SUNDAY MORNING FUTURES

Will Congress vote to go to war against ISIS?

Sen. John Thune reacts to latest escalation in Syria

 

This is a rush transcript from "Sunday Morning Futures," October 12, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARIA BARTIROMO, HOST: Good morning. Between a rock and a hard place on the Turkish/Syrian border. Hi, everyone, I'm Maria Bartiromo. Welcome to "Sunday Morning Futures."

Turkey won't help in Kobani unless there is a no-fly zone, but that could have severe consequences for the U.S. Somebody needs to budge, or ISIS will take that city. So how do we win this battle or is it already a lost cause?

Then just when the U.S. economy was going up, the stock market goes down, suffering its worst week in two years last week. Fears of an economic slowdown overseas. We'll talk to a top global adviser about how we can turn this around.

And it's almost becoming a cliche. Two more security breaches. We'll talk to one of the smartest guys in technology. The co-founder of PayPal, Peter Thiel, about how to stay safe online as we look ahead to "Sunday Morning Futures."

More fighting overnight in border town of Kobani, where U.S. bombers have been carrying out more air strikes this weekend, but Turkey's condition for stepping in, a no fly-zone in Syria has been rejected by the White House, that's because agreeing to the buffer zone would mean either cooperating with Syria's murderous leader, Bashar al-Assad, or taking out Syria's air defenses, which is an act tantamount to war.

John Thune is the United States senator from South Dakota. He joins us now. Senator, good to have you on the program.

SEN. JOHN THUNE, R-S.D.: Good morning, Maria.

BARTIROMO: I would really like to zero in on the Turkey element and how important Turkey is to winning this. But before that, can you characterize where we are in this battle right now? Is ISIS in fact winning?

THUNE: Well, it's certainly not losing, Maria. We're finding what the limitations of airpower are. There's only so much that can be accomplished with that. And as you pointed out, it's really important to get the Turks involved. They laid out some conditions for that. But I think the president and his team and the administration need to be working aggressively and intensify their efforts to get the Turks and coalition partners involved on the Turkey/Syria border and trying to prevent ISIS from gaining any more ground.

BARTIROMO: So Turkey wants the U.S. to create a no fly-zone over Syria. Is that doable?

THUNE: Well, I think it's something that the administration needs to consider. Obviously, there are other implications, as you mentioned, associated with that. I think that the buffer zone, the no fly zone, all the things that are being contemplated right now, need to be given serious consideration, simply because what we're doing right now isn't getting the desired effect.

Ultimately my view is, and I think most military experts is, that you won't succeed or ultimately succeed there without some sort of ground forces. But at least for the time being, as long as we're using air strikes, I think we need to look at all of these options, particularly if they are options that will engage our coalition partners in a way that will help us ultimately succeed. I don't think we can get this done by ourselves and we certainly can't get it done with airpower.

BARTIROMO: I would really like to know if we'll see a congressional resolution on more military power. I want to talk about that with you, Senator, so stay with us, because we want to go there, but first, let's take a look at Turkey. As this battle for Kobani takes place right on its doorstep, Fox News senior correspondent Eric Shawn with that angle. Good morning to you, Eric.

ERIC SHAWN, FOX NEWS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Maria, and good morning, everyone. If ISIS wins, the West will lose, so warns a Kurdish official. An estimated 12,000 Kobani residents are now stranded. 700 mostly elderly remain trapped inside, helpless, their fates up to those invading terrorists. As the siege continues, an ISIS victory would bring a huge symbolic triumph. Those Turkish tanks remain idle, though, watching yards away, like bystanders, doing nothing amid fears of a looming slaughter unfolding before the eyes of the world. Turkish President Erdogan blocking a lifeline to help the Kurds, prompting some to question if Ankara really is a NATO ally, saying he has Kurdish blood on his hands.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONATHAN SCHANZER, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: We should be really thinking about whether they belong in NATO. More importantly, I think there just has not been a public discussion about this, letting the Turks know how unhappy we are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAWN: The U.S. has supplied more than $20 billion in arms sales to Turkey since 2006, and our presidential envoy, retired U.S. General John Allen, held two days of talks in Ankara that were described as constructive and detailed. Others, like Investors Business Daily, are blunt about Turkey's defiance. Quote, "It could squash Islamic State warriors. Instead it does nothing. And the White House is befuddled. The naive Obama administration needs to recognize that Turkey, once a key friend and ally, is neither today."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHEPKO ABBAS, CHAIRMAN, KURDISTAN NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF SYRIA: It is a matter of days unless the Western nations do something, and this is really a shame that here an organization like ISIS can defeat the whole Western nation and the whole civilization and the whole United States as a super power. This is morale of the United States at stake, and I don't understand why the White House is not doing enough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAWN: The Turkish ambassador to the United States insists his nation is fully supporting the coalition, and he calls criticism groundless and unfair. Turkey has agreed to train 2,000 Syrian rebels on its soil, but those tanks overlooking Kobani are still there. Their gears remain stuck in park. Maria.

