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State of the Union

Interview With Sen. Graham; Interview With Sen. McCain; Interview With Sen. Lieberman; Interview with George Joulwan, Nicholas Burns

Aired April 24, 2011 - 09:00   ET


CANDY CROWLEY, HOST: This week, NATO ups its game trying to shake loose the status quo.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's a conflict headed for a protracted stalemate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to have a stalemate.

MCCAIN: Could possibly lead to a stalemate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's basically now a stalemate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This kind of stalemate back and forth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very much stalemate like.


CROWLEY: France, Britain and Italy promise military trainers for Libyan rebels and the U.S. deploys one of its deadliest precision weapons, the predator drone.

Today, pressuring Gadhafi, end game or mission creep? We'll be joined by Senator John McCain just out of Libya. And by independent Senator Joe Lieberman and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.


GRAHAM: Cut the head of the snake off, go to Tripoli, start bombing Gadhafi's inner circle.


CROWLEY: Then, analysis from former NATO commander General George Joulwan and former U.S. representative to NATO, Nicholas Burns. I'm Candy Crowley, and this is "State of the Union."

The battles for something new continue to rage across the Middle East. Yesterday Syrian government forces opened fire and killed at least a dozen mourners at funerals held for more than 100 protesters killed a day earlier. And after more than three decades in power, Yemen's autocratic leader, President Ali Abdullah Saleh, has accepted a tentative deal to step down within 30 days.

But we begin with Libya. The latest from Frederik Pleitgen in Tripoli.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Candy, we had major air strikes here in a Tripoli area last night, one seemed to hit an ammunition dump. The Libyan government has not confirmed that yet, however there was one big explosion in that case and there were several smaller secondary explosions that we heard as well.

These air strikes went on for the better part of the night and they seem to be very, very heavy. And there was also a lot of anti- aircraft fire here in the Tripoli area. Meanwhile, NATO is also saying that it is conducting a lot of air strikes in support of the rebels in Misrata. Of course they're also using the Predator drone. And one of the things that the rebels in Misrata have told us, they say they would never have made their gains if they didn't have the air support of NATO, Candy.

CROWLEY: Fred, what do you know about the state of play in Misrata right now?

PLEITGEN: Well, that's really a very good question very much up in the air and depending on who you ask. The Libyan army told us yesterday that they were in the final stages of withdrawing from Misrata. They later came out and said that they were in fact not withdrawing but had ceased their operations in Misrata.

Now if you ask the rebels, they have a very different story. First of all, they say the Libyan army didn't withdraw but was kicked out of the center of Misrata by the rebel fighters and they say the Libyan army is on the western and southern fringes of that city and is still shelling the population. 22 people yesterday alone were killed in that shelling.

So it seems as though the battle has continued, even though the Libyan army says it is stopping its fight and waiting for tribal leaders to come in and talk to the rebels, Candy.

CROWLEY: Fred Pleitgen in Tripoli for us. Thanks so much.

Friday, Senator John McCain appeared unannounced in Benghazi, Libya. It was a dramatic maneuver to try to get the U.S. and NATO to move much more aggressively to get rid of Colonel Gadhafi.


MCCAIN: (inaudible) which was my preference, or he joins Hitler and Stalin.


CROWLEY: In a moment we'll talk to Senator McCain who this morning is in Cairo. But we begin with a very hawkish Senator Lindsey Graham who we spoke with earlier.


CROWLEY: Thanks, Senator, for being here.

I want to move you first to Libya. And Admiral Mullen said in Iraq that this was moving toward a stalemate. I want you to tell me what it looks like to you.

GRAHAM: Looks like a stalemate. The military's strategy of taking U.S. air assets out of NATO I think was a big mistake. We have a unique capability. We got AC-130s, A-10s that can do a lot of damage to the Libyan forces supporting Gadhafi. When you take these off the battlefield -- you know, we wanted a no-fly zone for the Libyan aircraft, not ours. So it is leading to a military stalemate. I'm glad the Predator drones are going to be used.

