment on this incident, why not?
RICE: George, I think obviously we'd be very, very concerned at any instance of abuse of human rights. And this would appear to be such an instance. The president spoke out very forcefully about the -- our concern about the law that has passed in Afghanistan.
And whether we're talking about Pakistan or Afghanistan or any other country in the world, the United States is very firm in insisting that human rights must be respected universally, and this sort of behavior would be inconsistent with that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But the concern here, is that the part of Pakistan where the government has signed peace agreement, basically the Taliban, and the concern is that this is giving them a safe haven, even though they're receiving billions of dollars of U.S. aid.
RICE: Pakistan is as -- has the most immediate stake in preventing the spread of extremism within its own territory. The actions of al Qaeda and the Taliban and their allies threaten Pakistan on a daily basis, even as they threaten us as well.
So our aim in the new policy that the president has unveiled which got unanimous support from all of our NATO partners was embraced and endorsed earlier this week in The Hague by more than 80 countries, is focused on supporting both Afghanistan and Pakistan in their efforts to root out this sort of extremism.
And the assistance that we will be providing Pakistan, both economic and military, will be tied to Pakistan's ability and willingness to continue to do as it has been doing, which is to try to root out these extremists.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We're just about out of time. Just a quick question, General Gration... RICE: Gration.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Gration, excuse me, President Obama's envoy to Sudan, has been over there this week trying to get aid organizations back into that country. Has he made any progress?
RICE: He is working with -- talking to the aid organizations. He has had -- he has visited Darfur and some of the gravely affected internally displaced camps there. He has also spoken with the authorities in Khartoum.
His aim is to support our efforts and that of the international community to ensure that the people of Darfur have the lifesaving humanitarian assistance that they need. I think it's too soon to assume that we have concrete indications of progress.
But he is pushing very hard. This is something of grave concern to the president, to the secretary of state, and myself and others, and we're working very hard to reverse the decision, the very unfortunate decision to expel these 13 international NGOs, which is leaving people vulnerable.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And if he fails, is the U.S. prepared to impose a no-fly zone?
RICE: The U.S. will look at a full range of options to enable the international community to support those vulnerable citizens, and those that, frankly, were vulnerable before this expulsion.
The president and the vice president, secretary, have expressed grave concern about the ongoing genocide that has preceded this latest action and will be looking at the full range of steps to try to prevent further killing and dying, and to support the north-south peace agreement that is also critically important to implement.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Ambassador Rice, thank you very much.
RICE: Good to be with you, George.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) Now for more on the President's trip, North Korea and all the week's politics, we turn to today's expanded "Roundtable." I am joined as always by George Will, our Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz, also the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Haass, and two of our new media commentators, David Frum of NewMajority.com and Arianna Huffington of "The Huffington Post". And George, let's begin with North Korea. That is the news this morning. Clearly, the North Koreans seemed to know what they were doing with the timing of, of this launch as the President is giving a speech on nonproliferation. And the whole action-reaction cycle here seems to have a ritualistic quality. The, the North Koreans violate UN resolutions, another one is passed.
GEORGE WILL, ABC NEWS
(OC) Yes, it's surreal, beyond ritualistic. There's nothing like a ballistic missile to take your mind off Wall Street bonuses. In 1960, 50 years ago essentially, when Jack Kennedy was running for president, he said in the life of the next presidency, there will be 10, 15 maybe 20 nuclear powers. As president, he said maybe by 1975, there will be 25. So the nonproliferation regime has worked until now. And now, it's breaking down. We have no reason to believe that any of the things we have tried or are going to try are going to have any - make any difference. You asked Ambassador Rice have not the UN sanctions been without effect. She said, no, no, they've had effect on the trade, the financial institutions and other things in Iran. They've had no effect on the behavior which is the point.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) Do you agree with that?
RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT The sanctions have a modest effect in terms of - in the case of in Iran their, their ability to, to function, but in terms of the bottom line in Iran which is their capacity to produce a large amount of low enriched uranium, no, the sanctions have not had any appreciable effect. With North Korean, the bottom line is also it continues. This is station identification by the North Koreans. Every so often, they remind us that they have these things we don't like. And this is the beginning of the next set of negotiations. And what they really want to do is sell the horse yet again and get whatever sort of relief from South Koreans, the United States, Japan that they can. It will really come down to China. And the bottom line is while the Chinese may help us to some extent on putting a, a ceiling on the North Korean threat, they will not do what we really want, which is to pressure them. Because the bottom line is China and South Korea do not want North Korea to collapse.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) Well and that's right. And we, we, we may want them to pressure North Korea, Arianna, but we're - but how much are we willing to put behind that?
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, "THE HUFFINGTON POST" Well, that's also the problem. That even though as George said it's taken our mind off bonuses and other Wall Street abuses, the truth is that the financial collapse has put us in a very difficult position when it comes to pressuring China because we're so dependent on them since they're holding such a major part of America's debt. And right now, we also need to look at what happened during the Bush years that got us to this point. Remember North Korea started as a member of the axis of evil. And for many years, there were no negotiations. Then suddenly arbitrarily it was taken off the list. There wasn't a formal taking it off the list. But we rejoined the six-party talks. And we wasted a lot of precious time in terms of all our other allies working together.
DAVID FRUM, FORMER BUSH SPEECHWRITER How much are we willing to put behind it? Well the President in Prague, I think answered that question. And to my mind, the biggest news of this whole new cycle is his statement to the Czechs who have take enormous domestic and international risk to base American missile defense. That he is going - he has now got two clauses which will allow him to cancel this thing. He said we will proceed with missile defense if it is effective and only so long as there is a threat from Iran. That is that this is a unidirectional defense, not a defense against North Korea, it's not a defense against potentially Russia.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) And, and the, and the question Martha, is where does he put the emphasis? On whether it can be effective or where Iran stops their nuclear program? Both fairly big loopholes.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS (OC) Very big loopholes. And I think what Barack Obama is saying is, is diplomacy is not so easy. It's not just a matter of reaching out your hand or having Ambassador Richard Holbrook meet in a hallway with the Iranians and say, look, we're face to face. It's very complicated. Listen to Ambassador Rice talk about consequences. We're going to have a forceful statement. That's pretty much probably it.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) And do you think...
MARTHA RADDATZ (OC) And we have done that before over and over again. So I think they're seeing the exact same problems that President Bush saw only worse.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) I also asked her is, is the United States concerned about China as China is about chaos, collapse in North Korea. What's the real answer to that question?
RICHARD HAASS The Chinese are concerned about chaos. The last thing that...
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) What about the US?
RICHARD HAASS Oh, the US needs to be too.
MARTHA RADDATZ (OC) Oh yes, absolutely.
RICHARD HAASS We do not want to see - we don't want to so another conflict on the Korean peninsula and collapse is the most likely way to, to bring it about. The Chinese don't want to see chaos. They don't want to see the United States forces involved in a war right up to their border.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) So that puts limits on any kind of pressure we're going to put on...
RICHARD HAASS Exactly. Also...
MARTHA RADDATZ (OC) That exactly puts the limits on it too. Because we are concerned about chaos. We are concerned about that country falling apart.
GEORGE WILL (OC) But isn't the, isn't the principle inhibition on our effectiveness the fact that we're dealing with a fiction? Ambassador Rice said the community of nations want Iran to rejoin the community of nations. The same thing with North Korean. There is no community of nations or we wouldn't have these problems. That is, there are extremely different interests and different values ranging from Sudan to North Korea to Iran. We don't get along. And, and behind the phrase "community of nations," is the old planted liberal axiom that harmony is natural. It's not.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) It's not. And Arianna what we are - and I talked to Ambassador Rice about this as well - facing Iran at least the Israelis are sending out all kinds of signals that they can't stand for more red lines to be crossed for, for Iran to actually get to the point where they can have a nuclear weapon.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON Absolutely. But, you know, just as there is no community of nations, but it's an aspiration and we have to keep working towards it. Whether it comes to the relation between Israel and Iran or what we're doing with North Korea to just say there is no community of nations, there is no natural harmony, let - therefore, let's abandon any attempt at diplomacy leaves us with no chances except force.
