Meet the press transcript december 6 1973

Dec. 7: President-elect Barack Obama - Meet the Press | NBC News

meet the press transcript december 6 1973

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Did Speaker Boehner raise any objections when he was briefed prior to the mission? Well, I know that there was a constant flow of information, both to members and staff. And, of coursethe president had a, a conference with some members in personothers, many others, including the speaker on the phone. But we have no objection to anybody asking questions. But I think it's important to look at the context in which this is occurring.

And the fact that we have moved so rapidly to have this kind of international action taken answers in great measure the legitimate concerns of the people of Libya. And now, of coursewe're going to take it day by day.

meet the press transcript december 6 1973

That's what you do in a situation like this. The military 's stretched pretty thin. Look at this map to show what our commitments are around the globe. In Iraqof coursewe have 47, troops. In Afghanistan, strong, and now this additional commitment of U. How does the president, speaking to the nation Monday night, maintain a sense of national purpose here at a time when we're so stretched?

Actually, your list was incomplete. We have a substantial military commitment in a humanitarian assistance disaster relief in Japanas well, largely using naval forces. The air forces that we are using for the most part and the air forces in particular that we are using Libya are forces normally stationed in Europe in any event.

The reality is, though, beginning this week or within the next week or so, we will begin to diminish the commitment of resources that we have committed to this.

We knew the president's plan at the beginning was, we would go in heavy at first because we had the capacity to do it, in terms of suppressing air defenses and so on. But then the idea was that, over timethe coalition would assume a larger and larger proportion of the burden. This was the conversation he had with foreign leaders when this whole thing was coming together.

And so we see our commitment of resources actually beginning to decline. How long does the no-fly zone last? Once the, once the Arab -- first of all, nobody knows the answer to that question.

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But once the air defenses has been suppressed, what it takes to sustain the no- fly zone is substantially less than what it takes to establish it.

Let me ask this question, though, still on the militaryand then I want your comment as well. What if things don't go as planned? What is our contingency planning? What is the U. If there's an entrenched civil war? If it devolves into Somalia -like chaos? Well, the president has made very clear there will be no American troops on the ground in Libya. He's, he's made that quite definite. Our air power has significantly degraded his armor capabilities, his ability to use his armor against cities like Benghazi.

We see them beginning to move back to the west, retreating. So, you know, this eventually is going to have to be settled by the Libyans themselves, perhaps the U. But in terms of the military commitmentthe president has put some very strict limitations in terms of what we are prepared to do. I want to ask you, Secretary Clintonif I can, about the rest of the region because there is so much else that's happening.

And I want to go to the map and, and go through these in turn. First, as we look at the broader Middle Eastwe look at Syria. Deadly protests, because of a government crackdown, that have been occurring over the past few days. Is it the position of the government that we would like to see the Assad regime fall? What we have said is what we've said throughout this extraordinary period of transformation in North Africa and the Middle East.

We want to see no violence. We want to see peaceful protests that enables people to express their universal human rights. And we want to see economic and political reform. That's what we've called on in Syriathat's what we've called on other governments across the region to do. What about Saudi Arabia?

We go back to the map, Secretary Gates. The king is quite upset with the president. The relationship has ruptured to the point that he has sent troops into Bahrain. He would not see both of you when you were in the region. What are we doing to fix a ruptured relationship with perhaps our most important partner in the region when it comes to oil as well as other matters?

Well, first of all, I don't believe the relationship is ruptured. We have a very strong relationship with Saudi Arabia. I think that the Saudis see all of this turbulence in the region with some disquiet. They're very concerned about Iran.

They believe that Iran will be able to take advantage of the situation in various of these countries. And those are their concerns, and we share some of those concerns. But I think, I think it's a great exaggeration to say this relationship 's ruptured. I, I intend to visit the region in the near term and, and hope and intend to see the king.

So I think we have a very strong relationship. We have a very strong military to military relationship. As you know, the Saudis just made one of the largest purchases of American weapons in, in their history. So I think it's overdrawn. Do we have some differences of view? But that's -- friends happen -- that happens between friends all the time. Back to the map. In addition to YemenI want to actually focus on Egyptstill the strategic cornerstone.

meet the press transcript december 6 1973

Yemenof courseimportant, but it is in Egypt that is a strategic cornerstone of this region. What are we doing, Secretary Clintonat this point to try to assist the youngsecular movement that wants to find a way toward leadership that may be outmanned now by the Muslim Brotherhood and Mubarak 's own party?

