All-Star Panel: Obama 'micromanaging' on foreign policy?

All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," January 24, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R - AZ: I think you would agree with me that every day that goes by in Syria it gets worse.

SEN. JOHN KERRY, D - CT: Every day that goes by it gets worse?

MCCAIN: So there is -- it seems to me a very strong impetus that we realize that the present policy is not succeeding. And to look at other options to prevent what is going on for now 22 months and 60,000 dead.


KERRY: But I think you would agree with me that whatever judgments you make, they have to pass a test of whether or not you do them, they are actually going to make things better.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Senator John Kerry in friendly territory today, likely to be Secretary Kerry because he is expected to have all the votes needed for confirmation. But if he gets confirmed, as expected, he's going to face dangerous territory across the world.

We're back with the panel. Judge, you look across the world, and the hot spots, they're only getting hotter. Syria just talked about, Iran getting closer to a nuclear weapon, North Korea saber rattling with another nuclear test and threatening a missile that can reach the U.S. You have destabilization, really throughout the Middle East with Egypt a question mark. You have North Africa that is blowing up with Al Qaeda, question marks about Afghanistan, Pakistan increasing its nuclear capability. It's a much -- it seems -- more dangerous world than when Secretary Clinton took office.

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS SENIOR JUDICIAL ANALYST: If John Kerry was here and heard your summary he might have second thoughts about taking the job. Yes, it's an endless stream of problems. Now I don't know these people personally, but my understanding of the president he is a micromanager. He's not a delegator. George Bush genuinely delegated to his secretary of state. This president is a micromanager, even with Hillary Clinton. Whatever John Kerry does or says is going to be because that is what he knows or he believes Barack Obama wants. He is the personification of America minus the military force in other countries.

What can he do about Syria? In some respects insurgents are worse than Assad. We know it from Egypt and we know that from Libya. What can he do in Africa without the military to back him up? There is a limited ability that he can -- for what he can do. He basically has to extend the president's will with diplomats. It almost doesn't matter who the secretary of state is.  Because they're going to say what Barack Obama wants him to say.

BAIER: To the Judge's point, this White House has taken a lot of control of policy into the White House. So the question is, how much power does the secretary of state, or for that matter, the secretary of defense really have in these --

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK POST: Very little. Very little. It's really inconsequential who it is. I think he chose somebody who is going to be somebody who executes his policy. John Kerry has wanted to do this for a long time. And now he will. And he will execute whatever Barack Obama tells him to do. I just don't think he is bringing anything new to the table about how to deal with Syria or how to deal with North Africa or any of these other issues.

There are some serious concerns about John Kerry not completely understanding the nature of Assad, for example. But I don't know that that is really going to change anything with the administration's policy.

BAIER: I want to play a sound bite from yesterday that we didn't focus on, Hillary Clinton about weapons. Take a listen...


HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: So this Pandora's Box, if you will, of weapons, coming out of these countries in the Middle East and North Africa is the source of one of our biggest threats. There is no doubt that the Algerian terrorists had weapons from Libya. There is no doubt that the Malian remnants of AQIM have weapons from Libya.


BAIER: That is the first time publicly, we've heard the secretary of state say that these weapons from Libya are in the hands of AQIM, which is Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, in Algeria, in Mali, from Libya. A lot of these weapons are from us, the U.S., that we gave to Libya. The question that Senator Rand Paul asked was, were we moving weapons to Syria through Turkey and other places? But the secretary of state was taking about Libya, weapons from Libya now in the hands of Al Qaeda there. I mean, that is a huge deal, the fact that Al Qaeda is exploding in that area, Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: And the irony is that it isn't only the weapons that came out of Libya, it's the fighters. The lead element, the lead jihadist element in Mali, the one that is most extreme, you know, the cutting off of hands, under the Sharia law that they've imposed in Mali were a contingent of the foreigners that Qaddafi had hired to fight his wars. And when Qaddafi went down they fled. And they chose Mali as a place to go, and obviously a good choice from their perspective. So it isn't only the weapons, it's the fighters who have now dispersed, because he had a lot of mercenaries.

So that is a result, unintended of course, of the war of Libya. And I don't think that this administration thought that this would happen, but now that it has happened, and not only has happened, but the French have actually stepped in to do something about it. We are just standing back. And clearly, the administration doesn't even have a policy. It doesn't even know which way to go. It took a couple of weeks before they could simply provide logistics for the French, like airlift, which they need, but it has no idea what to do in these places.

And the fact that it denied for so long to go back to the other part of the hearings, that there was any terror involvement or a way to cover it up and pretend it didn't happen in North Africa, is an indication of how much they have had their head in the sand and how much they have lived off the killing of bin Laden as a way to tell themselves that the War on Terror was over.

BAIER: Judge, I remember Defense Secretary Rumsfeld saying in his confirmation hearing, he didn't mention the word "Afghanistan" pre-9/11. North Africa didn't come up in Secretary Clinton. Mali didn't come up. Something tells me, we could be dealing with this for a long time.

NAPOLITANO: Oh I think we could. And to follow up on Charles, what she said, the clip you just ran, revealed gross failures on her part on the part of this administration to allow Libya to fall, while those weapons were still there.

BAIER: That is it for the panel, but stay tuned for a glimpse of the newest high-tech gadget.

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