GEORGE WILL (OC) I didn't say abandon diplomacy. I will just remind you that when Woodrow Wilson said to Clemenceau don't you believe that all men are brother, Clemenceau said yes, Cain and Able, Cain and Able. Conflict is natural, Arianna, and pretending that by aspiring to something else you're doing something effective is - seems to me feckless.
DAVID FRUM Just as the United States needs to think very hard about the actual means of defense in this new world, as George said, of proliferation, building missile defense, so if the United States government wants to prevent Israel from attacking Iran which I think this government does, it needs to be very clear about what measures of defense it is going to make available to Israel. That we - if we are leaving a world in which nuclear weapons are absent and they're more prolific, we are going to have to enter a world in which nuclear defenses are more available both to the United States and to its friends.
RICHARD HAASS But we shouldn't kid ourselves, George. There's no solution to this whether it's sanctions and diplomacy or whether it's missile defense. Welcome to the 21st Century. This is a world in which power, in many cases in nasty forms like proliferation will become more dispersed. More distributed. This is, this is the future of the world. This is history coming to us now. We can't solve it, we can perhaps manage it at times. But this is going to be a messier, more difficult world that the United States at best can influence. We can't dominate it. We certainly can't control it.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) On that happy note, we're going to take a quick break. And we're gonna come back with a lot more roundtable after the break. We're gonna have our take on the President's trip, Michelle Obama's star turn, also President Obama's tough love for GM and Chrysler. All that and "The Sunday Funnies" when we come back.
GRAPHICS: THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS JOHN KENNEDY, FORMER US PRESIDENT I am the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris. And I've enjoyed it.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA To paraphrase one of my predecessors, I am also proud to be the man who brought Michelle Obama to Prague.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) No reason not to steal a great line, President Obama and Michelle Obama in Europe this week. We are back with our "Roundtable." I'm joined by George Will, Martha Raddatz, Richard Haass, David Frum and Arianna Huffington. And, and George, to set up the trip, let me also show you one other piece of sound from, from President Obama this week that sort of captured the kind of tone he was trying to strike with the Europeans.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA There have been times where Americans have shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive. But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) The President clearly trying to signal all week long a new start, saying he was there to listen, not there with any grand new ideas for the Europeans. And he, and he's been a success overall, certainly at the stagecraft, but when you look at the substance on the G-20, on Afghanistan, on Guantanamo, good words, but the President didn't get all he wanted.
GEORGE WILL (OC) But he also told the Europeans exactly what they wanted to hear which is nonsense. He said, I - we, we want to reestablish and recognize Europe's role of leadership in the world. Europe has no leadership role in Europe. When they had a crisis in the Balkans with ethnic cleansing approaching genocide, it was the United States who had to come in and organize it. He said there, in, in Europe, he said or his Afghan/Pakistan initiatives, he said there will be a military component to it and Europe should not simply expect the United States to shoulder that burden alone. America will shoulder it alone because it's not worth the trouble trying to extract ten helicopters and a platoon out of Europe.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) Want to speak up for the Europeans?
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON Well, definitely Afghanistan was where the President did not get what he wanted. No question that now basically Afghanistan is an American war. All that the Europeans offered was some logistical support and training for the Afghanistan police and army. Absolutely, he didn't get what he wanted there. But he did get 1 trillion, $100 billion for credit, for trade support from the IMF. And more important than anything, he really asserted himself as a leader there. What he said, especially for me, my favorite moment was in his answer to American exceptionalism. When he was asked what did he think of American exceptionalism. I think he gave a masterful answer. When he said, I believe in American exceptionalism and I'm sure that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism, and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism and definitely we do, George.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) Of course we do. That's exactly right. But Richard, on, on this tone the President tried to strike all week long, it was, it was pretty clear that he wants to build a relationship where he can call on the Europeans later on, even if he doesn't get everything he wants right now.
