The McLaughlin Group
Host: John McLaughlin
Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast;
David Rennie, The Economist;
Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report
Time: 11:30 a.m. EDT
Date: Sunday, July 27, 2014
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JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Israel Versus Hamas.
Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to broker a ceasefire to halt the two and a half weeks of fighting between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian movement that controls the Gaza Strip.
The violence began on June 12, when three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered, presumably by Palestinians. On July 2nd, the body of a Palestinian youth, burned to death in an alleged reprisal killing by Jewish settlers, was discovered outside Jerusalem. Riots broke out, followed by an escalating barrage of Hamas rockets fired into Israel population centers.
For 10 days, Israel used airstrikes to attempt to stop the rocket attacks. When those failed, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered a ground offensive aimed at clearing Gaza of the rocket and tunnel networks Hamas uses to bombard Israel. So far, some 700 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the fighting, including many civilians.
As of Friday, some 800 Palestinians have been killed and 37 Israelis. The number includes, of course, many civilians.
Question: What does Hamas want from a ceasefire? And what does Israel want from a ceasefire? Pat Buchanan.
PAT BUCHANAN: What Hamas wants, John, is a lifting of what they call the siege. They want an end to the blockade. They want to open the crossing into Egypt through Rafah. They would like to have also their airport opened. They would like to be able to fish further out into the Mediterranean. And they do want some kind of award for the losses they've had.
The Israelis want to decapitate Hamas and they want to blow up all the tunnels, especially the tunnels going into Israel.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
ELEANOR CLIFT: Well, it has been the Israeli strategy for at least the last decade to basically dismantle the tunnels and to eradicate the rockets. And they actually call it mowing the lawn every couple of years.
The thing is, this siege now - the former ambassador to the U.S. from Israel, Michael Oren, is basically saying the U.S. should help Israel eradicate Hamas. I think that is a false premise. The more you bomb Gaza - you're never going to eliminate the resistance there. In fact, you will increase the resistance. More rockets can be acquired. More tunnels can be built.
And so, in getting a ceasefire, I think they have to get to the point where the Israelis are willing to lift, as Pat said, some of the conditions that they've imposed on Gaza. And the Israelis apparently want to be able to leave troops along the border. I don't know if that's reasonable or not to militarize the border, but you've got to give Gaza something in return for that. And I gather that's what they're negotiating along these lines.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: David.
DAVID RENNIE: I think the big picture is that, you know, for a long time people though the status quo actually secretly quite suited people in Israel. They thought that they had it basically under control. And most of the time now they have the security wall up. Life in Israel is a bit like living in California. You could convince yourself it was sustainable. And on Hamas's side, they felt they were winning the kind of worldwide propaganda war against Israel.
I think what's happening now is so bad and so violent, and particularly with the isolation of Israel briefly when their airport was closed, but I think that idea that it's sustainable and that this is the kind of thing you can do every couple of years, I think that's really in question.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort Zuckerman.
MORT ZUCKERMAN: Look, let's first have a definition here. Hamas is another word for the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas have no sympathy for Israel on any level. And the Israelis know it. They know that they have been threatened by these people forever, and they will continue to be threatened by them. This is not a group where you can deal with them in any kind of serious way.
The Israelis think the only way they can deal with them is to make it clear that if they do this, there's going to be enough of a reaction, enough pain inflicted upon them, that they will deter from doing this, at least for some serious period of time. That's what the Israelis are all about.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How long can the Hamas hold out for a ceasefire on its own terms?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't think they can hold out on their own terms. They're not going to get it on their own terms. If that's what they want, they're going to get a continued amount of pressure from the Israelis and military pressure from the Israelis, which is the only thing the Israelis have found has worked with them in the past.
MR. BUCHANAN: There is a real risk for the Israelis as well, because with the Europeans and others, world opinion, except the United States, of, you know, sanctions and disinvestment and the Palestinians going to the U.N., getting them sanctioned as alleged war criminals and all that. So there is losses for the Israelis as well. But the Palestinians are being hammered.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know about the tunnels?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, I do. The tunnels -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How many miles of tunnels are underground?
