This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 1-2, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, the eyes of the world are on Switzerland, the historic face-to-face meeting between Iran and the United States and five other nations. The question: Can anything stop Iran from building nuclear weapons? All the countries involved agreed to meet again later this month, and President Obama called the talks a constructive beginning. But was anything really accomplished?
Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger went "On the Record."
VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Secretary, nice to see you, sir.
LAWRENCE EAGLEBURGER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Good to be here.
VAN SUSTEREN: And thank you for agreeing to sit down with us.
EAGLEBURGER: It's my pleasure.
VAN SUSTEREN: Top of the news today, Iran. What do you think about the United States meeting face to face with Iran? And is -- do you have any expectations or high hopes for this?
EAGLEBURGER: I have no expectations or high hopes for it. I don't mind that they met, although I think there will be a lot of people who are going to complain about that. But I think it was OK. I just don't think anything's going to come of it because I don't think Iran intends any sort of a compromise.
VAN SUSTEREN: So what do we do?
EAGLEBURGER: I know what I would do, but that's not what we will do. I think what's -- my own guess is, at this stage, when it's over, Iran will have built its bomb. There may or may not be some sanctions imposed for a while, but not by enough countries to make a difference. And we will -- when this is all over, we'll have another nation that's in the list of nuclear powers, and it'll be Iran. I think that's what's going to happen.
VAN SUSTEREN: What would you do?
EAGLEBURGER: I would have -- first of all, I would have made it very clear to the Chinese and the Russians that if they didn't join us in meaningful sanctions, we were going to hold it against them in every way we could. In other words, we can't force them to do it, but I don't personally understand why the Chinese and the Russians don't both of them understand that another nuclear power on the list of nations is not going to help them any more than it helps us. It's a danger to everybody, and they ought to understand that, but I don't think they do.
I would do my best to get sanctions that would really make a difference because I think, in fact, if you imposed the right kinds of sanctions, we probably could force the Iranians to stop. If, on the other hand, that didn't work, I myself believe that it's worth military action to stop it. I would go whatever way is necessary. And again, I have to say I suspect, in the end, it would be just the United States that would be willing to impose the military option on this.
And I don't think this administration is ever going to be prepared do that, so I don't think we'll do it. But I think the issue is so important that it needs to be stopped. Where the real mistake was made was to permit the North Koreans to do it. Once they had done -- had accomplished this matter of getting a bomb, you open the door wide. If we had made it clear from the very beginning that we were not going to tolerate another nuclear power on the face of the earth, and had done it in Korea, where we could have accomplished it militarily, if necessary, I would put a stop to it and would have put a stop to it there.
But what I'm saying is because we let them do it, I think we'll end up letting the Iranians do it. And the issue is going to be then what do we do next? And all we -- all I can say at that stage is that we're going to have some nuclear nation sometime along the way that's going to pop off a bomb, and then where will we be? I don't know. I think it's a mess, and I don't like the way it's going.
VAN SUSTEREN: Just curious, in terms of -- if you had to sit down and negotiate with either the Chinese or the Russians, who would you rather negotiate with?
EAGLEBURGER: The Chinese.
VAN SUSTEREN: Really? Why?
EAGLEBURGER: They'd be more rational.
VAN SUSTEREN: Than the Russians?
EAGLEBURGER: I think so, yes. Now, mind you, I don't think in either case it's going to be easy, and I frankly don't think there's going to be much of any way we can persuade either country to join us in meaningful sanctions. I think that's almost impossible, but for reasons that have very little to do with the substance of whether Iran becomes a nuclear power or not.
VAN SUSTEREN: Which brings us, then, to the -- the other suggestion, or the last one that you said, military action.
EAGLEBURGER: It's what I would do, but we'll never do it.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Why will we never do it, and why would you do it?
EAGLEBURGER: I would do it because I think -- again, if we -- if we don't draw a line -- and we should have drawn it with Korea, but if we don't draw a line in the sand that says, No longer are we going to tolerate -- we or the community of nations are going to tolerate another nuclear power -- and now it's ending up in the hands of small countries that have nowhere near the desire to concern themselves about a global peace than we in the United States or any number of other countries have.
But I mean, you can -- what does North Korea lose, for example, out of firing a bomb off somewhere in terms of its impact on global peace? They - - that's not their issue. It is for us. It is for the British, the Germans, you name it. It ought to be for the Russians and for the Chinese. As I say, I'm -- I'm frustrated that they don't seem to see it this way.
But the fact of the matter is that I think that this issue is important enough that you -- we should be prepared, if necessary, to use military force, and hopefully, again in conjunction with some allies. But I'm not at all sure they will join us. And we won't do it. I'll tell you that right now.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, you say we won't do it. Why won't we do it?
