'Special Report' Panel on the Russia-Georgia Conflict and Whether Placing Clinton's Name on the Ballot at the DNC Is a Good Thing

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This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from August 14, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: I call for the territorial integrity in Georgia to be respected and for the cease-fire agreement to be honored.


BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS HOST: President Bush reiterating his call for the territorial integrity to be respected in Georgia. This comes after it appeared Russian troops were moving from some of the major cities there but Russia's defiance continued with a number of comments. At the defense secretary's press conference today, Defense Secretary Robert Gates was asked whether U.S. military force might be used in this situation.


ROBERT GATES, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: The United States spent 45 years working very hard to avoid a military confrontation with Russia. I see no reason to change that approach today.


BAIER: He doesn't see any prospect for U.S. military force and then said "clear enough"? Some political observations from Fred Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard, and Jeff Birnbaum, columnist of the Washington Post and syndicated columnist Charles KRAUTHAMMER:, Fox News contributors all. Fred, let's start with you. The back and forth today, Russia, the moves on the ground, it doesn't appear like they're withdrawing from Georgia entirely. The president is calling for the cease-fire. What do you think?

FRED BARNES, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, I don't know whether they're going to withdraw or not, but certainly there lass been a pushback and it's been entirely by the United States. I mean, the global community, particularly the Europeans need to get involved in here. I guess they're having a committees meeting and they will take this under consideration and probably do nothing, but thank heavens for the Bush administration and what we're doing there, and the criticism of what the president has done as being provocative is ludicrous.

I mean, just think if the president had sent in humanitarian aid and had it done by somebody other than the American military. That would have taken a special effort to do that. Remember when we had the tsunami in Asia? Who provided that aid? It was American aid by the American military. They are the ones who do that in emergency situations. You don't send nurses in from Sibley hospital with humanitarian aid and don't do it with Delta Airlines. It is the military that does that. I think the president has shown the Russians now that there's a price to pay for this and so ultimately I do believe they will back out from Georgian territory but they said they're going to try to keep these two breakaway provinces.
They're not breakaway provinces. They are ones that have actually been a part of Georgia for centuries and Russians have just fomented secessionist activities there.

BAIER: Charles, another announcement was made today that the U.S. and Poland have come to an agreement on putting the interceptor missiles in Poland, part of the missile defense shield. The timing of this announcement, to send a message to Russia?

It was a way of saying there's a price. The Russians aren't paying it on the ground in Georgia but they are in terms of what is happening in Eastern Europe. When you have the presidents of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, and Poland and Ukraine showing up holding hands with the president of Georgia in Tbilisi two nights ago, what the Russians have done is to harden opposition to Russia from Eastern Europe rather than intimidating them, which is encouraging. Now, so their larger aim of intimidating the Eastern Europeans has failed. The nearer aim, of course, is controlling Georgia, and I think what's happening now is the Russians have succeeded in swindling the president of France.

He returned with an agreement that is really one that legitimizes Article V and it says the Russians have the right to pursue additional security measures, and that's why they are staying in the port of Poti, that's why they are staying in Gori, which cuts Georgia in half. They have the legitimacy now under this agreement now of staying in Georgia, and the negotiations ultimately will be, I think, if the Russians withdraw, there will be an understanding, you get Abkhazia and South Ossetia and you allow the government in Tbilisi to stand. I think if there is an agreement, it will be tacit and that's what it will be.

BAIER: Jeff, some of the Russian leader's statements today were opposite of what they have said in the past. The foreign minister said that Georgia can forget about its territorial integrity and then the deputy prime minister essentially said 9/11, it brings up 9/11. He said, "We just reacted because we didn't have another option. Any civilized country would act the same way. I may remind you, September 11, the reaction was similar, American citizens were killed." You know the reaction, and they said Moscow was surprised by the international reaction. "We didn't think it would annoy anybody."

