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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Us Americans, we do not give in to fear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
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...
STEPHANOPOULOS: In Iraq.
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?
POWER: Let me be clear, we are not coordinating with Iran. We are not sharing intelligence with Iran. Iran has said that ISIL is its enemy, but by the same token Iran has supported Hezbollah and the Assad regime, a Assad regime that has not targeted ISIL with any sincerity or intensity over the years and indeed has been complicit receiving oil revenue from ISIL or buying oil from ISIL when they take over the fields.
So, Assad is not a reliable partner in the fight against ISIL for us. And we would urge Iran actually to use its leverage over that regime in order to change its tactics and bring about the political solution we need to really get at one of the root causes of this crisis.
STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, there's a big question of whether or not the United States really can do this, really can defeat ISIL without American combat troops on the ground. And in fact, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates weighed in on this question this week. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GATES, FRM. U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: There will be boots on the ground is to be any hope of success in the strategy. And I think that by continuing to repeat that, the president in effect traps himself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is the president trapped?
POWER: The president is relying on military advise from Chairman Dempsey and from Secretary Hagel. They believe that the strategy the president has laid out can be successful in degrading and destroying ISIL. And there are troops on the ground, there are Iraqi troops, there are Kurdish troops, there are Syrian troops who have been fighting ISIL at great expense and great sacrifice; fighting on two fronts, fighting ISIL on the one hand and the regime on the other.
So, we think again the strategy can succeed, and most importantly that we have the greatest military in the world, they believe that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How long will this take?
POWER: I think the president has said it will be over several years.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Ambassador Power, thanks very much. I know you have a big week ahead.
POWER: Thank you, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's bring in our chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz for more on this right now.
A pretty big prediction there from the UN ambassador, Martha, there will be other nations joining the airstrikes against Syria.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Very confident about that. I haven't heard since -- such confidence before. So they seem to be quite certain others will join in.
I would say it was probably very limited. Again, she stressed there are many other countries who will support military strikes. But it's actually carrying out those airstrikes with the U.S. that's important.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Martha, you -- you cover the military so closely. I want to talk about what -- what appears to be a little bit of (INAUDIBLE) between the president and his military advisers. The ambassador, of course, said that the president is following the advice of his military advisers.
But we did see General Dempsey say this week that he would come out and recommend ground troops if he thought it was necessary.
Are we seeing an internal debate go public here?
RADDATZ: I think that's exactly what you're seeing. General Dempsey is the president's principal military adviser. He also makes a pledge to the Senate when he goes up there, to tell the truth as he sees it.
I think this is all about language, George. You heard a little of that daylight closing this week, saying they might put in forward air controllers. Those are the people who call in the airstrikes. They are on the front lines.
I think what the administration really wants to say is they're not going to send in tanks, they're not going to send an invading army into Iraq.
But what they might have to do is call in those forward air controllers. You need those to carry out strikes, to get accurate strikes. If you don't have them, it really limits the targets. And that's what the military is really worried about here.
And they are also worried, if this plan doesn't work and, frankly, the president hasn't explained if this strategy doesn't work, what he'll do next after saying ISIS is such a threat.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is a big question.
Martha Raddatz, thanks very much.
Let's take it to the former Defense secretary, Robert Gates.
Robert Gates, Mr. Secretary, thank you for joining us this morning.
We just showed your clip from this week.
You were very blunt this week on the question of ground troops, that the strategy can't succeed without boots on the ground, something the president has ruled out.
So do you think the president's strategy is doomed or is he not being straight with the American people?
ROBERT GATES, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: Well, first of all, George, I think that he was absolutely right to wait until we had a new government in Iraq before taking any steps, one that would be more inclusive.
Second, he is right that the primary ground action here has to be by the Iraqis, the Kurds and the Sunnis in North and Western Iraq. What I believe and what I suspect most military people believe is that given the mission the president has assigned, which is degrade and destroy, that to be able to do that, some small number of American advisers, trainers, Special Forces and forward spotters, forward air controllers, are going to have to be in harm's way. And I think that the number will be very small.
I think Martha has it exactly right, what the -- what the administration is trying to communicate is that we're not going to send battalions, we're not going to send brigades, but there will have to be, I think, to achieve the mission the president has assigned, some boots on -- some American boots on the ground and in harm's way.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Would you recommend following that mission if you were still Defense secretary?
GATES: I think the way that the president has framed it, if we were given authority to -- if the mission required it to accompany, to have advisers accompanying some of the Iraqi units with the Peshmerga and so on, I -- I think that I would have supported it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, in the past, though, you've warned against American -- warned America against getting involved in another ground war like Iraq or Afghanistan. And clearly, that's not something you're calling for right now.