BARTIROMO: All right, Eric, thanks very much, Eric Shawn. We have more now with Senator Thune. Senator, what about that? Is Turkey actually supporting the coalition in your view?

THUNE: Well, the commitment they made to allow some space for training the Syrian opposition is a welcome development, but they've got to become way more robust in this. There's no question about that. Turkey is a NATO country. There are -- this could be a humanitarian crisis, a disaster with massive civilian casualties if Kobani falls. There are historic reasons with the Kurds for why I think Turkey is reluctant to engage more, but without their engagement, this thing gets out of hand in a hurry, and the more territory that ISIS takes, the more emboldened they become. They are fighting a dual front battle now in Anbar province, west of Baghdad. This is a situation that demands some very aggressive action, and I think the administration really needs to intensify and double down their efforts to get the Turks more engaged, and I'll add to that. Other of our NATO and coalition partners need to start putting pressure on the Turks as well.

BARTIROMO: We've heard from the Turks and they've said we're not going to put boots on the ground when the U.S. doesn't even have boots on the ground. The bottom line is it's up to Congress. Will Congress vote on an extended resolution for extended military beyond the air strikes in Iraq and Syria?

THUNE: We need to have that vote, Maria. Right now, most of us -- I supported before Congress left the training of the Syrian rebels, but there needs to be a more complete discussion about the president's strategy, and it starts with the president. The president is the commander in chief. Step up and provide some leadership. Come to Congress with a request and show us the plan. Show us the strategy for how we're going to succeed.

I think the people of this country need to be heard from. That of course comes from their elected representatives in the Congress. In 1991, that was the case. In 2001, in 2002. Obviously the president has certain authorities I believe under those authorizations for the use of military force to do what he's doing today. But I think there are a whole lot of people in this country and a whole lot of members of Congress that need to be a part of this discussion, and I hope that the president will lay out a plan, bring it to Congress, and ask for that authorization for the use of military force, and I think Congress needs to vote. We all need to vote, we all need to be on the record about whether or not we're for this action or not, but it starts with a plan. It starts with the administration coming before the Congress and presenting a real strategy. One that hopefully will involve and engage the voices of the American people in the process.

BARTIROMO: It's pretty extraordinary that many people believe that we won't see any vote until the new Congress takes over in January. This is an emergency situation. Let me put that aside for a moment. We do have the midterms coming up in a few weeks. How confident are you that the GOP takes the Senate?

THUNE: Well, I'm pretty confident. But you know, I'm Scandinavian, so I always tend to be the glass is always half full. But I look around the country, and I've been traveling. I was in Colorado this last week and in California raising money and Iowa the week before. We have got some really good candidates who are running really good campaigns, and I think there's a bit of a tail wind building out there, and certainly if it continues to build, I think we'll have a very good night on November the 4th. And that will be good for the country, because we need to get the majority in the Senate so we can start turning this country around, getting people back to work, putting pro-growth policies into place, and providing leadership for the American people.

Right now the Senate for all intents and purposes is shut down. It's become incredibly dysfunctional under Senator Reid's leadership. We need to change that, and the people in this country want a change in direction. The best place to do that right now is to change the majority in the United States Senate. So I'm confident in our prospects. I think that the races look very good. Our candidates are well positioned to win. But that's why you plan. You have got to execute the game plan. You can't make unforced errors down the stretch, and we have got some very competitive races going on right now.

BARTIROMO: Senator, we'll be watching. Thanks for joining us.

THUNE: Great to be with you. Thanks, Maria.

BARTIROMO: We'll see you soon. Senator John Thune.

One of the real tricks in this conflict is defining who the enemy is and who the good guys are. Particularly in Syria. Can we be sure we're backing the right rebels there? Just ahead, we'll talk to Congressman Peter King, chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. I hope you'll follow me on Twitter, @mariabartiromo, @sundayfutures. Let us know what you would like to hear from Peter King. Stay with us as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARTIROMO: Welcome back. One thing we have discovered watching the conflict in Syria rage over the past few years, not all rebels are created equal, so how do we know we're backing the right ones? Congressman Peter King is the Homeland Security Committee's chairman for the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. It is good to have you on the program, sir. Thanks for joining us.

REP. PETER KING, R-NEW YORK: Thank you, Maria.

BARTIROMO: So this whole question about the coalition and the Turks getting involved and the rebels on the border. How do we know who to trust?

