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Face the Nation transcripts December 15, 2013: Zarif, McCain, Durbin, Hickenlooper

The latest on gun violence, negotiations with Iran, and the federal budget. Plus, a panel of experts
The latest on gun violence, negotiations with... 46:57

(CBS News) Below is a transcript of "Face the Nation" on December 8, 2013, hosted by CBS News' Bob Schieffer. Guests include: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Tom Friedman, Jeffrey Goldberg, Radhika Jones, Clarissa Ward, Debora Patta and Elizabeth Palmer.

 [*] SCHIEFFER: Today on Face the Nation, there is news on many fronts this morning.

Nelson Mandela has been laid to rest in his birthplace of Qunu South Africa.

We'll take to Colorado governor John Hickenlooper about the school shooting in his state.

As the arms control talks with Iran reach a crucial point, we'll go to Tehran for an exclusive interview with the Iranian foreign minister.

We'll go to Kiev where Senator John McCain has been meeting with protesters who want closer relations with the west.

We'll ask Senator Dick Durbin if the budget passed by the House can pass the Senate.

And we'll get analysis from a panel headed by Tom Friedman of the New York Times. It's all ahead on "Face the Nation."

ANNOUNCER: From CBS News in Washington, "Face the Nation" with Bob Schieffer.

SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. Well, after ten days of mourning and ceremony, Nelson Mandela was laid to rest today in his hometown of Qunu, South Africa. We'll have a full report later in the broadcast and the latest on the school shooting in Colorado.

But we begin this morning with breaking news from Iran. Earlier this morning, our Elizabeth Palmer interviewed the Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran. She joins us now from Tehran.

And Liz, he did make some news. Tell us about it.


On Friday, the U.S. announced that it was freezing the assets and transactions of dozens of companies for evading the sanctions against Iran. And just at that time there were Iranian diplomats in Vienna putting the final details to the Geneva agreement on Iran's nuclear program.

Well, when they heard that announcement out of Washington they cut off the talks and went home. And people wondered whether that meant the deal was dead.

Well, the minister told me this morning it's not dead, but he personally felt blindsided by that U.S. announcement.


PALMER: Did the U.S. let you know what they were going to do on Friday or did it comes as a complete surprise?

ZARIF: Probably few minutes before the announcement our people in Vienna heard about it. But I don't think that is -- that was useful because by the time they conveyed it to us, the announcement had already been made.

PALMER: Who told you?

ZARIF: Our people in Vienna.

PALMER: And what was your reaction?

ZARIF: That this is a very wrong thing.

PALMER: Were you angry?

ZARIF: Angry is not a part of diplomacy. I mean, angry is human. And I'm a human being and I getting angry, I get distressed, I get saddened by -- to see people not understanding. I'm saddened by that. But I was -- we took the decision to give a pause to the discussions, technical discussions, these are not political negotiations, these are technical discussion, to give a pause to them to have a re-assessment to seek clarification. What is the intention? Because the statements that are coming from the Treasury, or at least came from the Treasury or from certain segments of the Treasury during the past few days were not helpful.

PALMER: So, you may not go back?

ZARIF: We are committed -- we are committed to the implementation of the plan of action that we adopted in Geneva, but we believe that it takes two to tango.

PALMER: So, are you saying you will be back to Vienna, this process has not been derailed by Friday's announcement?

ZARIF: The process has been derailed, the process has not died. We are trying to put it back. And to collect the past and continue the negotiations, because I believe there is a lot at stake for everybody.


PALMER: The interview then turned to the case of Robert Levinson, the investigator and CIA contract, or who disappeared in 2007 after meeting a contact here in Iran.


PALMER: Let me move ton another story that surfaced at the end of last week in the United States. And that is the case of Mr. Levinson. Where is he?

ZARIF: I have no idea.

PALMER: Your security services, very professional and very good have done an extensive investigation according to your government. What do you know about that last day? What were you able to discover about -- he walked out of the hotel, got in to a taxi and...

ZARIF: And then they don't know. That's all...

PALMER: Nothing?

ZARIF: ...what they have told us that is what people have been told outside. If that's why it's a mystery. What we know that he is not incarcerated in Iran.



PALMER: How do you know that?

ZARIF: If he is he is not incarcerated by the government. And I believe the government runs pretty much good control of the country.

PALMER: If he did surface here, could you give him back to America now that we know his CIA connections?

ZARIF: I cannot talk about hypothetical situations but if we find -- if we can trace him and find him we will certainly discuss this.

PALMER: So, it is possible.

ZARIF: Anything is possible. But I'm saying that we have no trace of him in Iran.


