Foreign policy challenges for President Obama's second term and a close look at the communication breakdown during the Libya attack
- Duration 24:10
- Date Nov 7, 2012
Foreign policy challenges for President Obama's second term and a close look at the communication breakdown during the Libya attack
Also in this playlist...
This transcript is automatically generated
-- welcome to -- country I KT McFarland.
And I'm going to dig deeper with you this weekend of the national security issues of the day.
We've now had circuit overload on the election and it's finished but we now have a new president President Obama again for a second term.
And he's gonna face a new challenges in the next four years.
We wanted to take a closer look at what those challenges might be.
And what issues is the president got to face -- likely to handle them and -- -- likely to choose to handle them so let's head to our DC bureau where cliff may.
The president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies joins me.
To dig deeper into these issues.
Now -- you're a former New York Times foreign correspondent you've traveled and lived all over the world you know everything from Russia to Afghanistan to China.
To the Middle East and so I -- ask you what do you think are the biggest of five biggest foreign policy issues that the new president Obama's gonna face in the next term.
Yeah I think the biggest one I guess I was start with his -- is very simple and very straightforward.
Is whether or not America is going to assume their responsibilities.
Of the free world and liberal leadership more broadly.
This gets into the whole issue of American exceptional -- -- -- and I think Americans specials and doesn't mean we're the greatest.
It doesn't mean we want to be number one but it does mean that some -- has to provide leadership if we won't do it.
Who will and I think the answer that is the uranium as the Chinese.
Vladimir Putin will take on anything any role he can.
The UN about it but that would be a terrible terrible mistake.
Obama has not wanted us to lead from the front and and and and play that role but we should Iran is leave.
Most important national security issue if Iran gets nuclear weapons of this century will change in very very terrible ways.
Iran is on the road -- getting nuclear weapons Obama has said that is not acceptable.
Now we'll see whether he means -- I'm not entirely convinced but I hope that that he does.
We have tremendous challenges with Syria -- 30000 people have been killed if Assad survives that's a great victory for the area.
For the jihadist in Tehran.
He is their most important client if he falls -- -- consequential to.
We have not defeated the Taliban and Afghanistan even though we're leaving there in Iran in Iraq.
Taliban actually is resurgent.
With the new -- of attacks about a 140.
A week now.
And then we see what just happened in Libya where in Ben Ghazi -- we at our consulate.
And and the annex overrun and Americans killed.
That model will be replicated if we don't figure out how to how to address it.
Now -- -- -- about leadership of Iran Syria.
Resurgent Taliban Afghanistan Iraq and also Libya.
You talk about Asia did your two give me your sense of where the world is going -- where the United States is going -- -- out of president.
Has said he wants to pivot towards Asia presumably that means it ramping up the defense budget.
In the air force and naval areas but but what do you think is likely to -- -- anything's possible.
Right I look I think Asia is very important for the long run but I think this idea pivoting to Asia.
It's it is is moving away from the immediate problems we have to a problem we'd rather have.
But not doing anything about that the real crises of the moment but China is a challenge in China is an opportunity and is very important.
If you want to be an important player in Asia and we certainly should be in in this century.
We're going to need a very large navy and we're gonna need.
They're very strong military and that's not work what were likely to get.
If the cuts that we're talking about come mostly out of the defense budget.
The only way to play a role on Asia is to be able to.
Project power and Asia and again that takes a navy that takes an air force -- takes aircraft carriers and all the ships to to back them up.
So I think it's important but I think right now the Islamist challenge the jihadist challenged.
The challenge of Iran that should come first that is critical that as a crisis at this moment.
And then we but yes we need to deal with with with the with China.
And we need to maintain our very strong relations with Japan and with South Korea and with Taiwan and on others.
You just about America exceptional -- -- it's an issue that came up in the campaign and everybody of course believes in American exceptional as some but it's not clear what it means you've recently written a com.
Trying to define in this sort of get your hands around what American exceptional as a means.
We could you elaborate for us.
-- first I don't think everybody likes that are agrees with that -- that if you read places like the nation magazine Huffington Post you'll see a lot of people who are very offended and -- by the idea that don't like it.
They think it's arrogant they think it's hubris -- that sort of thing I don't think it is.
And then we've had recent articles by a reporter good -- good reporters gushing into New York Times -- -- columnist the Washington Post.
