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Face the Nation Transcripts, September 7, 2014: Rubio, Kissinger, Ruppersberger

The latest on the threat posed by ISIS in Iraq and Syria and the unfolding saga with Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine
September 7: Rubio, Kissinger, Ruppersberger 46:52

(CBS News) -- Below is a transcript of the September 7, 2014 edition of Face the Nation. Guests included Marco Rubio, Henry Kissinger, Dutch Ruppersberger, Anthony Salvanto, David Leonhardt, Peggy Noonan, David Ignatius, Peter Baker.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I'm Bob Schieffer and today on FACE THE NATION, new American airstrikes in Iraq overnight as president ponders a new strategy to combat the ISIS terror.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our goal is to act with urgency but also to make sure that we're doing it right. And we're going to achieve our goal. We are going to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIS.


SCHIEFFER (voice-over): But what exactly is the next step with Congress back in session this week to demand for a strategy and action will grow. We'll hear from Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio and a top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee Dutch Ruppersberger.

Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger has his own idea how to deal with ISIS. We'll have analysis on that and more with Peggy Noonan of "The Wall Street Journal," David Ignatius of "The Washington Post" and Peter Baker of "The New York Times," plus new results from our CBS News "New York Times" battleground tracker on how the 2014 election is shaping up.

Sixty years of news because this is FACE THE NATION.

And good morning, again. The United States has expanded its assault against the terror group ISIS in Iraq overnight launching new airstrikes in the area around the Haditha Dam. Last month U.S. airstrikes succeeded in pushing ISIS back from the Mosul Dam area; both are considered key assets in the region.

Secretary of Defense Hagel made the announcement while traveling today overseas.


CHUCK HAGEL, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I think the strikes that the United States took are very much in line with what President Obama said were the guiding principles of military action in Iraq.


SCHIEFFER: We begin this morning with Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who sits on both the Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees. He joins us from Miami this morning.

And senator, the president said on NBC this morning that he is going to make a speech Wednesday to the American people and outline to them the strategy; he says the next phase, as he put it, is going to be "going on the offensive against ISIL," his quote. This is not going to be an announcement on U.S. ground troops but will be similar to the kind of counterterrorism campaigns we have carried out in the past.

So I guess my question to you is what do you want to hear from the president? SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLA.: Well, I want to hear what he should have said months ago, weeks ago, and that is first clearly explain to the American people what our national security interests are in the region, especially in what is happening in Syria and Iraq; accurately describe to the American people the risk that ISIL poses for us short- term and long-term and why they matter.

This is a group that has made very clear they want to establish an Islamic caliphate in the Middle East and the only way they're going to be able to do that is to drive us from the region. And the way they're going to drive us from the region is through terrorists acts including here in the homeland and describe to us, by the way, the unique capabilities this group have, which includes a ton of funds, weapons, but also foreign fighters, including foreign fighters with passports that allow them easy access to the United States.

Second, he needs to clearly outline what we're going to do about it, and I hope that will include a sustained air campaign, involving every element of our airpower, targeting their supply lines, targeting their command and control structures. And I hope that will include their central command and control structures within Syria.

I also hope he's announcing that he's going to target the refineries that they now control in Syria, the revenues from which they're using to fund their operations.

SCHIEFFER: So you are ready for him to order airstrikes in to Syria?

RUBIO: Absolutely. I think it's critical that we do that. If you're serious about defeating ISIL, you have to go after where they're headquartered. What is important to understand about their presence in Syria is that they are generating revenue in Syria, with former Assad refineries that they now control and they're generating revenue from.

But all of their supplies, their command and control structure, is being operated from there. You cannot defeat ISIL unless you hit them in those parts of Syria that they now control, where the Syrian government is not even present.

SCHIEFFER: Well, now this is a bit of a change for you, is it not? You were a little reluctant about going in to Syria, if I recall?