KING: Maria, it's very difficult. Certainly when the president talks about training troops in Syria for the Free Syrian Army, that is going to be a long, difficult process. We'll be lucky to get a few thousand that we are able to actually vet and clear and to then train. I think the president is placing much, much -- too much emphasis on that. It's not going to work. It can't hurt, but it won't win the war. We need real ground troops on the ground.

As far as up north with ISIS, we know ISIS is bad. As far as the Kurds, the Kurds have always been good allies. The Kurds have really, the people who have been neglected by history. They have always been pro American. They fight hard for us, they fight hard for themselves, and somehow they always find themselves being abandoned. Right now, they are being abandoned by everyone, which is really a tragedy.

BARTIROMO: I guess what I'm asking is we have to walk a real balance to make sure we're not arming the wrong people, but also not siding with Assad. So what do we do when in fact we see ISIS really moving forward and in fact looking like it is winning?

KING: ISIS is winning. And that actually hurts Assad to have ISIS winning. But we have to go after ISIS. We have to do what we can to destroy ISIS. I think right now, it's secondary that we go after Assad. I know Senator McCain and Senator Graham said he should be a target of ours. I agree, but right now I think the immediate threat is to stop ISIS. ISIS is a threat to the entire region. Assad is a threat to Syria and he is also in a de facto alliance with Iran. But I believe the immediate crisis is to stop ISIS, and in doing that, that may temporarily assist Assad, but having said that, we should also try to walk and chew gum at the same time and also keep pressure on Assad.

This is not easy. Which is why it was such a mistake a year ago when the president didn't follow through with air strikes against Syria or why two years ago, he didn't listen to Secretary Panetta or Secretary Clinton or General Petraeus when they said we should be arming free Syrian rebels, that we could at that time vet and trust.

BARTIROMO: Congressman, why aren't we having an emergency session so that Congress can vote on military and extending of the military fight here beyond air strikes in Iraq and Syria? Is it even explainable to be able to wait this out until January when the new Congress takes effect?

KING: I don't think that legally, Congress has a responsibility. But morally we certainly do. We were elected by the people to make tough decisions and we should make them.

Now, we can't order the president to use ground troops. But I think if we pass a resolution encouraging the use of ground troops, saying we will support the use of ground troops, saying we support appropriating money for the use of ground troops, that would send a very strong message to the president and it will make it difficult for him to back away. And then he would have to come forward with a plan.

The president ultimately as commander in chief has to come forward with a plan. But I think in Congress, we do have the moral obligation and the political obligation in the best sense of the word to be heard, to speak out, to let the American people know that we do believe there has to be a large use of American force, that we can't get by just using air strikes, and just vetting the Free Syrian Army is not going to win this war.

BARTIROMO: It's pretty extraordinary to hear so many generals and people who have been on the front lines tell the president and say vocally, look, this is not going to work. We cannot destroy ISIS by air strikes alone. And yet the president is adamant, no boots on the ground. Why is he not listening?

KING: I just think he's so locked into the fact that he came into office, he was going to end the war in Iraq, that he cannot bring himself to acknowledge that he made a terrible mistake in withdrawing all our forces from Iraq, and by withdrawing our forces from Iraq when he thought he was ending the war, what he's actually done is he started a second war, and he doesn't want to admit that. Because so much of his legacy, so much of his reputation is built on the fact that he got all the troops out of Iraq.

That's no excuse. It's a terrible excuse. The fact is that it puts Americans at risk. It puts the entire Middle East at risk, and quite frankly, it just emboldened and enables Islamic terrorists to come forward, and it strengthens their position, and that's why I think ISIS is more of a threat to us now than al Qaeda was on 9/11.

BARTIROMO: Wow. Congressman, good to have you on the program. Thank you.

KING: Maria, thank you as always.

BARTIROMO: We'll see you soon.

Congressman Peter King joining us.

Well, now to your money. Looking at your 401(k) right now, you might be in for a serious scare after economic concerns overseas send U.S. stocks plummeting last week. I'll talk with one of the world's top economic advisers. What's being done to turn this trend around as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARTIROMO: Welcome back.

It seems like we just can't have nice things. The U.S. GDP is up. The unemployment rate is down. But now, new concerns about an economic slowdown overseas sent our stock market on a downward slide. It was the worst descent in more than two years last week.

Mohamed El-Erian is with me. He's the chief economic adviser of Allianz, a multinational financial services company, and he is the former CEO of the investment firm PIMCO.

Mohamed, it's wonderful to have you back on the program. Welcome.

MOHAMED EL-ERIAN, CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISOR, ALLIANZ: Thank you, Maria.

BARTIROMO: So, last week, what a week. Big sell-off in stocks. A lot of talk about the global economy slowing down.

Can you tell us what has changed with regards to the global economy?