MR. BUCHANAN: Some of the - the Israelis have every reason to be frightened of tunnels that are three miles long coming out of Gaza into Israel, more than the ones going into Egypt.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How many miles?
MR. BUCHANAN: Some of them are three miles long.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They add up to what number?
MR. BUCHANAN: There have been - frankly, they talk of hundreds of tunnels.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hundreds of miles -
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: - of tunnels.
MR. BUCHANAN: Sure.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How deep?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Some of them go down as much as 24, 25 feet. They're seven stories in height, if you wanted to measure it in terms of an American building, OK.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are they -
MR. ZUCKERMAN: They've spent a fortune on these things.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are they impregnable?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, they're not impregnable. But the Israelis, amazingly enough, did not know about them, or did not know about the extent of them. And these are extraordinarily dangerous to Israel, because they go into the Israeli territory. They come up out of them. They either capture Israelis or kill Israelis. They have, as John Kerry pointed out, the handcuffs and drugs. The idea is that they would capture and kidnap them.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you remember the Viet Cong and the Cu Chi tunnels?
MR. BUCHANAN: Sure. They had tremendous underground cities in Vietnam that the Viet Cong built.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does Hamas have advanced tunnels that are very, very deep in the earth?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes. Yes, they are. And they're very -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know how long it took to get rid of those Cu Chi tunnels?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's going to take a long time for the Israelis to cope with these things.
MS. CLIFT: Well, it's also -
MR. ZUCKERMAN: But it's an absolute strategic threat to Israel.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah. No one is questioning Israel's right to defend itself and to have security. But the use of force now has become disproportionate, and they are inflaming on the West Bank too. There was a peaceful demonstration there of 10,000 people.
I think Israel has to ask itself, even if you do eradicate Hamas, what takes its place? It would just be another version of Hamas.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How long can Israel press its position in order to get a ceasefire?
MR. RENNIE: There's a short- and a long-term problem here. I mean, I agree completely that these tunnels - Israel has every right to go after these tunnels. They're an existential threat; has every right to go after the rockets. No country should have to live with the threat of rockets.
But the long-term question is you cannot kill your way to a peace deal.
MR. BUCHANAN: Mmm hmm.
MR. RENNIE: Israel cannot kill enough Palestinians -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is -
MR. RENNIE: - to make them just go quiet. And that bigger question of a Palestinian homeland has to remain on the table. And there's all the settlements. The construction in the last few years -
MR. BUCHANAN: John, the real danger -
MR. RENNIE: - really has given them -
MR. BUCHANAN: The real danger -
MR. RENNIE: - (no hope ?) in the Palestinian territories. And that's -
MR. BUCHANAN: One of the real things was this attack - it wasn't really an attack, but the rocket that came near Ben Gurion Airport and shut down the airport for two days. Now, you take Hamas and you take Hezbollah up in Lebanon. I mean, that is what they are going to shoot for in any future war because of the dramatic impact that that had on the United States and the Europeans, and on the potential isolation economically of Israel.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Israel's weak point is world opinion.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And what's fueling world opinion?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Whatever happens, this is something that has happened over and over again. This is not the first time this has happened. Whenever Israel tries to retaliate and to try and deal with Hamas, at some point the world says Israel cannot do this.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Why? Because they don't want to have any fighting. They don't want to have -
MS. CLIFT: Because there are dead children. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'll tell you what's going to cause them serious problems, and that is the disproportionate -
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: - casualty rate. It's horrible.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, without question, these things are disproportionate. But the Israelis cannot live under the continued threat that they have had from the Hamas people, from the Muslim Brotherhood -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think world opinion is going to assemble itself?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I think it is assembling itself. That's exactly the issue that Israel has a constraint -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, Brzezinski's POV. Here's former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, why he says Prime Minister Netanyahu has blundered.
Dr. Brzezinski was an advisor to former President Jimmy Carter in 1978 when the historic Camp David Middle East peace accord was signed between Israel and Egypt.