But I want to let you respond to the idea that we're giving ISIS exactly what they want -- an internal power struggle in the Muslim world. We are making ourselves the enemy rather than forcing those regional powers to take them on.
GATES: This is a very tough problem. And I think a little perspective is in order.
Syria, in a way, is the embodiment of four different conflicts going on in the Middle East simultaneously. The first is Shia Islam versus Sunni Islam. The second is authoritarians versus reformers. The third is secularists versus Islamists. And then fourth is whether countries like Syria, Iraq and Libya that are comprised of historically adversarial ethnic groups, religious sects and so on, can hold together absent reposition or whether they will end up like Yugoslavia.
This is a generational conflict. And we need to understand that. We also need to be very modest about how we can shape the outcomes here.
And I think one of the things we need to do is step back, look at this kind of cauldron of violence and instability that's going to be with us a long time and what is our strategy overall for the region?
What do we -- what do we want as an outcome?
And is there a path to achieve that?
And I think that broader strategy for the region as a whole really has not been discussed by anybody in this debate.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you don't believe that destroying ISIS is a realistic component of that strategy?
GATES: I'm sorry?
STEPHANOPOULOS: You don't believe destroying ISIS is a -- is a realistic component of that strategy?
GATES: I think that destroying ISIS is a very ambitious mission. I think our goal, actually, ought to be, first, to just set ourselves the -- the objective of pushing ISIS back out of Iraq, getting them out of there, denying them a place where they can have a permanent foothold, if you will, where they might be able to carry out plotting against the United States. And we also have to keep in mind there are other groups out there that are threatening us, as well, Al-Nusra, al Qaeda is still with us. So there are multiple terrorist groups.
I think destroying, we -- we've been at war with al Qaeda for 13 years. We haven't destroyed it yet. We've changed it. We've certainly degraded it in the Afghan-Pakistani area.
But all you have to do is look around the world, and particularly in Africa and -- and the Middle East, to see that it's still around.
So I think destroying probably is ambitious, at least interest foreseeable future. But it is a realistic objective to try and push them out of Iraq and deny them a permanent foothold some place.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Secretary, thanks very much for your time this morning.
STEPHANOPOULOS: In today's Closer Look, the NFL in crisis.
After days of silence and rising pressure from fans and advertisers, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell finally took questions Friday on how the League has handled domestic abuse charges against top players.
But did Goodell go far enough?
Here's ABC's Ryan Smith.
RYAN SMITH, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two days after that grueling apology-filled press conference...
ROGER GOODELL, COMMISSIONER, NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE: I made a mistake and I'm sorry for that. We will get our house in order.
SMITH: -- some of the reviews have been withering.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We needed someone to go up there and be a leader. And that wasn't done because I don't think Roger Goodell is the guy that can do that anymore.
SMITH: Goodell breaking his silence Friday, after weeks of outrage over his handled of a growing list of players accused of domestic violence, starting with that shocking now former Baltimore Ravens' star, Ray Rice, punching his then fiancee, Janay. Rice originally suspended for just two games.
GOODELL: I got it wrong in the handling of the Ray Rice matter. And I'm sorry for that.
SMITH: Goodell grilled over discrepancies in punishments for other players accused of abuse and leaving some questions unanswered, like how the Web site, TMZ, was able to obtain the elevator video of Rice while the league wasn't.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We found out by one phone call. You guys have a whole legal department. Can you explain that?
GOODELL: I can't explain how you got the information, only you can do that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The thing obviously in any PR controversy is to have a strong consistent message and that didn't happen over the last week-and-a-half. What he was trying to do today was to stop the bleeding.
SMITH: But just hours after Goodell wrapped up his press conference, another bombshell in the Ray Rice case, sister network ESPN reporting the Ravens had a detailed description of what happened in that elevator only hours after the assault, that Rice's defense attorney had a copy of the video in April calling it horrible.
In a statement, the Ravens said the ESPN report contained inaccuracies, false assumption and perhaps misunderstandings.
Meanwhile, in his statement Friday, Goodell maintained he had the support of the leagues owners and he hasn't considered resigning.
GOODELL: I have not. I am focused on doing my job and doing the best of my ability.
SMITH: That job, repairing the NFL's damaged reputation and putting new league policies in place, including partnering with domestic violence groups, education sessions for teams and owners and developing a new personal conduct policy.
But the commissioner offered few specifics, saying new conduct policies won't happen for months.
