OTR Interviews

Palin: Obama Doctrine Is Still Full of Chaos and Questions

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 28, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: There is breaking news. Minutes ago, President Obama announcing Wednesday is the day. But is it? The United States will turn over command and control of Operation Odyssey Dawn to NATO. But isn't the United States a huge part of NATO? So how much is the U.S. still on the hook? And who will issue the orders? Former ambassador John Bolton is here to go "On the Record." But now, President Obama, a few minutes ago.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Qaddafi declared he would show no mercy to his own people.

If we waited one more day, Benghazi, a city nearly the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world. It was not in our national interests to let that happen. I refused to let that happen.

In this particular country, Libya, at this particular moment, we were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale. We had a unique ability to stop that violence, an international mandate for action, a broad coalition prepared to join us, the support of Arab countries and a plea for help from the Libyan people themselves.

Moreover, America has an important strategic interest in preventing Qaddafi from overrunning those who oppose him. A massacre would have driven thousands of additional refugees across Libya's borders, putting enormous strains on the peaceful yet fragile transitions in Egypt and Tunisia.


VAN SUSTEREN: Now, Donald Trump is also talking about Libya, and he is showing us his birth certificate. Why? Well, Donald Trump wants the president to show his. Donald Trump will go "On the Record" and tell you himself.

But first, the breaking news. Former governor Sarah Palin joins us with her reaction to the president's speech tonight. Good evening, Governor. And Governor, having heard the speech, what is the reason that you understand to be why we are -- why we participated in this military action in Libya?

SARAH PALIN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR/FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: I think that was a profoundly disappointing speech because it proved that the Obama doctrine is still full of chaos and questions. It's dodgy. It's dubious. And it's a good question that you asked, Greta, because we're not hearing from our president what is the end game here. And with Qaddafi still in power, if we're not going to oust him via killing or capturing, then there is no acceptable end state.

It's very disappointing that we didn't hear that commitment from our president, that America's interests lie in Qaddafi being ousted. And without that being met, you know, I have to again ask why in the world will our military might be used according to the U.N. and Arab League desires and NATO's leadership in this skirmish or this war or whatever it is that Obama calls it or doesn't want to call it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, usually, on speeches like this, I think there are two purposes. One is substantively, to explain to the American people why, why we're doing the military action, or whatever. The other is to inspire us to feel very proud of what we're doing and that this is the right decision. I actually thought tonight that he felt -- that he had sort of a flat delivery, that, you know, he lost the inspiration part, so it was hard to be convinced of the substantive purpose part.

PALIN: Well, he did not articulate really what our purpose was, except some inconsistent humanitarian effort there in Libya. And yet the inconsistency lies with the questions now being asked, well, why not Darfur, why not North Korea? What are we going to do about Syria? All these other areas where I guess America could intervene with our power and resources to help humanity.

He did not make the case for this intervention. U.S. interests have got to be met if we are going to intervene. And U.S. interests can't just mean validating some kind of post-American theory of intervention, wherein we wait for the Arab League and the United Nations to tell us, Thumbs up, America, you can go now, you can act, and then we get in the back of the bus and we wait for NATO. We want for the French to lead us. That's not inspirational.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I must confess that when this all began to develop and when I the heard reports that Qaddafi was saying he would show no mercy to his people, he compared them to rats and threatened to go door- to-door to inflict punishment -- and this is -- I'm lifting, of course, from the president's speech -- when that was going on, you know, it was so horrible that, you know -- but now with 20/20 hindsight, you know, it's obviously very easy for me to think, like, why -- why is this military action for this humanitarian purpose, when more people are dying in other parts of the world.

PALIN: Yes, that's -- that's a good question. And that's the $600 million dollar-a-day question that is being asked now because that's the cost incurred by Americans as we support the no-fly zone, which, of course, the no-fly zone, the intervention or enactment is turning into more than that.

Again, disappointing speech because we didn't get the answers. We want to know what is the end game. U.S. interests are Qaddafi's got to go, killing him or capturing. He's got to go because he's going to seek revenge on the United States of America. That will be his MO from here on out, and he will sponsor terrorism unless he's gone.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, the president does say he's dangerous, does say, though, that the goal of the mission is not regime change. And I suppose he's going to continue to be dangerous, and I don't know what NATO's response is, but NATO on their Web site tonight -- I looked at it, and NATO said that -- you know, that they -- that their goal was to be impartial. And I thought, What in the world is that? In implementing Resolution 1973, they said they're supposed to be impartial. How can you be impartial when you're flying over some country and even sometimes shooting off missiles? It doesn't seem to be impartial. NATO also says that their goal is to protect civilians and civilian population areas under threat of attack. And I'm not even sure that's very well defined, but maybe you can't define better in war.

