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Libya Announces New Cease-Fire; Warplanes Carry Out Strikes in Libya; Pres. Obama Eyes Libya from Brazil; Arab League's Emergency Meeting; Losing Hope in a Destroyed Town

Aired March 20, 2011 - 17:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Fredricka Whitfield at CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CO-ANCHOR: And I'm Michael Holmes, welcoming viewers to our special coverage of the conflict in Libya.

WHITFIELD: Anti-aircraft gunfire and explosions can be heard this hour in the Libyan Capital of Tripoli.

Still unclear if that gunfire is in response to new air and missile strikes from coalition forces.

CNN's Nic Robertson who is in Tripoli, says smoke can be seen rising from the presidential compound.

HOLMES: American, French and British military forces began these air strikes on Saturday. The mission is being dubbed Operation Odyssey Dawn, a U.N.-approved operation, intended to stop the Libyan leader, Moammar Gadhafi, from violating a cease-fire and attacking his own people.

WHITFIELD: Multiple air and missile strikes have hit Libyan military targets. U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullin says most of Gadhafi's air defense systems and airfields have been taken out. Libyan ground forces have been hit and a no-fly zone is in effect.

HOLMES: The Pentagon says it questions all statements that are coming from the Libyan government, including this new claim of a cease-fire. It's not the first time it has been made.

In an angry speech on state-run television early today, Moammar Gadhafi called the coalition nation the new Nazis and he vowed to fight back in a, quote, "long, drawn-out war."

CNN's Arwa Damon is in Benghazi. She's been reporting the opposition leaders there. Well, they're skeptical too about Libya's latest cease-fire announcement.


ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is not the first time the Gadhafi regime announced the cease-fire. They did too on Friday and that obviously did not materialize, because on Saturday, Benghazi was assaulted very heavily by Gadhafi's forces. They came in from the southern portion of the city. We saw artillery rounds being fired into the city. We saw tanks firing as well and residents were telling us that Gadhafi's forces were sitting on top of vehicles manned by heavy machine guns firing indiscriminately into the buildings.

So the perspective from here is very, very different. The city itself right now, calm but still remain tense ever since we saw that assault on Saturday. Shops are, by and large, remain closed. We've seen an intense city in checkpoints and how meticulously vehicles are being searched. These are people who firmly believe that without international intervention, without the air strike that we have been seeing, they would have eventually been massacred by Gadhafi's forces.

People here are very much welcoming these air strikes, especially those that took place some 30 kilometers, some 20 miles outside of Benghazi. We were there earlier today. We saw at least 70 military vehicles that had been burned, destroyed basically by these - by these air strikes. And people there had one simple message for the global world and that was one of thank you. Thank you for coming to our aid - Michael.

HOLMES: Yes. The question then is what is the rebels' next step? One presumes they're going to be having the impetus now to make a move of their own, if Gadhafi is being stopped in place, even if there's a cease-fire, would the rebels be tempted to take advantage of that? One imagines they're not likely just want to sit there.

DAMON: No, Michael and they already are, based on what we're hearing, beginning their advance. From what we understand, the front line is now back in the City of Ajdabiya after we saw those air strikes launched here against Gadhafi's military. We've seen that happened around 5 A.M. local. Eyewitnesses were telling us that then opposition fighters moved forward and began launching their own attack against Gadhafi's military.

Their goal still remains the same, and that is, in their words, to liberate all of Libya from Gadhafi's rule. Of course, they say that they do not want to do this by fighting their way through. This is not an uprising that began violently, it began peacefully and only turned violent when Gadhafi's forces began using violence against the demonstrators.

The opposition fighters, they only learned how to use their weapons in the last few weeks. They'll initially try to peacefully somehow bring about this liberation that they're talking of, but if they're forced to they will continue to fight their way, because they're ready to die for this cause and having come this far, they are not going to give up at this stage - Michael.