SCHIEFFER: Elizabeth Palmer with the Iranian foreign minister.

We want to go now to Kiev, a city that has been besieged with protesters for four weeks now. They have been demonstrating in very cold weather against the president for refusing to sign a trade pack with Europe, a move that would have signaled to put distance between Ukraine and Moscow.

Senator John McCain is in Kiev and joins us now.

Senator, you actually went out and talked to the protesters this morning, and urged them to keep pushing for closer ties with the west. Why do you think this is important enough to U.S. interests to go to Kiev this morning?

MCCAIN: I think, Bob, there's no doubt about the strategic and geographic and every other aspect of Ukraine, it's a large country, it's a cultured country, it's the he beginning of Russia which a lot of people don't know. And what's happening here is not only desire to be part of the European Union, which makes them look to the west and not be coerced in to the customs union that the Russians and Putin are trying to push them in to.

But they're tired of corruption, they're tired of a bad economy because of that. And they really want change. And that change epitomized by a turning to Europe and a relationship with Europe that they think would benefit them and their lives.

SCHIEFFER: Are you concerned that this could make tensions between Putin and the United States worse?

MCCAIN: Well, I think it may. But I also know that we have a long tradition of standing up for people that are freely and peacefully demonstrating. And they have been peaceful. They were attacked for a while by the police, which didn't succeed.

But I think the other aspect of is that this is a country that is in really bad economic shape. And they need an IMF loan. And they need assistance and if they turn back to Russia, I think that the consequences that they believe would happen would be rather serious.

By the way, there are several hundred thousand people, I've heard estimates between 200,000 and half a million that you can hear in the background here. And I'm telling you, it's cold here.

SCHIEFFER: We have seen scenes all week, some of these look like a scenes from the movie "Les Miserables" out there in the streets of Kiev. I know you think you're bulletproof, but do you feel safe there, senator?

MCCAIN: I always feel safe, Bob.

I told you in the past, I know that I'm going to die but it's only going to be in bed.

SCHIEFFER: All right.

Senator, this morning, Liz Palmer, our Liz Palmer got an exclusive interview with Mohammad Zarif who is the foreign minister as you know of Iran. He told us he felt blindsided when there was talk of putting sanctions, more sanctions on Iran. But he told her that Iran is going to stay and keep taking part in these arms control talks.

In light of that, do you think the senate should put some sanctions, new sanctions on Iran that would go in to affect if these talks fail, say six months from now?

MCCAIN: I think so, Bob.

I think -- and as you mentioned the operative is six months. We were briefed that within six months they would be able to finish this interim agreement into a final agreement. And I think it's probably an appropriate thing many -- because many are very skeptical about the conditions under which this pause is being undertaken. The centrifuges still spin, there is still work can be done at place called Arak. There is most importantly to us, implicit in this agreement is the Iranian right to enrich. We don't think that should be the case of a country that has lied, has cheated, has concealed from the IAEA and every other organization. This Rouhani bragged about the fact how he deceived the negotiators when he was the negotiator.

So, it's -- if we just believe that they -- I believe they have forfeited their right, quote, right to enrich. And so there is the scenario -- if you were the Iranians just keep dragging out these negotiations, drag them out. Meanwhile, the centrifuges still spin and they progress towards this point where all it takes to a turn of a wrench and they laugh a nuclear weapon.

SCHIEFFER: Senator, speaking of negotiations and difficult things, the Senate to going to vote this week on the two-year bipartisan budget plan. Are you going to support it?

MCCAIN: I am, Bob. I think it's important that we have this agreement. As you know, I'm particularly sensitive about the military. I've talked to our military leaders they say they badly need this relief. I wish this provision was not in there, that concerns the military retirement issue.

Senator Levin, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, has assured me and others we will take up this issue in the next year's authorization bill. It doesn't kick in until a year later, until 2015. And I wish it wasn't there.

But, honestly, the devastation to our national security -- ask any of our military leaders, and I know you have -- that's being inflicted by this sequestration, as it is, is so harmful, as we have found out, as we just saw in North Korea, that the world is getting more and more dangerous.

SCHIEFFER: Senator, I want to thank you for joining us this morning. Now, be safe, and next thing you should you do is go inside and get warm.

And we want to go to Chicago now, where we are joined by the number two Democrat in the Senate, Richard Durbin.


Senator Durbin, well, you just heard Senator McCain. How serious is this situation in Kiev?

And is this really something the United States ought to be involved in at this point?

DURBIN: I think John McCain really articulated it very clearly. Ukraine has been in a struggle internally since the fall of the Soviet Union. There are ethnic, cultural and religious connections with Russia and Moscow. And then there are those in Ukraine looking to the West for their future.