But here's what I think is going to happen. Right now there's just not enough momentum by the rebels even if they are better armed to break through to Tripoli. There's not deep support for Gadhafi. So my recommendation to NATO and the administration is to cut the head of the snake off, go to Tripoli, start bombing Gadhafi's inner circle, their compounds, their military headquarters in Tripoli.

The way to get Gadhafi to leave is have his inner circle break and turn on him. And that's going to take a sustained effort through an air campaign. I think the focus should now be to cut the head of the snake off. That's the quickest way to end this.

CROWLEY: Here's the problem. The U.N. resolution calls for protecting the Libyan people. It is going to be hard to make that connection saying, listen, we're going after Gadhafi, we're going after his men. That is not within the mandate.

GRAHAM: Well, it is my belief that it is going to be hard for American national security interests to survive intact if Gadhafi stays.

You know, I like coalitions. It is good to have them. It is good to have the U.N. involved, but the goal is to get rid of Gadhafi, a military stalemate is ensuing and the only way I know to make this thing successful is to put pressure on Tripoli.

The people around Gadhafi need to wake up every day wondering will this be my last. The military commanders in Tripoli supporting Gadhafi should be pounded. So I would not let the U.N. mandate stop what is the right thing to do. You cannot protect the Libyan people if Gadhafi stays. You cannot protect our vital national security interests if Gadhafi stays. The long drawn-out protracted engagement is not good for the Libyan people.

A lot of people are going to die unnecessarily. Let's get this guy gone and the way to get him out of Libya is to go after him militarily through the air. You don't need ground troops to do that.

CROWLEY: You know, NATO, within -- the countries within NATO, there are not a majority of countries participating in this to begin with. The U.N. was reluctant even to do what it did. But you're saying that you think, regardless of what -- and you're going to get backlash from this. If the U.S. goes in and takes out the leader of a nation, however illegitimate we consider him to be, there is going to be a lot of backlash.

GRAHAM: You know, who's it going to come from? Who in the world is going to say we regret Gadhafi being driven out of Libya or being replaced?

CROWLEY: Wouldn't they be in the Middle East?

GRAHAM: Or being taken out? No, I don't think anybody is. No, I don't buy that at all, Candy, quite frankly. I don't think there are many people in in the world who will be upset if Gadhafi is taken out of Libya and particularly in the Mid East. Look at the Mid East countries participating. NATO is uneven in terms of this engagement strategy. The American airplanes have been taken out of the fight. It's making it more difficult for NATO to support the rebels.

At a the end of the day I think there are very few people in the world that would be upset at all if Gadhafi leaves.

I can tell you what, if he stays, it is a nightmare for the world at large. You think gas prices now are high and unstable? Let him survive and see what the Mideast turns into. The people who have taken to the streets in Egypt and Tunisia and Syria, what kind of message would you be sending to the Iranians if Gadhafi stays?

So this is not even a close call for me. You can't let the Russians and the Chinese veto the freedom agenda. So any time you go to the United Nations security council, you run into the Russians and the Chinese. These are quasi dictatorships so I wouldn't be locked down by the U.N. mandate. I would do what would be best for the United States, the Libyan people, the region and the world and that's replace Gadhafi.

CROWLEY: And you had said that you would support arming the rebels if it made sense. Does it make sense now?

GRAHAM: If it made sense. I think so. I think we can provide additional military capability to the rebels, but the one thing that's missing is an effective NATO air campaign. And the day that NATO lost American air power, it became less effective and the fight has been really neutralized in Tripoli. Close air support is vital to the rebels hanging on to the ground that they hold now.

But the idea of the rebels pushing all the way to Tripoli, even with new weapons and an air campaign, is limited because they're not well trained. The way to get this over quickly is to go after the inner circle in Tripoli, in my view.

So let's have two strategies. Make sure that Gadhafi forces lose on the battlefield, better equip the Libyan rebels, have more air power coming to their aid so they begin to win on the battlefield, and put pressure on Gadhafi's inner circle in Tripoli by going after their compounds and their sanctuaries.


CROWLEY: More from Senator Graham later in the hour on a key political battle brewing in his own state.