HOLMES: You know, how willing are they to talk to the outside world about their own tactics? One imagines that if Gadhafi does have a cease-fire, if by some miracle he means it this time, that would mean that the U.S. and Britain and France and the others involved in this coalition are then faced with a difficult prospect if the rebels decide to forge ahead in the military sense. What then does the no-fly zone mean if the rebels are moving forward militarily, Gadhafi's men to just sit there and take it? It's a difficult balancing act, isn't it?

DAMON: It is, Michael. But in this hypothetical scenario where a cease-fire would, in fact, take place, then by that logic, you would be seeing the opposition forces advancing and not needing to fire their weapons. You would be hypothetically seeing demonstrations against Gadhafi's regime by opposition members, by those who want to see him overthrown, taking place peacefully. You would continue to see a peaceful uprising. That's what opposition leaders tell us, if, in fact, Gadhafi's forces actually stop firing on them.

But the issue here also is not just whether or not Gadhafi is going to, in fact, enforce the cease-fire, but if he's going to stop his intimidation campaign and that is one that is so intense. Just to give you one example, there's a woman here in Benghazi who used to run a massive kitchen, she was cooking food along with a number of other volunteers for opposition fighters on the frontlines. And a few days ago, she received a phone call from a pro-Gadhafi individual who threatened her, told her that she had better stop and then he listed the names and ages of all of her children and detailed the inside of her home.

So, it's not just an issue of whether or not a cease-fire is going to be in place, it is whether or not the Gadhafi regime is going to bring about an end to these tactics of intimidation. And at that stage, whether or not they're going to comply with the opposition's main request, of course, and that is for Gadhafi to step down from power.


WHITFIELD: President Barack Obama is on a tour of Latin America, but he is focused on Libya. What he says about the struggle in the days ahead?


HOLMES: Welcome back, everyone. U.S. president Barack Obama on a diplomatic trip to Brazil, making a case for increased U.S. economic opportunities in Latin America.

WHITFIELD: But the president is also getting regular updates about military operations taking place in Libya.

CNN White House Correspondent Ed Henry is traveling with the president. He'll be joining us from Rio in just a moment.

Meantime, joining us right now from Little Rock, Arkansas is CNN contributor General Wesley Clark. He is the former NATO Supreme Allied Commander. Thanks again.

So, you know, we heard the Pentagon briefing recently. They said they are not targeting Moammar Gadhafi, not targeting his palace. However, there have been some plumes of smoke that have been seen coming from that. In your view, would this be potentially from those Tomahawk missile strikes going after those defense mechanisms that might be near the palace?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Presumably it would be. It also could be from something else, some anti-aircraft shells that are shot up, they - sometimes they don't go off in the air and they come down somewhere. So we just don't know where that is. And hopefully Nic Robertson, when the sun comes up over there will go out and take a look at it.

But at this point, apparently Gadhafi's residence, his personal command and control and he himself are not being targeted. I would tell you, Fredricka, that during the campaign in Kosovo, after some days of escalating the strikes, we did go after President Milosevic's headquarters and residence in Belgrade, we did strike it.

HOLMES: You know, General, I keep coming back - I know we've been focusing a lot obviously on what's happening in Tripoli and the coalition actions, but I can't help but think back to Benghazi and the rebels who are sitting there probably rubbing their hands with glee and relief at what's going on and contemplating their next move. One imagines there's almost a bit of a military vacuum and an opportunity for them. Do you think?

CLARK: I'm not sure of what they can do because I think if they were to suddenly launch an offensive and show up in a bunch of pickup trucks with machine guns on them, they get - they'd get defeated when they ran into Gadhafi's forces. At that point, they really have no recourse to the United Nations, because the resolution as I read it does call for a cease-fire and the protection of innocent civilians. It's not about siding with one side or the other, as best I can read their resolution.

So this makes it problematic for the rebels. Perhaps they will instigate renewed uprisings in the towns and cities controlled right now by Gadhafi, although that would be difficult because he has very strong internal security forces.

HOLMES: Where does that leave all of this then? I mean, does it just stay and play? I mean, if cease-fire does take effect, the rebels can't and shouldn't move? What are we left with?