Yanukovych is caught in the middle. And at this point, he has to decide. What Putin has offered him is an alliance with Belarus, which is ruled by the last dictator in Europe, Lukashenko, and Kazakhstan. The alternative is an alliance with the European Union. It's fairly clear to all of us in the West where the future lies. And I certainly hope the people in the streets of Kiev will get the message clearly through to Yanukovych.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, let me shift to subjects closer to home. Do you now have the votes to pass the budget that passed in the House, with Paul Ryan and Patty Murray coming together and putting together this compromise. Have you got the votes right now? DURBIN: Well, first let me say, Bob, that Patty Murray, our senator from Washington, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, and Paul Ryan of Wisconsin did an extraordinarily good job in coming to a bipartisan agreement, which was ratified by the House of Representatives with over 300 votes from both sides of the aisle.

The struggle is still on in the United States Senate. We will need about eight Republicans to come our way. I feel we'll have a good, strong showing from the Democratic side. But we need bipartisan support to pass it. And the problems we have are twofold. A handful of members of the Senate are vying for the presidency in years to come and thinking about this vote in the context. And others are frankly afraid of this new force, the Tea Party force, the Heritage Foundation force, that is threatening seven out of the 12 Republican senators running for re-election.

So it's very difficult. As John McCain said, this is the right thing to do for our country, a bipartisan agreement to get the first real budget in five years. And I hope that at least eight or maybe even more Republican senators will join us.

SCHIEFFER: Well, you just heard John McCain say he's going to vote for it. How many other Republicans do you think you have at this point?

DURBIN: Well, we have a handful, but we need more. Some are still thinking about it. Over the weekend, I've talked to one or two of them in the process, and it's a tough vote for them because of this Tea Party threat.

Remember, Boehner faced them down before this vote in the House and finally said, "We've got to do something here. We can't let a handful of members really dictate what happens in the House and what happens to our future." I think he learned his lesson from that government showdown (sic). I hope the Republican senators heard the same message.

SCHIEFFER: Well, how significant do you think John Boehner's action was? Will that have an influence on the Senate, as it obviously did on the House?

DURBIN: It should. And I know that there are members of the House Republican leadership reaching out to some senators to persuade them.

But keep in mind, Bob, this is a relatively new development where seven out of the 12 senators, Republican senators running, are facing Tea Party primary opposition. And that is a relatively new phenomenon in the Senate.

SCHIEFFER: Well, Senator, I would thank you for being with us this morning. And we wish you the best.

DURBIN: Thanks, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: This whole idea of compromise in Washington is something new for all of us. Thank you so much.

We'll be back in one minute with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper to talk about that awful shooting once again happening in Colorado.


SCHIEFFER: Just as the nation was preparing to mark the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook elementary school shootings, the news broke Friday of another school shooting, this time in Colorado.

Governor John Hickenlooper joins us now from Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado. Governor, thank you for joining us on this very tough day for the people of Colorado.

Bring us up to speed. Are there any developments on -- we know the name of this young man who walked into that high school with a shotgun. We hear reports that he had some sort of a grudge with his debate team coach. What -- what's the latest news here?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, we haven't found, or at least I'm unaware of any connection with -- you know, that would suggest previous behavior indicating something like this would happen. He didn't seem to have a mental illness. He had a lot of friends. He was outspoken. There have been a couple stories that he was bullied, and that's a recurring theme we see sometimes with these shootings. But, again, there's no rhyme or reason. We can't -- there's nothing that says, ah, now I understand.

SCHIEFFER: Well, is it -- is it true that he had some falling out with the teacher who was the debate team coach who had kicked him off the team?

Is that basically what you're finding out?

HICKENLOOPER: Yeah, that's what we understand. But, you know, high school kids all over this city, all over the country, have fallings-out with teachers or coaches all the time. And they didn't go out and buy a gun and come back and decide they're going to kill a lot of people.

SCHIEFFER: Well, where did -- he got the gun legally, I understand?

HICKENLOOPER: Yeah, that's the information we have. He bought the gun legally; then he bought a large amount of ammunition. I mean, he came into the school, you know, prepared to do damage to a lot of people. And I think the one thing, having had these episodes in the past, we do have, you know, strategies and protocols in place, where we had a deputy sheriff in the building who immediately ran towards the trouble, right, towards the problems.

And he was there basically within a minute of the first shots. I mean, that's -- that's a remarkable response. And I think everybody, from the sheriff, out here, Grayson Robinson, and his entire team -- they deserve a lot of credit for what could have been much, much worse.

