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Special Report

Will U.S. Respond in Yemen and Syria?

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

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN, I-CONN.: There is a precedent now that the world community has set in Libya, and it's the right one. We're not going to stand by and allow this Assad to slaughter his people like his father did years ago.

HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: There is a different leader in Syria now. Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he is a reformer.

WALID PHARES, MIDDLE EAST EXPERT: What is good in Libya cannot be done in Bahrain. What we can do in Yemen cannot be done in Syria. I think we need a little change of strategic direction in Washington so we can understand better the region.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well, explaining this weekend why the U.S. will likely not intervene in Syria after some 70 people, demonstrators have been killed in recent weeks, Secretary of State Clinton said this weekend that the level and scale of the violence is different. There is not being an air force - there is not an air force being used she said. It's not the same level of force.

So what about this? We're back with the panel. Juan, is the administration setting itself up for kind of a measuring stick of how many people are killed is the demonstration of when you get involved? I mean is this a dangerous kind of road to go down?

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: Well, if you are looking for consistency it would be a dangerous road. But I don't think, right now they are trying to make the argument that every situation there is unique. So as to protect themselves from just that argument.

In today in talking with the administration officials what is I heard was, that the level of rebellion inside of Syria, so far, is confined to fairly small towns. There is nothing in Damascus, the capital. There is nothing in the way of a major armed rebellion that would first and foremost allow the United States to have a policy discussion about whether or not it is appropriate to intervene at this juncture.

And they've got to be very sensitive, of course, to the fact that not only is Syria right next door to Israel but that Syria has been a real host for a lot of funneling of money from Iran on to Hezbollah, to supporting terrorist activity. So this could be an opportunity in fact, then to set off a lot of triggers, and they are just being very cautious about how you handle the situation.

BAIER: Chris, but if the trigger is protecting human life, which it says in the U.N. security council resolution, protecting the Libyans from Qaddafi forces, Yemenis could argue they should be protected and Syrians should argue -- or could argue they should be protected.

CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS POLITICS EDITOR DIGITAL: And shouldn't we all be protected? The term that conservatives have taken up today is "humanitarian imperialism." And they are knocking the administration for basically saying it's not your job to see to basic humanitarian standards around the world. You job is to defend and protect the United States of America and our vital interest. Please do that, and when that is taken care of, consider something else.

I think the danger here for the president is that he looks more Bushian than George W. Bush, who had the forward strategy of freedom and talked about transforming the Middle East and transforming the world that was derided on the left and some on the right, as pie-eyed, impossible vision for the future in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it's been tough. I think where the president's heading now that is of concern to some people is that he's broadening that mandate.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Look, I think that is a strong [INAUDIBLE] argument. There's nobody seriously asking for an attack on Syria. What people are saying is that it is scandalous and incomprehensible that the administration is not at least expressing rhetorical support for the people in the street in Damascus and in other parts of Syria and getting shot. Syria is an enemy state. It's a matter of strategic interest.

BAIER: I mean do you think many people think that Bashar al-Assad is a reformer?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well for the Secretary of State to actually speak of his credentials as a reformer and thus to undermine the brave protesters in the streets who are getting shot is truly scandalous. It's like Obama in 2009 when you had a revolution in Iran not speaking out on behalf of the protesters and speaking respectfully of those who were shooting them in the street.

It's as if you were an arch enemy of the United States, Iran and Syria you will get a pass, a rhetorical pass by this administration. Completely incomprehensible. We ought to be supporting the revolutionaries at least rhetorically and not excusing the butchers who are shooting them in the street.

BAIER: That is it for the panel. But stay tuned for an interesting wakeup call.

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