CLARK: Well, this has always been one of the major questions that we've looked at in thinking about no-fly zones, because once you have established a no-fly zone, you put a certain degree of pressure on, but if the objective is not to get Gadhafi out and the president says it isn't, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says it isn't, they've bounded the objectives so that we're not in a head-to-head struggle against Gadhafi, then it really is about exactly what the U.N. Security Council Resolution says, protection of innocent civilians.

So the international criminal court, they can look at putting charges against Gadhafi. There can be people who look at the mistreatment of - and current activities going on in these occupied areas, if - by Gadhafi, if Gadhafi lets them in, nations can recognize the opposition government in Benghazi and we will have two Libyas, one that requires - it's fledgling democracy, it's going to require continuing U.N. protection and assistance, and the other is going to be a vengeful state directed by dictator Gadhafi.

WHITFIELD: So the Libyan Army spokesperson mentioned about two hours ago a call for a cease-fire. How will these coalition forces measure whether indeed a cease-fire is being honored by the Libyan government? Is it a matter of, you know, more than two hours? Is it overnight? Has to be a 24/hour period? At what point will that be a credible call?

CLARK: Well, it's never going to be a totally credible call because it could be broken at any time. And it's simply a way of freezing the current military situation in place. Of course, what Gadhafi would like to do is by calling again for a cease-fire, he'd like to freeze any further action by NATO to take out more of his military assets.

And the idea would be that by calling for a cease-fire and actually stopping offensive operations, he can protect the assets that he has. Presumably he can then use this interval to undercut the resistance and the determination of the people of Benghazi and also try to work against the Arab support that's been - that's been offered for the operation.

HOLMES: All right. General Clark, thanks so much. Always good to get your thoughts.

CLARK: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: And, of course, stay with CNN tonight, a two-hour special, watch "LIBYA WAR" hosted by Wolf Blitzer at 8:00 P.M. Eastern Time U.S.

HOLMES: Yes. We'll be right back. Stay with us.


HOLMES: U.S. President Barack Obama on a diplomatic trip to Brazil, making a case for increased U.S. economic opportunities in Latin America, all the while getting regular updates about the military operations ongoing in Libya.

CNN White House Correspondent Ed Henry is traveling with the president, joins us now from Rio. We heard him speak a little earlier and he didn't say that much about Libya. One imagines he is right across it all the time.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You're right, Michael. And, in fact, the president is getting some pressure for the first time since this mission started. We're only on day two here as the assault and really raining down on Libya continues.

The president is getting some pressure for the first time from some Republicans back in Washington, everyone ranging from Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senator Richard Lugar, very respected Republican on foreign policy issues, saying the president needs to do a better job of communicating to the American people and the world, frankly, about more clearly defining what are the goals of this military mission in Libya and how he plans to achieve them. But as you noted, the president sort of disregarded that advice, moved ahead with his 25-minute speech here to the people of Brazil in which he barely mentioned Libya and really tried to cast it in a broader context, about all of the change in the Middle East and North Africa. The president basically saying, you know, he wouldn't give a progress report on the military action, but instead said, look, nobody knows how all of this will turn out, but it's about universal rights and a broader context of change. Take a listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Today, we are seeing the struggle for these rights unfold across the Middle East and North Africa. We've seen a revolution borne out of a yearning for basic human dignity in Tunisia. We've seen peaceful protesters pour into Tahrir Square. Men and women, young and old, Christian and Muslim. We've seen the people of Libya take a courageous stand against a regime determined to brutalize its own citizens.

Across the region, we've seen young people rise up, a new generation demanding the right to determine their own future.


HENRY: Now, you mentioned the president is trying to, though, keep tabs on the situation on Libya, of course, even as his five-day tour of Latin America continues, his day started, in fact, with a secure conference call with some of his top officials, including Secretary of State Clinton, Secretary of Defense Gates, to get a briefing on the situation. But so far, the president on this trip has not taken any questions from reporters traveling with him about exactly what is the mission in Libya.

New this hour, just a few minutes from now, the president's National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, for the first time is going to take questions from the White House Press Corps. We'll come back to you live the minute we get some new details, Michael and Fred, about exactly what that mission is, any more meat on the bones that Tom Donilon puts, we'll bring it right to you right away live.

