What's really going on with Syria, Iran and Ukraine?

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," March 19, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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O'REILLY: And in the "Impact Segment" tonight as we told you last night in the "Talking Points" memo, the unintended consequences of Putin seizing part of Ukraine will be immense all over the world. And right on cue the Israeli defense minister says Israel can no longer count on the USA to stop the uranium nuclear weapons program.

Joining us from Washington Dr. Michael Rubin former Pentagon official and author of the book, "Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging World Rogue Regimes". So Doctor I'm reading a column by John Podhoretz in the "New York Post" today that says "Syria isn't really giving up its gas weapons." Let's start there because Putin is involved with that. Is that true?

MICHAEL RUBIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE SCHOLAR: That is true. After the deal was struck the preliminary deal for Syria to give up its weapons they -- they made a declaration of what they had. They created a timeline and if you compare what they've decommissioned with what's on the timeline it looks like it's slowed and perhaps even trickled to a stop.

O'REILLY: Now you were in Syria recently, correct?

RUBIN: Correct, absolutely.

O'REILLY: Do they have any respect for the USA or President Obama over there?

RUBIN: No a lot of -- the people who tend to be pro-American in Syria are frustrated that we don't seem to care and our enemies seem to are emboldened because they see that we don't really care.

O'REILLY: So you don't expect Assad to stick up to that deal that saved his butt that Putin negotiated for him because you know we were threatening military action against him for gassing civilians. You don't expect Syria to live up to that deal.

RUBIN: Well with Assad it seems to be one step forward and two steps back. Momentum matters in the international affairs and Assad has no reason to believe that we are going to abide by any red lines we set.

O'REILLY: All right and he is now winning that war, unfortunately. Now, in Iran, again, the Israeli defense minister says look, you know, the USA is not going to stop these people. Do you believe that?

RUBIN: I do. And you know I just came back from the Persian Gulf in February. And I was hearing the same thing from some of our Arab allies. The only difference between them and the Israelis is the Israelis said it directly.

O'REILLY: Do you think we're getting conned here with this deal that the Iranians are slowing down their nuke research?

RUBIN: Well the interesting thing about some of the Arab states in the Persian Gulf is they don't think Iran is going to need to cheat because they say the loopholes involved in this deal are so big you can drive a tank through them.

O'REILLY: All right so even though Iran is letting inspectors in and doing that kind of thing. I think the quote is that within two months they could have a nuclear weapon any time they wanted. Do you believe that?

RUBIN: I do. Because Iran can reverse everything they have offered us. And while they are letting inspectors in to some facilities, some facilities have been left outside the parameters of the deal. For example, parching where according to national intelligence estimates Iran in the past has experimented with nuclear bomb triggers. Of course that has nothing to do with generating electricity if Iran has really come clean why aren't they opening that plant as well?

O'REILLY: All right so that remains off limits to any inspectors.

All right let's go to Russia now Putin has got 20,000 troops in the Crimea and more poised on the eastern Ukraine border. Do you expect him to seize more territory from Ukraine?

RUBIN: I do. Because all he has seen is that the worse we are going to do is put him on double secret probation. The fact of the matter is economics -- his economic situation at home isn't good. People are mocking him as the new Leonid Brezhnev (ph) because of stagnation. And what he's discovered is that it's easier to pick on his neighbors than it is to address the fundamental flaws in the Russian economy.

O'REILLY: But if he were to really outright seize more land from Ukraine, don't you think that that would lead to war? Don't you think that somebody would retaliate against him there? I mean because then it becomes a spit in your face. Now it's a tweak in your face. Then it's a spit in your face.

RUBIN: Well, the question is the timeline. Remember, he went into Georgia in 2008. The question is whether he thinks that with President Obama in the White House he can actually speed up the timeline a little bit. But at the very least, we have to play chess instead of checkers and think several steps ahead about where he might go after next.

O'REILLY: But you think he is bent on getting more territory not only in Ukraine, but Moldova and other places as well?

RUBIN: Indeed what happens in Crimea doesn't stay in Crimea. And the real danger of course, Bill is with the Baltic states because not only are Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania former Soviet states.

O'REILLY: But then you know those states have ties to the EU. We are talking war now if he continues to do this. Aren't we talking war?

RUBIN: That's exactly what the danger is. And this is why the Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski said we've got to be very, very careful with our rhetoric and what we do because this is how regional wars get started.

O'REILLY: In the pacific, China wants series of islands that are governed by Japan. I mean I said last night in the Talking Points I believe they will probably seize those islands.

RUBIN: Yes. No, look. The pivot to Asia has to be more than rhetorical. The fact of the matter is we have more ships under our command in the Pacific Fleet under Jimmy Cart than we have in the entire U.S. Navy today.

O'REILLY: So do you believe that this will encourage China to expand? Because they want to expand in that theater too.

RUBIN: We're seeing reverberation of weakness. I think in the United States the biggest difference between left and right when it comes to national security is the left always demonizes power. The right sees that power can be used for good or bad but what President Obama and his supporters haven't fully realized is when you draw back the protection of American power, it's not going to be altruistic forces that fill the vacuum.

O'REILLY: Finally in Afghanistan we sacrificed thousands of military people and billions and hundreds of billions of dollars and Karzai is basically again, insulting us, demanding that we leave now from this place what do you think is going to happen there.

RUBIN: You know Afghans have never lost a war they just defect to the winning side. Warren Christopher, Bill Clinton's Secretary of State when he wanted to reach out to the Taliban, the Taliban representatives to whom he would turn was none other than Harmid Karzai. That should be a warning sign that Hamid Karzai is going to pivot to whoever will keep him in power.

O'REILLY: All right but the U.S. certainly could help him with a residual force staying behind. I mean look at what happened in Iraq. If we had put soldiers in residual force Maliki would not have lost the territory that he has.

So summing up, this looks to me like a geopolitical disaster worldwide. And Putin lit the fuse.

RUBIN: Absolutely. The problem is if the President loses political credibility. It gets restored when we elect a new president. But on the world stage you can't get the credibility back easily. It takes decades to pick up the pieces.

O'REILLY: Yes you got almost three years though Doc. A lot of damage can be done in three years if everybody takes on the USA and it looks like that's going to happen.

RUBIN: Absolutely.

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