PALIN: Well, if we were going to protect civilians, doesn't that mean, then, getting rid of the bad guy? And hasn't the president already said that Qaddafi's the bad guy? He said that some weeks ago, when those of us who supported the no-fly zone said, yes, get in there and act. Get rid of him then. And then the tune changed coming from the White House and...

VAN SUSTEREN: But you know -- well, you raise something interesting, and I don't mean to interrupt you, but you raise something interesting because in the president's speech and in multiple speeches, even ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said it, saying that Qaddafi had lost his legitimacy. But the fact is, he never really had it. He took over this country in the late 1960s in a coup. And even to have the sort of the concept that he lost it -- he never had it. And that's even -- you know, that's sort of an unusual way to look at his -- that suddenly, something has happened and so now he's suddenly bad. He's been a horrible person, you know, since day one.

PALIN: Right. In these 42 years, there has been atrocities conducted by Qaddafi. So I, too -- I wonder, Well, why now? Why not earlier? What is the -- what's the imperative nature of this action today?

Today, too, one of the president's senior national security advisers, it was report, said, We don't make decisions on intervention based on consistency or precedent. Now, that statement coming from his adviser is amazing! It's appalling. It means that this intervention is by ad hoc policy.

Obama is ignoring history and he's engaging in inconsistency. It's making us all -- not all of us but many of us distrust what it is that we are doing there in Libya and making us wonder what is the end game, but where do we go next with all the other countries that are certainly suffering from a lot of turmoil? The inconsistency tonight articulated by our president just made things worse.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, in times of war, we're supposed to drop politics and nothing -- and neither side is supposed to make any decision, take any shots politically. Tonight, the Speaker of the House, Boehner, made a statement saying Americans -- in response to the speech -- Americans still have no answer to the fundamental question what does success in Libya look like?

Now, he's a Republican, so -- but now let me turn to what a Democrat has said tonight. And this is Democrat Senator Udall, who one of my colleagues, Trish Turner, caught up with. And he gave the speech a B- plus or an A-minus, but then he went on to say that he has questions, like what are the details of U.S. involvement in the NATO mission? What's the plan if this comes to a stalemate? What are the ramifications of the ongoing war in Afghanistan? He complains about the cost. He said, I'm going to do everything I can to make sure this is paid out of existing funds, so there's a cost element. He also said that the U.S. needs to do a better job for planning for such things.

So when you have a Democratic U.S. senator who has got so many questions after hearing the speech, you wonder just how -- you know, whether this was -- you know, this was the right speech at the right time for this president.

PALIN: Yes. And those are very legitimate questions on both sides of the aisle. And you know, another big question that has to be asked, Greta, is, Are we at war? I haven't heard the president say that we are at war. And that's why I, too, am not knowing, do we use the term "intervention," do we use "war," do we use "squirmish," what is it?

What I know is that U.S. interests are not being met if Qaddafi stays in power and if we are merely taking a back seat to the Arab League, to the United Nations, to NATO leadership while we just kind of put our finger up in the air and decide what the political winds are around the world, not necessarily knowing and believing that the U.S. interests must come first in this.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, in reviewing his speech, what he said tonight, and rereading it several times, I mean, he -- there were a lot of nuances. And I thought to myself, if in times of war that you have to explain it in nuances, it really does mean that you really don't have a clear sense of why we're there, what we're doing, what our objective is, is when you have to sort of go, Well, it's a little bit this and a bit little that. I think that's what I found disconcerting.

PALIN: That's disconcerting. But I had a little bit of hope during his speech when he mentioned the North Star. I mention the North Star so often. The North Star is part of the Alaska flag. We're -- we up here are able to use as our GPS, as kind of our plumb line, the great North Star with its abiding light over land and sea, a beacon bright. We look at the North Star, and it helps us, I believe -- it helps me -- stay focused on what really matters.

So when the president mentioned the North Star tonight, I thought, Hey, maybe he gets it. Maybe he understands what the U.S. interests are, how committed we need to be to winning in this intervention, in this war. And yet, even from there, the reference to the North Star, he kind of wandered off again and allowed more of the inconsistencies and the questions and the kind of the dubious rationale being used, more of that just was being revealed.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, thank you.

PALIN: Thank you so much.