All-Star Panel: Where does Syrian regime stand?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," August 7, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I do think we can begin talking about and planning for what happens next, the day after the regime does fall. I'm not going to put a timeline on it. I can't possibly predict it, but I know it's going to happen, as does the most observers around the world. So we have to make sure that the state institutions stay intact. We have to make sure that we send very clear expectations about avoiding sectarian warfare.


BAIER: Well, as the bloodshed continues in Syria. Syria's president Bashar al Assad was seen on TV for first time today in two weeks. He showed up and he was meeting with Iran's top security chief. And the message there was that a central part of the axis of resistance was standing together, Iran and Syria. What about the situation on the ground there? We're back with the panel. Bill?

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: -- to see the American secretary of state saying well, we are hoping that he will go. And we're planning for post-Assad era as if we can't do anything about it. I really find it just demoralizing frankly, as an American. I went back and looked at the speech President Obama gave in March 2011 when he announced the very mild intervention in Libya, which did help to get rid of Qaddafi. Every reason he gave for intervening in Libya is there squared, in triplicate, for intervening in Syria, including the strategic importance of getting rid of Assad and weakening Iran, and  we're sitting there talking about we really hope there won't be sectarian violence later on and, gee, this is kind of unfortunate.

BAIER: But do you sense there is any appetite for intervening in Syria?

KRISTOL: Senator Lieberman, Senator McCain lot of people are calling for it. The administration is doing its best to resist.

BAIER: Juan?

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: There is no appetite. There is no appetite on part of the American people. There is no appetite on Capitol Hill with the exception of John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Senator Lieberman. That's it. What you hear from people who are advocates of this is that we need to get involved beyond simply offering assistance, you know, existing that we have been to the rebels.  But has anybody suggested that we actually mount a multinational force which is Libya, or insert American troops? I never heard such a word.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Look, we can argue all we want about intervention. Under this administration it's not going to happen. And hearing the secretary of state speak, with all due respect, what is she talking about? Who cares what she says about our expectations of the absence of sectarian warfare afterwards. The U.S. is not a player in this. The players are Iran and Russia on one side, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar on the other side. These are the people who matter, not what the secretary of state is saying.

What is happening right now, I think is the crucial battle, the battle of Aleppo. 
BAIER: -- a map of Aleppo

KRAUTHAMMER: Aleppo is in the north. Assad is prepared to destroy it entirely in order that it not fall, because if it does, it becomes what Benghazi was for the rebels in Libya, sort of the capital of the opposition state. If Aleppo goes and the rebels control it they will control the whole north and be on the border with Turkey. They will get all the arms weapons they want. Syria will be split in half and Assad will fall. And what we have to remember is that Assad's father in 1982 had a rebellion in the city of Hama. He utterly destroyed it. He paved it over and he killed 20,000 people in three weeks. So the Assads are capable of this. And if Aleppo was destroyed in order that Assad will save his skin, he will do it. It's all happening now. And I think the fulcrum of the battle is occurring and we will see how it turns out.

BAIER: There you see the city there, Aleppo and Damascus in the south.

KRAUTHAMMER: Near the Turkish frontier, where Turkey is the ally of the rebels.

BAIER: Bill?

KRISTOL: I just want to call attention to what Charles said. I think he was absolutely accurate, he said what the secretary of state of the United States said really doesn't matter. This is Iran and Russia on the one hand, and Turkey and Saudi Arabia on the other. That is terrible. If we are abdicating our role of helping to shape events in this absolutely crucial part of the world, what does that say? Are we just going to let other countries ya know, play their games and stand back as if it doesn't affect U.S. national security? What happens in Syria, which borders Israel, which is next to Iraq, where Iran is a major player?

I mean, Charles accurately portrayed the situation, but to say -- I don't think you could have said that under any administration, Democratic or Republican for 60 the last years, a conflict of this importance in a strategically important country with mass -- now the government engaged in something close to mass slaughter. And the U.S. secretary of state is asking and hoping that things happen. And as Charles says, it doesn't really matter what she says.

WILLIAMS: Let me disagree here. Because what's clear is that the administration is a player in this game. The United States has made it clear that they are on the side of the rebels and are trying to encourage the leader to step down. That is very clear. I don't think there is any doubt about this. And in terms of putting in place supplies, money, munitions that go to the rebels, that is a fact.

KRAUTHAMMER: It has as much importance as if you and I came out against Assad. It has none. It is empty air and everybody on the ground knows it.

BAIER: That is it for the panel. Sorry, Juan. But stay tuned for an interesting outreach to Latino voters.

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