This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," May 28, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R - AZ: Horrible things are happening in Syria. This administration has a feckless foreign policy which abandons American leadership. I know, because I visit with these people, that they are ready to help these people. And they are already helping them some. But it cries out for American leadership. American leadership is not there.
GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: You will always find military leaders to be somewhat cautious about the use of force because we're never entirely sure what comes out on the other side. But that said, it may come to a point with Syria, because of the atrocities.
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DOUG MCKELWAY, ANCHOR: "Feckless foreign policy" are the words that Senator McCain used right there, very strong word, really. If you look up the definition - "ineffectual," "Without a goal in mind, no design for victory." Charles?
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, that is a perfect description of the Syria policy. But I think what is important today is the way that the press has been reporting what happened at the U.N. This is supposed to be a great success. The way it's worded is the U.N. Security Council today unanimously condemned Syria for the massacres.
It didn't at all. That is rubbish. There wasn't even a resolution. There was a presidential statement. In fact, it wasn't even a presidential statement, meaning the president of the Security Council. It was only a presidential press statement. And it was -- in other words, it has no -- Security Council resolutions are worthless to start with. These are less than worthless. The statement has no power at all, no force in law. And in fact the Russians weren't condemned directly. The language was weak. The Russians had weakened it. The idea that -- there was leak in the press this morning on how the Russians are reconsidering, the Russians are helping us on this, that again is nonsense. The Russians are absolutely cold and ruthless on this. They care nothing about the atrocities. They care only about their strategic position in Syria. If they think Assad is about to fall, they will switch. Until then they will do as they have done in the Security Council, support and protect Syria. And we have done nothing. We even had a report earlier that Iran has troops in Syria. I have no doubt that is true. Iran is interviewing, Russia is intervening with weapons, and the west is doing absolutely nothing. That is definition of feckless.
MCKELWAY: Kirsten, do you put any more stake in the Security Council resolution than Charles does?
KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK POST: The other thing is, you have to remember, to show lack of the good faith of Russia, is that they are actually claiming that a lot of the atrocities that just happened were not done by the government, that they were done by rebels. The jury is kind of still out and we need to wait and see.
So, I think that's it's unlikely that -- they should pursue a diplomatic process. Even General Dempsey said that we should continue to do that before looking at doing any kind of military intervention. But at the same time, I don't think we should hold out hope that they are going to actually do anything of any real meaning.
MCKELWAY: Jonah, is Assad the devil we know as opposed to the one we don't? What are the risks of U.N. involvement to a greater degree, or U.S. involvement in the Syria? We've heard reports that Al Qaeda is establishing a relationship with some of the opposition. In fact, Ayman al Zawahiri said that's what he wanted to see happen.
JONAH GOLDBERG, AT LARGE EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: Right, well look, anyone who has watched what's happened in Egypt, for example, or pretty much anywhere other than Tunisia after the Arab Spring, has to be a little humble about what is behind curtain number two, right?
At the same time, Syria actually matters an enormous amount in terms of the geopolitics of the region. It is Iran's chief client state, and it is the conduit by which Iran commits most of its mischievous in the region. And when you hear Ban Ki-moon, the general secretary of the U.N. last week, saying that there is no plan B other than this -- basically, this paper show that we're getting at the U.N., it makes words like "feckless" seem too generous. Maybe devoid of feck, because where it stands right now, just entirely a Chinese fire drill. There is no endgame to it whatsoever. I think Mitt Romney's statement that we should be arming anti-Assad forces makes a lot of sense to me.
POWERS: I just think the whole feckless thing is very unfair. I saw Senator McCain on Sunday in the green room and he told me when I speak his blood pressure goes up, so he might want to change right now the channel, because I disagree with his characterization of this. It's not fair. The president does need to pursue the diplomatic process before you start military intervention. You don't -- what you're supposed to just start arming people?
KRAUTHAMMER: There is no diplomatic process. It's a fiction. And it's a fiction you can hide behind if you want to do nothing. There is nothing happening. Kofi Annan is not going to have a ceasefire. He's proclaimed one and people are getting massacred left and right. It's a cover. In fact it's worse. It gives U.N. sanction to what Assad is doing.
And nobody is calling for invasion, but why are we not arming the rebels? Why are we not working with the Turks -- who want to see Assad overthrown -- in trying to get the weapons in to the opposition and support them? There is no reason that we shouldn't be. And to say the only alternative is a war on our part I think is completely wrong. It's a straw man argument.
MCKELWAY: On that note, I think we'll call it quits. We could go on forever. And it's all fascinating. That's it for panel, though. Stay tuned for a special look at Memorial Day 2012.
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