EL-ERIAN: So, like you say, it was a huge week, not only in terms of the sell-off, the biggest single day decline this year and like you said the biggest week in two years (ph). But it was volatility as well.

Cumulatively, for the first half of October, the Dow has moved up and down more than 10 percent of its value. That is large. And it's that volatility that's scaring people.

Now, why? Three things, Maria. First, really bad data out of Europe. German industrial output collapsed by 4 percent, and Germany is the powerhouse.

Second, the IMF revised down its projections for the year as a whole, and that made commodities markets really nervous.

And the third issue, there's a lot of bickering going on the policy front in Europe. We are seeing positions harden once again. So, investors are looking at this and saying not only is the global environment weakening but policymakers aren't stepping up in Europe.

BARTIROMO: Hmm, that's really a good analysis.

Mohamed, let me ask you this, I'm glad you brought up the IMF, because this weekend, we're getting headlines out of the IMF. Stanley Fischer, vice chairman of Federal Reserve, basically said at the IMF meeting, if global economy weakens further, we continue to see Europe rolling over, China slowing down. We're going to wait longer and longer and longer to raise interest rates.

That's something very new to hear Stanley Fischer say it.

EL-ERIAN: Yes, and what that is, is the nervousness among central bankers that if asset prices come down, then that is going to impact the real economy.

So, what we've seen this weekend in Washington, D.C. is a number of central bankers taking to the mike and saying, don't worry. We will be more patient.

But the real question, Maria, is -- is that enough?

And I think what the market is starting to realize is that central banks only build bridges. They can't guarantee destinations. You need the other policymakers to step up and, unfortunately, they are not.

So, central bankers alone can't do all of the heavy lifting.

BARTIROMO: You know, I love talking with you, Mohamed, because I believe you joined us about a month ago, and a month ago, you told our audience, start raising cash. You know, don't get complacent. We could see a sharp sell-off.

You were exactly right. What's your sense of what happens next? Does this continue through year end?

EL-ERIAN: I think the volatility continues. I think the right thing to do right now is to be more cautious. There's a lot of moving pieces in global economy.

And prices, values, are above fundamentals. So, people have got to be careful here. I think, you know, you'd rather be cautious than aggressive at this point. You're going to have many opportunities to come into the market.

So, just a little bit of caution is warranted here -- just like it was a month ago.

BARTIROMO: I was talking with someone this weekend who said they think China's economy is actually growing 3 percent to 4 percent. If China's economy is growing 3 percent to 4 percent, versus the 6 percent a lot of people thought it was, that's a big deal for the U.S. economy.

EL-ERIAN: If it is, it's a big deal. I do think it is growing 3 percent to 4 percent. I think it's more in 6 1/2 percent to 7 1/2 percent. But if you believe it's grow 3 percent to 4 percent, then this will be a very negative view of the global economy.

BARTIROMO: What about the U.S. economy? We are at the start of earnings season. You got all the major banks reporting earnings next week, Mohamed. The dollar has been strong.

What are you expecting from the current corporate earnings story and the U.S. economy? I know you cannot put this alone and not factor in the rest of the world, but stick with the U.S. for a moment.

EL-ERIAN: So, the distinction is very important. If we were left to our own devices, we would continue to do better. Not great. We wouldn't get to escape velocity, but we would continue to grow, we would continue to create jobs, we would continue to see our deficit getting better.

The problem, Maria, is that we're not left to our own devices. And, you know, another thing that was surprising last week is that the Federal Reserve started talking about the global economy. Normally, they don't. Normally, they just talk about the U.S. economy.

But, suddenly, they're worried. They're worried about global growth and they're worried strength of the dollar, which tells you that we are more linked to the rest of the world than we'd like to think we are.

BARTIROMO: Sure, which is why those Stanley Fischer comments were so important, suggesting rates stay low for a long time.

Mohamed, wonderful to have you on the program. Thanks for your insight.

EL-ERIAN: Thank you, Maria.

BARTIROMO: We'll see you soon. Mohamed El-Erian joining us.

Next up, does it feel like every time you swipe your credit card or log on online, you take your identity into your own hands? More breaches this past week, putting Americans on edge. The co-founder of Paypal is back with me with advice on staying safe in cyber space, as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARIA BARTIROMO, HOST: The holidays will be here before we know it, and that means holiday shopping.

But as more major corporations like Home Depot and Kmart announce new security breaches, Americans are wondering whether they're putting their identities at risk every time they swipe their credit cards.

Peter Thiel is with me today.

He is the co-founder of PayPal and the founder of Clarium Capital Management, one of the smartest investors in technology.

Peter, it's good to see you.

PETER THIEL, CO-FOUNDER OF PAYPAL, FOUNDER OF CLARIUM CAPITAL MANAGEMENT: Maria, thanks for having me on the program.