GOODELL: My goal is to complete this by the Super Bowl.
SMITH: For some critics, only raising more questions whether Goodell is the man to lead the NFL through the worst crisis in its history.
For This Week, Ryan Smith, ABC News, New York.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And we are joined now by ESPN's Mike Tirico, former NFL runningback Robert Smith, also with ESPN, and Christine Brennan from USA Today.
Welcome to all of you.
And Mike, let me begin with you.
A lot of critics of that Friday press conference. Today, the fans weigh in. And I guess the big question is are they going to stay away? And if they actually watch today will the advertising pressure let up?
MIKE TIRICO, ESPN: Well, that's the tipping point question, George, that I think we're all trying to find out. We want the immediate answer, but we may not be able to get it for a few weeks until we see television ratings, in stadium attendance. So many people are invested in the NFL with their fantasy football teams, the tickets that they've purchased.
We saw over 7,000 people in Baltimore turn in their Ray Rice jerseys, but they turned them in over the weekend for another Ravens jersey in most cases in Baltimore.
So the fans still show they want to be a part of the NFL, the question to me is, this league that has been Teflon and has not seen controversies stick, will they find a way to move past this one, because right now that doesn't seem to be the case.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is big question.
And Christine, earlier in the week you said Goodell was on the right track. But was the press conference a detour?
CHRISTINE BRENNAN, USA TODAY: It was, George, there's no doubt about that. The things he could have done in that press conference, bringing out the women that he's brought in having them speak about the specific things they're going to be doing to try to help with the terrible problem of domestic violence not only in the NFL, but around the country.
A more empathetic view. Roger Goodell is a corporate man, obviously. He's done a great job leading the NFL on the corporate side, but he is so methodical in some ways that there's no empathy there. And I think it was bad. The fact that he's, of course, apologizing, we've never seen a commissioner on any sport league apologize this much over and over again, but he has a lot to apologize for. And that press conference, unfortunately, was not a good thing for the NFL or for anyone in this story.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The other big question, Robert Smith, was he telling the whole truth about that meeting with Ray Rice back in June?
ROBERT SMITH, FRM. NFL RUNNINGBACK: Yeah, and I think that's going to be the key to all of this. People are wondering whether Roger Goodell is going to survive this. And you have to remember it takes a three-quarters vote from the owners, which would be 24 of the owners, to remove him and I think that that's going to be determined almost exclusively by what former FBI director Robert Mueller finds in his investigation.
Roger has been adamant that people in his office did not know of this, certainly that he did not know of this. And if there's any information that comes out that he or somebody in the office relayed information to him about the existence of this video with his statements about the ambiguity that he says Ray Rice exhibited in the interview with him, he's definitely gone.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mike, one of thing things you pointed out is that the owners are going to have to step up and take responsibility now as well.
TIRICO: George, I think so. We keep looking at the league and they have a lot of blame that they should be seen for, things they have not done in the past, especially regarding these issues. But the owners, and their general managers, player personnel folks, those are the ones that hire the players, those are the ones who directly come in contact with the players. I think they need to do a couple of things -- one, help set the line now for what's going to happen going forward. And secondly, and more importantly, I think they have to find the balance.
It's always talent, in the draft, in free agency, bring in the talented players. The character question comes up. Some folks factor it in significantly, some let it slide if there's a lot of talent there. What will owners instruct their personnel folks to do going forward? I think that's very important here.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Christine, Roger Goodell bringing in a lot of high profile female executives, top executives now. What difference will they make?
BRENNAN: I hope they make a lot of difference, George. I think everyone does. The NFL could be a leader in this area. We haven't heard from Major League Baseball, the NHL, NBA. We certainly know, logic tells us, there are abusers in those leagues right now, hopefully not and hopefully we won't -- they won't do anything bad.
But this is such a watershed moment not only for sports, but for our country. And I think the problem with, I think so many people have, George, with Goodell is that he's talking about what they're going to do. Well, in fact they've already funded the domestic violence hotline. They announced that the other day. But that kind of got lost in the shuffle.
I'm not, for a moment, defending the National Football League. It has been a disastrous, what, six to eight weeks for the National Football League, but if this is the league with these women in charge who can move this country forward on this issue, then that is a huge positive step.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Bottom line, Robert Smith, will Roger Goodell be commissioner one year from now?
SMITH: I think that he will. And I think it's important to remember a little bit of perspective in this. There is some information I saw from a website in Boston, or from a newspaper in Boston that only 12 percent of corporations in America have some sort of domestic violence programs or policies. And I think that it's also important to remember that when the players are involved that you have to consider the fact that this is about collective bargaining as well. And everybody wants this swift and decisive action from Roger Goodell, but he can't act unilaterally in this.
