This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from August 14, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Moscow must honor its commitment to withdraw its invading forces from all Georgian territories.
The people of Georgia have cast their lot with the free world, and we will not cast them aside.
With its actions in recent days, Russia has damaged its credibility and its relations with the nations of the free world. Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, GUEST HOST: President Bush today, a short time after his Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appeared in Tbilisi with Georgia's president, Mikhail Saakashvili. Signing a ceasefire agreement, the Georgian president did, but doubted whether Russia would step aside.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKHAIL SAAKASHVILI, GEORGIAN PRESIDENT: They will keep advancing, they will keep killing. They will keep destroying other countries. That's what they are trying to do to my country right now as we speak.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: No word yet whether Russian President Medvedev has signed the ceasefire agreement. The president is calling for all Russian troops to withdraw from Georgia. That is the latest.
Now some analytical observations from Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard; Jeff Birnbaum, columnist of The Washington Post, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, FOX News contributors all.
Charles, we saw that today, Russian troops actually moved deeper into Georgia, just outside Tbilisi, some 30 miles, according to our reporters on the ground. In the back and forth, how do you interpret the latest developments?
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, the Russian troops are going every which way, but they're not leaving. That is for certain. They may eventually, but not now.
What is going now is Condi Rice is trying to undo what the president of France had inadvertently done. He got snookered, as I said the other night, because he had a clause in the treaty, clause five, which essentially allowed the Russians the run of Georgia.
So there's now a side letter from the president of France to the Georgians which attempts to explain that as meaning that the Russians can go a few kilometers outside of the disputed provinces, but have to stay out of the cities like Gori.
Now, that has yet to be signed right now. The Russians are in Gori. They have essentially paralyzed the western half of Georgia. It is cut in half. They have stripped the port. They have sunk the ships, as we saw earlier in the program. So Georgia is not functioning now, and it's being stripped.
What's happening is there an airlift. Americans are supporting it. But if the Russians stay a while, it's going to be a standoff looking like Berlin in '48, in which it will be us keeping them alive.
The danger, I think, is if the Russians hang around and stall, they're going to insist they will negotiate only with a new government and then there will be pressure on the Europeans and on us to let the government collapse. We won't. I'm hoping the Europeans will stand fast as well, but I'm not 100 percent sure they will.
BAIER: In fact, today Russian President Dmitry Medvedev appearing next to Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, said that these Russian enclaves of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, will never be under Georgian rule is basically his sentence.
In addition to that, Jeff, we have the back and forth over interceptor missiles being put in Poland. And a Russian general today saying this, "Poland, by deploying this system, is exposing itself to a strike 100 percent." Talking about the deal to put the missile shield battery in Poland, he said "It cannot go unpunished."
That sounds threatening.
JEFF BIRNBAUM, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: That sounds very threatening.
I think what we are seeing here is the post $100 a barrel of oil era, where Russia, which is a major producer of oil, is now a major power because of the oil revenues that it is taking in.
And what can we do about it? Russia clearly believes that it can do what it wants without major consequence. Will the United States and the west be able to push back the Russians to those two provinces and maybe back into Russia? And if so, how do we go about it?
What if Russia does threaten, perhaps even militarily, on the border of places like the Ukraine and Poland? What do we do about it? Are economic sanctions enough to stop a Russian economy that is so large that it actually is a threat in many ways to the west, because they have what we need — oil.
I think that's the open-ended question here, and we really don't have an answer.
BAIER: Yesterday, Fred, we showed Defense Secretary Gates saying that he sees no use for U.S. forces getting involved in this situation. So what if Russia stays?
FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, I think it's likely that they will, because they're getting away with it, for sure.
And one reason they're getting away with it is because the Europeans, the incredibly soft, pusillanimous response by the Europeans. Angela Merkel was there, and she said, her criticism of the Russians was that their response to what was going on in those enclaves in Georgia was disproportionate.
Boy, that's not the harshest criticism I have ever heard. So when the Russians look out, they see the United States, which, logistically it's very hard for the U.S. to project power in Georgia, for heaven's sakes, particularly when we're in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Russians, I suspect, figure they're in a pretty good situation, and it's I think obviously clear that the Russians are bent on expansion. They want to recreate a greater Russia and at least bring their former satellite countries to heel.
And one way we know that is the completely phony pretext that they used to get into Georgia. One, they stirred up this secessionist stuff, and then they sent in troops in, saying that the Georgians had committed genocide and so one. There is no evidence of that. Completely phony.
BAIER: Quickly Charles. Let's say Russia signs this cease-fire, then what heading into the weekend and days ahead?
