This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from July 18, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN RICE, OBAMA FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER: It is not our intent to make policy or to negotiate, and we won't do so. There is one president of the United States at any given time, and we will certainly honor and respect that.
But we look very much forward to the opportunity for Senator Obama to have an in depth exchange on a range of substantive issues at a time when there are many pressing challenges before us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRETT BAIER, GUEST HOST: There you hear Susan Rice, Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to Senator Barack Obama, talking about this trip. Senator Obama is wheels up, heading overseas. What about the reception he will get there? What about this trip?
Some analytical observations from Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard, Mort Kondracke, executive editor of Roll Call, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, FOX News contributors all.
We talked about this earlier in the week, but, Fred, you are just back from London. You have your finger on the pulse of Europe. What is the reception going to be?
FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: In Europe, it will be Obama-mania, like we have probably never seen it before. That won't happen in Afghanistan or other places he goes, but you are going to see it there.
There was a poll in The Guardian newspaper in England this week that said five out of six Brits are for Obama in the election. That's a pretty big landslide.
And even on the conservative party, they will point out to you, you know, that their leader, David Cameron, he's for change, and its George Brown, the Labor guy, he is experience.
And some of them have actually leaked to the press—it didn't go over very well—of how much Cameron is like Obama, not like Bush or like McCain.
So he is going to get a tremendous reception there, but I think the problem for him may be that it could just turn into a spectacle, like some rock star summer tour. And I don't think that would help him.
BAIER: What about this speech, and we've talked about this too, what the expectations for a speech in Berlin and what he has to say and what he may say, Mort?
MORT KONDRACKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ROLL CALL: Well, you know, he's going to talk about repaired relations. The question is does he say we're abandoning unilateralism. Does he openly beat up on George Bush or practically openly make the distinction.
Or does he just say, you know, you're our allies, we go back hundreds of years. We stand with you. We expect to you stand with us.
And he might even say we'd like to you help us in Afghanistan. We have a job to do. We have other jobs to do, like the environment, and fighting terrorism, and all that. He could make a substantive speech.
BAIER: This trip has two parts. One is the Senate trip to Iraq and Afghanistan. The other part is a trip throughout Europe.
John McCain, presumptive Republican nominee, has been hammering Obama over his Iraq policy, and today here is what he said about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This trip that he's on would have been vastly different if we had done what Senator Obama wanted to do, and that is he wanted to withdraw. He opposed the surge. He said the surge wouldn't work, and fails to acknowledge that it's working today. So he would be going to a very different Iraq if we had done what he wanted to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Charles, what about that line?
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It's very effective. He needs to spell out exactly what Iraq would look like if what Obama had proposed at the beginning of '07 had occurred. He would have had all our troops out four months ago, which means we would have Al Qaeda in control of large elements of Iraq with a strong base.
It means that Iran would have the control that it had before the central government kicked Iran and its cohorts, allies, and clients out of the southern areas of Iraq. It would have tremendous influence over Iraq. And probably the central government would have a collapsed, and it would be in the middle of a civil war and possibly genocide.
The best argument against Obama, the best antiwar argument to use against him, is to say that if we had listened to him we'd be in a position where we would be looking at a strategic calamity on our hands, as I described, also, a humanitarian one, which would impel us to have a third Iraqi war.
We are now at the cusp, and, hopefully, at the conclusion, or near it, of the active elements of the second Iraqi war. And if we abandon it, we're going to end up having to make a decision as to whether we're going to have to go back in for a third time.
That's the kind of antiwar argument, in a sense, that McCain can make and he ought to make.
BAIER: And, Fred, after this trip to Afghanistan and Iraq, we're likely not going to hear the private discussions with commanders. But do you think Obama will come out with a different look at the situation after he sees it on the ground?
BARNES: I don't see how he cannot, even though he has now this week reaffirmed his position that he has been right all along and he has to get out the troops out in his timetable of 16 months sticks.
But, look, I think we will find out what happened in these meetings, it will leak. And Obama's problem is you see that he has talked about sectarian violence and all this stuff still going on when there is zero of it right now.
He can put himself in a rather awkward position where he is saying one thing and the facts are the opposite. As Senator Moynahan used to say, "You can have your own opinion, but you can't have your own facts."
KONDRACKE: I think it would be fascinating if he really learned something and said, wow, the situation is different. I still want to withdraw, I still want to transfer these troops to Afghanistan, but the timetable, 16 months a goal.
I don't know that he can do that and keep his base intact.
KRAUTHAMMER: Not anymore. He has flipped too many times on this. He can't go back.
BAIER: Last word.
After a break, will Saturday's diplomatic session with Iran make any difference in the big picture on the nuclear issue? We'll talk about that, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: It should be very clear to everyone the United States has a condition for the beginning of negotiations with Iran, and that condition remains the verifiable suspension of Iran's enrichment an reprocessing activities.
A condition, by the way, that is now an international condition since it is memorialized in three separate Security Council resolutions.
JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: The Iranians will use this to their advantage because it will enable them to buy time during which they continue to perfect their nuclear capabilities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton both talking about a meeting in which Undersecretary of State William Burns will head to Geneva, Switzerland, and sit along representatives with five other countries across the table from Iran's nuclear negotiator to try to hammer out a deal to see if Iran will take this incentives package to stop enriching uranium.
So we're back with our panel. Charles, what about this? Is this a major shift in policy?
KRAUTHAMMER: I think it's a concession of major proportions. The reason is, though we have said unequivocally for years that unless the Iranians suspended enrichment, we would not negotiate. Now we're sending a number three guy at State to sit in the room, but with his lips sealed. So he's not talking so technically he's not negotiating.
I think it is a distinction of miniscule proportions. The United States is going back on a condition that it had insisted on for a long time.
Now, either we have—the State Department has worked out some understanding with the Iranians that if we do this, something else will happen. Perhaps all of that is cooked up or wired or even suggested. I see no evidence of that, but it could happen in the future.
In the absence of evidence of a quid pro quo on the part of the Iranians, this is a major concession, and it means that we are essentially giving in on our insistence on uranium suspension.
And that's a big deal.
KONDRACKE: I guess I trust Condi more than Charles does. I mean, she says the United States has a condition for the beginning of negotiations with Iran, and that condition remains the verifiable suspension of uranium enrichment.
Burns is going there. There is no indication that he will give any more than we have already got. If we start giving, then she is lying here.
So I don't, frankly, see it.
BAIER: Fred, the administration says privately that they have indications that the sanctions already are having effect in Tehran, that Iran may take this incentives package, and that is the answer to the why now.
BARNES: That's why they are sending William Burns to talks that are negotiation. Whether he utters any words or not, those are negotiations. They are negotiating over this package that is being offered with a lot of carrots, and I don't know whether there are any sticks at all.
Look, there is only one thing that would justify this, and this would be if there is a deal, somehow, that the Iranians are going to back off from building a nuclear weapon, one they can use against Israel or countries even in Europe.
Now, that would be great if this is all you had to do to achieve that. I don't think so.
So, you know, look, the U.S. has said over and over again that this is what they would not do, join the negotiations and have an American there. And now they are doing it. There better be something there.
And this does not strike me as Nixon going to China. There you had something huge that the U.S. got this superpower that was dealing much more warmly with us against Soviet communism. It was a strategic strike of great proportions.
I don't think this is, but I'd like to be wrong.
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