EAGLEBURGER: This administration doesn't look at things that way. I'm not sure there's much of any administration that would look on it this way, although I think there are some who understand that this is an issue not just of Iran but of the whole future of the world, if you will, and that if we don't stop it now, we'll never stop it.
The consequence of a world full of nuclear powers to me is so incomprehensible in terms of the dangers that that implies. One nuclear war is going to be the last nuclear -- the last war, frankly, if it really gets out of hand. And I just don't think we ought to be prepared to accept that sort of thing. But if -- I'm not at all sure that there are very many people who look on this as being as terribly dangerous as I do, so I may be exaggerating the whole thing. But I just don't think we can tolerate it.
Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger "On the Record," Part 2 - Oct. 2, 2009
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Earlier, former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger went on the record about the war in Afghanistan and more.
VAN SUSTEREN (On camera): Afghanistan. What is your assessment?
LAWRENCE EAGLEBURGER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I hope you are not going to run all of this at one time, because I have tell you, I will have everyone so depressed, they will not come back again.
Afghanistan, I think, it is more than beginning - I am beginning though to feel a lot of the similarities with the earlier days of Vietnam. I regret to say that, but we have gotten ourselves into the country, and now, it is fairly clear that we cannot get out without some serious psychological problems in terms of how the rest of the world looks at us. It is clear now that the administration, the president, has all of a sudden said, "hold up. I want to take another look at this thing?" After having first said, time and time again, said that "this is the real war. This is what we ought to be fighting."
Now, he's called a halt for the moment and in the face of a request from the general for another what? 40,000 troops or something like that. In other words, another heavy installment of troops. And he says he can't win this thing without him and that sounds again like Vietnam all over again. And then I say, that now I think they realized not only are we in there and we're going to be asked for more troops.
But we can't get out because getting out requires accepting the fact that the rest of the world is going to look at us and say, "well, they were cowardly or for one reason or another, they won't commit themselves as they should have. The Americans shouldn't be taken seriously anymore." There are some psychological consequences to getting out that are going to be fairly painful.
So I have to tell you I think the president has no alternative at this stage about the troops request but if he puts them in and within six months or so we get another request for another 40,000 troops, I will tell you, we are back in Vietnam. That's exactly the way it went and it scares me to pieces.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is this administration different in your view from the most recent democratic administration's President Clinton's?
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, you say that this one - you are critical of this one. IN what way are they different? Well, first of all, I think they are very different from the Clinton administration for example, but they are different - I am having a terrible time expressing it because the difference is so great.
Clinton was within the context of most American administrations from the end of the second world war, namely that we knew where we were in the world. We knew what our role was, and we were going to do what we could to keep some peace and security in this world and to build structures to maintain it.
This administration, it seems to me, has no more understanding of the trends of American foreign policy and our position in the world and what we have gone through for over 40 years, a lot longer than that now, but to the end of this last century, to try to build a structure that would be able to accommodate peaceful world.
I don't think they have the least understanding of what it is that has gone before us and what it is that we need to keep in mind as we try to build structures for the future. This president ahs spent his time talking in public every chance he gets, and yet, I see nothing that comes out of that talk that leads to anything concrete.
A classic example, there is no reason in the world that the fuss over the health bill ought to be anything like it has been and continues to be. Here the democrats have such a control of the Congress, you would think they could pass any legislation they wanted within a fairly short period of time. Instead, it goes on forever. We still don't have any idea of what the bill maybe in the end and the reason we don't is because when it comes to the right place to make some decisions, that is to make it clear that the president has this and he wants in this, and that it is going to be this way, they disappear.
VAN SUSTEREN: But isn't this a Speaker of House problem?
VAN SUSTEREN: (INAUDIBLE) more than the president. It hasn't even gotten to the president - he's sort of selling and has not even got into his desk, and there is no bill. The House and the Senate, they are the ones who are creating the problem right now.
EAGLEBURGER: There is no question they are the ones creating the problem, and as a I say, but the control they have in the Congress, you would think they could do better than this but, but at that sort of a point, it seems to me very clear that the president needs to step up and make some decisions and make some things clear. And if he has to call his people into the White House to tell him that he has enough of this and the destruction to the party, that sort of thing, he should do it.
But my point again is a different one. It is that, to me, an example of they don't know what it is they are looking for. They don't know what it is they are trying to get. This is true in foreign affairs, and it is certainly true in a lot of the domestic issues that we are now facing. And my point is shut up until you have decided what it is you want. My point again is he is out there making speeches every 15 minutes, but the fact of the matter is there is no direction and there certainly is no direction when it comes to the question of making decisions on what ought to be done.
And it is that concerns me most of all. That we have an administration that looks as if it's decisive, that talks nicely, but it is anything but decisive, is anything but one that is prepared to lead.
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