OTR Interviews

In America, the world doesn't trust? Has Pres. Obama failed to fulfill a promise to restore faith in the US around the world?

President Obama accuses Republicans of political extortion in battle over raising debt ceiling, further aggravating rifts as government shutdown looms

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 18, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Let me just bring you to another topic, though. I want to ask you about the president's foreign policy. And of course, you remember back in 2008, the then president candidate -- presidential candidate Obama promised to improve America's image overseas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will restore our moral standing in the world. We will once again lead the world not just militarily but diplomatically, economically.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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VAN SUSTEREN: And of course, during his first year in office, President Obama even receiving a Nobel Peace Prize. But five years later, as we see what is happening with Syria, Russia, Egypt, our good friends in the U.K. saying no to President Obama about a military strike in Syria, and even Brazil's president dissing President Obama and saying no to a state dinner at the White House in October.

Has the president actually made America's standing in the world worse?

PAT BUCHANAN, FORMER REAGAN ADVISER: No question that American influence is dramatically diminished from what it has been and it's certainly diminished from the days when we won the cold war and George H.W. Bush got the whole world behind him to throw the Iraqis out of Kuwait.

And I think when you get the president of Brazil saying, Greta, I don't think I'm coming to a state dinner, Mr. President, and cancel it...

VAN SUSTEREN: See, I -- I actually think that's, like, one of the worst! I mean, that's pathetic! I mean, you know, Everybody wants a state dinner at the White House, every single nation. And the president of Brazil is so upset because NSA is spying on her...

BUCHANAN: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... and spying on Brazil that she suddenly says, Cancel it. I'm not coming to a state dinner. If that isn't sort of the clincher in terms of telling what the world thinks of us, one of our oldest allies...

BUCHANAN: And also, my guess is she's standing very tall in Brazil because the people of Brazil probably said, Good for you standing up to the Americans.

Now, this is one of the problems we've had, I think, since about year 2000. We've gone around, talked about we're the indispensable nation, the benevolent global hegemon, we stand tall, we see further than others, the exceptional nation, when Putin talked about that.

I think a lot of people see America as behaving like a moral and political tutor to the world, you know, the sheriff of the global village. And they're saying, Enough is enough. And we ought to get the message!

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, if we were even any good at it, though! That's the problem is that we haven't been particularly good at it. And the fact that we have to have President Putin bail us out of this mess with Syria...

BUCHANAN: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I mean, it's -- you know, I mean, who would have guessed that after the Soviet Union fell in 1991-

BUCHANAN: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... and that now we have Putin, now we're -- now we're leaning on Putin to rescue us from a serious problem...

BUCHANAN: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean -- I mean, that's unthinkable!

BUCHANAN: But who got us into the problem? You know how we got in the problem? President of the United States said, Assad must go, and my red line is this. If they move the chemical weapons around, they use them, that's it. He made these -- issued these threats, these ultimatums, and he had nothing to back it up.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well...

BUCHANAN: And so Assad said, I'm not going. And we don't -- there's confusion about who used these chemical weapons. It's now -- the finger of suspicion is pointed at Assad's army, at least. And he does nothing! And the Russians -- frankly, the Russians bailed him out.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did you see what the secretary of defense -- former secretary of defense Panetta and Gates said?

BUCHANAN: I did see what they said. And they were pretty tough on him. But Secretary Panetta, as I understand it, said, Well, if you draw a red line, you have to do something about it.

But let me say this, Greta. Look, simply because President Obama drew a red line in the sand on Syria does not mean the Congress of the United States should therefore authorize the a war on Syria. Maybe he ought to just stand down. George Bush drew a red line. He said the world's worst dictators aren't going to get the world's worst weapons.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, when president...

BUCHANAN: What about North Korea?

VAN SUSTEREN: When -- well, and when Senator Obama was running for president, he went to the -- Germany, Brandenburg Gates, and drew 90,000. And now even Angela Merkel -- you know, she won't stand behind us.

BUCHANAN: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, that one's bad -- that's another one.

BUCHANAN: We ought to start standing up for ourselves. Tell the Germans -- you know, we've got, I don't know how many, 25,000, 50,000 troops still in Germany. Bring them home. Tell the Germans start -- you know, man up. Start defending yourselves again.

VAN SUSTEREN: That's a good -- I think they should man up over there.

All right, Pat, Syrian president Bashar al Assad sitting down for an interview with FOX News correspondent Greg Palkot and former congressman Dennis Kucinich. Here is part of that interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GREG PALKOT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Mr. President, this is so important. Let me just follow up on just one or two points and then move on. Again, no conditions. You will agree to this plan to destroy your chemical weapons. You had put conditions on this in the past, in the past week or so. No conditions.

BASHAR AL ASSAD, SYRIAN PRESIDENT: The only condition that agreement will entail and propose and provide.

PALKOT: OK.

ASSAD: So now we are going to discuss the details with these -- with the international organization. So I don't have all the details to discuss it with you now, and I'm not the expert, to have specialized people to discuss the details. But in general, (INAUDIBLE), whenever we join agreement as Syria, we are always committed to those agreements.

PALKOT: People are saying that this is just a ruse, just a game because it is so difficult. Experts say it will be so difficult to get rid of these chemical weapons, especially in a war situation like this, this is, indeed, buying you a lot of time.

ASSAD: Even if you don't have war, it is difficult. Even if you have all the requirements afforded by every party, it takes time to get rid of.

