Will Congress vote to go to war against ISIS? PDF Print E-mail

Published October 12, 2014 | Sunday Morning Futures | Maria Bartiromo

With: Sen. John Thune, Rep. Peter King, Mohammed El-Erian, Peter Thiel, Judith Miller, Mary Kissel

This is a rush transcript from "Sunday Morning Futures," October 12, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARIA BARTIROMO, HOST: Good morning. Between a rock and a hard place on the Turkish/Syrian border. Hi, everyone, I'm Maria Bartiromo. Welcome to "Sunday Morning Futures."

Turkey won't help in Kobani unless there is a no-fly zone, but that could have severe consequences for the U.S. Somebody needs to budge, or ISIS will take that city. So how do we win this battle or is it already a lost cause?

Then just when the U.S. economy was going up, the stock market goes down, suffering its worst week in two years last week. Fears of an economic slowdown overseas. We'll talk to a top global adviser about how we can turn this around.

And it's almost becoming a cliche. Two more security breaches. We'll talk to one of the smartest guys in technology. The co-founder of PayPal, Peter Thiel, about how to stay safe online as we look ahead to "Sunday Morning Futures."

More fighting overnight in border town of Kobani, where U.S. bombers have been carrying out more air strikes this weekend, but Turkey's condition for stepping in, a no fly-zone in Syria has been rejected by the White House, that's because agreeing to the buffer zone would mean either cooperating with Syria's murderous leader, Bashar al-Assad, or taking out Syria's air defenses, which is an act tantamount to war.

John Thune is the United States senator from South Dakota. He joins us now. Senator, good to have you on the program.

SEN. JOHN THUNE, R-S.D.: Good morning, Maria.

BARTIROMO: I would really like to zero in on the Turkey element and how important Turkey is to winning this. But before that, can you characterize where we are in this battle right now? Is ISIS in fact winning?

THUNE: Well, it's certainly not losing, Maria. We're finding what the limitations of airpower are. There's only so much that can be accomplished with that. And as you pointed out, it's really important to get the Turks involved. They laid out some conditions for that. But I think the president and his team and the administration need to be working aggressively and intensify their efforts to get the Turks and coalition partners involved on the Turkey/Syria border and trying to prevent ISIS from gaining any more ground.

BARTIROMO: So Turkey wants the U.S. to create a no fly-zone over Syria. Is that doable?

THUNE: Well, I think it's something that the administration needs to consider. Obviously, there are other implications, as you mentioned, associated with that. I think that the buffer zone, the no fly zone, all the things that are being contemplated right now, need to be given serious consideration, simply because what we're doing right now isn't getting the desired effect.

Ultimately my view is, and I think most military experts is, that you won't succeed or ultimately succeed there without some sort of ground forces. But at least for the time being, as long as we're using air strikes, I think we need to look at all of these options, particularly if they are options that will engage our coalition partners in a way that will help us ultimately succeed. I don't think we can get this done by ourselves and we certainly can't get it done with airpower.

BARTIROMO: I would really like to know if we'll see a congressional resolution on more military power. I want to talk about that with you, Senator, so stay with us, because we want to go there, but first, let's take a look at Turkey. As this battle for Kobani takes place right on its doorstep, Fox News senior correspondent Eric Shawn with that angle. Good morning to you, Eric.

ERIC SHAWN, FOX NEWS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Maria, and good morning, everyone. If ISIS wins, the West will lose, so warns a Kurdish official. An estimated 12,000 Kobani residents are now stranded. 700 mostly elderly remain trapped inside, helpless, their fates up to those invading terrorists. As the siege continues, an ISIS victory would bring a huge symbolic triumph. Those Turkish tanks remain idle, though, watching yards away, like bystanders, doing nothing amid fears of a looming slaughter unfolding before the eyes of the world. Turkish President Erdogan blocking a lifeline to help the Kurds, prompting some to question if Ankara really is a NATO ally, saying he has Kurdish blood on his hands.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONATHAN SCHANZER, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: We should be really thinking about whether they belong in NATO. More importantly, I think there just has not been a public discussion about this, letting the Turks know how unhappy we are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAWN: The U.S. has supplied more than $20 billion in arms sales to Turkey since 2006, and our presidential envoy, retired U.S. General John Allen, held two days of talks in Ankara that were described as constructive and detailed. Others, like Investors Business Daily, are blunt about Turkey's defiance. Quote, "It could squash Islamic State warriors. Instead it does nothing. And the White House is befuddled. The naive Obama administration needs to recognize that Turkey, once a key friend and ally, is neither today."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHERKO ABBAS, CHAIRMAN, KURDISTAN NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF SYRIA: It is a matter of days unless the Western nations do something, and this is really a shame that here an organization like ISIS can defeat the whole Western nation and the whole civilization and the whole United States as a super power. This is morale of the United States at stake, and I don't understand why the White House is not doing enough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAWN: The Turkish ambassador to the United States insists his nation is fully supporting the coalition, and he calls criticism groundless and unfair. Turkey has agreed to train 2,000 Syrian rebels on its soil, but those tanks overlooking Kobani are still there. Their gears remain stuck in park. Maria.

