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Special Report

Extended Duty for Military in Iraq?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," July 6, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: Our m ilitary commanders in Iraq are very worried about Iranian influence growing in Iraq. I did receive information that weapons were coming out of Iran to help the Taliban at a crucial moment in Afghanistan.

I just don't see any coherent strategy by this administration to push back against Irania n ambitions in the region and to go nuclear. And this to me is a moment in time where engagement would matter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Senator Graham about increased intelligence that Iran is funneling weapons not only to militants inside Iraq but also inside Afghanistan. This as the administration is considering extending the tour of duty for up to 10,000 U.S. troops in Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government. No decision final. We're back with the panel. Charles, what about this?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think the most disturbing news here is that the Iraqi militants who have been attacking Americans are no longer even concealing the origin of the weapons, i.e. Iranian, which shows utter contempt for this administration and for the president's willingness to do anything serious about Iran, which is by proxy killing Americans in Iraq and in Afghanistan with increasing openness -- brazenness and using weaponry that is obviously of Iranian origin.

This administration now was committed to two things at the beginning - - getting out of Iraq at all costs. And that is what Obama has been doing without thinking about a long term strategic arrangement or pushing hard. And we aren't going to get any even though it's being now about leaving some troops. It's probably too late. The Iraqis are not going to ask us.

And on Iran, its only interest has been engagement. It didn't do a thing in the 2009 uprising, a tremendous opportunity to have regime change in the region and to change the geostrategic reality in the whole region. Didn't do a thing. It's interested in engagement, Iran knows that, and it knows it can do anything and Obama will not respond.

BAIER: A.B., just today, Iraq's prime minister welcomed Iran's vice president and 170 Iranian companies that are looking for lucrative business contracts inside Iraq. Clearly some are -- and there you see the video -- worried about this connection, especially since weapons are now tied directly to Iran. They have been. But as Charles said, it's more open.

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: Well, this isn't a surprise. I mean this was a problem in 2003. This has been a problem all along that Iran was infiltrating Shiite militias and meddling in Iraq. We've always known it. We always knew it would increase when we began to drawdown. It's not a surprise. It's also happening in Afghanistan.

And it becomes a problem because Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki doesn't have the political support to ask us to stay. It will be too late if we begin to pull out, prompting a situation where we might have to be called back in. That is the worst possible scenario under any circumstances. That just can't happen.

And so we are in a situation now, where, ya know, we have the administration hoping it will be asked to stay because this is going to become such a problem. If there's 50,000 U.S. troops there now and the Iraqi police can't stand up to this influence, they can't stand up when we leave. And the administration knows that.

BAIER: But also understand that 10,000 U.S. troops is different than 50,000. And you have to provide protection for the 10,000. It's a logistical challenge if you are going to leave just 10,000 there.

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: It is. It is. There's such passivity from the administration on this. If you listen to Jay Carney at the press briefing yesterday at the White House. He said, eh, they might ask us to stay, the Iraqis, or they might not, as if the United States is a bystander in this, as if we can't help influence the decision by providing incentives to get the Iraqis to do the things that we think would be in our national security interest.

I mean, A.B. is right in that we've known that this has been going on for a long time. But by most accounts this has picked up in the last six to 12 months, the level of support, the training, the funding.

And what I find particularly outrageous is that we've had the presidential statements on Turkish Independence Day, on Juneteenth, on negotiations in South Kordofan, but we have not had a presidential statement on Iran targeting Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq. Where is that presidential statement?

BAIER: Charles, 15 Americans were killed in June. That is the deadliest month for U.S. personnel in Iraq in more than two years.

KRAUTHAMMER: It shows you that retreat is one of the most dangerous operations in any military campaign. And we're now -- well, it's not retreat, but it's leaving. And it's always difficult because the troops are drawn down. Your supply lines are stretched. The enemy knows that you're going and you're not going to reinforce. The president has committed to leaving absolutely.

And he made that clear early on in his administration, same in Afghanistan. He sends a signal, everybody in the region knows America will be out. Who are you going to support? Stay with the Americans, who are going to leave you, or hedge you your bets? And it's always a problem.

Obama did not push hard as he should have early on to ensure that we would have some presence and cooperation with the Iraqi government.

BAIER: Down the road, short answer -- troops on the ground after the deadline in December?

KRAUTHAMMER: The Iraqis will not allow it.

STODDARD: I don't think they'll ask either.

HAYES: I think they might.

BAIER: That's it for the panel, but stay tuned to see how one size does not fit all at the White House.

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