RUBIO: Well, if you recall, what at that time was what the president characterized basically as a symbolic military action against the Assad government, which I thought would be counterproductive. I thought the best way to topple Assad was to arm, equip, train and capacitate moderate rebel elements within Syria. I thought that was a better approach.

This is different. We're talking about targeting ISIL, which is a group that poses an immediate danger to the United States. And if we are serious about defeating them, then we must strike them both in Syria and in Iraq. The previous debate was about what to do with Assad, and I thought the best way to topple Assad was not through airstrikes, but through equipping the moderate rebel elements.

SCHIEFFER: Do you have some new intelligence information here? Because if I understood the president correctly this morning, he was not so sure that they pose a threat now to the U.S. homeland -- but they could develop such a threat.

Do you think they pose a threat to the homeland now?

RUBIO: I do. I believe they do. And I'll tell you why I believe that.

First and foremost because they are replete with both European and American fighters and more Europeans than Americans who have passports that allow them immediate access into the United States.

Second, because I think it's important not to overestimate the amount of intelligence that we have on these groups and about these groups; they have learned a lot about our intelligence gathering capabilities through a series of disclosures and other sorts of things.

And they have become increasingly capable at evading detection. So for us to simply sit back and say we don't think they pose a threat because we haven't seen one I think would be shortsighted. The fact of the matter is this group has, among their ranks, hundreds if not thousands of people with the capability of entering the United States quickly and easily and we should not take that lightly.

SCHIEFFER: You know, Senator, as the president kind of went through this evolving explanation of our strategy -- he famously said last week we didn't really have a strategy. Then he seemed to be kind of inching along here until he now says we have to really ramp it up and go after them.

Do you think that he should have shown more of a sense of urgency?

He has been saying we have to do this very deliberately, but do you think he should have shown more urgency in reacting to this?

RUBIO: I'm going to say something I don't take lightly. And I know that there is always differences between Republicans and Democrats. I try to certainly not allow that to filter into foreign policy, something that I hope will continue to be bipartisan.

But I believe this president has committed presidential malpractice in his foreign policy. And I think that Exhibit A is what he's done with the Middle East.

He ran for office under the notion that our national interests in the Middle East were to disengage as quickly as possible and disentangle from the region, and that has been chaotic, it has led to a series of policy pronouncements and words that he is -- whether it's saying that the ISIL was the J.V., whether it's setting red lines that weren't in force. All these things have been dramatically counterproductive to our foreign policy and I think have created some generational and reputational damage to the United States of great significance.

And this continued this week. You have mixed messages coming from the administration; they don't have a strategy, are we going to contain them or are we going to defeat them.

The vice president says we're going to follow them to the gates of hell but the president is saying that we're going to simply contain them. I mean, these -- our allies are watching this as well, and they're concluding that the American foreign policy is in the hands of someone who does not know what he's doing.

SCHIEFFER: Do you see also this changing, the outlook of those in your party? I mean, we had Rand Paul, who seemed very reluctant, almost isolationist about his response, but then last week he said, "If I had been President Obama's shoes, I would have acted more decisively and strongly. I would have called Congress back into session, even during recess. We should have asked for authorization for military action. He would, no doubt, have received it."

You also have Ted Cruz this morning saying, "He should have reacted strongly and hit them hard in the very beginning."

Are Republicans also kind of changing their outlook over this past week or so?

RUBIO: I hope so. Reality in the real world has a way of doing that. And I think my biggest problem with this notion that we should disengage is it's never worked anywhere it's ever been tried. In fact it's been deeply counterproductive.

At the root of that argument, by the way, is the belief that all of these problems are created because of American engagement.

Now since my earliest days in the Senate and certainly with regards to ISIL for weeks now, I've been arguing that if we don't deal with them now, we are going to have to deal with them later anyways. And it's going to be harder to deal with them.

So the fact that there are now more voices actually echoing that, albeit weeks later, I think it's a positive development and certainly an example of how reality has set in when it becomes to foreign policy and our national security.