HOLMES: Yes. You're right. I mean, it's not about regime change as the resolution outline but it is about supporting people who very much do want regime change when it comes to the end of the day and it's a very difficult position for the U.S. and others where when supporting civilians and protecting civilians becomes supporting a revolution, it's a difficult call to make and one imagines it's weighing very heavily and there is no clear, defined outcome here on when it's over, what it means it's over, and what do you do if the rebels fight back.

HENRY: You're right. And what's interesting is how all of this has flipped on President Obama, as a presidential candidate. You remember at the beginning of his campaign really started with his opposition to the war in Iraq and pressing then-President Bush to more clearly define the mission there. Now, the president finds Republican leaders sort of turning that around on him and saying, look, as John Boehner today, the Republican Speaker of the House said, he supports pressuring had Gadhafi to make sure that he doesn't assault innocent civilians here and supports the innocent civilians in terms of their right to peacefully process but he's saying, look, you've got to more clearly define this mission. As you said, is it regime change? How far will the U.S. go?

We've heard from U.S. official that the U.S. is only planning to be involved in terms of the heavy bombing, et cetera, for days, not weeks. If after a few days, Gadhafi is still in power, what then? Does the U.S. really fall back to a supportive role or does it have press ahead? Michael, these are tough questions the administration has not faced yet.

HOLMES: Is it very much a hot potato for the president in terms of the leadership of this operation? One imagines he can't wait to get it off onto NATO so that it's not looking like the U.S. is involved in the region once again in a conflict?

HENRY: Absolutely. I mean, look, the context domestically for this president no doubt is the fact that Americans are pretty weary about the long conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan in the Muslim world that have really had a bit of a backlash on America. No doubt, as you know full well.

And what's interesting is that the criticism the president is facing in this case is not about going in too quickly. Instead today you heard his former presidential rival, Republican Senator John McCain, saying on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" that his problem is that President Obama took too long and that this no-fly zone should have been instituted two weeks ago. And now, McCain, other Republicans are wondering whether it's too little too late. So all kinds of competing pressures on the president right now - Michael.

HOLMES: Can't wait to talk to you after that - that news conference, Ed. Good to see you. Ed Henry there with the president.

HENRY: Good to see you.

WHITFIELD: Meantime, there's a list of countries backing the no-fly zone over Libya.

HOLMES: Yes. But is support from Arab nations wavering? We're going to have a look at that.


WHITFIELD: A number of countries are helping to enforce the no-fly zone over Libya. That list includes the United States, Britain and France. Missiles from American and British subs hit Libyan targets. And all three of those nations flew aircraft over Libya. Other countries to help enforce the no-fly zone include Italy, Canada, Spain, Qatar and Norway.

HOLMES: At an emergency meeting today, the Arab League reiterated its support for the no-fly zone over Libya. Earlier, we had a chat with Rami Khouri. He is the Director of the Issam Fares Institute at the American University of Beirut. He's in Jordan at the moment. And he talked to us about the importance of the Arab League's decision.


RAMI KHOURI, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF BEIRUT: it's very important that the Arab League took a position asking for or supporting a no-fly zone. So that's really important because it provided the critical legitimacy that the international community needed and the Security Council then acted upon to actually then have a U.N. Security Council vote saying that all necessary means could be used to protect civilians. So that Arab League vote was very important.

The problem was that it provided the legitimacy for this process, but that legitimacy came from a whole bunch of Arab leaders who are experiencing thin or disappearing legitimacy among their own people. So I think you have to take it seriously at one level, but at the same time, recognize that the Arab leaders don't speak for most of the Arab people in a very serious way. They're still illegitimate to an extent, but that legitimacy is very thin.

So you have to take them seriously, but at the same time recognize that these are leaders that essentially do whatever the international community generally asks them to do. So that's why you have these uprisings all over the Arab world.


HOLMES: Interesting analysis there.