Well, Davidfirst, we have historically done quite a bit in reaching out to the very young people you're referring to. When I was just in EgyptI met with a number of those who had been leaders of the activities in Tahrir Square and that were hoping to translate that protest into political action. A lot of them had been in American government -sponsored programs, they'd been on visitation programs to the United States.

And we are continuing to reach out and work with them and to try to provide support to them. It is hard moving from being in the forefront of a movement to being part of a political process.

It's hard in any countrybut we're going to stand with them and make sure that, at least in so far as we're able to, they get the support they need.

At the same time, though, we are also working with the interim government in Egypt. Both Bob and I, when we were recently in Egyptmet with government officials and met with the military officials who are, for the time beingrunning the government.

We want to assist them on the economic reform efforts that they're undertaking. Now, ultimately, this is up to the Egyptians. They're going to have to make these decisions. But we've offered our advice, and we're offering aid where appropriate. Secretary Gatesis Libya in our vital interest as a country? I don't think it's a vital interest for the United Statesbut we clearly have interests there, and it's a part of the region which is a vital interest for the United States.

I think a lot of people would hear that and way, well, that's quite striking. Not in our vital interest, and yet we're committing military resources to it. Well, but, but, but then it wouldn't be fair as to what Bob just said. I mean, did Libya attack us? They did not attack us. Do they have a very critical role in this region and do they neighbor two countries -- you just mentioned one, Egyptthe other Tunisia -- that are going through these extraordinary transformations and cannot afford to be destabilized by conflict on their borders?

Do they have a major influence on what goes on in Europe because of everything from oil to immigration? And, you know, Davidthat raises a, a very important point. Because you showed on the map just a minute ago Afghanistan. They have been there, and a lot of them have been there despite the fact they were not attacked. The attack came on us as we all tragically remember. They stuck with us. This was in their vital national interest.

The UK and France were the ones who went to the Security Council and said, "We have to act because otherwise we're seeing a really violent upheaval with a man who has a history of unpredictable violent acts right on our doorstep.

They didn't attack us, but what they were doing and Gadhafi 's history and the potential for the disruption and instability was very much in our interests, as Bob saidand seen by our European friends and our Arab partners as very vital to their interests. Before you go, Secretary ClintonI want to change the topic. A dear friend and supporter of yours, Geraldine Ferraro has passed away, unfortunately And she was on this program back inwhen she was named onto the ticket to the presidency with Walter Mondale.

And the first woman, of course. And she was asked a question by Marvin Kalbat the time, and I want to show you that exchange and get you to react to it. Ferrarocould you push the nuclear button? I can do whatever is necessary in order to protect the security of this country. Even if they're politically unpopular.

meet the press transcript december 6 1973

And if you weren't a woman, do you think you'd have been selected? That's a, that's a double-edged sword so that, I don't know. I, I don't know if I were, if I were not a woman if I would be judged in the same way on my candidacy, whether or not I'd be asked questions like, you know, are you strong enough to push the button, or, you know, that type.

How times have changed. She changed them, and you, of coursechanged them, too, for women in politics. What's your reaction to seeing that and your reaction to her death? It just makes me smile because she was an extraordinary pioneer. She was a pathbreaker. She was everything that, now commentators will say an icon, a legend. But she was down to earth. She was just as, as personal a friend as you could have. She was one of my fiercest defenders and most staunch supporters.

She had a great family that she cherished and stood up for in every way. And she went, before many women, to a political height that is very, very difficult still. And she navigated it with great grace and grit. And I think we owe her a lot. And I 'll certainly think about her every day. And thanks for asking me to reflect on it briefly because she, she was a wonderful person.

Thank you both very much. Thank you very much. You've heard from Secretary Gates and Clinton. And I wonder, are you satisfied with the progress in Libya and with their explanation of our mission? Well, I was startled to hear Secretary Gates say that Libya was not a vital interest, that Secretary Clinton then came in with the fact that our European allies are very disturbed about the situation.

And, of coursewe have justified military action as a humanitarian action to stop the shooting of civilians. I would just start by saying, before our nation goes to war or has military actionthere must be a plan, there must be objectives, the endgame, what we want to, to achieve. And then, at least, some means as to how that's going to occur.

That has not happened as yet, and the president has said we've had success because Gadhafi would have murdered many people in Benghazi. But the fact is that there was fighting in Benghazi because the so-called rebelsthe other people that are not Gadhafi supporters, started a civil war in Libyafollowing civil wars that had commenced in Tunisia and Egypt.

And, and facts are that that civil war was proceeding and, in many cases, the rebels seemed to be winning, except when they got to Benghazior in Tripoli.