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI (former national security advisor): (From videotape.) I think he is isolating Israel. He's endangering its longer-range future. And I think we ought to make it very clear that this is a course of action which we thoroughly disapprove and which we do not support and which may compel us and the rest of the international community to take some steps of legitimizing Palestinian aspirations, perhaps in the U.N.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: David, what are your comments on this?
MR. RENNIE: Well, tragically, he's right. I mean, Israel starts from the position of being our ally and a friendly democracy in the Middle East. But it is being slowly poisoned from within by this fight because of some of the hardline positions they're taking, particularly sort of making no real distinction morally between Hamas and the more moderate forces led by President Abbas.
You know, there is a distinction. Hamas is more wicked. And you can't just lump them all together and essentially start having these forces in Israeli politics that say that all Arabs are the enemy -
MR. RENNIE: - that all Palestinians are the enemy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, who is the head of the U.N.?
MR. BUCHANAN: Ban Ki-moon.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Ban Ki-moon silent on this?
MS. CLIFT: No, he spoke out. But, you know, the U.S. is the only country giving diplomatic cover to Israel in the U.N.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Ban Ki-moon using language like war crimes, Israel committing war crimes?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, he is -
MS. CLIFT: The U.N. has -
MR. BUCHANAN: - about the children.
MS. CLIFT: - used that. They've also accused the Palestinians -
MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible) - said that children - when children are dead, schools hit and the U.N. agents -
MS. CLIFT: It's sickening.
MR. BUCHANAN: - it was a horrible thing. But John, look, the only solution here is political. And I understand that the Israelis don't want a political solution. They say we let the West Bank go and it'll turn into another Gaza, and that's right next door to Ben Gurion Airport.
I don't think - and I know Mort disagrees - I think Netanyahu has written off the idea of leaving the West Bank.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I have a question for Mort.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Pat - yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How much support does Hamas have in Gaza?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: They have a lot of support in Gaza, without question. Look, let's start off with how this thing really - the Israelis were besieged by rockets going into their country, hundreds of them. It would be as if 75 percent of the American population had 60 to 90 seconds to get into some kind of shelter. That's what the Israelis were living under. They had to respond in some way. They can't live that way. They didn't start this thing.
MS. CLIFT: Yes, but if they destroy -
MR. BUCHANAN: But what triggered it, Mort? What triggered the rockets was they rounded up all these Hamas guys who were not responsible for that lynching of those three kids, and Hamas sat there and took it. And they fired some rockets. The Israelis responded. Then Hamas starts firing all these rockets, and you've got a new war.
MS. CLIFT: Israel has basically exploited the killings of those three children.
MS. CLIFT: And they have retaliated by destroying everything that makes a decent life for the civilians in Gaza. So that is disproportionate. And the world is looking on and is horrified. And I suspect that Israel will continue this as long as they think they can, in the hopes of eradicating Hamas. They cannot eradicate Hamas. Tunnels can be rebuilt and rockets can be reacquired. So something has to change -
MR. BUCHANAN: And Hamas is an idea.
MS. CLIFT: - in its calculation.
MR. BUCHANAN: Hamas is an idea, and you can't kill it.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does Israel have any ally?
MR. RENNIE: Clearly, at many levels, you know, the idea of Israel - when Israel is being a kind of (proper ?) western democracy, has lots of allies, including in Europe.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does Israel have an ally in the current flow of events?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yes - Egypt. Egypt is the ally.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
MR. BUCHANAN: Egypt is behind Israel and anti-Hamas.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: So is Saudi Arabia.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that's -
MR. BUCHANAN: And the Turks, however, are attacking the Israelis as Nazis, if you can imagine that. So you've got the Middle East - the whole thing, John, is (in turmoil ?).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, Morsi's no longer there.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look, Sisi, the leader of Egypt, is very, very strongly on the Israeli side of this thing and against Hamas, because he believes that they're the equivalent of the Muslim Brotherhood. And they are. And it's not only that. Saudi Arabia and all of the allies of the Arab world there -
MR. BUCHANAN: Mort, why are the Turks behaving (as they are ?)?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't know - I don't understand what the Turks are doing. I'm just saying that the Arab countries are very strongly in favor of Israel on this side of the issue.