KRAUTHAMMER: Our immediate objective is to get observers in, because under clause five, as soon as the observers are in place, and hopefully there will be hundreds of Europeans, Finns, for example, in place, for example, then the clause expires, and the Russians don't have the run of Georgia proper, and they have to go back into the enclaves.
If that happens, then the major crisis is over, and it becomes a long- term negotiation over the future of the two provinces.
BAIER: That's it for this panel. But coming up next we'll look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of the first week of the Olympics when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACQUES ROGGE, INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE PRESIDENT: The Olympic Games live around superheroes. You have Jesse Owens, you had Carl Lewis, and now you have Phelps. And that's what we need to have.
WANG WEI, BEIJING ORGANIZING COMMITTEE VICE PRESIDENT: Olympic Games is a great platform. Everybody I see who comes to China for the first time will say to me China is so different from what they read, what they saw in films, and papers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: There you see the IOC president talking about Michael Phelps, the U.S. swimmer who now has six gold medals, on his way, possibly, to some more tonight. And also you heard the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee talking about China as a host for these Olympic Games.
So we're halfway through. We're back with our panel. Fred, what is your take so far?
BARNES: I like a couple of things that have happened. The Chinese have actually-these thing are obviously over-organized. And it is an authoritarian country, and that's a mild way of putting it. I think they have scared away their own fans, because there has been really skimpy attendance at some of the games.
But on ((inaudible)) for the Chinese fans, they have done a couple of good things. One, they booed the Iranian team at the opening ceremony and cheered the U.S. team.
And you know who the favorite basketball player is in Japan(sic)? It's not Yao Ming. It's Kobe Bryant. They love Americans. And of course the American beat the Greeks.
Tomorrow morning in U.S. time is the big game against Spain. And I think the most interesting thing is whether the U.S. can reassert its leadership in basketball. I think the' answer is going to be yes.
BAIER: Your favorite moment so far?
BARNES: My favorite moment so far was actually a play by Dwayne Wade running after in the basketball game against Greece, running out of bounds and just hurled the ball over-and who was there but Kobe Bryant to catch it and dunk without dripping. What a play!
BAIER: Jeff, what about-obviously Fred is fired up about the sports here. What about the politics of this, and China's role in hosting these games. And we saw a big focus on it before the opening ceremonies — not so much now.
BIRNBAUM: There was the issue of whether President Bush should be at the opening ceremonies, whether he should be there at all. I think most people now look and see it was perfectly appropriate for him to be there and in fact a good idea.
Some people were saying that the Chinese are creating an image by — artificially through these games. I think that we're actually getting a fairly well-rounded view. It is both amazing — the precision of masses of people, especially at that opening ceremony was incredible. But it's also scary, creepy in a lot of ways, that —
BARNES: The synchronized drums?
BIRNBAUM: It was all amazing. It was breathtaking and frightening and remarkable and eye-opening about how important and how far — how important this country is and how far it really has to go to become a fully-developed nation, where individuals are able to do things.
They are obviously not. I mean, the story about the little girl who wasn't beautiful enough to be put out front, the singer. The little flaws we're seeing are telling us as much as the perfection of these mass demonstrations.
And I think it's important for the world to view China, because it is so large and important, and we're getting a window into bolt kinds of China through these remarkable Olympics, in my view.
KRAUTHAMMER: Like Jeff and Fred, I'm enjoying the sports. I like seeing Phelps, half man, half fish. I mean, the most amazing athlete I have ever seen. But like Jeff, I'm still recovering from the opening ceremonies. I got that chill up my spine. It was "Triumph of the Will" Chinese-style. I mean it had all of these sweet elements. It had the fireworks, had the smiley face, had 2,000 drums, people acting in unison like computer graphics or automatons.
And then it had the little girls carrying the flag, handing it over to goose stepping soldiers in a chilling reminder of an earlier Olympics and an earlier time in a galaxy far away. It was really like a Nuremberg rally in modern garb.
My son had the best take. He said it was a cross between a North Korean mass rally and Cirque de Soleil. And it was quite chilling. It is the China that is controlled by this authoritarian regime. The trains are run on time, but a little scarily clean and neat and perfect.
BAIER: One little controversy is gymnastics, the women's team. There was some question about whether many of their members made the 16-year-old requirement, because they looked very young. The Chinese put forward their passports. The IOC said "OK, they're 16."
BIRNBAUM: It must be true then. It has to be.
BAIER: All right, another controversy I want to bring up really quickly — the Spanish basketball team. They do this ad in Spain, and look at this. Can you imagine the U.S. team doing this holding their eyes like that? It never would happen.
BARNES: They would have been brought home.
BIRNBAUM: And it would have been on the front page of every newspaper in the world and held up to ridicule, as it should be.
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