But up next, my interview with Senator John McCain fresh from his visit to Libya.


CROWLEY: Joining me now from Cairo, Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, fresh back from Benghazi, Libya.

Senator, one of the things you called for was for the U.S. to recognize the transitional government that is now headquartered in Benghazi, a rebel-held city. How certain can you be that that transitional government actually is in sync with some of the fighters in Misrata or some of the fighters in the mountains? Is it representative of all of those who are fighting to free Libya from Gadhafi?

MCCAIN: I believe they are, Candy. One of the members, the chairman, was a former justice minister who stood up to Gadhafi, and they have great respect for him. Another, the finance minister, is an economics professor from the University of Washington. We also another fellow that's in the council was in Gadhafi's prison for 31 years. I think they represent -- there's a number of women, civil society activists and others, who are in this council, and I believe that they represent the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people.

CROWLEY: And are you certain that there is no element of Al Qaida or other terrorist groups that have been able to jump into this void of leadership?

MCCAIN: Candy, I think that it's possible that that could happen. But right now these people are united in their hatred of Gadhafi. They're united, the same reason the people in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and other countries are, that they want freedom. It wasn't Al Qaida that sparked this uprising. It was the desire for freedom and democracy.

Now, if you have a stalemate, I think it's very possible that Al Qaida could come in and take advantage of a stalemated situation. But right now, it's not Al Qaida that motivated this and it is not Al Qaida that's running it.

CROWLEY: If Moammar Gadhafi is so broadly hated across Libya, why does his army still fight for him and why have we seen so few fractures in his inner circle?

MCCAIN: As you know, we've seen a few fractures, obviously, that I don't have to recount for you. But he is paying mercenaries very large amounts of money. His sons have a few loyal battalions, as you know, that are -- and they have the equipment advantage. The rebels, or the liberation forces, as I like to call them, are badly outgunned in armor, in equipment, in training. I visited the army base outside of Benghazi also on Friday, and they have a long, long way to go as far as training and equipment is concerned. So they're badly outgunned.

I believe with the accurate -- with the appropriate use of air power, which is not the case now -- even though I'm glad the Predator is now in the fight -- that we could -- and adequate training and equipping of the liberation forces -- that they can bring this to a successful conclusion. But it is going to take I think a number of steps, including the recognition of this council, so it would free up money. They need money very badly, and some communications equipment. Some other things that I think would be very decisive.

But I really fear a stalemate. I hope that Gadhafi goes. I hope that there's that kind of overthrow from within, but hope is not a strategy.

CROWLEY: You said earlier this week that the U.S. could help arm the Libyan rebels without direct U.S. involvement. How would that work?

MCCAIN: I think it works the same way that it did in Afghanistan when the Russians were occupying Afghanistan. There are certain other countries that can be of assistance that are already stepping forward, including some of the Gulf states. But it can be achieved, and it isn't a huge amount of equipment.

But there's no doubt that the liberation forces are badly outgunned, and that's a big hindrance, and that's why you're seeing this bloodletting in Misrata.

Could I just mention to you, I saw some wounded that had come in on a ship from Misrata in a hospital in Benghazi yesterday. And I'm telling you, it is very moving to see these young men, full of bullet holes, wounded, some of them dying, and us not doing what we can without risk to Americans on the ground -- and I'm opposed to that -- that we could help them and prevent this kind of bloodletting that's going on.

CROWLEY: One of your colleagues, Senator Lindsey Graham, I spoke with earlier on this show. One of the things he said was, "I think the focus should now be to cut the head of the snake off. That's the quickest way to end this." He wants NATO forces, U.S., to go to Tripoli and to stop bombing -- to start bombing Gadhafi's inner circle. He said I want the inner circle to wake up every day wondering am I going to die today. Should we just go after Gadhafi?

MCCAIN: You know, we have tried those things in the past with other dictators, and it's a little harder than you think it is. Gadhafi's a great survivor. We don't know exactly where he is. We do have to worry about civilian casualties. That could turn the Libyan people against us. I certainly think that we ought to make Gadhafi aware that his very life is in danger, but I think we just have to be a little careful how we do that. I think we can achieve the goal of him being finished off by pursuing the battlefield on the ground as well. But I agree with Lindsay. He should not feel safe.