I want to get you updated on the other major story in the world today. That is, of course, the Japanese earthquake, tsunami, nuclear issue. Tests reportedly finding radioactive iodine in a drinking water system near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

WHITFIELD: And it is three times higher than accepted standard, and people there are warned not to drink the tap water. The death toll from last week's earthquake and tsunami has climbed to more than 8,400 people. More than 12,900 others are still missing.

HOLMES: Well, just incredible.

Also incredible, this story, survival nine days after the earthquake and tsunami. Medical workers rescuing an 80-year-old woman and her grandson. The 16-year-old boy crawled through the rubble, climbed onto the roof of their home to alert rescuers. They're alive all that time.

In Northeastern Japan, entire villages were flattened by last week's tsunami. You've seen the pictures. Now, one of the hardest hit areas is the Town of Kamaishi, where survivors are losing hope and started planning for the dead.

Here's CNN's Kyung Lah.


KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Akihito Yamaguchi (ph) wouldn't leave what's left of his house in the Town of Kamaichi. It's the least he can do, he says, after failing to hold onto his 71-year- old father when the tsunami hit.

"I held my father above the water," says Yamaguchi, still numb with trauma, "but the force was too strong, I couldn't hold onto him."

Both his father and his mother washed away before his eyes. He survived when the tsunami's waters flung him against a tree. A wet photo album of his childhood is all he has.

(on camera): Your mother, you think is in here?

(voice-over): "Yes," he says, "in the rubble of the first floor."

His story is just one of thousands in this disaster.

And the Kamaishi city office, missing person notices line like wallpaper -- mother, grandmother, husbands. The living sift through evacuation center and hospital logs.

Occasionally, some good news over a borrowed phone line. But as the days passed, happy events are outnumbered by people registering the dead.

(on camera): Here in the town of Otsuchi, survivors have very little hope of finding loved ones. Not only did the earthquake strike this town, then the tsunami came through, and then there was a gas explosion that burned this entire town.

(voice-over): Keiko Chiba points to where she believes her husband's body may be. "Even if he survived the tsunami," she says, "the fire likely killed him. He was helping neighbors evacuate."

But the Numayamas cling to this picture, walking town to town, hoping someone recognizes their husband and father. "Of course, I have to have hope," she says.

Akihito Yamaguchi has no hope, only one purpose left as a son. "My parents will be sad unless they are together," he says, "I have to find them and bring them together."

Part of grieving may be letting go -- but for this survivor, he says it's his duty to hold on.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Kamaishi, Japan.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Powerful stuff. Well, to find out how you might be able to help people of Japan --

HOLMES: Yes, we got to a great Web site, you should check it out. "Impact Your World," it's called. And you can go, then you've got it right there.

We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: The decision to launch military strikes against Libya came after high-level meetings in Paris. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and world leaders hammering out a plan to enforce the U.S.- sanctioned no-fly zone.

Our foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty is traveling with the secretary of state.

What more discussions are being held? You know, one thing I'm curious about, Jill -- has anyone raised the whole idea of how do we end this? When is it time to go home and leave things the way they are?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's an excellent question, Michael.

And, you know, that -- there was really, I think you'd have to say kind of two parts to this. One is there's no question that the immediate concern is to stop the violence. That is what the U.N. resolution is about. And Secretary Clinton and everyone else has made it very clear that these number one. So, that's why you have the no- fly zone, that's why you have all of this military activity.

Now, at the same time, the United States and other countries have made it very clear that ultimately, they want Moammar Gadhafi to leave, to step down, leave and get out of power.

So, how do you square that? Well, they are -- it's really, you'd have to say, kind of stages of what they are doing. The first stage: stop the violence, protect lives, then wait, see how Gadhafi reacts. And then based upon that, they go to the next stage.

Now, if he were to step back and stop the violence, that would be one thing. But we are getting now mixed messages coming from the Libyans saying, we are going to have a cease-fire. We are going to have a cease-fire. And the United States, in fact, just a short time ago, the Defense Department saying we haven't seen any evidence of that. It has to be seen on the ground.