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you just a little bit about the president's statements over the week on immigration. He was planning on taking executive action on immigration reform because he said the Congress wouldn't do anything.

Then we were told yesterday that the president has decided in fact he will put off any executive action until after the election.

White House aides who were briefing reporters on this made no bones about it. They said they were doing this because Democrats, some of them in very tight Senate races, Democratic Senate candidates felt it was going to hurt their chances for re-election.

The president says it's not politics that is behind it, but what do you -- what do you make of all this?

RUBIO: It's definitely politics. But let me say this. I think that we have to deal with immigration. We have a broken enforcement system on immigration. We have a legal immigration system that outdated and needs to be modernized so we can win the global competition for talent.

We have millions of people living in this country illegally, many of whom have been here for a decade or longer. We need to find a reasonable but responsible way of incorporating them into American life.

Last year we tried to do that through a one-size-fits-all comprehensive approach; it didn't work. We don't have the support for that.

The only way we're going to be able to address it -- and I believe we should -- is through a sequence of bills that begins by proving to people that illegal immigration is under control, modernizing our legal immigration system and then dealing with those who are here illegally.

If the president takes executive action he will make achieving that -- which won't be easy -- even harder. So I'm glad he's not going to do it, but I'm disappointed he intends to do it anyway after the election, because what he's basically saying is he doesn't want to be held accountable by the electorate in the midterm elections for an action that he knows is unpopular because the American people don't want to do anything on immigration until they know that the border and the illegal immigration system is secure.

The illegal immigration problem is under control.

SCHIEFFER: I'll close with this question. You've been thinking obviously about whether to run for the Republican nomination in 2016.

Are you anywhere close to making a decision on that?

RUBIO: Well, you know, I'll have to make decision in 2016 either way, because I'm up for re-election in the Senate and for me it's not going to be about the position. It's going to be about where can I best advocate for a 21st century reform agenda that allows us to usher in another American century.

The decision I have to make is can I best do that as a senator or can I best do that as running and hopefully winning the presidency. And that is a question I'll have more clarity on after this midterm, because I can promise you this, the one place where I will not be able to do that from is a Senate that is still run by Harry Reid, that allows no votes on anything of substance or importance.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Senator Marco Rubio, thank you so much for joining us. RUBIO: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: And joining us now for a different perspective as the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Maryland Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger.

Well, Congressman, let me just start. Marco Rubio says the president is guilty of presidential malpractice, how would you put it?

REP. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER (D), MD.: Absolutely not. Let's talk about where we are. We have A very serious threat with ISIS -- there's no question. We are the most powerful country in the world and when we have a threat we're going to take action.

Now what people don't realize is that the people that I work with, and the people in intelligence, in the Armed Services Committee, we deal with the military and the intelligence community every day and they are the strongest in the world. And they are there advising the president and giving the president exactly what we need to do to protect Americans and to stop this threat.

Now I think the president made a mistake when did he not come out as strong after we had an American's head cut off, not one, but two. At that point we should have, I believe he should have stood up and very strongly said, we're not going to take it, we're going to come after you and we're bring to you justice.

And I think the president realized that he had to be stronger. The vice president, who came out and said, we're going to follow you to the gates of hell, that is what we needed to hear. And we are doing that. And as a result of that, the president and the secretary of state and the Secretary of Defense have organized and they're bringing other countries involved because we, in the United States, we're the most powerful and people look to us for leadership.

However, we also can't be sheriff for the whole world, we have other issues we're dealing with, too. And so if, in fact, now that they know that we mean business, we have to have a strategy to take out ISIS and we're doing it right now.

SCHIEFFER: Well, so he's going to make a speech Wednesday to the American people, what do you want to hear from him?

RUPPERSBERGER: What I want to hear is to reassure the American public and the world that we're standing up, we're going to have a strategy and we're not going to rest until we bring these people to justice and we stamp them out because they are a threat to the United States, to Americans, to our allies and to the world.

