Debate over action in Syria

Charles Krauthammer on President Obama's call for U.S. intervention


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," September 3, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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O'REILLY: In "Back of the Book" segment tonight, what the Syria deal really comes down to. It's President Obama versus the tyrant, Asaad. It is personal.

Joining us now from Washington, Fox News Political Analyst, Charles Krauthammer. First of all, before we get to that, do you think Congress, after the debate next week, will authorize a military strike against Syria.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's likely because I think, in the end, the Democratic doves will be loathed to leave their president twisting in the wind.

If they undercut him on this, which is really, you know, a measure of high order, if they cut him down on this, they will have a president so weak --


KRAUTHAMMER: -- in the second term. They will get nothing on the domestic agenda achieved.


And you heard Eleanor Holmes Norton, the very liberal member of Congress from the District of Columbia say, "I'm opposed to this strike but I would support it because of my" --


-- "loyalty to the president."

O'REILLY: Is that --

KRAUTHAMMER: And that's where I think the Democrats will go.

O'REILLY: OK, and I agree with you that this is the end of President Obama if Congress refuses to act.

Now, some conservatives, knowing that or believing that, would say, "I'm going to oppose no matter what the right thing to do is, no matter if the unintended consequences are going to hurt the country. Just to damage Barack Obama, I'm going to oppose." That mindset is in play as well.

KRAUTHAMMER: I'm not sure if that's the reason why the list of people on the conservative side whom you say oppose this oppose it. That's rather cynical.

And I don't see any reason I have to attribute that because there are very good, substantive reasons why a conservative would oppose --

O'REILLY: Let me ask you this then.

KRAUTHAMMER: -- what Obama wants to do.

O'REILLY: Let me ask you this. If John McCain or Mitt Romney were president and the same thing happened, that a tin horn, war-criminal dictator called out the Republican president, you're going to tell me that these conservative commentators wouldn't back the GOP president?

KRAUTHAMMER: I would tell you that if John McCain were the president or, let's say, a Bob Gates, the former secretary of defense, were president, if we had a serious man in the presidency, he would not propose an air strike designed to achieve nothing.

He would not propose an air strike, which is a message. If you want to send a message, you call the Western Union.

If you want to use a tomahawk missile, which is a weapon of war designed to kill a lot of people, you do it with one objective, to alter the course of the civil war in Syria. That would be a serious use of force.

O'REILLY: OK, but that's not the reason given by a lot of right- wingers. The reason given is, we should stay out of it. I was just talking to Monica Crowley.

We should stay out of it. They're all bad people. You've removed one and al-Qaeda comes in, Muslim brotherhood comes in, why are we getting involved.

And yours is a little bit more subtle, that if you had somebody -- and I made that point earlier, that if you had a commander in chief who people had confidence in, it would be a lot easier to say, "OK, do it." Because they don't have confidence in this commander in chief.

But I think there's a lot of ideology in this, Charles. I really believe there's a lot of ideology in play here.

KRAUTHAMMER: Look, I'm right now undecided because I can see the arguments on both sides. I've been advocating for days now, before this debate, that a tin break strike is worse than nothing.

Because out of the ashes and out of the smoke emerges Bashar Asaad. He looks at the world and says, "The Americans can't even touch me." --


-- "The Americans are bluff, Americans are afraid, Americans are cowards, and the war is unchanged," --

O'REILLY: All right. But that's what Saddam said and we saw what happened to him. I don't believe it would be --

KRAUTHAMMER: But Saddam was not -- Saddam did not walk --


-- out of the ashes.

O'REILLY: That's right.

KRAUTHAMMER: He was hanged.

O'REILLY: It is just some kind of --

KRAUTHAMMER: That's a big difference.

O'REILLY: -- cosmetic thing. I'll be right with you. But my "Talking Points," I think, should have convinced you because you know the unintended consequences of no action.

You know how it's going to embolden these people across the world, these evil people. And, also, we have a know nobility factor here, you know. If we can save kids from being gassed, we should.

KRAUTHAMMER: But your assumption is completely wrong. How will a strike that is intended not to alter anything, simply -- look, Obama -- what did he call it, "a shot across the bow."

O'REILLY: No but, you know, Kerry said they're going to degrade.

KRAUTHAMMER: Kerry is not the president. Obama is the one who decides. He is the one who decided Asaad had to go and did nothing.

He's the guy who decided that chemicals are a red line, he did nothing. He is the guy who decided we were going to strike, he sends out Kerry, he makes an impassioned speech.

He says we have all the urgency in the world and then he spends the night, he thinks about it and decides we're not going to do anything until he has a congress that's going to decided -- what, it could be a day, a week, a month.

No urgency at all. And you trust the judgment of this commander-in- chief.

O'REILLY: I don't trust anything. And I want to make that clear to my audience because I know we're going to get a lot of reaction there.

KRAUTHAMMER: Seriousness. The issue here is seriousness.

O'REILLY: I'm not trusting anything. I'm not trusting President Obama, I'm not trusting John Kerry, I'm not trusting John McCain. I'm saying that we should try to do the right thing.

That's what I'm supportive. And if the President of the United States is going to go in there and botch the military campaign where there isn't going to be any -- Asaad isn't going to be damaged, believe me, he's through. End of story, he's gone.

KRAUTHAMMER: Bill, he's announced in advance that the purpose of the strike is not to bring down Asaad.

O'REILLY: We'll see what the resolution is.

KRAUTHAMMER: He said in advance. That's not a botch, that's his objective, is to send a message. I say send a text. It's less expensive.

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