MR. BUCHANAN: How about Qatar? Do you think Qatar -
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, Qatar is the only one - Qatar is the funder of -
MR. BUCHANAN: They're funder of the Islamic state.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.
MR. BUCHANAN: This is why this whole place, John -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where are the Saudis?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: The Saudis are very supportive of what Israel is doing -
MR. BUCHANAN: They're anti-Hamas.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: - and very - they're anti-Hamas, because it's the Muslim Brotherhood.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Egypt is -
MR. BUCHANAN: Anti-Hamas, anti-Hamas, anti-Muslim Brotherhood.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Egypt and Saudi Arabia - the Saudis and a lot of the other Arab countries are allies in all of this.
MS. CLIFT: But the Saudis have to worry about extremists in their own territory. So they think anything that stamps out extremism is a good thing.
MR. BUCHANAN: Even -
MS. CLIFT: You can't stamp it out, though.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, we've got to -
MS. CLIFT: You have to learn how to work with it. And you have to give the people in Gaza some means to make a living. You have 80 percent people on food aid. They can't - there's a blockade on them. You know, Israel likes to talk about how we left Gaza; Gaza's independent. They're ruling Gaza like a colonial power. And now we're seeing all the blow-back, and it's now transferring over to the West Bank. And the West Bank could ignite.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: Europe's Verdict.
Coffins bearing the remains of some of the 298 people killed on Malaysian Air Flight 17 began arriving this week in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, the home of most of the deceased. And Europe's leaders debated about how to price human life; specifically, what kind of financial sanctions to impose on Russia.
Also this week, U.S. intelligence analysts briefed the press on evidence linking Russia to the downing of Flight 17. Almost 100 people remain missing, presumably still strewn across the miles-long debris field created as the aircraft was torn apart in midflight.
Russian President Vladimir Putin joined calls for an international investigation but has not - repeat, not - accepted responsibility for the 298 passenger deaths, either on behalf of the Russian government or on behalf of the pro-Russian Ukraine separatists charged with downing the plane.
On Wednesday, separatists shot down two more aircraft, Ukrainian military jets, as if to underscore that the SAM-11 missile system believed to have killed everyone on board Flight 17 are still fully operational in eastern Ukraine.
Also on Wednesday, France announced that it would press on with the planned delivery of the SS Vladivostok amphibious assault ship to Russia this fall. The Mistral-class $1.5 billion French-made vessel can carry assault troops, armored vehicles, and up to 16 attack helicopters.
Question: Is Moscow intimidating the European Union? David Rennie.
MR. RENNIE: I would have more time for the European response if it really was intimidation, if France was so frightened of Vladimir Putin that it didn't dare not sell him these ships, if Germany was so frightened that it didn't dare do energy deals.
But it's not about fear. It's about profit. And I think that's where you can start to see the first glimmers of a change in Russia. There has been some fascinating comments by big Dutch and German businessmen a week after the plane crashed, really sort of morally outraged by the manhandling of these bodies at the crash site, by some of the Russian propaganda implying that the whole thing was a hoax, that the bodies were dead in the plane seats before they hit the ground.
You know, the Netherlands, let's not forget, is a country the size of Maryland, with 16 million people in it. So everybody feels incredibly touched by this death of - some of the biggest Dutch companies, like Shell or Phillips, they had employees on this plane. So that business community, that kind of profit-driven kind of cringe, does seem to be slightly (changed ?).
MR. BUCHANAN: You also see an extraordinary reluctance of the Europeans and every country to move toward the isolation of Russia, treating them like a pariah, because that is a dead end. This is a country twice the size of the United States with all kinds of nuclear weapons. And all during the Cold War, we're trying to reach out and engage them. And the idea of now pushing them out into the cold is one that does not sit well with the Europeans, who are right next door.
MS. CLIFT: It -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the role of m-o-n-e-y by business ties, Russian energy exports, investment by Russian tycoons and oligarchs?
MR. BUCHANAN: All those are -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Doesn't that smooth over a lot of feelings?