PALKOT: So you're saying this could take years.

ASSAD: As I said, we don't have experience in that regard. But some say you take one year. I didn't say years. As I heard, it takes about one year, maybe a little bit less, a little bit more.

PALKOT: A last key element to this U.N. report, and while the U.N. inspectors did not lay blame -- that is, they did not place culpability for the attack, there are many experts interpreting this report, some that I've spoken to in the last 12 hours, that frankly say this attack looks firmly like an attack coming from your government, from the Syrian government.

ASSAD: Sarin gas called the kitchen gas. Do you know why? Because anyone can mix sarin in his house..

PALKOT: They said it's very high quality, higher quality than even used in Iraq by Saddam Hussein, your neighbor at the time.

ASSAD: First of all, any rebel can make sarin. Second, we know that all those rebels are supported by governments. So any government that would have such chemical material can be -- can hand it over to those...

PALKOT: The experts say that they've seen -- they've tracked nothing like this. It's a ton of sarin gas. It is launchers. It is rockets. It's a whole fleet which happened to be from time to time those kinds of armaments, those kind of munitions happened to be in your bases.

ASSAD: No, no. This is -- realistically cannot be possible. You cannot use the sarin beside your troops. This is (INAUDIBLE) Second, you cannot use -- you don't use WMD while you're advancing. You're not being defeated. You're retreating.

The whole situation was in favor of the army. This is second. Third, we didn't choose it when we had bigger problems last year. Third (ph), when they talk about any troop or any unit in the Syrian army that's used these kind of weapons, this is for one reason, because chemical weapons can only be used by specialized units.

The whole story doesn't even hold together. It's not realistic. So no, we didn't. In one word, we didn't use any chemical weapons in the Ghouta.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: Pat, if the end of the story is no chemical weapons, even though the president was clumsy in how he handled this, perhaps President Putin had to bail him out, long term, doesn't he get credit for this, no -- if chemical weapons -- if that's the ultimate product here?

BUCHANAN: Well, my guess is we're not going to get all those chemical weapons out any time soon, even if he starts doing it. I think what Assad is going to do, he's going to use this to, quote, "extort" concessions from the United States and elsewhere, saying, Look, for me to get them out, we got to stop this bloody war. It's going on all over my country. You got to stop helping these -- helping these rebels. You got al Qaeda in the rebels. We got to have a truce. We got to have some kind of deal where we can have peace here. And That way, we can get all these weapons out. I think that's what's going to happen. I think the Russians got a stake in this, but...

VAN SUSTEREN: Is that such a bad thing? I mean, it's, like -- I mean, if -- if he gets peace there, I mean, stopping the civil war, maybe...

BUCHANAN: Well, also my -- my bottom line here is, for the United States, I don't want al Qaeda in power anywhere in Syria because they will use any weapon they can get in their sanctuaries there to attack America!

VAN SUSTEREN: So you would rather have Assad.

BUCHANAN: I would -- I mean, Assad is -- I mean, his father worked with George H.W. Bush in the Gulf war. I mean, his father negotiated with the Israelis, almost had a deal...

VAN SUSTEREN: But he gassed these people. I mean, we just --

BUCHANAN: Well, but did he? This is the thing. If the United States has solid intercepted evidence, you know, by phones and everything -- we hear that they were preparing this...

VAN SUSTEREN: That's what I think they said. I think the U.S. said that.

BUCHANAN: They said that. We got to the put it on the table. And I would like to see -- nobody has said that they've got proof that Assad made some call and ordered it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, but he's -- but he's -- I mean, just as we -- you know, he's -- he is the -- he's the head guy!

BUCHANAN: He's the main guy.

VAN SUSTEREN: He's the main guy! This is his unit that does it. So I mean, even if he didn't actually -- we didn't catch him on the phone saying he did it, he's -- you know, if he's the main guy!

BUCHANAN: Well, here's the thing. I mean, we had -- we got it back to Gadhafi blowing up Pan Am 103. But I'll tell you...

VAN SUSTEREN: And then we sent the guy home to die, which was another...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: I'll tell you what we should do. If we got it and we know who the military (INAUDIBLE) OK, Mr. Assad, you said didn't do it. Here is our intercepts and here are the generals and officers who were the ones we believe used it. Now, you might not know that, but turn them over. And I think if you've got that kind of evidence...

VAN SUSTEREN: And so -- so we just give him a chance to sort of look the other way and walk off into the sunset on this?

BUCHANAN: Well, look, what I'm -- my thing is that, look, there are evil people all over this world, Mugabe and all these other people. It is not the business of the United States to go around, you know, like Wyatt Earp in the global village and take down every bad guy.

VAN SUSTEREN: So it -- it...

BUCHANAN: This guy's done some terrible things. But let me ask you, Greta, how do we advance the interests of peace and the interests of the United States by attacking Syria and killing a thousand people...

VAN SUSTEREN: I...

BUCHANAN: ... and have women and children -- dead women and children from the American weapons on Al Jazeera and all the other networks across the Middle East the next day? How does that help us?

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I don't think -- you know, I don't think it helps us at all. I mean, it's just a very ugly, horrible situation, with a lot of lousy choices.

BUCHANAN: Let's stay out of it and just prevent the worst choice.

VAN SUSTEREN: Pat, thank you. Always nice to see you.

BUCHANAN: Thank you.