But on the other hand, it's easy from a sound bite to say we need to go in and bomb Syria, if ISIS is there. We need to do what we need to do to take them out. We have to make sure that we have the intelligence -- intelligence is the best defense against defense.

I believe that if we're going to take ISIS out, you need to take out their leadership. You want to kill a snake, you cut its head off. And I believe that is what we have to do, find out where their leadership is and go after them.

SCHIEFFER: Well, you heard Marco Rubio saying we need to go after the oil refineries in Syria, we need to go after these assets, these places that they're going to get revenue and so forth.

Are you willing to go that far?

RUPPERSBERGER: I'm willing to do what we need to do but I don't want to tell ISIS what we're going to do before we do it. And I think that is what concerns me, to just say go in bomb them. We need to get results. Like we have done in Iraq and -- I mean in Afghanistan and in Pakistan.

And we have gone in. We very effectively took out the leadership in that area. The problem is that terrorism and Al Qaeda have grown a lot and it will be a threat for years to come. That's why we need to be strong from an intelligence perspective and get the information and do what we need to do to protect Americans.

And believe me, our number one priority is to protect Americans and the homeland and then to protect Americans throughout the world. My opinion right now Americans anywhere in the world are really at risk because of what's happening --


SCHIEFFER: So you're with Marco Rubio that they, that ISIS poses a threat to the homeland now?

RUPPERSBERGER: Well, I'm with Dutch Ruppersberger and I'm going to say what I think. I think the thing that concerns me about the homeland more than anything else is the issue of Americans having passports, who have gone to Syria, have become radicalized and then they have ability to get back in the United States or Great Britain or Canada.

I'll give you an example, you had a individual, an American who went to Syria, who was radicalized, was trained as a suicide bomber, came home to see his parents and then went back to Syria and blew himself up and killed other people. And we didn't pick up the visit to his parents. That individual was trained and could have attacked the United States. That's a concern to me.

But let me say this from an American point of view. As of today we don't have intelligence that says, that there's going to be an attack tomorrow. Now that can change the next day. And that's why we're so vigilant. That's why what happened with Snowden and these situations, we need to make sure we get the intelligence --

SCHIEFFER: Let me just ask you this.

Can you under any circumstances envision the United States sending ground combat troops back in?

RUPPERSBERGER: Absolutely not. That's not where we need to be. We have more resources than anyone in the world, from an intelligence perspective from an ability to use our resources to take out groups like ISIS . But it's got to be well planned to get information.

We don't need boots on the ground anymore. We don't need tanks going in or infantry in there, that's not what we're dealing with anyhow. We're not taking over another country. We're not going to do that. And the American public do not want that, either.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Congressman, thank you so much.


SCHIEFFER: Hope to see you again.

Fifty-seven years ago Harvard Professor Henry Kissinger came on FACE THE NATION to talk about a new book. Well, he has another new one, "World Order." It's his 17th. And when we ask him about the threat from ISIS when he stopped by earlier he said we should have already hit them hard.


SCHIEFFER: So you're talking about a massive response, not hitting one target but hitting as many as possible?

HENRY KISSINGER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: When an American is murdered on television for the purpose of terrorizing Americans, there should be a response that you cannot -- you would not analyze in terms of a normal response to provocation.

So something has to crystallize out of this violence and it won't happen without our leadership. We cannot do it all by ourselves. But we can make clear that certain tactics will be strongly resistant.

SCHIEFFER: I want to ask you about Russia.

Has the Obama administration talked to you or sought your advice on Russia?

Because to my way of thinking, nobody probably knows Putin as well as you do.

KISSINGER: It depends how you define the Obama administration. Until very recently I have had no conversation even with a security adviser on that subject. But I have had access to the secretary of state; it's -- my basic philosophy is that I don't volunteer advice. I've been in that position.

