President Obama’s top military adviser calls Russia the greatest threat to our national security. Our Sunday group joins the conversation and discusses whether Mitt Romney was right all along.
BAIER: It’s down to the wire in Europe’s effort to save Greece from collapse. E.U. leaders are emergency — are meeting in an emergency summit to discuss the latest aid proposal that could be Greece’s final financial lifeline. If there is a deal, Athens could be bankrupt by the time world financial markets open Monday.
FOX senior foreign affairs correspondent Amy Kellogg is live in Athens — Amy.
AMY KELLOGG, FOX NEWS SENIOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Bret.
Well, on Friday, it really did look like Greece and its creditors were very close to a deal, but, Bret, it turns out that is not the case at all.
However, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has just been quoted out saying that he is willing to compromise.
Now, where in the past of these negotiations, the hurdles have been technical. This time, they are being held up on the issue of trust and concern that the Greek government simply won’t do what it has promised.
Now, trust and particularly from German side has eroded since the Greek prime minister called a referendum last Sunday here. Voters said no to a package of austerity measures but less than a week later, their government turned around to creditors and said, OK, yes, to pretty much the same sort of package. And that is another reason why credibility is becoming more of an issue in these last-minute talks.
It being Sunday here, Greeks have taken to the beach in large numbers. Many of them say because the sea and the sun are the only things that haven’t been taken from them and that are free. They’ve seen their economy shrink by a quarter in recent years, and with that, cuts in pensions, loss of jobs, and an ever-fraying social net.
KELLOGG: Bret, Eurozone finance ministers are meeting in Brussels later on today. Eurozone leaders will meet and it had been hoped that a deal would be clinched by the end of today. But it’s actually looking increasingly likely, many say, that the creditors will want to see the Greek parliament actually enact some legislation on reforms before further debt relief is agreed. Bret.
BAIER: Amy Kellogg in Athens. Amy, thank you. Time now for our Sunday group. Fox News senior political analyst, Brit Hume. Julie Pace, who covers the White House for the Associated Press. GOP strategist Karl Rove. And Fox News political analyst, Juan Williams. OK. Brit, Greece.
BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it looks kind of bad either way. Because the new austerity measures are put in place by the Greeks. That is likely in the near term for sure and possibly for the long, to further suppress growth. What that country needs is some economic growth. And the economy is flat on its back. And while the pension payments and other government spending has a lot to do with that, and the debt is enormous, there’s no way out I think for Greece to climb out of this without some kind of economic growth, and austerity measures in the near term will likely retard that.
BAIER: And Julie, the trust level with creditors is pretty low.
JULIE PACE, AP: I think that’s what’s so interesting about this situation this weekend. Is that it’s not a matter of what a package would look like. Everyone can basically agree on what Greece needs. It’s just a matter of will Greece be able to carry out a package of bailouts? Because we’ve been at this table before. Greece has had previous bailouts and we’re still in this same situation.
BAIER: I want to turn, Karl, to another deal that’s pending. The Iran nuclear deal. You heard Senator McConnell say it’s going to be a tough sell for Congress, even if they get across the finish line in Vienna. Your thoughts?
KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: I think it will be a tough deal. Because if you take a look at the administration’s red lines early on — we’re going to have any time, anywhere inspections, and now we’re talking about managed access. They were going to do away with the ability to enrich uranium. They still retain the ability to enrich uranium. We were going to do away with their infrastructure. They keep the infrastructure. We were talking about snapbacks on the sanctions, which is very hard to understand how we’re going to snap back sanctions that were passed in years past when we had the support of Russia and China, when we will not have the automatic support of Russia and China at the United Nations to, quote, snap these back.
And this is being also done — this latest episode with the Iranians trying to tie this into not only the sanctions that are placed on them for their nuclear program, but also the sanctions that were placed on them for developing a ballistic missile program and for illicit traffic in arms. They want in essence a license to proliferate and a license to further engage in destabilizing the Middle East.
So — if I were a Democrat, I would be really worried about having to vote on this. Because a bad deal could be worse than no deal at all, because a bad deal might explode next year in the middle of the presidential campaign.
BAIER: So, Juan, if they get this deal, as is being forecast now, can the administration hold the line with Democrats? As Senator McConnell says they need 34, because that’s — if the president vetoes this disapproval.
