Face the Nation transcripts June 2, 2013: Fallin, McCain, Reed, Abramson & Woodward

GOVERNOR MARY FALLIN: Well, I hope so, too, Bob. I just want people in America to know that Oklahoma is a great place to live. You know, just like states have wildfires in California, or earthquakes or they may have other tornadoes in other areas of the-- of the country, you know, this is really a great, great state. Our economy is doing beautifully, and the people are wonderful. So I hope they are able to come back and see us when we have one of our up moments and-- and we are very strong. We're going to come back strong.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Thank you so much.


BOB SCHIEFFER: And from the storms to war, we go now to Senator John McCain. He is in San Francisco this morning but he is just back from a secret trip to Syria. I understand, Senator, even your daughter didn't know you were there until she-- she read about it. So you went. You met with some of the rebel forces there. I guess the first thing to ask you is what did you find out?

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (Armed Services Committee/R-Arizona): Well, I found out that these individuals are very tough. They're battle hardened. They're-- they're very dedicated. They are not al Qaeda. They are not extremists. I met with some nineteen battalion commanders, both in Turkey and in Syria but they're badly outgunned now. And there's a lot of really serious stuff going on that it just breaks your heart. Qusayr is surrounded by Bashar al-Assad's forces. They're pounding them from the air and with artillery. There are some four hundred or more people are wounded that they can't get out. And that's a key battle because, strategically, it's vital to success or failure of Bashar Assad so-- so I-- I met them. General Idris who is the commander of the military inside Syria, escorted me in and out. He's a fine leader. And so all I can tell you is that, yes, al-Nusra is there. More and more extremists are pouring in. Everyday it gets worse, but we have some very strong and good people who are fighting for freedom and are being massacred as we speak. And-- and by the way, remember all this talk we've heard for the last year or two, it's inevitable that Bashar al-Assad will fall? Well, I think we can't make that statement today as the Iranians, Hezbollah has now invaded. Iranians are there. Russia is pouring weapons in. And anybody that believes that a-- Bashar al-Assad is going to go to a conference in Geneva when he is prevailing on the battlefield it's just ludicrous to assume that.

BOB SCHIEFFER: So you think he is now-- has the upper hand.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: I think that every assessment that you get from any intelligence agency is that thanks to increased weapons, thanks to Hezbollah fighters, thanks to extremist Shia coming in from Iraq. The Russian pouring weapons in, Iranians Revolutionary Guard that we are seeing, unfortunately, a battlefield situation where Bashar Assad now has the upper hand and it's tragic while we sit by and watch.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Have you talked to anybody at the White House about this or given any kind of report to the administration?

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: I haven't given a report yet. I did talk to John Kerry earlier before I went in, but I've have been over here at my son's wedding in San Francisco, but I'm sure I will. I will-- hopefully, we will go to the floor but I will-- and-- but the administration knows this. They have the same information I have. It's a-- it's slaughter and the refugee camps are full. The Jordanians cannot last under the present situation. Lebanon is in-- is more and more tilting into chaos. The Israelis are threatened. This is now the-- has the every likelihood of turning into a regional conflict rather than just one within Syria.

BOB SCHIEFFER: What can we do, Senator? What-- some people say there's not much, including Bob Gates, the former Secretary of Defense. Is it-- there just not much we can do about this right now? What will you tell the administration they need to do here?

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Well, we need to give them a no-fly zone. We can--- the Israelis have shown us we can take out their facilities without-- from a-- from distance. We don't have to risk our-- our pilots. We can crater their runways. We can take out their air assets. We can provide them with a safe zone so that the-- the Syrian Council-- Opposition Council, which is outside Syria, can come in to Syria and coordinate with the military, General Idris and the militia and military inside of Syria, and we can establish that safe zone. And I'm confident that we can prevail. But air power, a classic example is-- is Qusayr. They have it surrounded. Bashar Assad's forces have it around-- surrounded, and then they pound it from the air, the scud missiles and with helicopter gunships and with fixed wing aircraft. Air-- air superiority is a key element in any conflict with this terrain and this climate and it's-- it's devastating to them.

BOB SCHIEFFER: So you're talking about U.S. airpower using--


BOB SCHIEFFER: --U.S. bombers to go in there and bomb these runways and so forth?

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: No. No, I would use stand-off cruise missiles to crater the runways. I would use the patriot missiles down-- near-- close to the border to protect the safe zone. But, no, I would not send U.S.-manned aircraft over Syria. And, by the way, the Israelis just showed that the defensive capabilities of Bashar Assad are not nearly what our military were claiming it to be. And that's unfortunate.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you this, Senator: What is our strategic objective in Syria? What should it be? What do we want to see there? Obviously, we'd like to see the shooting stop, but beyond that, what-- what do we expect or want or-- or think should be there?