SCHIEFFER: Now, there was one young woman, I understand it, who was shot. How is she?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, Claire Davis is -- I mean, she was shot point blank with a shotgun in the face. I visited her and her family. She's obviously in a coma, in critical condition. Her parents are two of the most wonderful people you could ever hope to meet. You know, they adopted her. I mean, they are besides themselves, and, really, we all have to keep Claire in our thoughts and our prayers. Her parents -- again, I can't -- just -- I can't imagine what they're going through. It's unspeakable.


SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you this. This happened eight miles from Columbine, where we had another of these awful shootings, 15 minutes from that movie theater where the "Batman" movie killings took place. Is there any connection here? I mean, not that any of these people knew each other, but is there something going on here that hasn't come to the surface yet?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, we don't think so. And -- you know, we look at -- we look for a connection. Some people have suggested perhaps there's a copycat element to this. You know, I don't -- I don't see it, right? Each one is different, and it's hard to figure out, if there is a connection, what it could possibly be. You know, it defies rational thought.

SCHIEFFER: Governor, what has to be done here? I mean, you actually passed some pretty tough gun laws out there in Colorado after those other incidents happened, and yet they continue to happen.

You had two state legislators who were recalled from office because they led the effort to tighten gun laws out there. Where do you see this going?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, I think if you were going to say, make one comment about Coloradoans, two things that they deeply care about is the protection of their Second Amendment rights. They care strongly about that Second Amendment right. But they also care deeply about making their community safer, so things like universal background checks, I think they are going to make us safer. But in this specific case, it's not going to make a difference at all, right?

And that's the -- the challenge. We've invested over $20 million the last legislative session in mental illness. So we've got, you know, 24-7 hot lines. We've got mobile crisis centers. We've got 24- 7 drop-in centers, really trying to -- to intercept people with mental illness before they can cause damage to themselves or to others. And -- and yet somehow this kid didn't exhibit any of those symptoms.

SCHIEFFER: Well, what -- talk a little bit about the things that did happen after this happen, because I agree with you. I think the response, getting somewhere -- someone to where this was going on so quickly, that is certainly to be commended.

What kind of procedures have you put in place there? HICKENLOOPER: Well, not only was the sheriff who -- and there was a security officer also in the school. And they are now the modern protocols. You -- they are trained to go right toward wherever the shooter is. They go there immediately.

But in addition to that, we had police officers from other jurisdictions surrounding the area, all coming into the school and being paired, in many cases, with people from different jurisdictions to go into different parts of the school in case there were multiple shooters, in case it was much worse.

And they had been so well-trained that they could go and be deployed again, with someone from a different district. And yet they all knew how to communicate. They all were on the same wave length in terms of what their task was.

That kind of training is very, very powerful.

SCHIEFFER: Well, Governor, I want to thank you so much nor being with us this morning. And, obviously, our hearts go out to everybody there. And we thank you for being with us.

We'll be back in a moment with some personal thoughts.


SCHIEFFER: In the days after Newtown, many people said if the cold-blooded murders of 20 first graders and six of their teachers is not enough for us to make it harder for the mentally ill to get guns, then what is?

A year and a day later, I have no answer to that question. All I know is what has happened since Newtown.

Since then, nearly 200 children have been killed by gunfire. Since Newtown, there have been 28 school shootings on U.S. school grounds during school hours. That is one almost every other week. And they have taken the lives of 17 children.

In Colorado, a 17-year-old girl injured in Friday's shooting remains in critical condition.

Since Newtown, 112 people have died in what the FBI calls mass shootings -- incidents that took the lives of at least four people. Some of those victims died at the Navy Yard in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol.

For all the talk and good intentions, deranged are still finding the powerful weapons they need to carry out their deadly plans.

After the Navy Yard shooting, the president said once more our hearts are broken, once more we ask why.

But in our heart of hearts don't we know why?

It's not an easy question because if we admit we do know, then good conscience forces us to do something about it.

Back in a minute.


SCHIEFFER: And we'll be right back with a lot more "Face The Nation," including a report from "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King and actor Forest Whitaker, who are just back from Nelson Mandela's funeral.

Stay with us.


SCHIEFFER: It has been 10 days now since former South African president, Nelson Mandela, died at the age of 95. CBS News reporter Debra Patta has been covering the long road home to his boyhood village of Qunu.

She joins us now from Johannesburg -- Debra.



Good morning, Bob.

Well, if there is one word that sums up this 10 day mourning period, it would be soulful.

Today was really a send-off that captured the essence of Nelson Mandela.