MR. BUCHANAN: They're all inhibitions against Europe acting toughly against Moscow.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. Right. It's a restraint on the EU.
MR. BUCHANAN: Sure.
MS. CLIFT: It's not fear of nuclear weapons. It's basically because the economies of Europe are so intertwined with Russia. And those economies are fragile, and they don't want to pay the economic price. I think it's real easy for a U.S. president to say they need to do this, and I do think they do.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think -
MS. CLIFT: But I understand their reluctance. And you do see Angela Merkel and you do see David Cameron with some tougher rhetoric. But to pull all those countries together is a big task, and it may take -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think -
MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: - there's a dampening of rhetoric against Putin going on by reason of business interests over here too?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: To some extent there is. But I think there's another reason behind this. You know, if you look at what happened since the end of World War II, the countervailing force to the Soviet Union, to Russia, was the United States. The United States was the leader in terms of being able to oppose Russia and led Europe in this direction. I don't think there's any confidence in the American administration today that they will play this role. And that's one of the big issues. Europe by itself cannot do this.
MS. CLIFT: Yes, and -
MR. ZUCKERMAN: But I think that is the general feeling.
MS. CLIFT: And the president -
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That is - excuse me - that is, I believe, what is the general feeling in Europe over this kind of an issue.
MS. CLIFT: And the president is limited because we don't have the same economic stakes, and he can't act unless all of Europe comes along. And while I would like to think he can bring them along and all the allies could be united, I think you're asking a little bit too much of this president.
MR. BUCHANAN: There is no stomach whatsoever for any military action in the United States at all.
MR. RENNIE: Sure, but that's too extreme a point. The big thing is, do Europeans think of Vladimir Putin as a potential reasonable partner? And I think that view is really changing fast. And that makes a big difference.
MS. CLIFT: He's now -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Economist magazine is recommending tough sanctions, correct, against him?
MR. RENNIE: Not only tough sanctions, but also understanding that this isn't - to coin the sort of historic phrase, this is no longer really someone you can do business with, (although ?) you have to -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think -
MR. RENNIE: - on some issues.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that Russia is going to be banished from any international organizations?
MR. RENNIE: It's already suspended from the G-7. We have the G-20 meeting happening in Australia in a few weeks.
MR. BUCHANAN: Maybe the World Cup.
MR. RENNIE: They should be - they should be banned from that for sure.
MR. BUCHANAN: The World Cup in 2018 may be on the table, but I would doubt they would move now.
MS. CLIFT: Putin is inching into -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The BRICS are meeting - the BRICS are meeting in South America.
MR. BUCHANAN: The BRICS are -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And Russia is right in there with the BRICS.
MR. BUCHANAN: The BRICs are a fiction. You really think South Africa has got a lot in common with Russia?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, I think the BRICS mean a lot.
MS. CLIFT: Putin is inching into the territory -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm going to show that in future intriguing shows.
MS. CLIFT: - of North Korea.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, what is it?
MS. CLIFT: Putin is inching into the territory of North Korea, basically.
MR. RENNIE: Well, and let's not forget we need them in Iran. We need them with Syria.
MR. BUCHANAN: That would be an act of insanity to treat Russia like North Korea.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, exit question: Will the downing of Flight 17 stiffen the resolve of the European Union, or will the EU remain wobbly on Russia, a place where, to quote Winston Churchill, a shiver could go around the 28-member EU looking for a spine to travel up? Stiffen the resolve, or remain wobbly? Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: They're wobbly now, but they're stiffening a bit.
MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: That's right. I think there's still some hope that they're going to tighten the screws on Putin.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. RENNIE: Sort of stiffened wobbliness. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible.)
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think it's a wobbly stiffness. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I am with you all.
Issue Three: Spying on Angela.
GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL (through interpreter): (From videotape.) We addressed issues that have a bearing on the work of the intelligence services. Here I am firmly convinced that our cooperation in this area is a very helpful one. Yet there are differences of opinion on what sort of balance to strike between the (security ?) of civilians, of trying to protect the citizens against threats, and, on the other hand, protecting individual privacy and individual freedom and - (inaudible). And that will require further discussion between our two countries in order to overcome these differences of opinion.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had one of those further discussions by telephone after Ms. Merkel took the unprecedented step of expelling from Germany - get this - the U.S.'s CIA Berlin station chief, technically a diplomat. The U.S. diplomat was declared persona non grata following Germany's investigation of a German employee of Germany's defense ministry, who was alleged to be spying for the United States along with a second alleged CIA mole in the BND, Germany's federal intelligence service.
The embarrassing incidents are a test for U.S.-German relations, badly strained by Edward Snowden's revelation last October that the U.S.'s NSA, National Security Agency, had monitored Chancellor Merkel's personal cell phone, surveiled her emails, cell text messages and phone conversations to and from Germany.
Germany is a pivotal player in the nuclear negotiations with Iran and in the ongoing friction between Russia and Ukraine. Also recall that Germany, in the 28-member European Union, is the number one power. Also, apart from the European Union, President Obama needs Chancellor Merkel's cooperation for some of his most sensitive diplomatic initiatives, particularly the nuclear talks with Iran.
Question: How much damage has been done to the U.S.-German relationship by the U.S. spying? David.
MR. RENNIE: German public opinion is furious. And remember how much they used to love Barack Obama. So that's a headache for Angela Merkel. Angela Merkel is a grownup. She knows that everybody spies on everybody. She secretly knows this is just how the world works. But she has to go tough. She had to do something like expel the station chief, because German public opinion has a streak of anti-Americanism, and also they have their history of first Nazi and then, in East Germany, communist spying. So it's a very kind of neuralgic subject in Germany.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, Germany is not interested in a serious rift with the U.S. And, in fact, there's this group that's called the Five Eyes. It's United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the U.K. And they agree not to spy on each other. But in exchange for that, they have extraordinary access to each others' intelligence. And the Germans were asked if they wanted to be part of that, and they didn't want to. And so you can see the CIA is over there. A lot of terrorists come through Berlin. It was a node for the 9/11.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mmm hmm.
MS. CLIFT: So I can see how the CIA overstepped. She's right to react the way she did. But I agree with you. She's a grownup. It's not going to damage U.S.-German relations.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And, in point of fact, Obama has taken a deep hit in the polls in Germany, as has the U.S. in general. As German Professor Andreas Busch of the University of Gottingen puts it, Germany's, quote, "past infatuation with Obama makes the present disappointment all the deeper."
MR. BUCHANAN: There's considerable damage, John. And we ought to ask ourselves, what is the cost-benefit from bugging Merkel and spying on the Germans, considering the losses we have with our primary ally on the continent?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've got five seconds.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I agree with that. I think Pat's got it right on the head. I mean, we just have got to be very careful when you deal with our most important ally in Europe.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: And she is - and she was.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well stated, Mort Zuckerman.
MS. CLIFT: She still is. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: Real collision between the president and Congress, John, in November, or a little later, when it's revealed that there's going to be no deal with the Iranians on that nuclear enrichment and the Congress tries to impose sanctions on - new sanctions on Iran. And there'll be a real dust-up (with ?) the administration.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that's a keen grasp of the obvious, Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: All right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: The Republicans will pick up the Senate seat in Montana because the incumbent, John Walsh, blamed PTSD for his plagiarizing a thesis that he wrote.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MS. CLIFT: That's not an appropriate excuse.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, I've got to unwind all that now.
MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: David.
MR. RENNIE: I think we're going to be talking about Iraq again very soon. I think things are completely falling apart. And we've been so fixated, understandably, on the Ukraine that we're missing some of these gigantic territorial gains by the Islamic state.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really? Baghdad?
MR. RENNIE: I don't think Baghdad, but, I mean, half the country arguably is now -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think the government -
MR. RENNIE: - (out of ?) control.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: - is going to fall?
MR. RENNIE: Depends who they think is prime minister.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: The weakening in the housing market and the weakening of the job market means that we're going to have a very low rate of growth, and it's going to have a big impact on the forthcoming election.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Perjury indictments are in the offing for at least two players in the U.S.'s IRS widening scandal.