CROWLEY: And how do you make him not feel safe without going after him? I mean, we see pictures of him running around in open-air cars waving.

MCCAIN: He's done that spur-of-the-moment, without warning. He is also -- no one knows where he is at any given time, unless you see it on television or at the moment.

The point is that we can't count on taking Gadhafi out. What we can count on is a trained, equipped, well supported liberation forces which can either force Gadhafi out or obtain victory and send him to an international criminal court.

My emphasis is on winning the battle on the ground, not taking a chance on taking him out with a lucky air strike.

CROWLEY: And beyond Predator drones, which now we have put into this fight, what do you want the U.S. to do and supply?

MCCAIN: Well, right now NATO is running this conflict by committing. By taking U.S. leadership out of it and U.S. air assets out of it, we've really reduced our ability to prevail on the battlefield. We need the AC-130s and A-10s back in. We need the American air assets back in, in a heavier way.

Look, the British and the French, I thank them, but they are running short of some of these precision weapons. The fact is that it's the United States that's NATO. We ought to recognize that and we ought to continue our leadership role. And that does not mean boots on the ground.

CROWLEY: So you want the U.S. to step back up into a leadership role in NATO instead of this sort of support role that the president envisioned. Do you have any sign from the president that he is willing to do that?

MCCAIN: I don't know. I never wanted us to step down, as you know, because the United States is NATO. That's the reality.

But, Candy, the worst -- one of the very bad results here could be a stalemate.

MCCAIN: A stalemate between both sides, it's divided someplace in the middle of Libya. And then you would open the door to Al Qaida to come in and hijack this very legitimate government and people that are seeking freedom.

They didn't rise up against Gadhafi because of anything Al Qaida did. They rose up because they wanted freedom and democracy. We should do what we can to assist them.

CROWLEY: Senator McCain out of Cairo after his trip to Libya, thank you so much for joining us.

MCCAIN: Thank you.

CROWLEY: Up next, we'll get perspective on Libya and much more from Senator McCain's independent colleague Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Joining me now from Ryebrook, New York, independent Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, chairman of Senate Homeland Security Committee and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Senator, thank you for being here. Let me begin where we ended with both your colleagues, which is with Libya. And let me first talk about the Predator drones that President Obama has introduced into this battle over Libya, at any rate.

Do you have any reservations at all about the use of these weapons?

LIEBERMAN: I do not. I mean we're in the fight and the political goal is to get Gadhafi out and to help the freedom fighters achieve their own independent for Libya.

You know, you can't get into a fight with one foot. You got to get into it. And therefore I think the use of our Predator drones, which have extraordinary capabilities, was the right thing to do. And I thank President Obama as commander in chief for authorizing that to happen.

CROWLEY: And are we still in it with one foot as both Senator McCain and Senator Graham believe? LIEBERMAN: Yeah, it's probably a foot and a half. Look, the initial decision to go into Libya by United Nations, NATO, the United States, the Arab League, was the right decision, because Gadhafi was really slaughtering his own people. But from the beginning, we've had a half-in, half-out feeling to this effort, particularly the gap between our political goal, which was to have Gadhafi go and our military goal, which seemed to say that that wasn't what we were going to do militarily.

And I agree with John McCain that when the president turned over leadership to NATO, in one sense that was exactly the right thing to do because we can't fight every good fight in the world alone. We need our allies. I appreciate that they've come in. But we're the heart of NATO and it's not exactly as if we took the ball and gave it to NATO. We're still NATO, and I think some of our assets that we removed, including those two kinds of planes that can hit targets from lower, closer to the earth, the AC-130s and the A-10s, ought to go back into the fight.

I think every time we pull back, it says to Gadhafi that he can tough this out. And I want him to feel that we're just going to squeeze and squeeze until he decides it is time to go because that's the only end that will be meaningful here.

