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Journal Editorial Report

What is Putin's end game in Syria?

This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," October 10, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

PAUL GIGOT, FOX HOST:  This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," as Russian warships launch cruise missiles into Syria, former chess champion, Gary Kasparov weighs in on Vladimir Putin's next move.

And the battle for next the House speaker takes another unexpected turn as the divided GOP struggles to find a leader to unite behind.

And Hillary Clinton moves left, breaking with President Obama on a specific trade deal.  Will it help her with Democratic voters?  Find out
after these headlines.  

(FOX NEWS REPORT)

GIGOT:  Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report."  I'm Paul Gigot.

Russia dramatically escalated its military campaign in Syria this week, firing long-range cruise missiles from warships in the Caspian Sea to support a land offensive by the regime of Bashar Assad.  The missile launches follow two incursions into Turkish airspace by Russian jets and come as Vladimir Putin says he's ready to restart diplomatic negotiations over Syria's future, claiming Wednesday that the conflict must end with a, quote, "political solution."  

Joining us, Gary Kasparov, former world chess champion, who is chairman of the Human Rights Foundation and author of the forthcoming book "Winter is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must be Stopped."  

So, Gary Kasparov, welcome back to the program.  

GARY KASPAROV, FORMER CHESS CHAMPION & CHAIRMAN, HUMAN RIGHTS FOUNDATION & AUTHOR:  Thanks for inviting me.

Great to have you here.

What do you think Putin is trying to achieve in Syria?  

KASPAROV:  It's global plan to sort of destroy the world order and the stability.  Dictator always benefits from chaos.  Russian economy not in good shape and Putin knows it will not get better.  He has to provide a legitimate reason, the Russian public, why he's staying in power so many years and is planning to stay there forever.  

(LAUGHTER)

And of course, for an aggression, it becomes the main --

GIGOT:  Its domestic purposes?  

KASPAROV:  Yes, for dictators like Putin, foreign policy is an extension of his domestic campaign.  

GIGOT:  And he says we're running against these foreign enemies, principally the United States?

KASPAROV:  Oh, absolutely.  The U.S. is a great state, not only for Iran and Russians, it's the number-one enemy.  But in general, this is a free world.  This is the values, the free market, the democracy.  Those are the values that were rejected by Russia because, according to Putin's propaganda, the fortress of good surrounded by the sort of evil empire.  

GIGOT:  We see the domestic purpose.  You mention a global plan.  Where does Syria fit in to that global plan?  

KASPAROV:  After his advance nuclear installed, and I saw that in between Putin to continue this all because --

(CROSSTALK)  

GIGOT:  Wait a minute, many people thought he was going -- smart people thought he was going to accelerate that campaign in Ukraine in the summer and he didn't.  You're saying that because--

KASPAROV:  Price too high --

(CROSSTALK)

GIGOT:  Too high?

KASPAROV:  Ukraine proved to be much tougher than he expected.  He thought ethnic Russians in southeast Ukraine would embrace Russian gangs.  

GIGOT:  They haven't?

KASPAROV:  No.  Most of them subscribe to Ukraine army and we saw in east Ukraine was more or less a civil war between pro-European Russians that made the majority between the army and Putin force.  So too much for Putin to push forward.  

GIGOT:  Open up another front in Syria.  

KASPAROV:  I thought about the south, south Georgia but Putin actually went through the south.

(LAUGHTER)

And I have to say that it was a good move because, here, look for a spot on the map was a vacuum and also with more opportunities to create chaos and effect the reputation of the United States and bring it further down.  And also, we can use, because one of the side effects of Putin's attacks in Syria and his support for Bashar al Assad, of his regime, is a way for refugees.  There are hundreds of thousands, now, potentially, millions of refugees fleeing into Europe.  

GIGOT:  He's putting pressure on Europe?

KASPAROV:  Yes, in Europe

GIGOT:  What happens in Europe?  

KASPAROV:  With more refugees there, you can see the ultra-right wing Nationalist parties gaining ground, and they are all allies of Vladimir Putin and eventually, when in March of 2016, the E.U. has to decide on sort of sanctions, whether to prolong them or to leave them, Putin expects the allies in Europe will help him to get rid of sanctions.  

GIGOT:  He'll whisper and say, look, to Europe, I'll help you here with the refugee flow.  You just have to do one thing here, lift those things.  

KASPAROV:  Exactly.   Absolutely.  Also, it's an important message that if you stick with me, Putin's message, I'm with you, America betrays all the allies and look at what I do, I don't put -- even with my army, because you were my friend and I'll not let you down.  

GIGOT:  What does he get -- and is doing this, forming an alliance, not only with Syria but Iran.  