BARTIROMO: All right, Eric, thanks very much, Eric Shawn. We have more now with Senator Thune. Senator, what about that? Is Turkey actually supporting the coalition in your view?

THUNE: Well, the commitment they made to allow some space for training the Syrian opposition is a welcome development, but they've got to become way more robust in this. There's no question about that. Turkey is a NATO country. There are -- this could be a humanitarian crisis, a disaster with massive civilian casualties if Kobani falls. There are historic reasons with the Kurds for why I think Turkey is reluctant to engage more, but without their engagement, this thing gets out of hand in a hurry, and the more territory that ISIS takes, the more emboldened they become. They are fighting a dual front battle now in Anbar province, west of Baghdad. This is a situation that demands some very aggressive action, and I think the administration really needs to intensify and double down their efforts to get the Turks more engaged, and I'll add to that. Other of our NATO and coalition partners need to start putting pressure on the Turks as well.

BARTIROMO: We've heard from the Turks and they've said we're not going to put boots on the ground when the U.S. doesn't even have boots on the ground. The bottom line is it's up to Congress. Will Congress vote on an extended resolution for extended military beyond the air strikes in Iraq and Syria?

THUNE: We need to have that vote, Maria. Right now, most of us -- I supported before Congress left the training of the Syrian rebels, but there needs to be a more complete discussion about the president's strategy, and it starts with the president. The president is the commander in chief. Step up and provide some leadership. Come to Congress with a request and show us the plan. Show us the strategy for how we're going to succeed.

I think the people of this country need to be heard from. That of course comes from their elected representatives in the Congress. In 1991, that was the case. In 2001, in 2002. Obviously the president has certain authorities I believe under those authorizations for the use of military force to do what he's doing today. But I think there are a whole lot of people in this country and a whole lot of members of Congress that need to be a part of this discussion, and I hope that the president will lay out a plan, bring it to Congress, and ask for that authorization for the use of military force, and I think Congress needs to vote. We all need to vote, we all need to be on the record about whether or not we're for this action or not, but it starts with a plan. It starts with the administration coming before the Congress and presenting a real strategy. One that hopefully will involve and engage the voices of the American people in the process.

BARTIROMO: It's pretty extraordinary that many people believe that we won't see any vote until the new Congress takes over in January. This is an emergency situation. Let me put that aside for a moment. We do have the midterms coming up in a few weeks. How confident are you that the GOP takes the Senate?

THUNE: Well, I'm pretty confident. But you know, I'm Scandinavian, so I always tend to be the glass is always half full. But I look around the country, and I've been traveling. I was in Colorado this last week and in California raising money and Iowa the week before. We have got some really good candidates who are running really good campaigns, and I think there's a bit of a tail wind building out there, and certainly if it continues to build, I think we'll have a very good night on November the 4th. And that will be good for the country, because we need to get the majority in the Senate so we can start turning this country around, getting people back to work, putting pro-growth policies into place, and providing leadership for the American people.

Right now the Senate for all intents and purposes is shut down. It's become incredibly dysfunctional under Senator Reid's leadership. We need to change that, and the people in this country want a change in direction. The best place to do that right now is to change the majority in the United States Senate. So I'm confident in our prospects. I think that the races look very good. Our candidates are well positioned to win. But that's why you plan. You have got to execute the game plan. You can't make unforced errors down the stretch, and we have got some very competitive races going on right now.

BARTIROMO: Senator, we'll be watching. Thanks for joining us.

THUNE: Great to be with you. Thanks, Maria.

BARTIROMO: We'll see you soon. Senator John Thune.

One of the real tricks in this conflict is defining who the enemy is and who the good guys are. Particularly in Syria. Can we be sure we're backing the right rebels there? Just ahead, we'll talk to Congressman Peter King, chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. I hope you'll follow me on Twitter, @mariabartiromo, @sundayfutures. Let us know what you would like to hear from Peter King. Stay with us as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARTIROMO: Welcome back. One thing we have discovered watching the conflict in Syria rage over the past few years, not all rebels are created equal, so how do we know we're backing the right ones? Congressman Peter King is the Homeland Security Committee's chairman for the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. It is good to have you on the program, sir. Thanks for joining us.

REP. PETER KING, R-NEW YORK: Thank you, Maria.

BARTIROMO: So this whole question about the coalition and the Turks getting involved and the rebels on the border. How do we know who to trust?


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