So, at this point, we then adopt a no-fly zone with the thought of knocking out Gadhafi 's aircraft. And then the ground zone situation in which we knocked out the tanks and trucks and the other situation.

Now, having done all of that, the fact is now that the rebelsas you pointed out, in Ajdabiya and On the western side and Misratathe Gadhafi people are trying to take that so they at least have all of that side of the country. And, in the meanwhile, we're saying that we're going to back off of the no-fly zone or take a much less of a role there, leave that to the Europeans. It -- and it simply leaves the whole situation up for grabs in which there is hopefulness, maybe, that Gadhafi will leave or that something bad will happen to him, or, or, in fact, that somehow these persons who are the rebels who we really don't know, who have no particular governmentare, are going to form something that is more friendly to us or to the Europeans.

Well, let me ask you to unpack that a little bit. If it's not in our vital interest, bottom lineshould we not be involved? I think there should have been a plan for what our objectives were, a debate as to why this was in our vital interest before we committed military forces to Libya.

It's interesting, the press secretary for the president, Jay Carneysaid this was not, in fact, a war. This was, "A time limitedscope limitedmilitary action. And does the president, when he speaks to the nationhave to be more forthright about what we're engaged in? Well, when I had the opportunity to ask the president during this telephonic conference that Secretary Clinton has mentioned, he justified action as a humanitarian gesture, that it would have been unconscionable to stand by while Gadhafi murdered people in Benghazi.

As a result, these people were saved, and now we move backward in terms of our obligations in the situation. An, an event no boots on the ground. The president has reiterated that. So this means, in essence, the Libyans are still going to have to solve their civil war. We've pretty well knocked out Gadhafi 's air force and many of his tanks, but the fact is that the country is still very divide with east and west cities And what is our commitment?

What is our commitment to that civil war? Well, I don't believe we should be engaged in the Libyan civil war. I believe the Libyans are going to have to work that out.

The fact is that we don't have particular ties with anybody in the Libyan picture, and we will have to at least adjust to whatever that outcome may be. But, as far as we're concerned, as Secretary Gates has said, it is not of vital interest to the United States. American interests are not at stake, and we clearly have already done much more than our part with regard to the no-fly zone, with regard to European friends.

Will it require more funds from the government for this military operation? And that's what I stated from the beginning. We have a broad-based middle class, economic growth from the bottom up. That, I think, will be the recipe for everybody doing better over the long term. Your vice president, Joe Biden, said during the course of this campaign it would be patriotic for the wealthy to pay more in taxes. In this economy, does he still believe that? Well, I--you know, I think what Joe meant is exactly what I described, which is that if, if our entire economic policy is premised on the notion that greed is good and "What's in it for me," it turns out that that's not good for anybody.

It's not good for the wealthy, it's not good for the poor, and it's not good for the vast majority in the middle. If we've learned anything from this current financial crisis--think about how this evolved.

You had a situation in which you started seeing home foreclosures rise. You had a middle class that was vulnerable and couldn't make payments.

Suddenly, all the borrowing that had been--and, and, and all the speculation that had been premised on those folks doing OK, that starts evaporating. Next thing you know, you've got Lehman Brothers going under. People used to think that, well, there, there's no connection between those two things.

It turns out that when we all do well, then the economy, as a whole, is going to benefit. I want to move now to international affairs, the war on terror. Obviously, we have all been stunned by what happened in India at Mumbai. It is still playing out in that part of the world. You have said that the United States reserves the right to go after terrorists in Pakistan if you have targets of opportunity. Does India now also have that right of hot pursuit?

Well, I'm not going to comment on that. What, what I'm going to restate is a basic principle. Number one, if a country is attacked, it has the right to defend itself.

I think that's universally acknowledged. The second thing is that we need a strategic partnership with all the parties in the region--Pakistan and India and the Afghan government--to stamp out the kind of militant, violent, terrorist extremists that have set up base camps and that are operating in ways that threaten the security of everybody in the international community.

And, as I've said before, we can't continue to look at Afghanistan in isolation. We have to see it as a part of a regional problem that includes Pakistan, includes India, includes Kashmir, includes Iran. And part of the kind of foreign policy I want to shape is one in which we have tough, direct diplomacy combined with more effective military operations, focused on what is the number one threat against U.

And that's al-Qaeda and, and, and their various affiliates, and we are going to go after them fiercely in the years to come.

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President Zardari of Pakistan has said that he expects you to re-examine the American policy of using unmanned missiles for attacks on terrorist camps in Pakistan; and there have been civilian casualties in those attacks as well.