(CROSSTALK)

KASPAROV:  That was there forever.  

GIGOT:  It's been there for a long time.  But what does he get out of it now?  

KASPAROV:  Again, it's very important that it boosts the international credentials.  He looks strong.  That's why it helps him to win battles elsewhere.  But also there's still hopes that Russian presence there and combine assault with Russian, Iranians, Assad forces could create sort of a major war in the Middle East.  Because for Putin to influence oil prices which are vital for --

(CROSSTALK)  

GIGOT:  He wants high oil prices.  

KASPAROV:  Absolutely.  He must put oil prices up because with $50 a barrel, maybe for two years, but Russian economy will go --

(CROSSTALK)  

GIGOT:  But isn't he also taking a risk?  He's aligning with the Shiites, Iranians, and the Alawites in Syria.  He's picking a fight with the Sunnis in the rest of the Middle East.  Isn't it possible he could create more jihad inside Russia?  

KASPAROV:  Absolutely.  But that's -- we should not make one mistake by judging Putin's actions.  Dictators, strong, successful dictators, they do not play games.  It's all about survival.  Putin thinks one or maximum two moves ahead.  I have to survive today.  I have to win this battle.  
We'll see what happens the next day.  

(LAUGHTER)

That's why he needs instability because in the situation in which instable, without rules, so he always dominated the game because he doesn't have to go to Congress, the parliament, he doesn't care about public opinions.  He has an advantage of moving swiftly.

GIGOT:  Quickly here, 16 or 15 months left in the Obama administration, what do you think Putin's next move is to take advantage of the weakness perceived in the U.S. president?  

KASPAROV:  Unfortunately, everybody knows this time frame.  And I think Putin, the Iranians, they all will try to gain maximum ground as long as Obama is in office.  

GIGOT:  What are you worried about?  Where?

KASPAROV:  They know the next administration will be very different and they know they have to gain as much as they can now to negotiate or to fight from the position of strength.  

GIGOT:  Elsewhere in Europe, or elsewhere in the Middle East?  

KASPAROV:  I think he'll come back to Ukraine.  If oil goes down to $20, I would not be surprise if he cross into NATO borders into (INAUDIBLE).  But I would watch another destination.  Look at Putin's preferences, oil, deep water ports, chaos, instability, Benghazi.  That's another possible --

GIGOT:  In Libya, which is a big oil exporter.  

KASPAROV:  But also refugees go to Europe.  The way Putin thinks, I think Benghazi is probably one of the spots on the map that is just bringing his attention.  

GIGOT:  Gary Kasparov, thank you so much for being here, Gary
Kasparov.  

When we come back, House Republicans in turmoil after the speaker fight takes another unexpected turn.  So can the GOP unite behind a new leader ahead of some crucial votes in Congress?  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, R-CALI., HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER:  I'll stay on as majority leader, but the one thing I found talking to everybody, if we are going to unite and be strong, we need a new face to help do that.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GIGOT:  A stunning turn Thursday in the fight to replace House Speaker John Boehner, with the Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy abruptly exiting the race, leaving Republicans scrambling for a candidate to unite behind some key votes in Congress this fall.  

Let's bring in Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; Potomac Watch columnist, Kim Strassel; and assistant editorial page editor, James Freeman.  

Kim, McCarthy has the majority support among Republican colleagues but he couldn't get the 218 because 30 or 40 members say they would never vote for him on the House floor under any circumstances, which is a real break from tradition.  Usually, the winner goes and becomes the Republican candidate.  They say, no, it's our candidate or no candidate.  

KIM STRASSEL, POTOMAC WATCH COLUMNIST:  Yep.  

GIGOT:  What do these members want?  

STRASSEL:  If you listen, they have a specific set of demands.  They claim that they want more democracy among the caucus.  They want reform among many of the rules.  They would like to have more say in who's on committees and who's the majority leader.  What they want is the impossible.  They want a speaker who is going to ram some victories through the White House and give conservatives --  

GIGOT:  Repeal Obamacare.  

STRASSEL:  Repeal Obamacare --

GIGOT:  Which he can't do.  

STRASSEL:  Yeah, a bunch of things he has no power to do because president has the veto.  And that's why --

GIGOT:  And the 60-vote filibusters in the Senate is an obstacle.

STRASSEL:  That's right.  So we have divided government for a reason.  

GIGOT:  Does the Republican leadership, Boehner, McCarthy, because he's clearly hurt by the fact he was guilt by association with Boehner, do they bear some blame for this problem?  

DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR:  I think they do, Paul.  I think in addition to what Kim suggested, what many of these people wanted, and I think a lot of people outside of Washington, they wanted a greater Republican conservative public presence in Washington.  They wanted a voice that was fighting for them all the time.  John Boehner, with a personality, as have Mitch McConnell --  

GIGOT:  He's an insider.  

