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'Special Report' Panel on North Korea's Missile Launch

This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Bret Baier" from April 6, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: China shares the goal we do of a Korean peninsula without nuclear weapons. They are working through the means that they deem most effective to achieve that.

We have our view as to what is the most effective means are, and there is a great deal of overlap between those in the broadest sense.

But in the context of the council, there are some differences about the relative balance between pressure that is constructive and pressure that may be ultimately destructive. And that's what we're wrestling with in these negotiations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice talking about the process as the U.S. and government under President Obama tries to get the U.N. Security Council to act after North Korea fired this rocket over the weekend.

What is the process — the prospect of a tough resolution from the U.N., and what does that mean anyway? Let's bring in our panel — Bill Kristol, editor of "The Weekly Standard," Juan Williams, senior correspondent of National Public Radio, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

Bill, let's start with you. You heard Susan Rice say, hey, at the beginning this is canned rhetoric from the capitals, and then we move behind closed doors.

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": It's pathetic. I mean, a U.N. resolution isn't worth much of anything to begin with anyway, and we can't even get a tough U.N. resolution. We can't get any U.N. resolution.

We will end up settling for what's called a "presidential statement" where council members express their disappointment that North Korea did this thing they weren't supposed to do, and there will be increased sanctions, no consequences.

President Obama said in Prague "There will be consequences, there must be action." There will be no consequences. There will be no action. It is a horrible signal to send, not just to North Korea, but to Iran and to other dictators and to other states who are happy to relish weakness. And that's, I'm afraid, what we're showing.

BAIER: Juan?

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: I don't think it's showing weakness. I think it's possibly overreaction if we were to do more than we have done.

What we can do is go to the U.N. and try to build a basis in saying let's all as a world condemn what's taking place here. Let's get the neighboring nations involved.

There is not much chance that in the short run North Korea has the ability to militarize those missiles to make them effective weapons. So what we've got right now is a situation where we can talk about this.

But, you know, really, we already have a resolution in the U.N. that says that they should not have the opportunity to launch missiles, especially to gain nuclear power

BAIER: Which they broke.

WILLIAMS: Which they have broken. So what does it do? What are we doing here? President Bush, President Clinton faced similar crises. They threatened and said we needed the kind of U.N. resolutions. It made no difference.

So let's be serious. Unless we can get China, especially China, to involve itself in terms of serious sanctions, all of this is really a waste of time.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, the administration is pretending, as we heard from Susan Rice, that China is on our side on this. It's not. It has no interest in weakening its ally and puppet in Pyongyang. It's working against us.

We are not going to get a resolution of any sort. Even if we did, it would have no influence.

As for the presidential statement, which is a weak alternative, as Bill indicated, we couldn't even get a presidential statement from the council because China objected to any expression and use of the word "concern," let alone "condemn" or "denounce."

So it's entirely a fantasy. But what makes it worse is that Obama, in Prague, spoke about getting the whole world behind us. He spoke about the international community, which is, in and of itself, is a fiction. He spoke about the U.N. and these resolutions having force, which is also a fiction.

He spoke about a world without nuclear weapons, which is beyond a fiction. It's a childish fantasy.

And what does he talk about? America signing the test ban treaty and working on START talks with the Russians. They are both useless.

Our only defense, our only incremental increase in our defense against these weapons is missile defense. And what the Obama administration announced a day after the launching of this missile from North Korea? A drastic cut in missile defense, which is our only hope of having something which would be effective.

The head of Strategic Command and head of our Pacific Command have said in Congress that our interceptors could work against an attack from North Korea, and we are cutting that program and making it entirely ineffective.

WILLIAMS: Charles, we have missile defense. You are straying far away from the target. This is not about North Korea. You believe Obama should do more in terms of missile defense.

OK. But we have the ability to stop it. If that was a militarized missile coming at us from North Korea, we have the ability to stop it.

KRISTOL: That's not true.

KRAUTHAMMER: No. We have a chance of hitting it. And what the budget is now going to do is it's going to eliminate adding another interceptor.

The more interceptors we have, the higher our chances.

KRISTOL: And the budget —

KRAUTHAMMER: It's also eliminating the airborne laser, which would attack it in boost phase, meaning at the launch.

It has to be a layered system. And what Obama is doing is reducing all of those layers so it becomes entirely hit or miss and a chance on our part.

BAIER: Bill, what about this, about the threat, first of all, from North Korea, and this premise that they're not a threat now, so let's wait.

KRISTOL: There is a thing called proliferation. So when North Korea develops missiles and nuclear technology, they have the ability to send it to other people.

And they have. Guess what? There was a place in Syria that the Israelis destroyed a year-and-a-half ago.

So to say that even if North Korea itself can be contained, the idea that North Korea, a bankrupt nation that has shown a willingness to sell this stuff to everyone, is going to allowed to develop nuclear capable rockets is incredibly dangerous.