BARTIROMO: There's so much for joining us.

OK, so hackers claim they will leak up to 200,000 Snapchat photos in an online database on Sunday night. Tonight, we are going to see this come out about Snapchat.

What -- tell us about the risk.

How serious is this risk of getting hacked and your identity compromised?

THIEL: Well, it's a -- it's a serious problem. All these companies need to focus a lot more on security. It's especially problematic for a company like Snapchat, where the brand is on privacy. And so, you know, people are worried about privacy. It's one of the reasons they're using a service like Snapchat.

So when something goes wrong there, it's especially bad.

BARTIROMO: And it is -- that was extraordinary, because the whole attraction of Snapchat is the fact that you can post pictures and comments and then they disappear.

THIEL: Well, there's always a sense people will do things quite differently if they think they have privacy than if they don't.

BARTIROMO: Exactly.

THIEL: And so that's why -- that's why it's probably a pretty big deal.

BARTIROMO: What should people be thinking about with their own identities?

I mean how do you protect yourself?

THIEL: Well, it's -- it's a -- it is -- it's uncomfortable to say this, but you have to be pretty careful. And you know, it's every time you write an e-mail, you know, it is like in the public -- it is not the public domain. And, you know, there are sort of all these ways that the security is not as good as people think.

BARTIROMO: Let me ask you about overall innovation and entrepreneurialism. You just wrote a book, "Zero to One."

Where is the innovation in this economy right now, Peter?

THIEL: Well, it's mostly on -- in the computer sector. You know, it's a - - computers, Internet, mobile Internet, all the -- this world of bits. We've had a lot of innova -- we've had some innovation in the fracking industry in the -- and -- but those are probably the two -- those are the two parts that are really -- that are really booming.

And then it's sort of -- there are sort of many other places where there's not as much innovation and we -- we feel somewhat stuck as an economy.

BARTIROMO: You...

THIEL: It has been this very split story.

BARTIROMO: It sure has. And when you look at overall technologies, you're seeing new ideas and innovation in space. You obviously are -- are also involved in this.

What -- what are we trying to do in terms of, you know, opening up this new world?

You've got, you know, space exploration really...

THIEL: Right.

BARTIROMO: -- front and center.

THIEL: This is my -- my colleague, Elon Musk's company, Space X, and there's -- you know, there's Tesla, which is trying to do electric cars, there's a -- you have companies -- you have companies, you know, there's all sorts of things that I think people could be doing in biotech, in medicine. So I think we could be doing things in a vast number of other areas.

So it's not -- it's not like some law of nature that we've run out of ideas and that there's nothing we can do. I think it's often more of a cultural issue, where there are too many regulations on the part of the government, people are risk averse, they're scared of change, they're scared of the future. You know, you look at the science fiction movies that Hollywood produces, they all show technology that doesn't work, that kills people, it's "Terminator," it's "Matrix," it's "Avatar," it's "Elysium," the "Gravity" movie.

You'd never want to go into space. You'd want to be back on a muddy island somewhere.

BARTIROMO: Yes.

THIEL: And so -- and so I think there are sort of a lot of these cultural issues that bias us against technology and against the future. And yet the -- the problem is -- I'm not -- I'm not a technological utopian. I think there are a lot of ways technology can go wrong.

But I think that without technology, the future is not going to be better than the present.

BARTIROMO: What do you think should be done in terms of immigration reform?

You see all of these geniuses like an Elon Musk, you know, or -- or a Sergey Brin having started Google. You know, foreigners coming to America have the tools to start their own business and then just, you know, flourish.

We're heading to the midterms. Immigration reform is probably going to be one of the key conversations around that.

What would you like to see immigration reform look like, to cease that kind of (INAUDIBLE)...

THIEL: Well, I'd...

BARTIROMO: -- (INAUDIBLE)?

THIEL: -- I'd like to see more talented people. I don't -- I don't think we need to have some sort of blanket amnesty or mass immigration. But I think people who are very talented, who graduate with PhDs from U.S. universities in the sciences should have an easier time getting jobs in the US.

I think people who have engineering backgrounds, people who can help build the tech industry, we should try to let more of those people in.

And this -- this is what countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand do. They have -- they have sensible policies. And there's something about the U.S. policy that's -- that's been very screwed up for many years.

BARTIROMO: And -- and -- and that's what we continue to hear from -- from executives and managers of businesses, that the regulations are getting in the way from them actually putting -- putting people to work and hiring new jobs.

THIEL: Well, you know, I think we -- yes, I think we should have more H- 1B, less everything else.

BARTIROMO: Peter, it's great to have you on the program.

THIEL: Thanks for having me.

BARTIROMO: Thank you so much.