HENNINGER:  He's an insider.  And they want someone who's publicly fighting with Barack Obama.  And I think if that had happened the last two years, we might not be having the problems we are now.  But it has gone to such a point that they're asking for many impossible things.  

GIGOT:  Take the Export/Import Bank, James.  I've been against that for a lot longer than some of these guys have been alive.  

(LAUGHTER)

And -- but they're 300 votes for it in the House, maybe 70 in the Senate.  It's very hard if you're the leader of the Republican Party to stop a vote with that kind of support.  

JAMES FREEMAN, ASSISTANT EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: I don't know if John Boehner wanted to stop it.  I think -- we talked about how he's an insider in terms of personality, also in terms of policy.  These are subtle differences.  He's generally conservative but he was close to K Street.  And I think he made a big mistake not getting in front of that parade to say, this is a win for limited government we can get, let's --

(CROSSTALK)  

GIGOT:  On the Export/Import.  

FREEMAN:  Let's kill the Export/Import Bank, kill crony capitalism.  And then I think he would have had the credibility with some conservative members thinking, OK, maybe he's gone further.  But --

(CROSSTALK)

FREEMAN:  -- I know this looks like a big dysfunction.  I just want to say, if you end up with --

GIGOT:  Looks like?

(LAUGHTER)

FREEMAN:  -- instead of John Boehner, you've made a huge upgrade.  

GIGOT:  Well, you raise Paul Ryan, head of the Ways and Means Committee, former vice presidential nominee for the party with Mitt Romney.  Is he the person that could unite Republicans, Kim?  

STRASSEL:  There are huge benefits to having Ryan be the leader.  He does unite a lot of people.  He's great on policy, trusted by a lot of people, a big voice out there.  

GIGOT:  He has conservative credibility and national standing.  

STRASSEL:  Absolutely.  Which is something a lot of the other people in this race don't have.  But there are huge risks I think to Ryan in that position, in that, how do you stop from becoming the next John Boehner?  

One of the problems we have, Paul, is there is a collection of Republicans these days who have seen value in attacking other Republicans.  

GIGOT:  They have become a kind of counter-establishment.  They rail against the establishment but their own -- really their own establishment raising money.  They don't want -- they want -- they profit from the Republican dysfunction.  

STRASSEL:  Yeah.  It has become a business model, as it were.  Rather than complaining about Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi, it's easier to fire in your own trenches.  

GIGOT:  So the problem is -- the question is, would Ryan be programmed to fail in that case?  

HENNINGER:  This is a political institution.  At some level, you have to allow leadership to happen.  If you don't, you have gridlock and dysfunction.  And I think the broad American public will punish the Republican Party if that happens.  

GIGOT:  All right, Dan, thank you.

When we come back, ahead of next week's Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton breaks with President Obama and comes out against a trade pact she once called the gold standard.  Will her latest left turn help her with Democratic voters?  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, D- PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I have said from the very beginning that we had to have a trade agreement that would create good American jobs, raise wages and advance our national security.  I don't have the tax.  We don't yet have all the details.  I don't believe it's going to meet the high bar I have set.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GIGOT:  Well, she once called it the gold standard of trade agreements, but Hillary Clinton came out this week against President Obama's Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, the very deal she helped negotiate during her time as secretary of state.  

So, James, what is the political calculation here for secretary of state, former Secretary of State Clinton?  

FREEMAN:  From the very beginning, she was for it and now she's against it.  So, I think she's looking at Bernie Sanders on her left and she's moving left to counter that, on trade, energy, taxes, various other things.  But she's not going as far as Sanders.  I think the question is, are the people who are for Sanders doing it as a protest urging her to move left or do they actually buy what he's selling, in which case, I don't know if it's really --

(CROSSTALK)

GIGOT:  You're not buying that she believes this?  

(LAUGHTER)

That she's sincere?

FREEMAN:  Well, the turn is so sharp.  It's so dramatic across so many issues, Keystone Pipeline.  She wants to essentially take the Obama regulatory surge and go further across each of the issue areas, Dodd-Frank, et cetera.  It's hard to believe that it's not a response to what is happening in the campaign.  

GIGOT:  A little preemptive Joe Biden blocking here?

STRASSEL:  Yes.  Yes.

GIGOT:  Biden would have to support it as a member of the administration.  

STRASSEL:  Exactly.

GIGOT:  Maybe this gets her to the left of Biden?  