Both objecting to the concept of American exceptional -- Richard -- says it means are supposed to mean we are most beloved by god I don't think it means that.
Scott Shane said it means that we are exceptional exceptionally good and everything we -- -- be told that by our politicians we don't wanna hear about tough issues I don't think it means that either.
I think it means most of all that lead to modern democratic experiment.
The idea of countries in which there is freedom which -- resort real commitment to liberty rule of law.
Human rights the idea that rights come not from a government of what creator nobody can take them from you that was an American experiment we still -- started in 1776.
If we don't defend that I don't think it continues to survive Reagan said that.
Freedom must be defended in every generation or will be extinguished and I worry that we're not willing to stand up for freedom and America and freedom internationally as well.
When we have.
-- are go back to 1989 which we've when I think we really started on on.
Our road to crisis -- -- Ayatollah Khamenei said that someone rushed he had written a book that was offensive.
And that he should be killed and instead of sending every Korean diplomat home from every civilized country.
What happened that people said well someone rushes in some trouble now a better we get a bodyguard we cannot allow.
People like Khomeini and many others to begin to restrict our our freedom of expression because if we do.
Or freedoms will be -- -- America needs to lead in this battle America.
Is different from countries not necessarily better -- different needs to recognize that difference appreciate -- and I think defendant.
You know let me say to people who say -- America's war weary we don't have the money for a strong defense anymore we've got deficit problems.
We have budget problems we have economic problems instead of building.
You know bridges and Afghanistan less repair bridges you know at Arkansas.
So people who say look America needs to take a breather America needs to come home.
First several years' time focus at home and not be worried about things like you're talking about I'm standing up for freedom of speech around the world.
Let's start by standing up for our own freedom of speech let's start by saying we -- not gonna allow our freedoms to be limited by anybody anywhere else in the world.
We're gonna understand that freedom of speech means certain people may have to be offended by things that are said we're gonna stand up for that for that right -- start with that.
I also think.
I'm not one for building our bridges and Afghanistan.
I think we cannot export democracy but I do think we have a moral obligation to support.
Those fighting forward.
Freedom in any country in the world there are allies I don't think we should -- -- them can do the job for them.
But yes we should support our allies wherever we where we find them people who who really do believe in freedom and do see that as a as a core value.
And I don't think we can take a break from the world I know we're tired but if we decide that we're just not gonna fight for anything and all we're gonna do is.
Turn -- And bill look better entitlement state we're gonna find a very hostile world very -- quickly and the idea that we can be a fortress America that are.
Oceans can protect us and that's a nice idea it's not realistically should learn that on 9/11.
And I don't think we have.
We say support advocate or -- what do you -- -- Well -- to -- it's going to be different in different places but I think for example right now.
And what I think is one of the most under reported stories in the world Christians are being persecuted and cleansed.
From one country after another in the broader Middle East.
I think we should be talking about that worrying about that and trying to protect the Christian communities of Egypt of Iraq of Pakistan.
And other minorities is well that are.
Being persecuted and ethnically or religiously clintons I don't think it's a good idea I don't think it's good for us or them if we simply turn our back and say that's their problem it's not our problem.
We're really much more worried about our.
401 -- and about how we're gonna reform Medicare which were actually not doing it and doing doing either.
I think at least to that extent we need to be involved now that may mean we cut off -- it may mean we.
Do you try to utilize the UN differently than it's used.
-- -- a lot of different things but at least we should be standing up for the week the powerless and the people who are being persecuted in a restaurant or.
OK when I status to Syria which I think is your number three where should we be dealing with Syria and why do you think president Obama's likely to do.
Well what -- thought for a long time is that we don't want boots on the ground there and big movie the good members of the Syrian opposition have never asked us for that.
But I do think it -- been -- useful idea and still not might be.
To supply those with whom we share values with give them some funds and give them some weapons those who -- doing the shooting.
We'll be calling the shots later and the problem is that because we haven't done that.
We've opened the doors for groups that are al-Qaeda linked.
And they're getting more and more involved and -- are going to be more and more powerful and I think that's a huge huge problem we also haven't understood I think of the Obama administration hasn't.
The strategic interest we have.
In seeing the Rand damaged by -- -- falling since Asad is the most important client that Iran has in this Sunni and Arab world.
So I think we should still be supporting those who are who.