Are you re-examining that policy? Well, I--what I want to do is to create the kind of effective, strategic partnership with Pakistan that allows us, in concert, to assure that terrorists are not setting up safe havens in some of these border regions between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

So far President Zardari has sent the right signals. He's indicated that he recognizes this is not just a threat to the United States, but it is a threat to Pakistan as well. There was a bombing in Pakistan just yesterday that killed scores of people, and so you're seeing greater and greater terrorist activity inside of Pakistan. I think this democratically-elected government understands that threat, and I hope that in the coming months that we're going to be able to establish the kind of close, effective, working relationship that makes both countries safer.

That part of the world is such a hot zone. Is it going to be necessary for you to appoint some kind of a special envoy to worry only about South Asia with presidential authority? I have enormous confidence in Senator Clinton's ability to rebuild alliances and to send a strong signal that we're going to do business differently and place an emphasis on diplomacy.

Let's talk for a moment about Iraq. It was a principal--it was one of the principals in the organization of your campaign at the beginning. A lot of people voted for you because they thought you would bring the war in Iraq to an end very swiftly.

meet the press transcript december 6 1973

Here is what you had to say on July 3rd of this year about what you would do once you took office. I intend to end this war. My first day in office I will bring the Joint Chiefs of Staff in and I will give them a new mission, and that is to end this war responsibly, deliberately, but decisively. When does the drawdown of American troops begin and when does it end in Iraq? Well, one of my first acts as president, once I'm sworn in, will be to bring in the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to bring in my national security team, and design a plan for a responsible drawdown.

You are seeing a convergence. When I began this campaign, there was a lot of controversy about the idea of starting to draw down troops. Now you've seen the--this administration sign an agreement with the Iraqi government, both creating a time frame for removing U. And so what I want to do is tell our Joint Chiefs, let's do it as quickly as we can do to maintain stability in Iraq, maintain the safety of U. But recognizing that the central front on terror, as Bob Gates said, started in Afghanistan, in the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

That's where it will end, and that has to be our priority. Jim Jones, who is your new national security adviser, the man that you want to have in that job, who was the Marine commandant when we first went into Afghanistan, I had a conversation with him at that time, and he said to me, "I know how we're going to get into Afghanistan; I don't know how we're going to get out of Afghanistan. Well, I think we're, we're starting to see a consensus that we have to have more effective military action, and that means additional troops, but it also means more effective coordination with our NATO allies.

It means that we have to have much more effective diplomacy in the region.

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We can't solve Afghanistan without solving Pakistan and working more effectively with that country. And we are going to have to make sure that India and Pakistan are normalizing their relationship if we're going to be effective in some of these other areas. And we've got to really ramp up our development approach to Afghanistan.

I mean, part of the problem that we've had is the average Afghan farmer hasn't seen any improvement in his life. You know, we haven't seen the kinds of infrastructure improvements, we haven't seen the security improvements, we haven't seen the reduction in narco trafficking, we haven't seen a reliance on rule of law in Afghanistan that would make people feel confident that the central government can, in fact, deliver on its promises.

And if we combine effective development, more effective military work, as well as more effect diplomacy, then I think that we can stabilize the situation. Our number one goal has to be to make sure that it cannot be used as a base to launch attacks against the United States, and we've got to get bin Laden and we've got to get al-Qaeda.

Here's something else that Afghan farmer has never seen nor have any of his ancestors ever seen this: Well, I, I think that we do have to be mindful of the history of Afghanistan.

It is tough territory. And there's a fierce independence in Afghanistan, and if the perception is that we are there simply to impose ourselves in a long-term occupation, that's not going to work in Afghanistan.

By the way, that's not going to work in Iraq either. There are very few countries that welcome long-term occupations by foreign powers. But Afghanistan has shown that they are fiercely resistant to that. We're going to have to convince the Afghan people that we're not interested in dictating what happens in Afghanistan.

What we are interested in is making sure that Afghanistan cannot be used as a base for launching terrorist attacks.

And as long as al-Qaeda and the Taliban, working in concert with al-Qaeda, threaten directly the United States and are engaged in mayhem, then we've got to take action. And, and that very limited goal of making sure that that doesn't happen, I think, can serve as the basis for effective cooperation with the Afghan people. Before we leave that part of the world, on Iraq, there's a new phrase that has come into play called "residual force," how many troops will stay behind in an Obama administration.