RICHARD HAASS That's exactly right. At the end of the day, the biggest pool of partners the United States has, however inadequate they may be, still tends to be the Europeans. I remember when I worked at the White House and a crisis would happen, the President always wants to get on the phone. And invariably most of the codes, most of the codes, most of the dialing codes tend to be European. They are still the most like-minded as the United States. They are still - they still have some capacities. But there's a, there's a, there's an irony here that I can't help but note. The Europeans said they didn't like George W Bush because he was too unilateral. We want a multilateral American. Well, be careful what you wish for, Europe. You've got a multilateral president, but that means they've got to do more and they are clearly not ready to step up to that plate.
MARTHA RADDATZ (OC) They are clearly not ready. And I, I think what you were saying, George, I mean, he goes over there, he's a great president. Everyone loves him, but the second headline has been he didn't get everything he wanted. And particularly Afghanistan. Next year, the US will probably have 80,000 troops in Afghanistan. That is huge.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) That's if the President agrees to General McKiernan's next...
MARTHA RADDATZ (OC) But that's only - at the very least they'll have 70,000 troops next year. They will probably have 80,000 troops because I think it's going to be awfully hard if things start spiraling downward. And I think you're going to have more violence over there to deny General McKiernan what he wants. I don't think they wanted it mentioned this year. I think General Petraeus on the Hill mentioning it ruffled a few feathers. But I think you probably will see 80,000. And the Europeans are not helping. They haven't been much help so far. The Germans don't go, go anywhere they can't fight. The election troops that President Obama was asked yesterday, will these troops stay after the election. Totally dodged that question. The answer is, no, they will not.
DAVID FRUM I don't why we're saying the President didn't get everything he wanted. The President didn't get anything he wanted. Now, that's halfway good news because he came with two big requests and one of them was very foolish. At that was the request that Europeans, which have much higher debt ratios than the United States, run up their debts in an attempt to do the kind of fiscal stimulus that the United States is doing, at a time when the European central banks still has monetary measures left to do. That was a bad request. And it's a good thing probably for themselves and the world that the Europeans said no. But on, on Afghanistan, the President is focusing on the wrong thing as well. He's asking for more troops when the real issue is those European troops that are there, and there are a lot of European troops, don't have permission to do things. If the - I was told a story when I was in the fall by a German commander that they actually have F-15s - they have aircraft - I shouldn't say which, which kind of aircraft. They have aircraft over, over Afghanistan, but if they want to actually hit anybody, they have to place a rapid call back home to get permission to fire a missile from the aircraft that they have overhead. They are not able to engage on anything like a war fighting basis. And that's the first request, don't spend more - send more troops over they're not to fight.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) Everybody wants to get in on this, I can tell.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON Not, not just Afghanistan was the wrong request, because it's the wrong goal for America, as well as Europe. I mean there is no question that we are not going to be successful in Afghanistan with more troops. I mean, history has proven that again and again. The President has said that our - the main reason we are there is to root out al Qaeda. Well, al Qaeda is primarily in Pakistan, and not in Afghanistan. And the idea that thousands of American soldiers in the mountainous regions of Pakistan fighting the Taliban is going to improve our national security is absurd.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) But let me press that, Richard. And we may not succeed with more troops, I think the fear is that we're certainly going to fail and there will be a collapse with - if we don't have more troops.
RICHARD HAASS We have to start defining success down. We succeed in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan if they don't collapse, if they don't become completely failed states. So we've got to set the bar extremely low. That's the realistic news. The bad news is, even extremely low ambitions tend to be ambitious in places like this.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) And, and that's also the Biden view from everything I've been told, George Will. That internally inside the National Security Council deliberations, Vice President Biden was arguing for a minimalist posture probably against General Petraeus who thinks that they can replicate something like the interim success we've seen in Iraq.