And the idea that we sit there and sort of go to the U.N. and cut our defense programs — I mean, it is a combination of what has happened, I very much agree with Charles, in the last 48 hours is scary.

It is scary to have a president of the United States give a speech in which he talks about a world without nuclear weapons at the same time that North Korea launches a rocket and we cut our defense budget in various ways, including in precisely the ways that would help protect against these nuclear weapons that are proliferating.

It is a very dangerous moment.

BAIER: President Obama made his visit appearance in a Muslim nation today, and he is doing his best to mend fences.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Let me say this as clearly as I can. The United States is not and will never be at war with Islam.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: The panel weighs in on what the president said when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We will listen carefully, we will bridge misunderstandings, and we will seek common ground. We will be respectful even when we do not agree. We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over the centuries to shape the world, including in my own country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: President Obama in Turkey talking about his approach moving forward.

We will bring back our panel. Juan, what was your take?

WILLIAMS: I thought that he was making an effort to reach out to the Muslim world in a way that, obviously, George W. Bush couldn't have done, the face of Barack Obama as he talked about it having relatives who were Muslim, having spent time in Indonesia, a Muslim country.

I think what he was saying was, listen, here is an opportunity for us to work together, and not work together simply in terms of fighting terror, but to work together on many fronts, saying he believed Turkey deserved a place in Nato.

And in all those ways, it seems to me, he is laying the groundwork, because Turkey has played such a key role in terms of even Syria talking to Israel. They have been a good friend to the United States. And I think that it's totally appropriate.

Obviously he runs the risk of people mocking him and saying oh well gosh, he is a Muslim, or playing that kind of lie against him, that kind of defame.

But I think he took an appropriate risk, and I think he has done a very good job here of saying to the Turkish people and to the Muslim world, because, remember this was carried live on Al-Jazeera and other networks, saying to them, listen, there is a chance to work with the United States. We are not your enemy. Don't get hung up on what happened in previous administrations. Look to what's possible now.

BAIER: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: I think he did all right in his speech to the parliament in Turkey. I thought there was an overemphasis in the second half on how it's a Muslim nation.

But in the first half, he spoke about his respect for Ataturk, the founder of Turkey, and he stressed the fact that it's a secular democracy. And I thought that was a good approach.

He emphasized that Turkey, like the United States, is not a Muslim or a Christian nation, but a nation devoted to an idea. So I thought that was also good.

Considering what he said on the rest of his trip about America and Islam and how we have to change our behavior, he said in Strasbourg, and who increased respect for the Muslim world, which I thought was needlessly denigrating America, considering all that and considering how his speech was rather innocuous in Turkey — not original and not terribly important — I'm rather encouraged.

BAIER: Bill?

KRISTOL: Charles is being too nice. We have a good cop, bad cop thing here.

(LAUGHTER)

Look, we have fought with Muslims against Muslim terrorists. We have defended Muslim nations against terrorists. It would have been nice if President Obama could have said a word about the young Americans who went to Afghanistan and are now in Afghanistan and who went to Iraq and who are now in Iraq.

And who are they fighting with side by side? Muslims. And what kind of government are they defending, what kind of people are they defending there against terror? Muslims.

But could Barack Obama say something that would be mildly unpopular to an audience which he was speaking? No. Could he say that the war in Afghanistan or the war in Iraq are just and that we have fought for Muslims, incidentally under President Clinton we fought for Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo. That would have been a nice thing to say.

His idea of standing, it really, I found it discouraging.

WILLIAMS: But don't you think this is a first step?

KRISTOL: No.

WILLIAMS: I think that all you said is true. Americans are fighting to defend the lives of Muslims around this world.

KRISTOL: Couldn't he have said that? You said that very well. And he should have said what you said. He should have said what you said

WILLIAMS: But don't you think that it's necessary in some ways to set the groundwork, given the tensions that have existed with the Bush administration and the fact that we have troops there, and the fact that Turkey has joined us in putting troops there?

BAIER: Last word, Charles.

KRAUTHAMMER: At least he didn't apologize.

BAIER: That's it for the panel, but stay tuned to see more gift fallout.

BAIER: Finally tonight, we reported last week on the president's gift to the Queen of England of an iPod containing show tunes and video clips of her trip to the U.S., and the queen's gift to the Obamas of a silver framed photo of the queen and Prince Philip.

Well, it raised some eyebrows her in Washington, and apparently on "Saturday Night Live," too.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You both have to step it up. Obama, first, DVDs for the prime minister, and now this? I'm not saying it's easy buying a gift for the queen. She wears the same outfit every day and her only hobby is waving.

But if you're looking for gift ideas for foreign leaders, maybe check with the State Department and not Sasha and Malia. This is an audience with the queen, not the third night of Chanukah.

And while we're at it, Queen of England, a picture of yourself is not a good gift. It's like saying if you liked having this quiet awkward exchange with me, imagine if it never ended.

In short, let's try and remember, you're world leaders, not secret Santas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: That's it for this "Special Report," straightforward news in uncertain times.

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