STRASSEL:  That's the main reason she's doing this, because if he's going to get in, again, as you say, she's picking her spots that way all across the board.  She's looking very carefully at places she can distance herself a little bit from the administration, look like her own woman, but at the same time, forestall Biden from taking issues from her if he was to get into the race.  And at the same time, try to reassure people that this-- if you liked what Obama did, you'll get a little bit more of it.  Just super charged.  

GIGOT:  Democratic voters going to kind of ignore all this previous position, NAFTA support, Korea support.  

HENNINGER:  That's the big question.  

(LAUGHTER)

That's the big question.  I mean, what is the key word in the election now in the Republican and Democratic Party?  Authenticity in your individuals.  And Bernie Sanders is sort of like the Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina on the right, he's an authentic individual, but he is gaining on Hillary.  The question is, will all these progressive voters, who are, after all, people, they watch politics, are they going to buy what Hillary is saying right now?  

GIGOT:  What do you think?  

HENNINGER:  I don't think so.  I don't think they are.  I mean, not in the states, many of these states like the northern states where you have a lot of liberals.  And then she's going to have to run this strategy of going through the south, running up primary delegate votes and simply outrunning Bernie Sanders and Biden.  

GIGOT: James?

FREEMAN:  One our viewers may find this hard to believe, but a former top Obama campaign staffer told us recently that basically the huge turnout among young people, minorities, was not dialogical.  It was really about Barack Obama the person.  

GIGOT:  This was the Obama coalition that said that.  

(CROSSTALK)

FREEMAN:  Exactly.

GIGOT:  And that person said it was not necessarily transferable, though, what Hillary Clinton is trying to do is to replicate it.  

FREEMAN:  She runs the danger here, if she's splitting apart from the president, she may be alienating a lot of these voters, a lot of parts of the Obama coalition that -- she might think they like her on the issues, but moving away from Obama has risks.  

STRASSEL:  Here's her other problem, too, is that Hillary Clinton, it's more dangerous for her to switch around on these issues than I think a lot of candidates, because she is working in this environment where people already don't believe her because of everything that's come out with the e- mail.  Remember, people think that she's untrustworthy.  And then you have her saying, well, I was for Keystone and now I'm not, and all these things.  It's hard for anyone to believe that she's being honest when she says any of these things.  

GIGOT:  America hasn't elected a protectionist president, overtly protectionist president since 1928 and Herbert Hoover.  That didn't turn out so well.

(LAUGHTER)

So we have Hillary Clinton on that Democrat side and Donald Trump on the Republican side --

HENNINGER:  On that light note.  

(LAUGHTER)

GIGOT:  -- look out below for the American and global economy.  

All right, we have to take one more break.  When we come back, our "Hits and Misses" of the week.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GIGOT:  Time now for our "Hits & Misses" of the week -- Kim?  

STRASSEL:  A miss to Donald Trump for this week confirming that he believes that eminent domain, the government taking of private property, is quote, "wonderful."  This is not necessarily a surprise since Mr. Trump has spent years working with government stealing people's property in order to make things like limousine parking lots.  But to add insult to injury, he suggested the real problem is that conservatives just don't understand the Constitution, as well as he does.  I think plenty of conservatives understand that when government takes your stuff, it's bad.  And that maybe the one that is lacking in a little knowledge of the Constitution is Donald Trump.  

GIGOT:  All right.

James?  

FREEMAN:  Paul, I think I don't understand the Environmental Protection Agency because --

(CROSSTALK)  

GIGOT:  Oh, you understand it very well.  I know you do.  

(LAUGHTER)

FREEMAN:  Well, this is a miss, because --

(LAUGHTER)

-- lawyers who spend their time administering the economy, but Tom Coburn writes in our pages this week that they spent more than $600 million over the last several years on weapons, including amphibious assault vehicles.  

(LAUGHTER)

So, as if they weren't dangerous enough with litigation.  

GIGOT:  Look out.  They'll be showing up at your home in New Jersey if you don't watch it.  

(LAUGHTER)

Dan?  

HENNINGER:  Paul, the famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, once said if you tip the United States on its side, everything loose would roll into California.  

(LAUGHTER)

This past week, the governor of California, Jerry Brown, passed laws mandating the most severe climate change legislation in American, mandating gender pay equity, and passing a law that would create assisted legal suicide in California.  So, the one that strikes me is the assisted suicide law, which perhaps if you live in a utopia like California might be necessary.  

(LAUGHTER)

GIGOT:  Well, more reasons to move to Texas.  

HENNINGER:  Yes.  

GIGOT:  All right, and remember, if you have your own hit or miss, be sure to tweet it to us at JER on FNC.

That's it for this week's show.  Thanks to my panel and especially to all of you for watching.  I'm Paul Gigot.  We hope to see you right here next week.  

END

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