Response to Iranian Protesters Storming British Embassy

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," November 29, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I strongly urge the Iranian government to hold those who are responsible to task. They have a responsibility to protect diplomatic outposts. That is a basic international obligation that all countries need to observe. And for rioters essentially to be able to overrun the embassy and set it on fire is an indication that the Iranian government is not taking its international obligation seriously.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Protesters today in Tehran stormed two British diplomatic compounds, sparking strong condemnations from the U.N. Security Council, and you heard the president there. What about this? What will it lead to? How serious is it? We're back with the panel. Jonah?

JONAH GOLDBERG, AT LARGE EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: That clip we saw from Obama is a complete farce. It may be a necessary farce, but it is a complete farce, where he says they want the government of Iran to hold the rioters accountable. It's nonsense. The rioters were acting on the direct orders of the Iranian government. They were being helped by security forces. There is no such thing as spontaneous, non-government sanctioned protest in Iran since 2009. This is the Iranian government trying to sort of illicit outrage against the west, and the rest, for domestic political purposes. And maybe Obama can't say that openly, but it is ludicrous to make it sound as if this is out of the blue or spontaneous organic uprising.

BAIER: Juan?

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: The question is where do we go from here. In the package that we had on the show, what you heard was Evan Bayh, the former senator, who was on the intelligence committee, talking about, well, sanctions are all you can do short of a military strike. And that's increasingly what people have to contemplate. Are we willing to engage in military actions? Some talk about Israel taking the military action and the United States, you know, winking and nodding in response. But that could mean that we are willing to go to war in Iran. And I don't think Americans are willing to take that step quite yet.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: That's not the issue at stake today. The issue at stake today is not a U.S. attack on Iran. It is will the U.S. sanction the central bank, which would essentially completely undermine the Iranian economy, and it's not doing that.

Why was the British embassy attacked? Because the Brits had cut off all contact between the British banks and the Iranian banks. London is a financial center in the world and it's going to hurt Iran. The U.S. is a larger financial center and it's not willing to pull the trigger on sanctioning the bank. And that is what's at stake.

The president issues this unbelievably embarrassing statement, and the other half of it is that he's now beginning to see that the Iranian government is not taking its international obligations seriously. Really, now? This is a country that the State Department has said for a decade is the number one exporter of terrorism, a government that has defied every Security Council resolution on enriching uranium, and all of a sudden he discovers it's not living up to its international obligations. That statement is embarrassing coming out of a president.

The Iranian regime is under a lot of pressure. The Syrian regime its client is equally under pressure, had rioters attacked Arab and Turkish embassies as a result, and this is exactly what Iran is doing. It's under attack. There are explosions all over Iran all the time. The IAEA has taken away all cover for its nuclear program. It's at a point of maximum weakness, and what does America do, as it did in 2009, issues meaningless statements instead of taking actions that it can and that it should.

BAIER: Response?

WILLIAMS: Well, I just don't understand. The response can be that you go after the central bank. I think most people think that you can do that.

KRAUTHAMMER: So why don't you.

WILLIAMS: But the question is about the world economy and what you do, then, what the consequences would be on a broader scale.

But the real point here to me is that the United States needs to somehow impact Iran, and you're talking about doing steps that are going to impact everybody else but Iran. Yes, they're upset about the banks.

KRAUTHAMMER: And would you suggest instead a kind of a surgical economic attack on Iran? And what would it look like instead?

WILLIAMS: No. What I suggest is, I hope, this means the Chinese, the Russians, and others who have been their patrons will suddenly say -


KRAUTHAMMER: But that's dreaming. The real world is the Chinese and the Russians are protecting Iran.

WILLIAMS: That's right.

KRAUTHAMMER: And we have a weapon -- a unilateral weapon available, and Obama is not doing it.

BAIER: And this is in the context of the IAEA report showing progress on the nuclear front, and also, of course the threat on the Saudi ambassador to assassinate, the attempt to assassinate the Saudi ambassador here in the U.S. We will follow this story. It's developing.

That's it for the panel. But stay tuned for a lesson on knowing your audience.

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