Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on John McCain's Approach to International Issues

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This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," September 4, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


BILL O'REILLY, HOST, "THE O'REILLY FACTOR": Do you believe we are in the middle of a war on terror?


O'REILLY: Who is the enemy?

OBAMA: Al Qaeda, the Taliban, a whole host of networks that are bent on attacking America, who have a distorted ideology, who have perverted the faith of Islam. And, so, we have to go after them.

O'REILLY: The next president of the United States is going to have to make a decision about Iran...

OBAMA: Right.

O'REILLY: ... whether to stop them militarily, because I don't believe — if diplomacy works, fine, but you have got to have a plan B, and a lot of people are saying, look, Barack Obama is not going to attack Iran.

O'REILLY: Well, here is where you and I agree. It is unacceptable for Iran to possess a nuclear weapon. It would be a game-changer. And I have said that repeatedly. I have also said I would never take a military option off the table.


NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right. You can see a lot more of Bill's interview beginning tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. It is amazing, folks. I was able to see most of it. And whoa. So, I hope you tune in 8:00 p.m. Eastern time for that.

Reaction now from former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on this whole terror issue.

Will it be a defining issue?

HENRY KISSINGER, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: It is the defining issue in the world today. And it is a key issue in the election.

Video: Watch Neil's interview with Henry Kissinger

CAVUTO: Now, what Barack Obama is saying is that Iran and potentially having nuclear weapons is a game-changer. What do you make of that?

KISSINGER: Well, I don't — the phrase game-changer isn't so clear to me.

What it means is, nuclear weapons in Iran will change the international situation fundamentally. It means that proliferation is likely to be unchecked after that, that there would be many more countries that have nuclear weapons that might be used against each other and against us, and that terrorists might be protected by countries that have nuclear weapons. That is the fundamental change that comes about.

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So, therefore, what America needs to do is to determine, together with its allies, if at all possible, when the point of no — when the point of no return is reached, secondly, what non-military measures can be taken to induce Iran to enter a meaningful negotiation, and, third, then to face the question of what other means have to be used.

So, the — the problem has to be broken down into its components, before one understand what needs to be done.

CAVUTO: Let me ask you, Secretary. There has been some — in fact, great deal of criticism about Governor Palin, that she has virtually no foreign policy experience. And, God forbid, something should happen to a President McCain, if we had something like that, she would be — she would be lost. What do you make of that criticism?

KISSINGER: Well, first of all, she would not be lost because she has a big — there is a big supporting machinery available once you are president of the United States.

And you can also say that Harry Truman had no experience in foreign policy when he became president, and he turned out one of our great foreign policy presidents.

CAVUTO: So, you think that this issue of experience is overstated?

KISSINGER: No, I think, actually, the issue of experience is extremely important. But I would start it at the head of the ticket.


Real quickly, then, the — John McCain got a new sort of lease on political life, certainly in the polls, after the Russia-Georgia situation and his very stern response. Barack Obama was criticized for being a little too middle-ground.

Is it your sense that this ticket would have a much more aggressive foreign policy than the Obama/Biden ticket?

KISSINGER: I don't think aggressive is the right word.

I think that John McCain, whom I have known for 30 years, would be a stern defender of the American national interest, and that he would identify the American national interest with a protection of the state system as it now exists.

I also believe that John McCain would then, at the same time, look for a means of improving the international climate, so that these crisis situations would not arise. And I would expect, based on long experience with Senator McCain, that he would pursue both policies simultaneously.

It's not — and he made a major speech in Denver in which he laid that out, which is — of course, the positive part gets more complicated and longer than the thing you can express in slogans. So, that is what I expect and am reasonably certain...

CAVUTO: All right.

KISSINGER: ... we will see from a President McCain.

CAVUTO: All right, Secretary Kissinger, always good seeing you. Thank you very much.

KISSINGER: Good to see you.

CAVUTO: Be well. All right.


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