But I do believe that this investigation will determine that he has been truthful. And I do believe he survives this.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We will see. Thank you all very much.
The round table is standing by to weigh in on America's newest war. Is the country truly braced for what's to come?
Plus, some surprising twists in the mid-term contests.
But first, the roundtable's big winners of the week.
ANNOUNCER: An now George's pick. Alibaba is George's big winner of the week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I cannot conceive of a greater tragedy for America than to get heavily involved and not win a new -- in an all out war.
LYNDON JOHNSON, 36TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are not about to send American boys 9,000 or 10,000 miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Previous presidents did not want long land wars. That is not how Vietnam ended up. Question is, is there any danger now of history repeating itself? One of the questions for our roundtable.
I'm joined by Democratic Strategist James Carville, Republican Ana Navarro, Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation; and Brett Stevens, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist from the Wall Street Journal.
Welcome to all of you.
And Brett, let me begin with you. Your paper had an editorial this week that called the president's pledge not to have any ground troops in -- in Iraq or Syria "bad military strategy, worse politics."
BRET STEPHENS, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Right. Well, bad military strategy because you're hearing maybe sotto voce from all major American military commanders saying that if you want to achieve the president's groal -- goal of not only degrading, but destroying ISIS, you need some kind -- some -- some number of ground troops. You don't need tens of thousands, but you need hundreds and maybe a few thousand to -- to call in strikes, Special Forces operations. And I think this is commonly understood in the Pentagon, among military strategists.
It's bad politics because at some point, if the president is serious about taking out ISIS, destroying it, he's going to have to break his own pledge. And that's going to come back to haunt him.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It brings back the credibility problem.
Katrina, you wrote this week that this whole enterprise against ISIS is a, quote, "capitulation to bellicose folly."
VANDEN HEUVEL: The president articulated what I think was a pretty good foreign policy organizing principle, which was "don't do stupid stuff." He was...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, Hillary Clinton didn't agree.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Hillary Clinton didn't agree. I will say no more on that. But he resisted military strikes in Syria last August. He said at West Point in May that our biggest mistakes have been a willingness to rush into military adventures without thinking through the consequences.
I regret, I think the president has surrendered to war party in both parties, to a media that has lathered up hysteria about a threat that is not an immediate threat to this country.
There's a barbarism and a gruesomeness to the videotapes which have moved the American people at this stage to support strikes, but the support for ground troops is not there. The support is very thin.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And it...
VANDEN HEUVEL: John -- you know, George, the main problem is that too often in this country, we equate doing something with doing something militarily, when, in fact, what is needed now is tough regional diplomacy, a political solution.
We've spent 13 years of military misadventure in this region. Let us find a different way. "don't do stupid stuff."
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, to -- to quote Reinhold Niebuhr, "Is there a grace in doing nothing here?"
JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Ouch.
Look, 13 years ago this October, we started bombing Muslims in the Middle East.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Um-hmm.
CARVILLE: We're still bombing them.
Does any sane person think that 13 years from now, we're not going to still be bombing them?
Of course we are. And if you listen to what Secretary Gates said, we're -- and maybe we have to be. Maybe there is no alternative to -- other than bombing people, but we're getting in the middle of four -- count them -- four civil wars here.
And our Congress is too cowardly to pass a resolution. We're brave enough to send Air Force fighters in to -- that -- that may get shot down. I think this thing needs to be...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- that's only half fair, James. Ana Navarro, the president is not asking for...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He...
ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: He's certainly not asking for it. And even Democrats in Congress...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
NAVARRO: I saw the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee in the Senate, Bob Menendez, say we -- you know, we need you to be asking for a new authorization of use for military force.
And they're saying we'll welcome it but we're not going to ask for it.
I think part of the -- what the problem is is that the administration is giving a lot of mixed messages. We're seeing over and over again where one part of the administration says we don't know if it's war, then they know it's war. One party says we don't need boots on the ground, we're not going to send them. And you start hearing all over the place from military officials, from former secretaries of Defense, like Panetta and Gates, that they will be needing boots on the ground.
So I think it becomes very confusing for the American public. And, look, foreign policy shouldn't be...
NAVARRO: -- based on polls.
VANDEN HEUVEL: But, first of all...
NAVARRO: It needs to be based on goals.
