'This Week' Transcript: Ambassador Samantha Power

ByABC News
September 21, 2014, 9:44 AM

September 21, 2014 — -- Below is the rush transcript of "This Week" on September 21, 2014. It may contain errors.

ANNOUNCER: This morning, U.S. airstrikes against ISIS inside Syria are imminent as President Obama takes his case against the brutal terror group to world leaders.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Us Americans, we do not give in to fear.


ANNOUNCER: The threat growing. But can the militants really be defeated without Americans on the frontlines?

New NFL bombshell: embattled Commissioner Roger Goodell breaking his silence. But can he survive the latest allegations? What the Ravens really knew about that shocking elevator incident.

And mid-term shakeup, surprising new twists in key Senate races. Is Republican momentum stalling? Why the Senate is still up for grabs.

From ABC News, This Week with George Stephanopoulos begins now.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: And we begin with the war on ISIS.

President Obama closing in on a decision to launch airstrikes inside Syria as congress greenlights his plan to train and arm Syrian rebels fighting them on the ground.

But the president's top military advisers question whether we can get the job done without American combat troops.

Chief White House Correspondent Jon Karl starts us off.


JON KARL, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: With an assist from French pilots who are now flying their own missions over Iraq, the U.S.-led air war on ISIS has expanded -- more targets, more bombs, and strikes in Syria only a matter of time.

The president heads to the UN this week to make the case yet again for a global campaign to destroy ISIS. He already made the pitch five times over the past 11 days with each time also making it clear what he won't do.

OBAMA: The American forces--

-- that have been deployed --

-- do not---

-- and will not have a combat mission--

-- in Iraq or in Syria.

KARL: The president's top generals seem to disagree.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If there are threats to the United States, then I of course would go back to the president and make a recommendation that may include the use of U.S. military ground forces.

KARL: The White House insists there is no disagreement, that the president is open to having U.S. troops embedded with Iraqi troops on the front lines, just don't call them combat troops.

These would be troops, they would be serving on the ground, these would be troops wearing boots, I assume, they would be combat ready, and they would be in the line of fire. How are you not considering these troops that are combat troops?

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: They are not in a combat role, they are in an advise and assist role.

KARL: Congress approved the president's plan to train rebels to fight ISIS on the ground in Syria, a rare bipartisan show of support.

But wait, the Pentagon said it will take three to five months to begin the training and that the first fighters won't be trained until the spring at the earliest. It will take about a year to train the first 5,000. That helps explain why officials say the campaign to defeat ISIS will take years and years.

For This Week, Jonathan Karl, ABC News, the White House.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And the success in this long war depends so much on the strength, skill and commitment of the Syrian rebels. The U.S. will be training an army, many of them doctors and lawyers.

ABC's Bob Woodruff brings us a rare inside look at the forces fighting both Assad and ISIS.


BOB WOODRUFF, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: As the fight against ISIS in Iraq grabbed attention, what's referred to as the moderate rebels in Syria have largely been the forgotten story until now.

OBAMA: We must strengthen the opposition as the best counterweight to extremists like ISIL.

WOODRUFF: Three years ago in a popular revolt, the opposition rose up against dictator Bashar al-Assad. Now they're taking on the vicious terror group ISIS, too.

This week, the leader of the moderates, Hadi al-Bahra will address the UN general assembly to ask for assistance for a group President Obama once described as--

OBAMA: Blacksmiths and dentists, these aren't professional fighters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This statement, you know, makes me very proud of my people. This situation reminds me greatly with the American Revolution. Who made this revolution? Wasn't it farmers, doctors? We are the normal Syrian fighting for our freedom.

WOODRUFF: And now the U.S. is beefing up efforts to help them with funding and military training, which has led to some concerns.

And we're told that if there are more weapons that are brought into Syria from the United States, but a lot of these people could shift to different groups based on how much weaponry they have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I assure you all they are going to moderate national Syrian army, the Free Syrian Army, and we will be very careful with it.

WOODRUFF: How long do you think it'll take if you get what you want from the United States for this peace to come, for this war to end?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it's done correctly, it could be done within two to three years at max.

WOODRUFF: Two or three years?


WOODRUFF: So, are you asking the United States to put some troops on the ground

AL-BAHRA: We are not asking anyone to fight our own war.

WOODRUFF: It's not just Farah's (ph) group in the fight, there are religious rebel groups taking on both Assad and ISIS, too.

Vice News spent two weeks filming with one, the Islamic Front, for a new documentary "Ghosts of Aleppo," premiering online Monday.

Cameras capturing Syrians clinging to any semblance of normal life during the war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One man tells us what else was there for me to do, they bombed my house, they bombed my shop, that's it, so I've come back to fight.

We've found people trying to change their country. These were determined Syrians.

WOODRUFF: A determination among all the opposition groups in a conflict where the U.S. is now getting more deeply involved.

For This Week, Bob Woodruff, ABC News, New York.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And we are joined now by the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power. Thanks for coming back to This Week.

And you know, the president said he's prepared to strike Syria. Those strikes could be imminent. Will the United States try to get UN Security Council authorization first? Or do you accept now that's just not going to be possible?

SAMANTHA POWER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Well, let me say that Secretary Kerry just convened a meeting of the Security Council on Friday which showcased just how much support there is on the Security Council and in the broader international community for the anti-ISIL effort.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But the Russia veto.

POWER: Russia has vetoed in the past, but on very different issues. I think Russia has made clear for a long time its opposition to ISIL.

The Iraqis have appealed to the international community to come to their defense not only in Iraq, but also to go after safe havens in foreign countries. And what they mean by that of course is Syria. And they're quite explicit about that.

So they have made an appeal to the international community for collective defense. And we think we have a legal basis we need if the president decides...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Without a UN authorization.

POWER: Consistent with the UN charter, we -- it will depend on the facts and circumstances of any particular strike in Syria, but we have a legal basis we need.

STEPHANOPOULOS; You talk about the support that Secretary Kerry demonstrated at that security council meeting. And there has been a fair amount of rhetorical support. But have any nations yet agreed to join those airstrikes against Syria?

POWER: First of all, France for the first time carried out airstrikes...


POWER: Indeed.

We have not carried out airstrikes in Syria. And it will be up to each country to announce for itself whether its prepared to participate whether in a combat role or to provide military equipment.

I think it's really important, not withstanding the emphasis on the military effort, which gets of course the most attention, to look at this as the multi-faceted comprehensive campaign that it is. President Obama will come on Wednesday and will convene a very unusual head of state summit on the issue of foreign terrorist fighters to try to stop the financing to terrorists in places like Iraq and Syria to counter violent extremism, to involve civil society and clerics and others in de-legitimating the messages the ISIL and others are putting forward.

So we've got to look at this across the spectrum.

And as Secretary Kerry said on Friday as the president has made clear, every country can contribute something to this effort. And there's universal support, I think, for degrading and destroying this group.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But we might have to do the airstrikes alone.

Not even Great Britain has said they're going to join the airstrikes.

POWER: I will make you prediction, George, which is that we will not do the airstrikes alone if the president decides to do the airstrikes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We will come back and watch that.

Secretary Kerry also said that there is a role for nearly every country in the world to play here, including Iran. What is the role you expect Iran to play?