-- with us to see reasonable outcome and not a great outcome I don't think you're gonna see serious turn and this was -- wonder Costa Rica or anything like it.
But it could at least not be a threat to itself and its neighbors and the idea that we went into Libya.
Because we are worried about a humanitarian crisis in many -- of -- places and now we've sat back and done nothing while wasting 30000 people butchered.
Makes us look I think at least at the very least -- hypocritical.
There are other things we could be doing -- no fly zone didn't make it harder for people to be give it mowed down.
By outside -- but what happens in Syria is is it we should understand is consequential.
When you're president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and your organization -- more than any other.
Has been at the forefront have talking about Iran's nuclear weapons program monitor in the nuclear weapons program development.
And talking about alternatives to -- letting Iran get nuclear weapons or going to war over Iran's nuclear weapons to prevent them and you -- Been the leader and Washington to get a sanctions regime passed by the US government internationally at the UN.
What do you think happens next is really got prime minister of Israel the last couple days has come out with a -- more militant tone.
Saying we might have to have some kind of -- action against Iran's nuclear weapons program.
President Obama has said all options are on the table.
And he had his his military leaders chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff head of the CIA had made their own trips to Israel saying.
Well wait you know -- do anything precipitous.
What do you think happens next and what timeline do you -- request.
What's very hard to predict predict I think that in terms of sanctions we have them than the harshest sanctions.
But we've ever had and they're not nearly enough no one of the things we've been doing lately is trying to calculate to two time lines one is when the sanctions get to the point and they haven't yet.
There could be accelerated.
We really do break the back of the Iranian economy that's the point -- which.
The the ruling elite might decide they have to do something else other than develop nuclear weapons the other is -- timeline as to when they actually have nuclear weapons.
I'm afraid we see the them getting nuclear weapons before the back of the Iranian economy and breaks.
So unless we push sanctions much much harder which we could do there are ways to do it.
It's not -- Be good enough it'll be a good day late and a dollar short.
Netanyahu is real difficulties he's got and I think now sit down and they'll try whether they'll succeed with with Obama.
And say what are you gonna do.
And what can I do and we helped me do what needs be done you sales should say Obama you said that it's unacceptable for Iran to get nuclear weapons so now what is our plan.
And we want to help and with who -- your help.
To prevent that from -- from happening.
There are a lot of ways that are Iran can and probably is running out that the clock in terms of the centrifuges -- -- Richmond of uranium.
I have to think that Netanyahu is very worried at this point but I don't think we know what he's gonna do I'm not sure he knows what is going to be here.
Okay let me ask you the two games that everybody in Washington loves to play we're gonna have a new secretary of state presumably in a second Obama term.
At a new secretary of defense you want to give any.
Put down any markers on -- think's going to be the -- secretary of state or defense.
No I'm not that I am I am I mean I know the names that have come up cracked but I have no I can't -- -- have any insight into what president Obama's thinking is at this point in terms of who we who he really wants and I think he'll be racing to see because I think the real question here is.
Do we know base in the past four years what Obama.
What direction Obama wants -- take on foreign policy or -- the now that he's been reelected now they won't face the lecture again.
-- take a somewhat different approach to foreign policy and national security.
You know and there was lot of controversy when he told.
President Medvedev that he'd have more flexibility.
After the election I think that flexibility.
Is not just in regard to the relation -- relations with Russia.
Which I don't think are very go to -- Cecil I think it's more generally and I think will get some hint as to what direction he wants ago when we see who he picks.
For secretary of state secretary of defense -- -- So much for spending this much time with us -- -- -- guy who really has seen.
The bigger picture that geo strategic picture of national security for a long time I really appreciate your taking the time.
To share that balance with us.
-- -- -- -- you okay and now for more on firm policy predictions for the president in his second term.
I got up really early this morning and I -- sound so if you want to figure out.
What I think's going on in that second Obama term which I've called the Obama Sarah you can read my opinion piece on foxnews.com.
British take a quick break and man I'm going to have time Jocelyn who is the world's leading expert on al-Qaeda and terrorists as he says.
He's the guy that has al-Qaeda.
Bad guys jumping around and has -- what we -- -- pick his brain to find out what's gonna.
As I -- as a -- -- went to break joining me and a sad is -- Jocelyn from the long war journal.