JEFF BIRNBAUM, THE WASHINGTON POST: The Bush administration response to that kind of statement, I think, is correct. They called it bluster, which is what it is. It is just chatter. Trying to cover up what's actually happening. I disagree with Charles a little bit. I think the Russians are pulling back. They will move back, though they will maintain a strong presence in the two provinces, as Fred suggested, South Ossetia and Abkhazia and that will not be a bad result. The Russians will have made their point, I think, but they will not succeed in going further, and the reason is what the United States has done.

We have taken a soft military response — that is, by end sending in aid and our secretary of state. The capital of Georgia will not be attacked when American forces are on the ground and Condoleezza Rice is there. That's a very clever kind of protection of the sovereignty of Georgia that we have succeeded in pushing for.

KRAUTHAMMER: She arrives tomorrow but the problem somebody that the capitol of Georgia is isolated t doesn't have a port. It doesn't have an outlet to the sea. The country is cut in half. It requires essentially the equivalent of the Berlin air lift, which is what we are doing now. It is sort of an isolated capital. And what the Russians are going to do under the agreement that the French have negotiated is to stay, I think, rather indefinitely and wait until there is a buckling on the other side.
Their ultimate objective here really is toppling the government, and it will take all of our efforts and enlisting our European allies to make sure that the democratically-elected government stays in place.

BAIER: Last word on this panel. When we return, Democrats plan to nominate both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton at their convention. Is this a he show of unity or a Clinton takeover?


BAIER: Well, we have the answer to a question we have been asking for weeks. Will Hillary Clinton's name be put at the convention in Denver this month? The answer came in a joint statement. First by Barack Obama, quote, "I'm convinced that honoring Senator Clinton's historic campaign in this way will help us celebrate this defining moment in our history and bring the party together in a strong, united fashion."

Hillary Clinton saying, "With every voice heard and the party united, we will elect Senator Obama president of the United States and put our nation on the path to peace and prosperity once again."

Back with our panel. Charles, unity or a Clinton win?

KRAUTHAMMER: On the part of Obama, a surrender of Georgian proportions. Hillary has her tanks there in Denver and can refuse to withdraw until peacekeepers arrived. The way you read that, there was a phrase in a joint statement that it implies that it was Obama's idea to have a roll call. Now, that is slightly humiliating, because it was obviously Clinton's idea. The problem is this. It is a convention split in half. It is like Reagan and Ford in 1976. She is not a loser who fell along the wayside. She essentially controls half of the delegates, and the problem is, if you have a roll call, is that you cannot control what happens on the floor. You can have a demonstration on the floor in front of the cameras for half an hour or an hour, shouting her name. It will be a huge embarrassment. Unless the negotiations have included a cap on that, I think this is an Obama loss.

BIRNBAUM: I agree. I think the one thing that Obama should never have agreed to is a roll-call vote with Hillary Clinton. As a reporter, one of thousands of reporters going to Denver, I am so grateful but we are going to have a story, which is Hillary Clinton's attempt tacitly to take over the Obama victory, and that will go through virtually every day of the convention. Tuesday, she gives a speech her husband gives a speech Wednesday, that is when the roll call vote will be. And then Obama will be an afterthought where he will have his speech on the last day. I am grateful to have this, and I think both the Obama and Clinton campaigns.

BAIER: We heard that there was some problems. Hillary Clinton was upset there was not a keynote address offer to her. We heard now that Mark Warner, the former Virginia governor is going to be the keynote speaker.
What about this? What is your take?

BARNES: The thing with Hillary Clinton, every time she gets a concession from Obama, she asked for another one. I expect her to say, well, look, I am going to have my name in the roll call vote and if we really want to have party unity I should be the nominee. Look, are you serious, Mr. Obama about party unity or not? She has completely rolled Obama. Jeff is exactly right. The only story now at the convention will be what are the Clintons will do. Think of Hillary will be speaking on Tuesday night. There could be a demonstration that will not stop until after November 4. It will go on forever.

It is different than what happened with Reagan. Ford did not have to give up that much. Reagan was not scheduled to speak. At the last minute he invited him to speak the night before he was nominated and it was an overpowering speech.

But here the Clintons, the enemy has been invited fully armed into the tent. Amazing.

BAIER: The invasion has begun. OK, panel. That is it.

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