Peter Thiel is joining us.

And now let's take a look at what's coming up on "Media Buzz. Howard Kurtz, top of the hour. Howie, what have we got?

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, "MEDIA BUZZ": Hi, Maria. Wide-ranging conversation with Bill O'Reilly, who weighs in on everything from media bias to media meanness, to coverage of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and even his thoughts on Jon Stewart. We'll also look at the Ebola coverage, of course, and also seven more states now making gay marriage legal in the wake of the Supreme Court's nonaction this week, but conservative commentators haven't had much to say for the most part about this. Is this a political retreat? Is this a media retreat (ph)? That's one of the things we'll be looking at as well on "MediaBuzz."

BARTIROMO: We'll see you in about 20 minutes, Howie. Thanks.

Up next, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un dropping out of the public eye for more than five weeks. Why is he missing in action? The growing intrigue surrounding his lengthy absence as we look ahead with our panel on "Sunday Morning Futures."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARTIROMO: Welcome back. Speculation now mounting regarding the whereabouts and health of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The often highly visible young leader has not been seen since September 3rd. Recently missing some major public events. In his absence, North Korean diplomats have been unusually active. What's going on right now? I want to bring in our panel. Judith Miller is the adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. She is a Pulitzer Prize winning author and journalist and a Fox News contributor. Ed Rollins, former principal White House adviser to President Reagan. He's been a long-time strategist to business and political leaders, and he is a Fox News political analyst. Mary Kissel is an editorial board member for the Wall Street Journal. She was formerly the editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal Asia. Good to see you, everybody, thank you so much for joining us.

Kim Jong-un, what's going on? In his absence, we've got leaders from North Korea talking to South Korea, amazingly.

JUDITH MILLER, FELLOW, MANHATTAN INSTITUTE: We also have still continued fire across borders, in little incidents of somebody puts up a balloon, it gets shot down. I want to know what is the intelligence speculation about the nuclear weapons arsenal of North Korea? What's the relationship of the military to the missing young leader? Is he sick? We don't know. I haven't seen any good intelligence on that.

BARTIROMO: And of course there's the China connection, Ed, what do you think?

ED ROLLINS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: There's nothing I can add to it other than that. I think the bottom line is policy is not going to change there. I think eventually they would like to have some kind of a merger, South Korea would. That's a long ways off. I think the critical thing, as Judy said, is their nuclear proliferation. They have nuclear weapons and they basically are more than happy to share them with bad guys. They're a bad guy at the end of the day. I don't care who is in charge of the country. They're not our friends.

BARTIROMO: Mary.

MARY KISSEL, WALL STREET JOURNAL: His father, Kim Jong-il, also had extended absences like this. As Judy says, we just don't know what's going on. But the only reason that we care is because they have nuclear weapons. Now, think about what would happen in the Middle East if we had nuclear proliferation. We would have the same kinds of concerns. But that's an aside.

Look, North Korea is very skilled at snookering the West. They snookered the Clinton administration, they snookered the Bush administration. They're very good at dividing us from our allies. We have Japan talking to North Korea now in a way they haven't before. This is a bad situation. We need to present a united front here, and ultimately what we need in North Korea is regime change. That's what we should be aiming for, a united democratic Korean peninsula.

BARTIROMO: Is that what is happening behind the scenes as officials in North Korea try to spark up this conversation with the South?

ROLLINS: I can't imagine that's happening. I think at the end of the day here, the military is going to take charge as they pretty much always have behind the scenes, and I think that obviously their allies are China and others, and I think at the end of the day, they're not giving up anything, and they're certainly not going into a democracy.

KISSEL: There's also a lot of domestic pressure on the South Korean president. She doesn't want waves of refugees coming over the border. Of course it's in her long-term interest and South Korea's long term interest to have a united and democratic Korean peninsula, and that should be the goal of U.S. policy.

BARTIROMO: What about U.S. policy? Let's turn to U.S. policy with regards to what's happening in the Middle East, and in particular Kobani, the largest Kurdish city on the Turkish/Syrian border about to fall to ISIS momentarily. It sure feels like ISIS is winning.

MILLER: And the Turks are just stringing us along. They are making demands about what they will do. They will move their tanks if and when we consider a no-fly zone. They are trying to set the terms. They don't want to intervene, because for them, getting rid of Kurdish Syrians is a blessing. They like the situation the way it is, and yet they want to be helpful to the United States, and this administration is letting them play this double game.

ROLLINS: You can't go to war without preparation. I think the bottom line here is this was a rush to judgment. The two beheadings, tragic as they were, made this president for political purposes jump into this thing before he had his allies in play, and I think at the end of the day, he's not taking the counsel of the military leaders in this country, and he basically -- everyone said aircraft only is not going to do it. We need boots on the ground. And nobody will go there until we go there.