CROWLEY: Well, Senator Lieberman, the president, as you note, has said he wants Gadhafi to go. What about Senator Graham saying, look, it's just time to go, take the fight to him, go to Tripoli, bomb his military installations there and go after his inner circle so that they wake up every day wondering if it's their last. He termed it cutting off the head of the snake. He says it is going to be a lot quicker than what we're doing now. What's your response there?

LIEBERMAN: Well, my response is that the most significant thing I think Lindsey said is that it is very important that Gadhafi and his family and everybody else near him wakes up every day thinking it is their last, because if they think they're just going to tough it out against us because we're not going to use our military against him directly, then they're going to hang on and we're going to have a very costly and destructive stalemate.

Whether we directly target Gadhafi personally -- as John McCain said earlier, it is not easy to do that. But it is possible, and I'd leave that decision to NATO.

I do want to say this -- if you look at the United Nations resolution that is the basis for our going into Libya, I think it gives justification if NATO decides it wants to, for going directly after Gadhafi, because the U.N. resolution authorizes the use of all means necessary to protect the civilian population of Libya. And I can't think of anything that would protect the civilian population of Libya more than the removal of Moammar Gadhafi, who has personally directed the murder of thousands of them now in the fight that's gone on.

CROWLEY: So you think that the U.N. resolution would -- could be in interpreted to mean let's get rid of Gadhafi militarily? LIEBERMAN: I do. I mean, this is not a decision, as much as I like being on your show, that we should make on Sunday morning CNN television, but it is something for NATO to decide. But I think if this looks like it's going to be stalemated -- which it's beginning to look like -- that's not a good result, and President Obama and everybody else has said that from the beginning. A stalemate is unacceptable.

And therefore I think NATO has got to start thinking about whether they want to more directly target Gadhafi and his family. That's the best -- the surest way, of course, to end the violence against the civilians of Libya, the people of Libya.

CROWLEY: I want to put up on our screen a CBS/New York Times poll that came out this week, and it's the president's approval rating on Libya. It shows that in April it was 39 percent approve of the way the president is handling Libya. In March 50 percent approve. So it's dropped 11 points. What do you think accounts for that?

LIEBERMAN: Well, I mean a lot of things. My honest answer Candy should be who knows? But I'd say part of it is the increasing concern about the domestic economy, so people have less patience for long-term foreign involvements. The second is that it seems to be stalemating. I think the American people know we're on by far the right side in Libya, but it seems to be stalemating. And people are getting impatient.

LIEBERMAN: The other thing I'd say is that you never can fight a battle that you think is a good fight based on public opinion polls. On the other hand, you don't want to lose the support of the people of your country. And I think that's something for President Obama and the leaders of NATO to think about as they decide what's next in Libya, because if this does seem to settle into a long-term stalemate, it's going to be harder to sustain the support of the people, both within the United States and all the NATO countries in Europe and beyond.

CROWLEY: And, quickly, if I could turn you to Syria, where it seems almost daily the government is killing its own people who are out in the streets -- in one case at funeral processions -- what is the threshold for U.S. or NATO or world intervention in Syria, similar to what is in Libya or something else that would better fit the Syria complexities?

LIEBERMAN: Yeah, I appreciate that question, because I really think we're not doing anywhere enough to support the freedom fighters in Syria and to oppose Assad. Everything that Gadhafi did in Libya that brought us into the fight there Assad is doing, particularly the slaughter of his own people. And, you know, the world leaders are making statements, but we're not doing anything.

This is not a military conflict now like Libya became. This is a case of a peaceful uprising by people wanting to gain more freedom and their government -- Assad in Damascus -- turning the military power of the state on them.

I think that what we ought to be doing is to giving -- give all support we can to the opposition in Syria, communications equipment and the like, also just make clear that we're on their side and against Assad.

And, secondly, I would begin to get tough with Assad and his family. I would -- I would impose sanctions on them, which President Obama has the authority to do under the IEEPA, the international emergency powers act, tie up the Assad family's wealth, forbid them from traveling, just as we did with Gadhafi. And then I'd ask the United Nations to impose an arms embargo on Syria so that they can't get any more arms that they could turn on their own people.