He's been reporting on the connections out on between al-Qaeda and the attack and then -- but also the connections between al-Qaeda the protests in Cairo Egypt -- -- Yemen.
And as I said for our nice site because as you can see he is a nice guy but as he's always told me.
He's got all those terrorists jumping around and is heading as their names he.
Knows what their affiliations earning as that they've done so I want to ask you the latest and terrorists in the world.
Now we're hearing who's the guy took over al-Qaeda when we got Ben laden he's just came -- made a statement.
Yes -- mean steaming yesterday on Election Day here in the US.
Address the -- -- which is al-Qaeda affiliate in Somalia.
Right -- basically shabbat is taken some blows in recent months and basically says she keep fighting and he's always keep playing is that America's weaknesses being exposed.
He says we've been defeated in Iraq which -- suffered its own losses in Iraq trying we're leaving Afghanistan but he also -- cited the killing were US ambassador -- Ghazi.
And the protests in Cairo and Sinai Yemen as evidence that the job as flag has been risen an American flag -- come down.
And I think connecting these events is very seen something a lot of people here not really delving into the ties -- Qaeda has to each one of those events.
Did our critics claim credit for the kind of ambassador no but it's it's sort of -- what happened in Benghazi.
We know what this lead is -- tell us -- we're right down now officially at all we don't have the official story -- all we have our last series of press accounts which give us the best.
Testament that we can get invest.
Evidence we can have to DMO actually happened.
I think would happen based on these press reports and is who serve this coalition of al-Qaeda affiliated parties OK transfer about nostrils tree which is a local militia there which has global job so I got to branch and then guys rewrite and they were contacting -- -- contact with al-Qaeda is -- -- grip which is an al-Qaeda affiliate.
During the assault.
Okay we also know and we think it's not Qaeda Islamic group terrorists -- involved and you saw.
According to CNN some terror small -- in Iraq were also involved.
But I think most additionally -- long ball this.
Is -- a guy named Mohammed Jamal visited Jimmy you wanna brag he's on her back guys yeah he's he's he's an injection he's got a longstanding ties Ayman Al zawahiri and other senior terrorists and al-Qaeda.
He sent terrorists of his terrorists or train Libby camps which is there is assault Jamal has direct ties the guys who work history of the Cairo protests earlier in the -- nonaligned.
So do you think that these were these were coordinated attacks and murdering tyrant out I didn't have a didn't show up -- PGA's and mortar fire -- Right but you -- get any islands and Gaza AMs and Yemen -- Yemen.
Yep I think is good evidence that we you find when you look each one of these events did you find in an -- bad -- -- -- -- with definitive -- so Qaeda involved in each of them.
And I think it's very hard to explain away.
-- in Cairo -- OK I've been only get a fight for senior al-Qaeda only jihadist.
Who actually -- US embassy protest in Cairo who actually incited protesters in the name is anti Islam film wasn't the spontaneous protests.
But some film and very -- be let error ever -- of -- -- a pretext.
One of them of course is the brother Biden also hearing the brother vocalizing that in this idea had a rough camera this is -- -- exactly critical and so -- family.
So when you look at Cairo that's what happening Kyra there's -- it's no it's not a mistake is not coincidence that al-Qaeda in Iraq's flag was residents in this place the stars and stripes.
Friendly that they had -- -- -- where again he had some kind of coalition came together do it to attack the consulate.
You look at some I Yemen and a guy -- does he need not coddling terrorists in 2004.
Is the one -- Sheikh Abdul -- thousand -- Is the guy who actually call for the protests and -- to let the assault on the embassy there Beck.
Busy by the UN as as -- al-Qaeda linked terrorists so when you look at each one of these events -- finds definitive ties to al-Qaeda.
So Iran and al-Qaeda is growing up -- No I mean I've been arguing this -- since that Obama history she came forward there are even that Obama's -- that a Paris finished.
It never was this.
-- hierarchical it will organization and -- just -- off a few terrorists here and there and that's it it was always is global network it always was that way and we just never known a citizen and -- was there and perhaps you can find you find evidence of the network all throughout officially US government documents.
Just when you have is that those documents are -- for political reasons -- that intelligence for political reasons is spun a certain length and and we bond issues has had a very vested vested interest in saying we got Osama bin Laden -- -- -- threats over when that's not the truth.
And so when you where you see this going forward our review of the attack and then -- for example is at the beginning of what we're gonna see again and again you know where they bring.