So, you know, we continue with military action. But Hillary Clinton really makes it clear that ultimately, there's really no going back. I mean, they believe that Moammar Gadhafi is not the legitimate leader, as they put it, for weeks now, and they want him gone. The question ultimately is: how do you do is that?

HOLMES: Yes. One other question that's got to be answer tonight -- and I can't seem to get an answer for it -- is there doesn't seem to be any declared policy of what to do if the -- if the rebels move, if they decide to start taking advantage of this -- a cease fire is a cease-fire. One presumes it applies to both sides?

DOUGHERTY: Well, I mean, let's say there are various scenarios and you can be sure that the Pentagon and other governments, their planning has taken into consideration. But let's say there's a stalemate, he pulls back, begins to do what the international community wants to do. Well, OK, what they do is they watch. They see. Does it actually end?

And then based on that, they have to take their determination. But that could mean a very unpleasant and maybe even long, drawn out standoff. And that's one option.

Another option would be what Secretary Clinton was talking about when she was here in Paris, and that is to try to peel away the people around Gadhafi to put the pressure on them to get rid of him in some fashion or at least to leave him and no longer support him. So, work from the outside, work from the inside.

HOLMES: You got a lot of work to be done, too. Thanks very much, Jill. Good to see you.

Jill Dougherty there with the U.S. secretary of state -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. More the military operation now.

The U.S. has fired 124 Tomahawk missiles at Libyan air defense sites. Captain Alec Frasier is a retired Navy captain who has led Tomahawk- capable ships, joining us live right now.

OK. These Tomahawk missiles -- where would be their launch points?

CAPT. ALEC FRASIER, U.S. NAVY (RET.): They are going to come from surface ships or submarines, both the United Kingdom and the United States have the capacity to do that from both and, from my understanding, reports are saying that all of these those type of units fired Tomahawk missiles.

WHITFIELD: And how would the determination be made as to what the target sites ought to be?

FRASIER: Targets are done by a command system and the targets are then relayed back to a programming division at another location. That determines how the Tomahawk is going to fly there. So, the determination of hot target res is done by a commander in theater. It would be interesting to talk about who the commander is. And then gone back -- sent back to another location and then the data coordinates are downloaded via satellite back to the ships.

WHITFIELD: How do these Tomahawk missile strikes at the very beginning of this phase now, kind of help set the tone of what about who this military operation might evolve into?

FRASIER: Well, it starts with the fact that since the beginning of warfare, if your crossbow shoots further than the other guy's crossbow, shoot first. So, we fire a Tomahawk that goes several hundred miles. The idea is to hit the air defense capacity, the command and control capacity, and limit those down -- and those are the targets that are selected first.

After that, you go into other areas, but that's the first wave that goes this to provide protection for the manned aircraft that are coming in next.

WHITFIELD: All right. Now, let's talk about coordination.

You've got Canada offering air support coming out of Italy. You've got Italy that's supplying some support, in addition their air strips. You've got the U.S. You've got the British air force that would be available to be in here concert hereto and, of course, the Americans and European, they are also hoping in some way some Arab nations, maybe the UAE, might be involved.

So, who would be coordinating all of this? How do you know, you know, who would be in charge, so to speak?

FRASIER: Well, this isn't an easy thing to do -- sort of like a football team suddenly having players from seven or eight different teams all together to run a play at the same time and they've got to pull it all together. The good news is that actually all the players here have practiced more before. So, whether it's NATO or some other coalition exercise or whatever, all of these air forces, navies, armies, actually have practiced together, and in that experience, have learned the command and control to be able to do that.

You still have to have one person in charge of any operation. And I understand the United States has taken the lead initially with the goal of moving into a coalition partner to do that later. But all the capacity to do that is already present on the ships that are afloat off the coast.

WHITFIELD: So, does it seem confusing, too, when the French actually started the air assault or by doing the initial flyovers and then heard from Chief Mullen earlier today saying that the U.S. has kind of taken the lead right now and then it will take, you know, the backseat on this. Can you have, you know, one in charge for one phase and then somebody else, another country involved in another?