PATTA (voice-over): This song about Nelson Mandela is really the sound track for this 10 day mourning period. It's been impossible to go anywhere in this country without hearing it on the streets of South Africa

So the spontaneous rendition of it at the funeral in Qunu today was very fitting.

It was always going to be a difficult past calling a state funeral in Mandela's ancestral village. Bear in mind it is remote, without any modern conveniences, and yet up went this massive dome- like marquee, inside 95 candles lit in tribute to the 95 years of Nelson Mandela's life.

This was Nelson Mandela's long held wish, he always wanted to return to the place in which he grew up. And it's hard to imagine this kind of state funeral anywhere else in the world -- the pomp of officialdom against the backdrop of a rural, African village.

And that ultimately was always Mandela's trademark style, this combination of African prince, iconic statesman blended with the X factor, something akin to a Hollywood superstar.

But really for me the most heartbreaking moment came when one of Mandela's oldest friends spoke, Ahmed Kathrada, who was imprisoned with Mandela and behind bars with him for 26 of the 27 years he was in jail.

AHMED KATHRADA, SOUTH AFRICAN POLITICIAN: I have lost a brother. My life is in a void and I don't know who to turn to. Thank you very much.

PATTA: We also got a sense of Mandela the family man, this came from his granddaughter, Nandi.

NANDI MANDELA, NELSON MANDELA'S GRANDDAUGHTER: We shall miss your stern voice when you were not pleased with our behavior. We shall miss your voice as it told us stories of your childhood. We shall miss your laughter.

PATTA: A lot of focus on the two great loves of Nelson Mandela's life, flanking either side of President Jacob Zuma with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, his former wife and his widow Graca Machel, both showing enormous strain of very tough ten days, but publicly displaying unity in their grief.

Eventually the casket was transported with full military honors to the grave site. And we once again saw the symbolic gestures Mandela so loved being beautifully woven in here, black and white military officers paying tribute. And then echoing his inauguration as president just under 20 years ago, a military fly past just before that casket was lowered into the ground.

From here, the rest of the final burial was strictly private affair, out of respect for the family's wishes.


SCHIEFFER: And that was Debra Patta who has been covering this from the beginning for us in Johannesburg.

And joining us now CBS This Morning cohost Gayle King and actor Forest Whitaker, they were both at the services earlier. And they have made their way now to Johannesburg. And they're with us. Thank you both for coming this morning.

Well, Gayle, let me just start with you, what was this like? It must have been an amazing experience for you.


Forest and I were talking in the car on the way here. We landed less than an hour ago and jumped in the car and came straight to you. And both of us said it will be a day that we will never forget.

You know, Nelson Mandela, for those who knew him, say that he was a very simple man, but there was nothing simple about this service today. As Debra pointed out, we were in Qunu, which was a very remote village, but the way the dome was, it was so well produced, so well done that I think Nelson Mandela would have been very pleased today at how he was bid farewell.

SCHIEFFER: Well, you were both there I take it as guests of the family and very, really an exclusive group there. Forest, what does it mean to you?

FOREST WHITAKER, ACTOR: It was paying tribute to someone who has shaped the world, who shaped this country. I mean, I was moved. We were enveloped by the energy of all these people who were trying to express their mourning but also their love and admiration for this man.

And it was extremely moving to be able to sit there and to be a part of the celebration of his life.

KING: You know, Bob, they kept saying over and over about Nelson Mandela's love of children. They kept saying we will miss your love, we will miss your smile, we will miss your leadership. You were the right person at the right time for this job.

And tell Bob, Forest, the part about the ocean, because I loved that sentiment.

WHITAKER: During the ceremony, Bishop Sewa (ph), he told a story about a boat moving on the horizon, and that it would go to the other side. And person was with him said, but it's gone. He said, no, no, it's on the other side. You can see it coming. They can see it on the other side coming.

KING: That just because he isn't there doesn't mean -- just because you can't see him, doesn't mean he isn't there.

And, listen, Bob, from the moment we sat down they said, listen, we're on a time schedule, we're going to keep to the time. Because Madiba has to be in the ground by noon, according to tradition, where the sun is the highest and the shadows are the shortest, but as you might expect it ran long. And they said, listen, you know -- two-and- a-half hours is not enough time to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela. So they were asking for special dispensation.

And then we all moved over to the burial site which was another, which was -- I can't even begin to describe that to you in terms of the tribute that was paid the him. To see Winnie Mandela and Graca Machel, arm in arm, sitting there paying tribute to a man that they loved, I have to say was a very moving thing.

What stood out for you in the burial.