KISSEL: I know this president has had three years to get his act together and to figure out what to do about the situation. And I'm not sure that we'd had this situation in Iraq right now, if we had taken advantage of that six-month window to arm the rebels in Syria when we had the opportunity. Look, you know it's bad when even Jimmy Carter is coming out and saying this is really a mess here. And as far as Erdogan goes in Turkey, President Obama talked to Erdogan frequently in the early days of his administration, and what has that gotten him? All that talking? Turkey is a NATO member. We ought to be leaning on Erdogan to put aside his provincial concerns here and to step up for the good of the West.

BARTIROMO: And he's saying no boots on the ground as far as Turkey is concerned unless the U.S. has boots on the ground.

ROLLINS: The only two entities that have militaries that are worth a darn are Egypt and Turkey, outside from us. And the rest are going to basically hold out coat, write checks. You know, refill plans, do all that kind of stuff. But those are the two countries that obviously have troops and they're not going to go there.

The problem with Turkey is they have a tremendous amount of people coming across the border, refugees, and that problem is getting more and more severe by the day.

MILLER: Yes, but the buffer zone would protect them from that, and give them insulation.

My concern is Baghdad. These forces, the ISIS forces, are moving toward Baghdad. Is this president really going to let Baghdad fall? Everyone says no, it can't happen. It's a huge city of over 2 million with a large Shia majority.

BARTIROMO: But they are right there.

MILLER: But they are right there, they are right outside. I think after the election, we may see the president revisit this declaration that there will never, ever, under any circumstances be boots on the ground.

BARTIROMO: I think it's extraordinary that the Congress won't be voting on a resolution until the new Congress takes effect in January. Don't we need an emergency session here?

MILLER: We absolutely do, but we also need some consensus.

BARTIROMO: And some leadership.

(CROSSTALK)

ROLLINS: I think Republicans, if the election were held today, Republicans would control the Senate and add some more House seats. I think the idea that you can have a lame duck in which Harry Reid will have the same power is crazy. You're going to may not have a Republican majority until January, but you're certainly going to have Republicans that are going to basically want to do some kind of activity here, and I think at the end of the day, we need to basically vote on this resolution.

BARTIROMO: Hold that thought. I want to talk more about the midterms after this break. President Obama had been bragging about the economy. But after last week's stock market sell-off and bank earnings out this upcoming week, how could all of this impact the upcoming midterms? Our panel on that as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures." Back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARTIROMO: We are back with our panel, Judy Miller, Ed Rollins, Mary Kissel.

Let's talk about those midterms.

Ed, you just mentioned them. You had real developments in the stock market this last week. And obviously the global economy is having some real issues.

Do voters take that with them to the polls November 4th?

ROLLINS: Well, it's all about the president's leadership. And that's becoming a big drag on this ticket. On the -- Democrats aren't motivated to turn out in the same kinds of numbers. There's 50 million fewer voters who vote in the midterm elections. Everything has gone the Republicans' way at this point in time.

And I -- I basically think eight or nine seats are very realistic and there's still another two in play.

BARTIROMO: And -- and the president said, I may not be on the ballot, but my policies are on the ballot.

ROLLINS: Thank you very much, Mr. President.

We appreciate that.

MILLER: Well, he's done one heck of a job, as a former president would have said, raising money. But in terms -- people are distancing themselves from him as fast as they can.

Look at the year he's had -- VA, ISIS, now Ebola, corporate weakness --

ROLLINS: IRS.

(CROSSTALK)

BARTIROMO: Don't forget about the IRS.

ROLLINS: Right.

MILLER: And the IRS.

(CROSSTALK)

BARTIROMO: Let me just read you the latest headline that I was looking at. Senator Pat Roberts says that Valerie Jarrett was involved in the IRS scandal, basically leading the IRS and Lois Lerner to attack and -- and focus on these conservative groups.

ROLLINS: Well, having made that charge, he's in a very very competitive race there. He has to now go prove it in the next week or 10 days.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

ROLLINS: So I assume he wouldn't make that charge unless he had some -- some insider information. So we'll see.

KISSEL: Yes, I'm not as enthusiastic as my fellow panelists, unfortunately. I think that this election should be a blowout for the Republicans, but it isn't.

And why is that?

It's because they're playing defense. They're trying to run on a national platform against the president. And Democrats are running on local issues and raising a ton of money.

Republicans had a great opportunity under Boehner. And by the way, I think he's a Chamber of Commerce Republican, not a movement conservative.

They could have been the party of growth, tax reform. They could have been the party of opportunity for immigration reform. They could have been the party of a strong national defense.

But they're not.