VANDEN HEUVEL: First -- first of all, we have boots on the ground. I mean there is a kind of game being played here. We have some 1,300 advisers. We have boots on the ground in a lot of places around this world.
But I do think there is a measure of the American mood to be taken. I think the establishment is more hawkish than the American people, who are not isolationist, but they're not interventionist first. They don't want America to police the world.
They want to engage the world.
I think it was very important what Samantha Power said. I think she was wrong in saying that America has legal authorization to go...
VANDEN HEUVEL: -- strikes in Syria.
VANDEN HEUVEL: They don't have the...
VANDEN HEUVEL: They don't have the U.N. authorization...
STEPHENS: And I'll say President Obama is right in not feeling he needs to seek a vote in Congress.
STEPHENS: -- he has the authority, he is the commander-in-chief. We spoke (INAUDIBLE)...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- al Qaeda, though, in 2001?
STEPHENS: Yes and we...
STEPHENS: -- just -- this is an important point, George.
Here -- we're sitting here in New York. I just spoke a few weeks ago with Bill Bratton, commissioner of the NYPD. He is now saying that when he looks at the threats that he's facing, that he's seriously concerned about, ISIS is on the list, and rightly so, because they have hundreds of fighters, including hundreds -- scores of people with American passports, hundreds of people with European passports, who are part of visa waiver programs who can come to this country.
So to imagine ISIS in Iraq is a very faraway place. It's a 10 hour flight from here. We shouldn't discount...
CARVILLE: -- but I'm not talking about...
STEPHENS: Yes, but it's a serious threat.
CARVILLE: I'm not talking about checking visas. I'm talking about sending United States troops into combat, what -- if it -- it's a great idea. I -- let the Congress support it.
How do you tell somebody that you can go over there and you can fight, but we can't have a debate in the United States over this or, you know, some lawyers may say, well, it's not a Congressional operation. There are other lawyers, by the way, who are pretty doggone good lawyers...
CARVILLE: -- who say "The Constitution" is very clear...
NAVARRO: -- who is asking...
CARVILLE: -- on this.
CARVILLE: -- but I don't think -- it doesn't matter if he -- he should...
NAVARRO: Of course it matters.
CARVILLE: -- ask -- he should meet with...
NAVARRO: You are giving...
CARVILLE: -- meet with...
NAVARRO: I mean you need the commander-in-chief to make the request.
NAVARRO: And he is unwilling to do it...
CARVILLE: You know...
NAVARRO: -- because...
NAVARRO: -- the politically...
VANDEN HEUVEL: -- the front page of the "New York Times."..
VANDEN HEUVEL: -- today...
VANDEN HEUVEL: -- this morning has a story...
VANDEN HEUVEL: -- about a new militant group. The intelligence community says this group may be even more threatening to our security, poses a more immediate crisis. The Department of Homeland Security intelligence officials says ISIS does not pose an immediate crisis.
The major problem is, is if we keep treating this like a war instead of robust diplomacy, ending the financing, other measures, we are going to be in an endless war, which will deplete America's attention from real security challenges, proliferation of nuclear weapons, a broken global economy, a catastrophic climate crisis which the Pentagon has called a clear and emerging danger. There are 100,000 people marching outside this studio this -- today because of that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: A quick response, Bret Stephens.
STEPHENS: Look, we face an immediate threat. We understand al Qaeda and affiliated groups pose a direct threat to the -- to this country. It is amazing to have a debate suggesting that Americans at least don't get that.
Iraq may be a different story. Other Middle East imbroglios may be a different story. But this president, like his predecessors, understood that we have to take the war to them.
What is happening now is the result of six years of a vacuum of American leadership, getting out too completely from Iraq, moving too quickly out of Afghanistan.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We've got to take a quick break.
More roundtable coming up.
Now our Facebook Find. The top trend this week, Constitution Day in honor of its 227th birthday on Wednesday. The White House celebrating with this post. Congressman Darrell Issa sharing the preamble to "The Constitution."
And even Liberty the penguin weighed in. And that inspired our Powerhouse Puzzle.
Here is the question. "The original "Constitution" is now kept at the National Archives in Washington. But after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, it was temporarily moved to what super safe location?"
We're back in two minutes with the answer.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, where was "The Constitution" kept for safekeeping during World War II?
Let's see everyone's guesses.
CARVILLE: Fort Knox.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Fort Knox.
STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot of Fort Knox.
VANDEN HEUVEL: It should have been Hyde Park.
STEPHANOPOULOS: New twists in the races for the Senate. We'll have the latest forecast from Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Back now with our "Politics Buzzboard."