This is a moment of extraordinary opportunity for the cause of freedom in Syria, and it has tremendous strategic significance for the region, because, remember, Syria is the only Arab ally that Iran has. It helps Iran in so much evil that it -- that it does, being the major supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah and, incidentally, having a lot of American blood on its hands -- Syria does -- because it facilitated the -- the movement of foreign fighters into Iraq that killed a lot of American soldiers there.

So Bashir Assad and his family are enemies of the United States of America. I think we really ought to be getting much tougher on them. So far, it's been a lot of talk and very little action. It's time to get tough on behalf of freedom in Syria and against the Assad regime.

CROWLEY: Senator Joseph Lieberman, thank you for your time this Sunday. We appreciate it.

LIEBERMAN: Thank you, Candy.

CROWLEY: Up next, we'll look at the long-term strategic role of the U.S. in the Middle East with Nicholas Burns and former NATO commander, General George Joulwan.


CROWLEY: Joining me now from Providence, Rhode Island, Nicholas Burns, former undersecretary of state and former U.N. ambassador to NATO, and here in Washington, former NATO supreme allied commander, retired General George Joulwan.

Gentlemen, thank you both.

Let me turn to you first, General Joulwan, because we heard in a couple of interviews early on, look, the U.S. is NATO, we're the center of it, stepping back is not working, we need to get back in the forefront not just with Predator drones, but with these low-flying planes that can strafe the ground fairly easily. Would you go along with that?

JOULWAN: Yes, as long as the political objectives are clear, and I'm not sure the political objectives, both by the United States and NATO, are clear. And so you need to have that clarity for the NATO, North Atlantic Council to make the decision to be able to use them, to use all the other aircraft, and that's going to take some political work by the United States and by NATO.


JOULWAN: Inside NATO. The military operates on political guidance, and that's what is required, and it has to be forthcoming if we're going to see other assets used.

CROWLEY: So, Nick, that's kind of where you come in here on the diplomacy of NATO. Is it true that the U.S. is NATO and it's just not workable when we try to take a backseat? And as we know, not that many NATO members are participating in this to begin with.

BURNS: Candy, there's no question that the United States is the heart and soul and backbone of NATO. We have been since 1949, since its founding.

Now, I understand -- and it was sensible what the president was trying to do here. France and Italy and Spain and Greece and Britain have much more direct interest in Libya than did we. He challenged them to step forward and provide leadership, and we just haven't seen it.

I think Britain and France have tried, but most of the other European countries are sitting this out. There isn't sufficient firepower on the ground to put pressure on Gadhafi. And you don't see, I think, the political leadership among the Europeans that the United States would normally provide.

So I do applaud the administration for what it did this week in committing the Predator. And I hope we'll now see much more salient American political leadership of the alliance to move this policy forward.

CROWLEY: General, help me understand how NATO works, because someone said it's kind of -- if your week is up, they say, "OK, this week, the French are flying the no-fly zone." Is there no kind of -- and someone told me that then you are stuck with, for lack of a better word, the French equipment. So if it calls for something the U.S. might have or, you know, Italy might have, whoever else is flying, you can't use that because you've only got the French forces for a week and then you move to another force?

JOULWAN: Well, let me back up a little bit. I think what NATO does have is what we call an integrated military structure. In other words, it's the staffs are integrated, the combined air operation center, this one in Italy, is integrated, and the assets are integrated.

So what -- what you have -- and there are a lot of U.S., by the way, in those leadership positions, the supreme allied commander, the commander in Naples, the four-star admiral, and other U.S. integrated throughout the staff. So there is U.S. involvement.

The assets used are what the nations provide. And those assets are coming from primarily other than U.S. assets right now, but U.S. can provide C-130s, the Warthogs, the A-10s, to make them available. They certainly can do that.

CROWLEY: And, Nick, let me move you on to another subject. These Predator drones coming in, very precise, you know, high-tech equipment that can circle for a very long time. It doesn't involve a pilot. It's unmanned, so it's safe, in the sense of human resources.