So I think they have a good chance of taking the Senate, but I -- I just think it says something about the state of the GOP that they're not forecast to win that eight or nine seats that Ed is talking about.

MILLER: And it is really tight.

ROLLINS: Well, the reality is, if we do get the majority, we had better have a two year agenda and Boehner had better be a part of that leadership to move it forward, otherwise, we'll be in the minority two years from now.

BARTIROMO: But it is the -- this is the agenda, right, tax reform, immigration reform, capitalizing on this country's...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well...

BARTIROMO: -- energy assets.

KISSEL: I don't know. I think Ed makes a really good point.

What is the plan?

Once they get in, what are they going to do?

Which piecemeal immigration reform measure are they going to put up?

Are they going to do STEM?

Are they going to do guest workers?

Are they going to do agriculture workers?

Does anybody know?

ROLLINS: I...

KISSEL: Is -- should tax reform be high up on the list?

Is that going to motivate voters to come out?

MILLER: I don't -- I think the -- turnout will be everything. And that depends on organization. And I think that the Republicans, by not doing stupid stuff, actually stand to benefit, because they will get their voters out, because people are so unhappy with the quality of the leadership and what they're not getting.

KISSEL: That's the Mitt Romney strategy. It didn't work out very well for them. Eventually, the GOP is going to have to run for something, not against something.

BARTIROMO: Well, this is a really important point. And the voter turnout is actually a really important point, because that's going to be critical.

But we need to see the plan, you're right.

ROLLINS: The critical thing here -- and you have to understand, midterms are a little bit different than presidential elections.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.

ROLLINS: Every -- everybody pays attention to the presidential, no one pays attention to the midterms. At the end of the day here, I think most of these campaigns -- and I've watched them pretty closely -- have been good campaigns against incumbents and for the open seats, which is where that pattern is.

Boehner is going to pick up eight or nine seats in the -- and probably can't pick up any more.

But the agenda is not -- it's a local agenda and Republicans are trying to run on the big issues, the economy, all this other stuff. Democrats are trying to run on -- on smaller issues that aren't going to matter.

Both sides have all the money they need. Both sides have all the camp -- the last three weeks of the campaign, anything can happen. The wheels always come off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.

ROLLINS: I think at this point, if the election were held today, we'd do extremely well.

BARTIROMO: Yes, we're in the final stretch.

All right, a quick break.

And then still to come, the one thing to watch for in the week ahead on SUNDAY MORNING FUTURES.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARTIROMO: And we're back with our panel.

The one big thing to watch for the week ahead, Mary Kissel, Ed Rollins, Judy Miller.

What is your one thing, Mary?

KISSEL: I'm looking, again, at Hong Kong this week. The students are back out in the streets after the government said they would have talks and then canceled them the day before, a really dumb thing to do, Maria. It's only going to inflame average Hong Kongers, who just want the rights that they were promised. So that's what I'm watching hopefully, we're not going to see conflict there, but we might.

BARTIROMO: And the impact?

KISSEL: The impact is huge. A major financial trade center, very open to the West, an important center for finance, import/export businesses.

So I think this could really have an impact on the markets if you see violence there, which, God forbid, I hope we don't.

BARTIROMO: Ed, what's your one thing?

ROLLINS: I'm watching my good friend, Mike Huckabee, who made a commitment this week that if the Republican Party didn't go fight gay marriage everywhere, he would leave the party and become an Independent and run as an Independent, which could create nothing but chaos...

BARTIROMO: Yes, this is a really...

ROLLINS: -- in the Republican Party.

BARTIROMO: -- important development here.

How do you think it goes?

ROLLINS: I think at the end, Mike wants to be president or he doesn't want to be president, so he'll basically stay as a Republican.

BARTIROMO: Judy?

MILLER: I'm watching Ebola, because we've now had our first purely domestic case of transmission. And this health care worker -- and we don't know yet what he or she did -- was following full CDC protocol. We're talking about glass, gloves, mask, shields, doing everything right. This is really worrisome. I'm looking for a second case, hoping I don't see one.

BARTIROMO: Yes, we're really watching those developments of the health care worker.

(CROSSTALK)

BARTIROMO: Thank you AMB. To our panel.

ROLLINS: Great.

BARTIROMO: Great to see you all.

(CROSSTALK)

BARTIROMO: That will do it for "Sunday Morning Futures" today.

Before we go, a big thank you AMB. ) to our viewers. Because of you, last weekend, we had the highest rated program in all of cable news among the most sought after demographic.

We'll do our best to keep giving you the program you want on Sunday mornings.

Meanwhile, I'll be back tomorrow morning on "Opening Bell" at 9:00 a.m. Eastern on the Fox Business Network.

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Have a great Sunday, everybody.

"MediaBuzz" starts right now.

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