Heavy weapons so demonstrations are where they show up and do attacks them.
Go after America resiliency kidnappings are -- day.
Is do they present any direct threat to the United States homeland.
Certainly all the above I mean what what was really -- -- misleading -- they definitely present a threat to US homeland have been five serious.
All Qaeda linked terrorist plots can use home markets and -- -- underwear bomber right then Times Square where -- you know a couple of freedom plots and look at our imprints including underwear bomber.
There's Times Square there's no one is.
-- five series are still mounting an adult trying to -- -- -- and don't forget we're spending a lot of money to stop those attacks are so it's not like it's not like.
Those attacks are just you know fizzling of their own -- some were being stopped by counterterrorism work.
Some -- being stopped for military operations going drone strikes so you know this is an active ongoing threat but here's the thing about al-Qaeda that I think diesel often missed.
Most of all -- assets and resources for -- we spent fighting over there.
Not coming after -- They're always about acquiring Tarek requiring Arafat the greater Middle East attacking us was just -- that really tactic than to try and seasoned leadership of the global jihadist world.
And -- to basically look how strong we are we in American we can actually force America to get out of Middle East and therefore we can and acquire Paramount.
Well I mean if you look at when we finish the war in Afghanistan in Iraq Afghanistan relieving you can argue that we're not leaving me either one successfully.
We're talking about cutting the defense budget.
We're not getting and we didn't get engaged in Syria with Libya we fought the war but we haven't gotten engaged after that.
The argument that we are leaving in the Middle East that we are for the first time you know we -- inherited what the brits had in the Middle East and now we're leaving the Middle East are we leaving the Middle East.
To its own devices and -- do we care.
We're definitely drawn back -- mean looking mutual series -- decided okay look at Iraq what happened in Iraq after we left.
-- Qaeda according to -- -- more than doubled in size you know it picked up its operational tempo from sending five attacks per week earlier this year over a 140 per week.
And most importantly -- and its operations in Syria.
Okay and it's now is significant component Syrian rebellion and visit.
So Qaeda in Iraq is is -- stronger in Iraq and stronger in Syria.
In Afghanistan contrary to a lot of reports we've Smith definitive evidence the long war journal officials there still present an accident innocent -- -- parts of problems is there.
Libya the strong controlled territory eastern Libya -- control of course large portions of -- you look at the global picture they're not defeated if now they still.
We care about I mean it is it we're out of there as -- -- they don't come after us you need some they would make the argument.
Let him do it.
Well a lot of people -- an argument I think it's very shortsighted because.
Look what happened in 1990s -- was al-Qaeda involved with the problem then.
They're involved in fighting the top ones enemies inside Afghanistan and some of the guys -- recruited for operations against the west Brashear critical fight elsewhere that than the -- excel for 9/11 guys erection of pilots get.
They were even recruited recruited initially to come after us there were critical to Afghanistan to train plane Chechnya it's -- -- -- -- commission report.
OK -- is continuum between their fighting elsewhere and they're coming after us.
And we played very dangerous scheme we start saying well the only option acquiring territory there well there's inquiring territory there because they're coming after their enemies everywhere and use that territory -- -- Sometimes we -- -- -- say -- how absurd you know they're -- -- after the United States they're just like a little thing that.
We'll look -- -- peninsula and Yemen right now the argument that you're talking about was made with little commander in peninsula and -- It was -- only -- in acquiring territory in Yemen fighting for Yemen maybe he'll come after us in Yemen.
All the census 20093.
Major plots against US homeland from him.
Okay emanating from him him.
Okay well if any of you want to hear and read more about what Tom's been writing and reporting and he really has broken a lot of the stories about al-Qaeda.
And the various al-Qaeda franchises in groups you can go to the long war journal and -- read about all the bad guys that are.
Jumping around in a settlement.
But -- thank you so much for joining us.
Okay that's for -- country today most of your probably actually fatigued from here a long -- of the election.
And are now just taking a breather so that your gonna come back and next week watch.
You using -- and the Fox News Channel and I will be -- during joining judge should mean parents Saturday night to talk.
More about the Ben -- attacks and what we do now what we don't know where it's likely to go from here.
So -- look at foxnews.com live is gonna resume programming tomorrow morning at 11 o'clock and you should be there to.
Nice to see you.