And yet there was a really interesting article by David Ignatius that said that he thought this was a really bad idea, because the Predators have this sort of, "Oh, here comes the West." They don't even -- you know, inflicting blood on another country, and it's sort of an unfair war tactic, and it makes us look like ugly Americans. What are the politics of using the Predator drone?

BURNS: Well, we've certainly seen that negative reaction in Pakistan, in places where we've used Predator in the past. But I think Libya is different, because, after all, you remember, Candy, the Arab League came out and said it wanted the intervention of NATO in the internal affairs of another Arab state, Libya. The U.N. Security Council has blessed this operation. There's widespread support for protection of civilians and assistance to the rebel army in Libya from all of the Arab world.

And so I don't think we're going to see a negative -- a significant negative reaction from the Arab population. And I do think the administration has followed a very sensible policy here.

They're turning up the heat this week on Gadhafi by introducing the Predator. And I think the hope is over time that the continuation of the sanctions and the continuation of the arms embargo are going to further isolate and weaken Gadhafi, and perhaps then somebody from within his inner circle is going to remove him from power or there will be further defections, he'll be further weakened.

So it's a strategy that really depends on patience and that wants to see change or expects to see change over an extended period of time. I don't think we can see the strategy -- expect to see the strategy work in a week or two.

CROWLEY: Let me ask both of you to stand by. We're going to take a quick break, and then we'll be back with both Nick Burns and General Joulwan to talk with Yemen, Syria, and other points -- touch points in the Middle East.


CROWLEY: We are back with former Ambassador Nicholas Burns and former NATO supreme allied commander, retired General George Joulwan.

General, let me just ask you as a wrap-up to the Libyan question, what else could be done to further isolate Gadhafi?

JOULWAN: To stay within Resolution 1973, take all necessary means to protect civilians, you can put exclusion zones around Benghazi, Misrata, and you can restrict firing into them, heavy weapons in there. If they're not removed, they can be attacked by NATO air strikes or Predator drones.

I think this will take some of the pressure off of the rebels, and also attacking the fuel, the ammunition, the command and control. Those were all done in Bosnia. That's part of the NATO record. And I think that could change the outcome that we see now.

CROWLEY: Sort of a safe circle around the city?

JOULWAN: A safe area, yes. And -- and I think -- I think it could work.

CROWLEY: Nick, let me move you on, just because there's so many areas in the Middle East to talk about. But Syria, I mean, day in, day out, we are seeing the Assad government attack its own people, kill its own people, even when they're at funerals. I don't know if you heard Senator Lieberman say it is time for us to start ratcheting up the pressure. What can we do? And should it be done?

BURNS: Well, I think certainly the Assad government is an adversary of the United States and they're the principal conduit for Iranian influence in the Middle East, as Senator Lieberman has been saying. And they form a nexus with Hezbollah and Hamas and Iran of support for terrorism, and they've been completely unhelpful to us in every other front in the Middle East. So seeing that regime go because of protests, because of demonstrations is certainly a worthy goal.

I do think we have limited options here. There's not going to be support for a military intervention. There's no grounds for a military intervention. It will be opposed by many in the Arab world; it would be opposed by the U.N. Security Council.

So ratcheting up pressure on Assad personally, sanctions against his family, that kind of thing does make sense, and I think making sure that we're very clear that we want these demonstrators to succeed, we want to see reform in Syria, that will weaken Iran.

And, Candy, the big game here is Iran, because we need to block Iranian influence and weaken that government. One way to do that is to weaken the Syrian government.

CROWLEY: Well, Iran, also, General, as Senator Lieberman pointed out -- I mean, Syria -- was a conduit for putting soldiers into Iraq and killing American soldiers, so this is not a friend.

JOULWAN: No, it is not a friend. And it is -- we need to understand that -- we need a wider strategy here, Candy, if I can say, how are we going to address the Middle East in total here? Because I see that lacking. And I think Iran will be part of that; Syria would be part of that; Yemen would be also part of that strategy.