STEPHANOPOULOS (voice-over): At the top this week, a stunning poll in the state of Kansas showing independent Greg Orman with a big lead over Republican Pat Roberts. And after a judge allows no Democrat on the ballot, Roberts calls in campus legend Bob Dole for help.
In Kentucky, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes hopes that breaking with President Obama and pulling out her shotgun will help close the gap with Republican leader Mitch McConnell.
ALISON LUNDERGAN GRIMES (D), KENTUCKY SENATE CANDIDATE: And, Mitch, that's not how you hold a gun.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mitch still holds his lead.
But the GOP is struggling a bit in North Carolina.
SEN. KAY HAGAN (D), NORTH CAROLINA: I'm Kay Hagan.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Democrat Kay Hagan is staying ahead in that key state. And that's why the folks at FiveThirtyEight, led by Nate Silver, show the GOP losing some momentum, their chances of re-taking the Senate down 4 points to 55 percent right now.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. Let's talk about this on our "Roundtable." Now let me start with you, James Carville. A lot of these forecasting models, like Nate Silver's, do show a little bit of movement towards the Democrats, away from Republicans in the last week, but the old school analysts, Charlie Cook, Stu Rothenberg, still predict this Republican wave.
CARVILLE: I don't -- Charlie, really on a Republican wave, but just -- I do say that more things can go wrong for the Democrats than can go wrong for Republicans. And that's never a kind of playing field that you want to enter a cycle like this.
Would I be shocked if the Democrats won? No. But I would be surprised somewhat on the upside. And there is a lot to be gone. I've seen some encouraging things for Democrats around the country. But it's still too -- there are too many things have to go right for us, and too many things have to go wrong for them.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Ana, what about that Republican race in Kansas? There is something -- something has gone wrong there. And you see all the big guns coming in now to try to save that seat for Pat Roberts.
NAVARRO: That's right. I think you're going to see the people in Kansas, you see Bob Dole is getting involved, but you're also seeing that some of the national Republicans are sending the A-team to run that campaign and be involved with that campaign and Pat Roberts.
But the interesting part is who is this guy Pat Roberts running against? He's an independent that Kansans know very little about. They don't even know who he is going to caucus with should he win. That's a question that keeps coming up for him and I think he's going to need to answer to the people of Kansas before they vote.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And something tells me the Koch brothers are going to come in with a lot of money to define him in the next few weeks.
But, Katrina, let me go to you on this, you know, the Democrats the last two election cycles have made a lot on this issue of what they call the Republican "War on Women." It seems to be falling flat this election cycle.
VANDEN HEUVEL: I'll tell you why it's falling flat, because the Republicans are bringing out their Etch A Sketches, and they're erasing their record on women. The Republicans' extremist positions on access to contraception, on pay equity, on a livable minimum wage for women, they're stepping back from this. They're trying to erase their record.
I still think single women will be the key to determining these midterms. And on the core issues, Republicans talk a good game, but they're not walking the walk. I mean, in Kentucky, where The Nation obtained this audiotape of Senator McConnell talking at a Koch brothers gathering of billionaires, McConnell was contemptuous of the 70 percent of Kentucky women who need an increase in the minimum wage if they're going to do well.
So I think that...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Hold on a second. And, Bret, you know, Katrina says Etch A Sketch, but it does appear at least the Republicans have put forward candidates who aren't easily attacked on these issues.
STEPHENS: Right. And Cory Gardner in Colorado is a perfect example of that. That's why I think Mark Udall is in trouble in that state. It's just very hard to attack the guys as sort of out -- you know, Neanderthal Republican when he's talking about making prescription pills available over the counter.
The thing is, no one is single issue, women certainly aren't single issue voters. And I think that's why it's a little tired. It was always a slightly absurd -- it was always a bit of a stretch on the part of the Democrats to suggest that Republicans were going to wage a war on women, that Roe v. Wade was going to be overturned. And I think that's just becoming -- it's becoming shopworn.
I'm a pro-choice conservative, as it happens, and people understand that there's a universe of issues out there that go beyond views on abortion and contraception.
CARVILLE: I'm sorry, we're one Supreme Court away from being overturned.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Thank you, James. Thank you.
CARVILLE: This is not some theoretical issue that we're dealing with.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Thank you.
NAVARRO: I absolutely agree...
VANDEN HEUVEL: One away from overturning Roe v. Wade.
NAVARRO: I think this is a very tired issue because women understand that, you know, it's not about a bumper sticker. It's not war on this, war on that. And you want to talk about war on women. Why don't we talk about the war that Democrats waged this week against the woman who heads the DNC.