GEORGE WILL (OC) Let the record show that Mr Obama's problems on the left have begun with, Arianna, when Iraq was the problem, the American left said the good war is Afghanistan. We are not against wars. We're not against using military force if you want to use it in Afghanistan. And now he's done it and the left will peel off I have a feeling.
MARTHA RADDATZ (OC) And the, the civilian surge, part of what, what the Obamas, the Obama administration is talking about, that civilian surge is hundreds of civilians. That's not a whole lot of civilians. And they have had a very, very difficult time at the State Department getting people who will go into war zones. I don't know why they would be more successful with this one. So I think in this case, with the troops going in, I think that's exactly right. I think they'll think they fail if they don't do it.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON The idea that, the idea that opposition to increasing our military presence in Afghanistan is a left wing position is so obsolete. Just look around at where the opposition is coming from. It's coming from realists who know Afghanistan history, who know how much the opposition against military presence there is growing. And at a time when we're sending 21,000 more troops, the Karzai government is basically going forward with a law to regulate the sexual practices of Shiite families.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) He said this morning he'd review it.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON He'll review it. But the bottom line is that they went along with it...
MARTHA RADDATZ (OC) Not to mention - Pakistan.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON ...unless - until there was tremendous opposition to it. So this is basically our ally in Afghanistan.
RICHARD HAASS Well let's, let's, let's remember, though, why we're sending more troops. It's simply to provide something of a breathing space so we can train up the Afghanistan police and military forces to hopefully do a bit better. And it's the same thing in Pakistan. We are dealing with two countries here, Pakistan and Afghanistan that lack the most rudimentary capacities of a modern state. They simply can't police their own territory. The problem for the United States is if and when - I have a fear it might be when - they can't do what, what we want, what do we then do. In a funny sort of way in foreign policy, it's easier to deal with your adversaries than it is with your friends. And when your friends don't meet the requirements that you need them to meet, what then does the administration do? You can't sanction them, you can't attack them. You don't want to invade them. What then does the administration do?
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) So with Pakistan we have all carrot and no real stick that's possible. And, you know, the President has taken some of your advice, Richard. They have scaled down the, the stated goal in Pakistan and Afghanistan to simply disrupt al Qaeda, to dismantle al Qaeda as much as possible. And they've also retired the phrase "global war on terror." And Jon Stewart had a little bit of fun with that this week.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) Now David Frum...
DAVID FRUM Clearly we have here a national euphemism initiative. That is launched by this administration. That is really - that's, that's going to be an enduring achievement.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) But Secretary Clinton said the reason they switched speaks for itself yet refused to elaborate any further, does this matter?
DAVID FRUM It matters - I think Richard Haass is exactly right. That they, they are determined to have a success in, in Afghanistan. And they don't care how completely negligible and miserable that success is in order to proclaim it a success. What I worry about is that they are on a path now where they are injecting into Afghanistan just enough force, in the old Vietnam failure machine way, just enough force to keep problems at bay. The reason Iraq turned around is not just because of the American surge, but because the United States and its friends were successful in building up indigenous Iraqi forces to a number great enough to provide the kind of ratios you need to police an insurgent territory. In Afghanistan, while the Afghan army is, you know, sort of plausible, the Afghan police are a disaster. They remain a disaster. The American training operation for the police is not very effective. It's - and the Americans delude themselves about how much success is happening there. 80,000 Americans are not going to be able to patrol Afghanistan. This, this huge country with a large population and a lot of rocks.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON First of all, this is revisionist history about Iraq, The reason things turned around in Iraq is because, contrary to the Bush administration's policy, we started negotiating with terrorists and indeed paying them. We started paying Sunnis. That is the famous Sunni awakening. It had nothing to do with anything else. It is really contrary to everything George Bush had said. And in the same way now, we could start negotiating with some of the Taliban that want to negotiate with us.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) The President said he was going to do that.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON I know. But this is a greater priority than adding more forces.
MARTHA RADDATZ (OC) George, can we just pick up on a, a good point you made earlier, Arianna, and that is, Pakistan. I mean we keep talking about Afghanistan. Pakistan is really, truly, the huge problem here. And I think you've got a Pakistani government that is still in absolute denial that they have a problem in their own country. Suicide bombing after suicide bombing, they denounce that. But then they still don't turn their attention to the areas where they should be turning their attention.