FRASIER: Well, absolutely. And it just depends on everyone is trained together, capable to do this, like a Marine landing exercise, the Navy commander controls it until the Marines go ashore, and then the Marine commander takes over. Same type of thing could happen here, you have the initial Tomahawk launch, that goes energy the initial set by a command ship, the Mount Whitney. That's off the coast of Libya. And then that can either or another commander from another nation can go on board that ship or can be done from another location.

WHITFIELD: All right. Also fascinating -- thanks so much. Good to see you again.

FRASIER: Glad to be here.

WHITFIELD: All right. Stay with CNN tonight -- a two-hour special, watch "Libya War" hosted by Wolf Blitzer, tonight, 8:00 Eastern Time, U.S.


WHITFIELD: The CEO of Sony is praising the way Japanese are pulling together during this time of crisis.

HOLMES: Amazing people, aren't they?

So, Howard Stringer, he was a guest on CNN's "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS."


FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": When I thought about whom I would like to talk to about the disasters in Japan, about what's going on in that country, the first name that came to my mind was a Welshman, Sir Howard Stringer. He is the Welsh-born chairman, president and CEO of Japan's iconic Sony Corporation.



ZAKARIA: What was your reaction? You were in New York for surgery. You left the day before all this happened. What was your reaction when you first haired about this earthquake?

STRINGER: Well, I -- the day before the earthquake, there was a tremor in the building and my head of communications said, well this is a good time for you to go home for surgery. I didn't like that tremor. And so, I had had trouble walking, so they took me out to the airport and off I went.

And by the time I landed in the United States, there was talk of an earthquake and it was -- first of all, I left behind and out of it which is selfish. And secondly, I thought this has been coming and, hopefully, all the contingency plans, for which we had many, because earthquakes are not exactly uncommon, would kick in and senior executive would take charge and they did.

ZAKARIA: How do you think the Japanese are reacting to this? You talk to them all the time. You'll be back there soon. People think of the Japanese outside of Japan as a very stoic, expressionless people. How are they handling this?

STRINGER: Well, the calmness is, of course, an enormous strength in a crisis like this. It's sometimes a problem in the recession, trying to develop a sense of urgency -- and a little part of me says this will now have a sense of urgency and this will kick-start the Japanese economy in ways that maybe nothing else would. Out of crisis comes an opportunity -- but the calmness in these circumstances, unbelievably good. I mean, people take care of each other first, people wanted to know what -- what they were doing, whether they needed help.

There was one classis -- with Sendai, which is the big northern city, we have two factories there that were damaged and we have people above rising water, over about 1,000 people in rising water. Now, one point the following day, they fashioned a boat, they manufactured a boat and floated to the neighbors to give them supplies and give them water to support them, which is -- which is remarkable.

So, that calmness of the Japanese and selflessness and unselfishness became obvious toward all of us. And, really quite remarkable, that's why the world has said, wow, who would do this somewhere else, what an extraordinary people. And it was easily demonstrated.

ZAKARIA: You talk about helping other people, one thing that has struck everyone is so many power outages, so much chaos, and yet not one reported incident of looting anywhere.

STRINGER: No, it's a long tradition. It's one of the great strengths of the Japanese people, which one tends to forget because it's a consensus society and that can drive you a little crazy every so often and you think, come on, let's get going.

But in this situation, the thoughtfulness and unselfishness adds to a society that can more easily cope with this. I mean, I remember that image a few days ago, people spending their time carving chop sticks out of wreckage, sitting on the edge of a broken home, as a group acting as a social group, a social community, trying to make the best of a really bad job.

ZAKARIA: What about the government, the Japanese government? You know, this is a society where you see all these very positive features, but in the last 10 or 15 years, there has really been the sense that the government has not been able to make the kind of hard choice it needs to do the kind of reforms. You have had five prime ministers in five years in Japan.

Will this change any of that?

STRINGER: Well, my hope is that it will. Obviously, the prime minister's made a few very bold decisions and shaken the calm of his colleagues. I mean, his anger directed at the Tokyo power company I think was totally appropriate.