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS ANALYST: That’s the super majority. And so the key here is very interesting. Interesting political game going on. It extends into presidential politics. And the politics is, get Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state, to come out against the Iran deal, because if she comes out against the deal — and Republicans would be quick to say if any deal comes forward that Hillary Clinton is responsible and a co-indicted conspirator with President Obama in terms of making this deal happen — that they would be arming the most dangerous country.
So what you heard this morning from Senator McConnell, what you just heard from Karl, is Republicans saying the pressure is on the Democrats. We’re going to hold Democrats accountable. And the question is whether the Democrats in the Senate will remain loyal to President Obama on this issue. Right now, the argument is the status quo is unacceptable, and that the only alternative, as you heard this morning, is additional sanctions. But don’t forget. This is not a one-sided deal. You have the Iranians who say they would accelerate their nuclear program if a deal doesn’t come about.
BAIER: Overwhelming response on Facebook, Julie. Jennifer Long Moulton writes about the Iranians. “They have lied to us in the past. Why even considering trusting them now?” Is this a problem for Democrats if they get this deal and have to rally those senators?
PACE: I think it potentially could be. I think Juan makes a good point here. The most important Democratic reaction to look for is not really what’s going to be coming out of the White House, but it’s going to be what’s coming from the Clinton campaign, because she’s going to be most likely the future leader of this party going into the election next year. She’s so closely tied to this deal. She was secretary of state. She dispatched two of her closest advisers to lead the secret talks that led to these barter negotiations. She can’t remove — she can’t put a real distance between her involvement in this, but she can come out and say that the final deal has too many holes in it, that it leaves Iran with too many options. If she does say that, I think it will be very difficult for President Obama to get Democratic support on the Hill.
HUME: All I can say is when I heard a deal might be close, was uh-oh. The deficiencies that Karl described, which is by comparing what we know roughly about the shape of the deal against the original goals of the negotiation, are damaging enough. But who knows what they had to do, what additional concessions may have been made in order to get this final deal? My guess is the chances of it being a good deal are extremely remote, and it would be I think politically tempting for Hillary Clinton, as she waffled on trade, remember, because it was toxic in her base. Will she do the same on this? She may. If she does, I think the analysis here is right. It could sink the deal in Congress.
BAIER: We mentioned the general the president has tapped to be the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and his assessment of the biggest threat. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE MANCHIN, D-W.VA.: What would you consider the greatest threat to our national security?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My assessment today, Senator, is that Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security.
MITT ROMNEY, FORMER GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe.
OBAMA: The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back, because you know, the Cold War has been over for 20 years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: You know, Juan, Mitt Romney said Russia was the No. 1 geopolitical foe, now the general coming in to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, (inaudible) by President Obama, is saying basically the same thing.
WILLIAMS: He is. But I think the administration has responded — Senator — what you hear from Secretary of State Kerry and from President Obama is they don’t agree with the general. Now, what you’re hearing from the general —
BAIER: Which is a problem.
WILLIAMS: Well, I don’t know if it’s a big problem. The problem is this — should you send arms to the people who — the resistance in the Ukraine. That’s the argument. And you hear from military people a suggestion that it’s time to take on Putin, to make it very clear. But when you look at it from a geopolitical, more strategic, diplomatic point of view, the State Department’s perspective, they are locked into trying to change things in the Middle East. And I think if you look at terrorists, people around this table are certainly concerned about ISIS. I don’t think you get a big argument.
ROVE: Juan, I wouldn’t call it the resistance in Ukraine. I would call it the democratically elected government of Ukraine, which is an ally of the United States, that has its territory systematically invaded by Russia. And that’s a threat to our relationship with Europe and to Europe’s solidarity with the United States and the international order.
Now, we can argue as to whether Russia or, as Senator Webb suggested, long-term China or ISIS and the instability in the Middle East is the most serious strategic threat, but the administration, if they are downplaying Russia, they are downplaying an actual threat.
I have been in Europe recently talking with European leaders. There’s a fear of what’s going on in Ukraine and elsewhere in the region, prompted by Russia.
BAIER: We’ll leave it there. Up next, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal says Greece is an example of where the U.S. could go under a President Hillary Clinton or President Bernie Sanders. The Republican presidential candidate joins us live from the campaign trail, next.
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