WHITAKER: I think, well, when they were bringing in -- the procession was bringing him to the site. And they removed the casket and they start to play the anthem and then they did the 21-gun salute and then the jets started to fly above. And I thought I would be frightened by it, but it actually was -- just stirred up a lot of emotions about how do you express gratitude to a man of this magnitude. How do you express it in words?

And I think the feeling was overwhelming.

KING: I agree with that.

Bob, you have to -- you know, to anyone who has lost someone that they love, there is something about seeing casket go in to the ground that that -- it hits you even though you know that moment is coming, it was a very painful thing to see, very painful. But at the same time people said, let's celebrate him that he came and did he his job and he did it well.

And while they said the long walk may be over, but the journey continues.

And I think people left there, believe it or not, feeling very uplifted and very inspired today.


SCHIEFFER: Forest Whitaker, let me can you this, when did you first know about Nelson Mandela? And what kind of an impact did he have on your life?

WHITAKER: I mean, I knew about the struggle when they were struggling to free South Africa of apartheid. And I -- the affect that he's had on my life is he's taught me so much.

Personally I like to do a lot of work in the peace field. And so watching him as a model and someone to study and understand has been very important for me.

I think I've used his philosophy of forgiveness, his philosophy of understanding through forgiveness, love, in all the workings that I do. And I think that he's influenced aspects of my life to try to incorporate that holistically in every moment of my life that I can.

SCHIEFFER: What about you, Gayle?

KING: Bob, can I tell you at the service today they said that everybody has a Madiba moment, everybody. Anybody who came in contact with him had a Madiba moment.

And I have to say the first time I met him, it was working with Oprah at O, the Oprah magazine, and we were allowed to come to his house and sit and talk with him. And it's the interest that he took when he met you.

You know, I can't stress enough how much he loved children. He wanted to know, was I married? No, I'm not.

Oh, you're not, oh, that's not good.

Do you have children.

Yes, I have children.

What are their names? What are their ages? What are they doing? And he became very engaged talking to me about my children. And I will never, ever forget that moment.

And again, what I said, what I've been saying to everybody recently about his belief in the power of forgiveness, how important that is, and that was very evident today.

Why don't you tell Bob your Madiba moment. Can he just tell you his Madiba moment?

SCHIEFFER: Absolutely.

WHITAKER: Well, I mean, I was really impressed with -- I had brought my children were with me when we first met. And he spent so much time like talking to them, asking them questions. I remember my daughter, she was probably like 9 years old, she was shaking when she walked up to him. And he was like, what do you want to do? What are you dreaming of? What do you feel?

You know, and it was the most beautiful thing, because he loved children and he expressed it in that moment so simply by trying to draw from my daughter just some words because she couldn't find the words to express how important he was.

SCHIEFFER: Well, I know this was very important day for both of you. And as we said in the beginning I'm sure it's one that you will never forget nor will the world forget for a long, long time Nelson Mandela.

Thank you so much for being with us.

KING: Thank you, Bob. Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: We really appreciate it.

We'll be back in one minute with panel of analysts.


SCHIEFFER: And joining me now to talk about a lot of things on this day of many, many developments, our friend the New York Times columnist Tom Friedman; CBS News foreign correspondent -- all-star correspondent Clarissa Ward; and, plus, we welcome the managing editor of Time magazine, Radikha Jones.

Welcome to you, Radikha.

And our friend Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic and Bloomberg News.

Let's start first on the Iran thing. What do you take from what the Iranian foreign minister told Liz Palmer this morning, Tom?

FRIEDMAN: Not much, Bob. The fact is that the Iranians aren't in these negotiations by accident or for tourism. Let's go back to the Iranian election that brought the foreign minister and the new president, Rouhani, to power. Six men were allowed to run in that election. They were called -- their names were Mr. Black, Mr. Black, Mr. Black, Mr. Black, Mr. Black, Mr. Light Black.

And it turns out that 51 percent of Iranians all rushed to the guy who is just a little more moderate than anybody else. Actually, the word is there were 64 percent, but the government said, let's just keep this to 51 percent.

And what were they saying? They were saying we're tired of the sanctions; we're tired of being disconnected from the world; we already gave you one green revolution; would you like another, OK?

So the Iranians are in these negotiations for regime survival and perpetuation. And the fact that we sent them a little signal early on, which is don't think that, because we're going to these six-month negotiations, that it's now green light or yellow light for companies to come back and start breaking the sanctions. They'll be back. They're not there by accident.

SCHIEFFER: Jeffrey, we are obviously seeing a change in tone, but obviously, for these things to be successful, there has to be a change in more than just the tone?

GOLDBERG: The amazing thing about this process is that nothing has actually happened. I mean, the interim agreement has not even been implemented. The talks that he temporarily suspended were just technical talks to move toward implementation of an interim agreement. So we don't know where this is going.