So, I think this is -- this will jolt us out of the complacency which is kind of the love child of all this prosperity. There's no -- there's no sense of why would you live any -- there's a sense of why would you live anywhere else? We have everything. It's comfortable. Everything works so well that developing, as I said earlier, a sense urgency is critical.

And my most difficult job during the recession was to point out that actually the company was in difficulty with these kind of economic problems and that, you know, at one point, it's OK to take care of the passengers and the crew, but somebody has to save the ship. This is what will happen in Japan now, I think.

But it's about leadership and it has to come along at the right time and that's true of every society we've witnessed, whether it's Margaret Thatcher in England, or leaders of China, it requires that moment. In a short term, there will be a demand for it, but also the country will be so preoccupied with rebuilding. It has an enormous energy and enormous skill and it will rebuild with voracity that the world will not have seen, because it will have a revalued sense of purpose. And I feel confident about that.

ZAKARIA: If you look at the way in which Japanese companies have been able to operate around the world, they have accumulated massive cash reserves. And Martin Wolf of the "Financial Times" pointed out that while the Japanese government may have big deficits, the Japanese private sector has enormous surpluses. So, this is a very rich, prosperous country.

STRINGER: All the savings behind the Japanese family which prop up Japanese governments that don't have to be so hot. I mean, there is so much money there. They save more acutely, as you know, than anybody else in the world.

And one of the frustrations has been we actually want them to spend the money. And now, they'll have to spend the money on rebuilding and restructuring. So, that might also generate some energy in the economy when we get through this crisis. The problem is: we just don't know enough at the moment as to when this crisis will end.


WHITFIELD: Sony is one of the world's biggest corporations. Its headquarters are in Tokyo.

HOLMES: Now, if you want to help the people of Japan, of course, you can always just go -- this is so simple. Go to the "Impact Your World" page at All kinds of good information there.

We'll be right back.


WHITFIELD: The military operation in Libya dominated the Sunday morning U.S. talk shows.

HOLMES: They did, and here are the highlights for you.


CANDY CROWLEY, HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": Is that what you're saying, that you want -- that the U.S. wants to be in a support role and not actively involved in the -- you know, dangerous military parts. I'm not quite sure how to put it.

ADM. MIKE MULLEN, CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: Well, I mean the entire operation has a danger and a vulnerability to it.


MULLEN: We've been able to execute it very well and very safely so far. What I would see happening in the next few days is, again, the U.S. moving to a support role.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: Are you saying that the problem is the definition of the mission, or the fact that we're letting the French and the British take the lead?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The definition of the mission, we used to relish leading the free world. Now, it's almost like leading the free world is an inconvenience. I want to be a good partner. I want the Arab world, young Arabs and young Iranians, see us as a strong, effective partner for their hope and dreams of being free. And I think the president has caveated this way too much. It's almost like it's a nuisance.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: One of the reasons there will be congressional support here is that the president has taken the time to put the world community together, to get the world community to say to Gadhafi, this slaughter must stop. That is not true in those other countries, and it's a very important fact.

CROWLEY: Did President Obama wait too long on the U.N. to wait?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: He waited too long. There is no doubt in my mind about it. But now, it is what it is, and we need now to support him and the efforts that our military are going to make. And I regret that we didn't act much more quickly and we could have.

SAIF AL-ISLAM GADHAFI, MOAMMAR GADHAFI'S SON: But believe me, one day you'll wake up and you find out that you were supporting the wrong people and you made a big mistake with supporting those people. It's like the WMD in Iraq.

ALI SULEIMAN AUJALI, LIBYAN OPPOSITION LEADER: I think there's one thing in the mind of Gadhafi, that he will not step down at all. He will fight until the end.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, ABC NEWS: So, everything that his son is telling us, that he's saying us, is not just bravado. He will fight.

AUJALI: Yes. He will fight. He will fight. He has no other choice. He has no shelter to go. And this is his attitude. He will never give up.


WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks for being with us this afternoon. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

HOLMES: And I'm Michael Holmes. Worldwide coverage of the Libyan conflict right here on CNN. Stay with the world leader in news. We'll see you next time.