You saw all sorts of gossip and you saw all sorts of innuendo against Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let her at least make her point and then answer.
NAVARRO: Let me tell you something, if a Republican had gone out and talked about how somebody wanted to spend all this money on clothes and say all the gossipy things that they said about Debbie Wasserman Schultz, with the White House's fingerprints all over it, you all would be screaming bloody murder.
VANDEN HEUVEL: I think one of the biggest -- first of all, turnout is going to be a big issue. And there's no denying that the Democratic base, Latinos, African-Americans, single women, young people, are not in great form and not that happy about what's going on.
But rigging the vote has become a Republican hallmark. When we talk about Kansas, I don't look at Greg Orman or Pat Roberts. I look at that secretary of state who manipulated the ballot and registration. And limiting the voting access means cutting out large parts of our community, African-Americans, single women...
CARVILLE: We've got tens of millions of women living at the poverty line that need the minimum wage, that need the health care coverage, and need all of this, and we're going to talk about one story about a DNC chair in Washington as being some evidence of a counter war on women?
VANDEN HEUVEL: You have Republicans willing to cut Medicaid.
CARVILLE: I mean, this is people's lives out there.
NAVARRO: That's what Democrats have been doing the entire time, where, you know, you have maybe some crazy Todd Akin say some stupid remark, and you pick on that one remark...
CARVILLE: Oh, for God's sake.
STEPHENS: ... women in America understand that we're six years into a lousy recovery being orchestrated by a Democratic Senate and a Democratic president, that's the core issue.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We're out of time. I want to ask you a quick question...
STEPHANOPOULOS: You declared yourself a pro-choice conservative. Hold on. You declared yourself pro-choice conservative. Do you believe a Republican can get the nomination for president saying those words?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Simple answer. That was a great "Roundtable." Thank you.
Coming up, why one top doctor says he hopes to die at 75.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Americans are living longer than ever, but not necessarily better than ever. Old age often means painful disorienting decline, harrowing for families, expensive for society. In a provocative essay this week one top doctor asks how old is old enough?
And our Dr. Richard Besser has the story.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She looked at me and she just said, something is happening to me, Rachel.
DR. RICHARD BESSER, ABC CHIEF HEALTH & MEDICAL EDITOR: Rachel Bennett (ph) has spent the last decade watching her mother Shawna (ph) fade slowly into the fog of Alzheimer's.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A good day with my mom is when she knows me. On not so good days, she can be very agitated and anxious and worried and she will say over and over again, where am I?
BESSER: Every one minute and seven seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer's in the U.S. That's one in every nine Americans over 65. Numbers scary enough to make one of the nation's top health care experts plan on what some may say is a shocking solution, opting out of old age entirely.
DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL, BIOETHICIST: I don't anticipate wanting to end my life actively. What I am arguing about is not prolonging, not taking medications, not having surgery that -- where the goal is to save your life, to give you more life. So I'm not going to do that.
REPORTER: Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel outlined why he hopes to die at 75 in a provocative piece in this month's issue of The Atlantic.
EMANUEL: I look at the data on disability, I look at the data on Alzheimer's Disease, I look at the data on loss of creativity, and 75 seems to be the right moment where the chance of disability, physical disability is low, you're still not in the high Alzheimer's risk of 30 percent or 50 percent, and creativity has sort of come to an end.
REPORTER: Back in 1960, the age distribution looked like this, a pyramid with a lucky few living into their 80s. By 2060, the pyramid will look more like a rectangle with so many people living longer, nearly the same number of elderly and the young.
Kent Russell (ph) of The New Republic has looked at the options for those who suffer from dementia.
KENT RUSSELL, THE NEW REPUBLIC: Rather than clinging, you know, to a control or what I think my story is, until the end, we need to start thinking of it more as kind of (inaudible) of where what goes up must come down.
REPORTER: Life expectancy has increased, but then again so have the number of years seniors are living disabled.
This week, the Institute of Medicine released a report called "Dying in America," recommending sweeping changes and more planning for end of life care, including more training, discouraging some expensive hospital stays and procedures, with the goal of giving patients the final days they want -- comfortably at home and making health care more affordable.
To some, controversial steps. But not to Dr. Emanuel.
EMANUEL: I lost mental functions, if I became severely disabled and homebound, that would be very, very tragic for me. And I don't want that to happen.
REPORTER: But Rachel (ph) says being with her mother, a vulnerable and dependent as she may be, has been a gift and a lesson in how to live her own life to the fullest.