I believe that the -- the Iranian regime, the president and the foreign minister, are authorized to freeze in place, but I don't get the sense that they're authorized to actually dismantle the program. So the hard stuff hasn't even begun. You see all these mini-eruptions, but we haven't even begun to see how difficult this is going to be.

SCHIEFFER: Well, Radhika, is this a good thing or a bad thing? Are we wasting our time doing this? Or should we be at the table?

JONES: I think we should be at the table. I mean, as Jeffrey said, it's -- we're in the runup to an interim deal, so it's very much in the future. But I -- I don't think the feeling on that has changed.


SCHIEFFER: What about you, Clarissa?

WARD: Well, I just would like to see, in the context of this discussion about Iran and this rapprochement, more attention paid to Syria. I know I've become this, sort of, tedious bore who is constantly talking about Syria. But I would like to see any rapprochement with Iran be based on some kind of action from Iran in terms of reining in President Assad, who they are essentially, virtually single-handedly, financially and militarily supporting.

I think it's essential to see Iran play a more active role in facilitating some type of a peace agreement in Syria.

GOLDBERG: But that's -- you know, I mean, I agree. I agree with you, but it's a lovely fantasy. And the Obama administration...


No, the Obama administration has two agreements with despotic regimes, right now, in the Middle East, Syria to get rid of the chemical weapons, and Iran to begin negotiating on the nuclear file. There doesn't seem to be any interest in the Obama administration to open other files.

Iran is the major state-sponsored terror in -- in the world. And there's not an interest in discussing that. And there doesn't seem to be much interest in discussing Syria. So I don't think we're going anywhere on that.

WARD: I think, as a result of that, the administration has a reputation in the Middle East, for having a complete lack of coherence and consistency in its policies there. And while they have been good at, sort of -- sort of, spying opportunities and zoning in on those and even taking risks to do so, there really is a stunning lack of clarity when it comes to a larger policy in that region.

FRIEDMAN: Yeah, I would say, though, the Middle East has a reputation for not getting along with itself.


And -- and at some point, we have to decide when -- you know, how much do we invest in trying to sort out a fight between Sunni and Shiites that dates to the seventh century? And how much, having tried this now in Afghanistan and Iraq, do we simply let -- sit back, let this fire burn out and hopefully come in at a later stage?

I -- I think, if you want to talk seriously about Syria, you have to talk about an international force that goes in, evicts Assad, controls the border, takes out the bad guys and tries to build a center. It's 20-year project.

GOLDBERG: Never going to happen, in this climate.

SCHIEFFER: Well, that's actually what we tried to do in Iraq, is it not?

FRIEDMAN: Yeah, it didn't work out real well.

GOLDBERG: Yeah, right, I think we have a distinct allergy to that kind of state-building exercise.

FRIEDMAN: And we tried it in Afghanistan, and...

WARD: And with good reason. But, while this war of attrition is going on and on in Syria, you are seeing the makings of potentially a Somalia on the Mediterranean, which will have ramifications for all of us.

JONES: But isn't it still the case that it's extremely hard to know who to support in Syria? WARD: Of course, and we have royally screwed the pooch on that front. We gave too little, too late to guys who, quite frankly, didn't have any traction on the ground.

And the -- the issue that Tom raises is, you know, do you let it burn out? But, in the burning, do you get burnt yourself?

I mean, if large swaths of Syria become Al Qaida safe havens, then, in 2016 and 2017, we might be talking about having to invade, God forbid, parts of Syria to eradicate Al Qaida. We've done that one before, quite a bit.

SCHIEFFER: Well, does anyone think anything is going to come of this, these talks?

JONES: The Syria talks or the Iran talks?


(UNKNOWN): There's so many talks...



FRIEDMAN: Which impossible problem were you talking about, Bob?


GOLDBERG: You could do your show from Geneva for the next three years...


... with these talks.

SCHIEFFER: No, but do we think these Geneva talks -- that, in the end, something is going to happen here?

JONES: I would say yes. I do think something is going to happen. But I think it's hard to know how long it will take to see any results from it, if that makes sense.

FRIEDMAN: Something would happen if the United States and the Soviet Union decide to get together to make something to happen. But that ties back to the Ukraine story, Bob.

You know, we decided a decade and a half ago that we thought it was more important to have the Czech navy, you know, in the NATO alliance, than try to build a bridge to the Soviet Union. We opted for NATO expansion over basically trying to build a relationship with a democratic Soviet Union. And that's been the -- a democratic Russia -- and that's been the gift that keeps on giving, OK?