GEORGE WILL (OC) If Pakistan did not exist, we wouldn't be worrying about Afghanistan.
MARTHA RADDATZ (OC) Absolutely right. And that's why, going after al Qaeda, they do get into Afghanistan.
RICHARD HAASS A bit of exaggeration, because places like Afghanistan can still become breeding grounds for terrorists who in an age of globalization as we saw on 9/11, can do serious damage. But it's interesting, we spent the first ten minutes of this conversation talking about, what, North Korea and Iran. Pakistan has five dozen, plus or minus, nuclear weapons. The is a country that to some extent is failing, where the government is not in control of all of the territory. The government is not even control of all the government. This is a major, major problem. When you make the short list of the foreign policy national security nightmares facing the Obama administration, this would probably be - better be at the top of the list.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) Or is it...
MARTHA RADDATZ (OC) And they say it is. They say it is. But their solutions aren't huge.
DAVID FRUM But the solutions are dangerous. I mean the President has often flirted with the idea of pressuring India to make concessions on Kashmir in order to stabilize Pakistan. So in order to help a, a, a very doubtful government with its, with its domestic problems, you are going to put pressure on one of America's best friends in the world, potential best friends, most important best friends to give up on its vital interests in order to assuage an unassuageable situation.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) We have a few minutes left and I want to turn back to the home front and the economy. The President began this week before he went overseas with something of a surprise announcement on both GM and Chrysler. And one of the things the President did was put the idea of bankruptcy directly on the table.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA What I'm talking about is using our existing legal structure as a tool that, with the backing of the US government, can make it easier for General Motors and Chrysler to quickly clear away old debts that are weighing them down. What I'm not talking about is a process where a company's simply broken up, sold off and no longer exists.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) Maybe not, George Will, but the President sent shock waves through Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. And it, it's pretty clear that especially in the case of Chrysler, if there's no merger with Fiat, they are going into bankruptcy. And the chances that GM are going into bankruptcy are also well above 50/50. They're going to have to pay their creditors $1 billion on June 1st. They don't have the money right now.
GEORGE WILL (OC) No, they don't have it yet, but we know where they'll get it and that's from the taxpayers. What the President said about Chrysler is sell yourself to Fiat, and the taxpayers will lend $6 billion to an Italian corporation. That's a tough political sale. What the administration said, and this, this trouble began with the Bush people who flinched from bankruptcy also. They've said, look, go away, come back with a plausible revitalization plan on the following deadline. So they came back. The administration said, we don't like your plan. Therefore, go away and write another plan for another deadline. Meanwhile, the billions keep flowing. They're not credible yet. And they're not credible when they envelope the, the phrase bankruptcy and all these qualifying adjectives.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) Well that may be, George, the President actually used the word "bankruptcy" two or three times in an announcement...
GEORGE WILL (OC) But about essentially bankrupt companies.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON He used it. And it is incredibly important. And the only problem is the double standard that became immediately clear in terms of how we're dealing with the banks. Because we are pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into insolvent banks. And that's where the President should stop listening to Larry Summers and Tim Geithner whose cosmology is basically the same as the center of the universe are the banks, everything has to revolve around them. If we continue believing that, we will continue doing the wrong thing and you'll see the consequences. First, we were told we need to do that in order to free up credit. Then, the President says well you didn't free up credit because the banks used the money to balance their balance sheets. So, now, we're just going to sell the toxic assets to five hedge funds guaranteed by the taxpayers. One of those participants is going to be Citigroup that's getting bailout money that it's going to use to buy toxic assets. It's not going to work.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) You raised all the problems - you raised a lot of the problems with it, yet, on the other hand, you can say since these announcements have been made, the stock market has been jumped 25 points.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON That's the only thing that has jumped.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) Credit has been, credit has been flowing more. There is a bit more confidence at least in...