What would you say to someone who says this kind of life is not worth living?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd say think again. And I'd say open up your heart and your mind for the lessons that are there.
Why would my mother's life be less of a value? My mom has such happy moments with me.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Dr. Besser joins us now. Of course, this issue hits every American family. And you know one of the things we're talking about now is that so much of the funding, Medicare funding, does to those last few months of life so that it encourages a lot more of this palliative care and planning.
But the minute you start talking about that you hear those words death panels.
BESSER: Yeah, I can't stand that term. We have to be able to talk about that end of life care. Right now, so many people are getting care that we know doesn't work, that they don't want, but that terms means we can't even discuss it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So what's the single most important piece of information you would give and advice to the families as they start to think about these issues, as they start to plan?
BESSER: Yeah, I mean, we all know now what Dr. Emanuel wants for the end of his life, but most people don't know what their parents want.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Although he reserves the right to change his mind.
BESSER: He does. He reserves that right. But we have to start that conversation.
After -- right now, after the show ends, people need to sit down and start talking about it. What do you want at the end of your life so that your loved ones, your parents or kids know when you can't make that decision for yourself what kind of care, what you see as the end of your life?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Such an important conversation.
Dr. Richard Besser, thanks very much.
We're going to be back with a new look at America's last days in Vietnam after this from our ABC stations.
STEPHANOPOULOS: In our Sunday Spotlight, echoes of Vietnam still resonate in today's debates about war. And now a striking documentary, the last days in Vietnam, offers a new take on America's exit. But filmmakers Bobby Kennedy's daughter Rory and Jon Karl spoke with her about the drama she uncovered after all these years.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Soldiers behind me are firing at Viet Cong units.
KARL: It was America's first televised war. But somehow filmmaker Rory Kennedy managed to uncover stunning moments never before seen.
RORY KENNEDY, FILMMAKER: The Super 8 footage is so grainy and beautiful.
KARL: In America's dark, final days in Vietnam.
There's real drama, the Viet Cong are coming in. And we have to get not just U.S. personnel out, our diplomats, our military personnel, but those who have been our allies.
KENNEDY: The government said we've just got to get the Americans out. It's falling too fast. And the handful of Americans on the ground said not so fast, you know, if we leave our Vietnamese friends and allies and comrades behind they've going to be killed, they're going to be tortured.
KARL: The last American diplomats and military personnel serving in Vietnam risked their lives to help as many of their Vietnamese friends and allies escape. Among the most desperate were South Vietnamese helicopter pilots.
KENNEDY: They came to the ship the USS Kirk. They started hovering above. Kirk didn't know who they were, if they were enemy or not. They took the risk, brought them down, landed on the boat, took the Vietnamese out who were so grateful.
But then there were more helicopters hovering overhead. And they said what do we do? We don't have room for more helicopters. Push the helicopter over. They just pushed these helicopters into the sea, next one came down.
The larger helicopter that came, the Chinook helicopter, couldn't land on the Kirk because it was too big and it would have destroyed the ship. And so they waved the guy away. He had his family on board. He was running out of gas. So we hovered over the Kirk as the Kirk is moving and he throws his familyÉ
KARL: Including a baby, right?
KENNEDY: Including an 8-month-old baby, a 2-year-old, 5-year-old, throws them off of the deck of the helicopter onto the deck of the USS Kirk.
But then of course the helicopter pilot is still in the helicopter and can't land. So he goes off to sea, goes over to the starboard side of the ship. He leans the helicopter over of the right and he jumps off of the left side. The helicopter goes into the ocean, explodes, the guy drops into the ocean nowhere to be seen. And then he pops up 30 seconds later.
KARL: These amazing images had never been seen before. The film sat undeveloped in a former shipment attic for nearly 40 years only coming to light as Kennedy started putting together her documentary "The Last Day in Vietnam."
The ambassador, unfortunately, is no longer alive, but it seems like virtually every other major figure in this film you're able to talk to and even the very last marine who got out.
KENNEDY: Juan Valdez.
They are on the roof. The helicopter pulls up and they count. There are only 10 of us. There should be 11. So they go back down and, you know, they look behind. Juan Valdez's hands are gripping onto the helicopter as it's lifting off.
So, you know, the drama of these moments is really extraordinary.
KARL: For This Week, Jonathan Karl, ABC News, Washington.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I would love to know what happened to that little baby.
And now we honor our fellow Americans who serve and sacrifice.
This Week, the Pentagon released the names of two service members killed in Afghanistan.
And that is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out World News Tonight. And I'll see you tomorrow on GMA.