Look, we are -- in Ukraine, look, my heart goes out -- I'm with, entirely, Ukrainians who want a future with the West. I appreciate that. But let's forget -- let's not forget where Ukraine is vis-a-vis the Soviet Union, how we've treated the Soviet Union, and why we have a Putin who finds it wonderful to run against the West and NATO domestically because of something, you know, that goes back 15 years ago. So this isn't happening out of -- in a vacuum.

SCHIEFFER: Well, that brings us to John McCain, who is in Ukraine...

FRIEDMAN: Well, it's -- yeah.



SCHIEFFER: He's in Kiev this morning. You just heard him. He told the Ukrainian people -- he spoke to the demonstrators. He said we are for you, and the United States is with you. I think John McCain is with them.


I want to check and see how far that extends in the United States.

JONES: I mean, I think, as Tom said, it's hard -- you know, we have it in our DNA to love the (inaudible) protesters out in the square, the colder, the better.


And that's what McCain was talking about. But, ultimately, it's really the European Union's fight. It's not the United States' fight. And it's very difficult to imagine a scenario in which the threats that Putin is making about withholding trade agreements and what have you are able to be resisted. We know Putin -- he's very irresistible.

GOLDBERG: I think the American people are emotionally with the Ukrainians. I think the Obama administration, like a lot of issues, seems less interested in -- I mean, the perfect example is 2009 in Iran, when there was the green revolution, and the Obama administration was very hesitant to say, you know, "You guys are standing for what we stand for."

I think today -- I think Senator McCain is on to something. I think that people, protesters, look to America for moral leadership on these issues. Obviously, it's a complicated issue with Russia and the E.U. And E.U. plays the primary role. But there could be more that Americans can do to stand up for our values.

SCHIEFFER: What do you think, Tom? Do you think John McCain should have gone and talked to the protesters?

FRIEDMAN: I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I mean, it warms my heart to see us siding, you know, with people who want to build a future with the West. But this is not happening in a vacuum. This is happening in a country that's really screwed up its domestic politics, has been incapable of implementing reforms. And, you know, again, when people build statutes of liberty and carry them in their independent square, I'm a sucker for that as much as anybody else. But ultimately, people...

WARD: But are we willing to back it up?

FRIEDMAN: Are they willing and able to back it up? You know, I mean, it's not always just about us.

WARD: I agree.

FRIEDMAN: And we infantilize them. We're not the only subjects. They are not just objects. What we do or don't do isn't the only thing. And sometimes people -- look at South Africa. I mean, yes, we were part of sanctions regime that certainly built pressure. But, ultimately, what made the difference? They had a leader who was ready to reach out to the other side and challenge his own base.

GOLDBERG: You know, if there's a theme -- if there's a theme for the past couple of weeks, it's that where are the other Mandelas? I mean, Iran, Israel, Palestine, Syria, Ukraine.

I mean, it's remarkable how rare a personality he was, when you look at leadership in the world today.

GOLDBERG: You know, when you think about what's going on in all these countries, you know, you either have -- it seems to be one of three things. You either have an external midwife who comes in and tries to make the transition from authoritarianism to something more democratic, pluralistic order. We tried that in Iraq and Afghanistan and largely did not succeed.

Where you have a domestic military, like Egypt has, that maybe can make that transition, maybe not -- a big question mark there -- or you have a Mandela. But if you have no Mandela, no military, no midwife, you have Syria.

SCHIEFFER: You know, I'm really struck by that, when you said that. Because I have never been one who believed in the tides of history. I think individuals make history. And I think individuals make the difference. And I think -- I think a great lesson in Mandela here is for all of us to step back and realize he was a person who led. He wasn't -- you know, he wasn't worried about getting a primary opponent. He went out and stood for what he thought was right, and that does make a difference.

FRIEDMAN: He challenged his base, Bob. Look at these knuckleheads in the Senate, you know, on the Republican side. Now, these guys, are they really worried about agreeing to this minor, you know, budget deal? And they're all -- you know, not one of them is a profile in courage in the least. And we're going to lecture Ukrainians on what to do?


GOLDBERG: You know, Bob, something you said just really struck me. You know, everyone makes choices. Bashar al-Assad made a choice to murder his countrymen in order to stay in power. You know, think about the power of personality and character and compare that to Mandela. It's really astonishing.

SCHIEFFER: We have to leave it right there. Thank you all so much for really adding some context this morning. We'll be back.


SCHIEFFER: Well, that's it for us today. We'll be back next week, of course, but we end our broadcast today by remembering the 20 Sandy Hook Elementary School children and the six teachers who were killed in the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut just one year ago.

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