CROWLEY: I want to get you both on Yemen in less -- less than a minute that I have, and that is it now looks as though maybe President Saleh will go within 30 days. A good thing or an uneasy thing to happen, not knowing exactly what'll come next?

JOULWAN: I'm not really sure what's going to come next, which is the key to the answer. He's been a, quote, "U.S. ally" for some time in the counterterrorism fight. But I think it's time for that opportunity for governments to change to take place in Yemen.

CROWLEY: Nick, can I get you quickly on this?

BURNS: I think it's entirely unknowable what's going to happen in Yemen, but it's not necessarily a good thing for the United States for Saleh to disappear, because he's been a very important partner for us in countering terrorism. You don't know what's going to follow in that tribal-based society. This is a big gamble.

CROWLEY: Nick Burns, General Joulwan, thank you both so much for coming in today. We appreciate it.

Up next, how the construction of a $750 million plant in South Carolina has fueled a fierce debate over unions and jobs.


CROWLEY: Our interview with Senator Lindsey Graham covered a major domestic fight over jobs, unions and the National Labor Relations Board controlled by a Democratic majority.

At issue, a partially completed $750 million Boeing aircraft assembly plant in South Carolina. The federal labor board wants to force Boeing to shut down that facility, finding that Boeing built the plant in the right-to-work state of South Carolina in part to retaliate against a union strike at Boeing's plant in Washington state in 2008. South Carolina's senior senator wants to know why the NLRB is against the project when, in a previous life, one of the president's top advisers thought it was a fine idea.


GRAHAM: Bill Daley, the president's chief of staff, was on the board of Boeing at the time they made the decision to locate to South Carolina. For the complaint to be legitimate, you would have to assume that the president's chief of staff engaged in retaliatory behavior against a union.


CROWLEY: Graham says Boeing picked his state because it was a better business move, and he wants to know why, if Boeing is engaged in union-busting, President Obama would put Boeing's CEO in charge of a jobs-creating panel.


GRAHAM: They made the decision because South Carolina was a better business deal. They did not violate the law. And Jim McNerney, the CEO of Boeing, was chosen by President Obama to lead his export council to create export jobs in America.


CROWLEY: Nothing subtle about that. And Graham has another pointed question. Would the president actually have selected an anti- union chief of staff?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GRAHAM: Bill Daley, the chief of staff of the president of the United States, was chosen after he voted with the other board members to come to South Carolina. The board at Boeing voted unanimously to locate the new assembly plant in South Carolina.

You'll never convince me that the chief of staff of the president of the United States, when he voted to come to South Carolina, did anything other than what was good and legal business for Boeing.

And I'd like to have the president comment on that. If they found this -- if they thought for a minute the complaint had violated the law, it was filed in March of 2010; Mr. Daley was selected in January 2011. I'm sure he was vetted. And I'm sure the White House concluded that this complaint was frivolous or they would have never picked Mr. Daley.


CROWLEY: While the National Labor Relations Board is an independent agency, we did call the White House for a comment. We are, of course, keeping our eye on this story.

Up next, a check of today's top headlines followed by "Fareed Zakaria: GPS."


CROWLEY: Time for a check of today's top stories. An Israeli man was killed and four worshipers wounded early Sunday morning near Joseph's tomb, a Jewish holy site in the West Bank. An Israeli spokesman says a Palestinian policeman opened fire on the group. By failing to coordinate their visit with Israeli or Palestinian officials, the men did not follow protocol.

In Morocco, thousands of protesters took to the streets in peaceful demonstrations to demand political reform. Some 10,000 people joined in Casablanca. This is the third day (sic) of mass protests that began in February.

Flights at St. Louis's airport have resumed this morning and are running on schedule, according to an airport spokesman. Friday's tornadoes knocked out power, shattered windows, sent passengers scrambling for cover. No deaths or life-threatening injuries were reported and crews are working to clean up the damage.

In his Easter Sunday message, Pope Benedict urged an end to fighting in Libya, calling for diplomacy and peace across the region. Thousands of pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter's Square to mark the Easter celebration.

Those are today's top stories. Thank you for watching "State of the Union." I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. We hope you have a great Easter Sunday.