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON Not from the banks. Credit has been flowing from the separate arrangement that the administration has made.
DAVID FRUM Even if it's as deplorable as Arianna says, I mean we were talking about Pakistan a minute ago. The banks are the - are our domestic Pakistan. That is that they threaten...
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) No good answers?
DAVID FRUM But they also - they keep threatening, you have to give us stuff or we'll blow ourselves up and take you with us. It is a kind of hostage-taking situation. And...
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON We need to stop giving in to them.
DAVID FRUM But the auto - the automakers can go down without it destroying the United States and global economy. And the banks can't, unfortunately.
RICHARD HAASS But we are making some progress. We are basically introducing an enormous amount of stimulus. Whether you look at essentially flat interest rates, which are at zero. Anyone can get money to the extent it's out there. We're looking at the amount of stimulus, you're looking at the IMF capacities and so forth. There is a tremendous amount of stimulus on the table. This economy will turn around. I think it's a question of when, how quickly, how much. That - we've basically fueled to use the missile imagery again. It's fuel. Now at some point we're gonna have other problems. We're gonna have a dollar crisis conceivably down the road. We're gonna have inflation crisis down the road. Individual companies are going to pay an enormous price. But this administration has introduced and I think the G-20 meeting contributed to it actually a tremendous amount of stimulus into the US economy and global economy. And it's going to have some effect. It has to have effect.
DAVID FRUM But also a tremendous amount of new regulation which is going to be an anti-stimulus. That's coming, too.
RICHARD HAASS Well regulation is not an anti-stimulus. Regulation if done well can actually help an economy.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON Actually, this week, we saw so many concessions to the banks. We saw the suspension of mark to market which is absolutely tragic. Japan by not having mark to market made it much harder for them to recover.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) Just quickly explain to our viewers who may not know. Suspending mark to market means that banks do not have to put in, publicly proclaim the real value of assets?
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON Exactly. So basically it has now become mark to fantasy. They can put down any number they want. And they're basically perpetuating all of these gimmicks that have gotten us where we are. And the government is going along with that. Because basically, Tim Geithner and Larry Summers understand that well. This is their world and this is really the world to which they keep making concessions.
RICHARD HAASS But there is long-term investments, which should not - which is exactly why Arianna is wrong on this. These things should not be forced to be marked on a daily basis. There's no market for certain things that are illiquid which are long term. So it's healthy.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON It's not a daily basis. It's only when they're available for sale. It's not on a daily basis.
RICHARD HAASS It is healthy to basically move away from this short-term accounting. This is actually a positive thing, which is why the market's reacted so positively to it.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON And you think they'll continue….
GEORGE WILL (OC) It's a mess isn't it, Arianna, when you get into the business of government allocating wealth and opportunity in a society. Let's agree on that. And it can't be done prettily.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON Well I agree on that. But it can't be done because of, of the club, supporting the oligarchs. Right now, the banks have become the oligarchs of America. We just found out this week that Larry Summers had hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees to Citigroup, to all - a lot of the same companies that have been bailed out. I'm not suggesting for a minute that Summers or Geithner are corrupt. All I'm suggesting that's the world we're living in.
GEORGE WILL (OC) This is the world you wanted, Arianna. This is the world you want. More government supervision of the economy.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (OC) And this is going to have to continue in the green room.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (VO) You can join in later on ABCNews.com and get political updates all week long from me on Facebook and Twitter. Coming up here, "The Sunday Funnies."
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (VO) Now "In Memoriam". GRAPHICS: MAURICE JARRE, 84 ACADEMY AWARD-WINNING COMPOSER GRAPHICS: TOM BRADEN, 92 FORMER CIA OPERATIVE, COMMENTATOR AND COLUMNIST
ANNOUNCER "Crossfire," on the left, Tom Braden. On the right, Pat Buchanan. GRAPHICS: HELEN LEVITT, 95, PHOTOGRAPHER
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (VO) This week, the Pentagon released the names of four service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. GRAPHICS: IN MEMORIAM