Speculation is 35, to 50, Is that a fair number? Well, I'm not going to speculate on the numbers. What I've said is that we are going to maintain a large enough force in the region to assure that our civilian troops--or our, our, our civilian personnel and our, our embassies are protected, to make sure that we can ferret out any remaining terrorist activity in the region, in cooperation with the Iraqi government, that we are providing training and logistical support, maintaining the integrity of Iraq as necessary.

And, you know, I--one of the things that I'll be doing is evaluating what kind of number's required to meet those very limited goals.

Now, two other areas that could be problematic in your administration, I want to deal with them fairly swiftly here if I can. What are the circumstances under which you would open a dialogue with Iran? Well, I've said before, I think we need to ratchet up tough but direct diplomacy with Iran, making very clear to them that their development of nuclear weapons would be unacceptable, that their funding of terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah, their threats against Israel are contrary to everything that we believe in and what the international community should accept, and present a set of carrots and sticks in, in changing their calculus about how they want to operate.

You know, in terms of carrots, I think that we can provide economic incentives that would be helpful to a country that, despite being a net oil producer, is under enormous strain, huge inflation, a lot of unemployment problems there. They could benefit from a more open economy and, and being part of the international economic system. But we also have to focus on the sticks, and one of the main things that diplomacy can accomplish is to help knit together the kind of coalition with China and India and Russia and other countries that now do business with Iran to agree that, in order for us to change Iran's behavior, we may have to tighten up those sanctions.

But we are willing to talk to them directly and give them a clear choice and, and ultimately let them make a determination in terms of whether they want to do this the hard way or, or the easy way. And, briefly, how soon after you take office do you want to meet with the leaders of Russia? And which ones do you meet with? Your counterpart is Medvedev; but, of course, the power behind the throne is Vladimir Putin.

Well, you know, this is something that we're going to make a determination on. I think that it's going to be important for us to reset U. Russia is a country that has made great progress economically over the last several years. Obviously, high oil prices have helped them. They are increasingly assertive. And when it comes to Georgia and their threats against their neighboring countries, I think they've been acting in a way that's contrary to international norms. We want to cooperate with them where we can, and there are a whole host of areas, particularly around nonproliferation of weapons and terrorism, where we can cooperate.

But we also have to send a clear message that they have to act in ways that are not bullying their neighbors.

You still have some appointments to make coming up, and there's also a good deal of consideration here in Illinois about who will replace you in the Senate. But in New York this weekend the big buzz is Caroline Kennedy in the United States Senate, perhaps as the appointment to fill the seat that Hillary Clinton is expected to vacate if she gets confirmed as secretary of state.

Well, let me tell you this. Caroline Kennedy has become one of my dearest friends and is just a, a wonderful American, a wonderful person. But the last thing I want to do is get involved in New York politics. I've got enough trouble in terms of Illinois politics.

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But just in terms of our appointments, I am very proud of the speed with which we have started to put together our core economic team, our national security team, but also the excellence of the candidates. And I, I think that it's an indication of part of the change I was talking about during the campaign, an emphasis on competence, an emphasis on people who are nonideological and pragmatic and just want to do business.

But he liked to tell a story about how, once Lindsey was born, I was so jealous that one day while he was on the phone in the other room, I moved down the couch — he could see me from where he stood — and tried to pee on top of Lindsey in her carrier. This story humiliated me every time he told it, to the pastor of our church, to our neighbor Mrs. Stead, who was a therapist and whose take on it he wanted to hear, and to everyone who ever said "Susie has a lot of spunk!

But as it turned out, my father had not mentioned us to Mr. Harvey or told him the Susie-peed-on-Lindsey story. Harvey would later say these words to my mother when he ran into her on the street: What was your daughter's name, again?

Harvey told her the usual: I'm sorry for your loss. There wasn't a lot of bullshit in my heaven. Harvey said it would only take a minute, so I followed him a little farther into the cornfield, where fewer stalks were broken off because no one used it as a shortcut to the junior high. My mom had told my baby brother, Buckley, that the corn in the field was inedible when he asked why no one from the neighborhood ate it.

And it went like that. He stopped and turned to me. I was aware that Mr.

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Harvey was looking at me strangely. I'd had older men look at me that way since I'd lost my baby fat, but they usually didn't lose their marbles over me when I was wearing my royal blue parka and yellow elephant bell-bottoms.

His glasses were small and round with gold frames, and his eyes looked out over them and at me. I felt like observing my way out of there, but I didn't. Franny said these questions were fruitless: Don't mull it over.

It does no good. You're dead and you have to accept it. Harvey said, and he squatted down and knocked against the ground. My ears were freezing. I wouldn't wear the multicolored cap with the pompom and jingle bells that my mother had made me one Christmas.