And I know what it's like to -- but I try to respond to questions when they're put to me.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me ask you a question. What should our message be to Russia and to Mr. Putin right now and what should our strategy be?

KISSINGER: The situation has come very far and Russia is using military presence which we cannot accept. Therefore it is appropriate for us to insist that the military pressures cease. SCHIEFFER (voice-over): The problem, he says, is to convince Putin it is better for both sides if Ukraine becomes a bridge between them rather than an outpost of either.

KISSINGER: We need an outcome that does not make the West appear weak and Russia needs an outcome that does not make it appear humiliated.

Can one find a passage between this? We cannot permit a country to be dismembered like Ukraine, but we should do it in a manner that keeps open the possibility that Russia joins an international system rather than it is put in a position where it feels totally outcast.

SCHIEFFER: You know, rightly or wrongly there seems to be a perception in various parts of the world that the United States is somehow withdrawing.

Do you feel that, do you hear that?

KISSINGER: The fundamental statements of the administration have emphasized more what we should not do than what we can achieve. And they have implied that a withdrawal of America from certain regions is actually beneficial to these regions.

And I think that here, in the countries that I know -- and it's very many of them -- it's that the United States is restoring. And the worry is not so much about American presence, it's about American actions.

SCHIEFFER (voice-over): As for the partisan divide in Washington on foreign policy, Kissinger believes America must always remain involved, must always play a role.

KISSINGER: I would anyway prefer it if both parties had a comparable policy in that respect and disagreed mostly on tactics. We shouldn't tell the American people that there's one -- that there are two absolute solutions.

We could say on reading a historic process in which every part of the world is changing simultaneously, but it cannot change creatively without a major American contribution.


SCHIEFFER: Dr. Kissinger's book goes on sale around the world this week.

We'll be back in one minute.


SCHIEFFER: This week we mark the 13th anniversary of the one of the worst days in American history, the day we have come to know by two numbers: 9/11. Memories of that day may have faded for some, but for those of us who were in the Northeast that day it will never be forgotten. All of us who were here seemed to know someone who died or lost a close relative. My family was among the lucky. My brother had been in the Pentagon the day before the attack in the very room where the plane hit.

We lost contact for four hours with my younger daughter in New York. But she was eventually found safe.

I knew 11 people who died or lost close relatives that day, including a young colleague at CBS News, who lost her dad.

So forgive me if I feel a certain urgency about the current terror threat, forgive me, but I've been through this before. No, I can't forget the bad but I can also remember the good, how an awful day brought Americans together as they had not come together since World War II, how road rage disappeared the next day as people waved and honked.

We had all gone through it together.

Most of all I remember the heroic firefighters and police officers putting their lives at risk to save the innocent and Congress putting aside partisanship, at least for a little while and singing "God Bless America" that night on the Capitol steps.

In the end it brought out the best in us, which hadn't happened in a while but it was a hard way to do it and we owe it to each other never to let such a thing happen again.

Forgive me, but I've been through this before.


SCHIEFFER: Coming right up, a lot more FACE THE NATION ahead with Peggy Noonan of "The Wall Street Journal," David Ignatius of "The Washington Post" and Peter Baker of "The New York Times," all here for analysis. Stay with us.


SCHIEFFER: Some of our stations are leaving us now. But most of you we'll be right back with FACE THE NATION.


SCHIEFFER: And welcome back to FACE THE NATION on a weekend when the news is far from good.

But we're here with three of the best to talk about it and analyzing it, Peggy Noonan from "The Wall Street Journal," David Ignatius of "The Washington Post," Peter Baker of the "New York Times."

So, the president is going to make this speech on Wednesday.

Peter, what does he need to say here? PETER BAKER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I think he needs to explain what his strategy is. Remember, of course, he's been pilloried for saying we don't have a strategy yet. It's time for him now to come out and say what it is.

You know, he has elements of it already out there. He went to NATO and he talked to the allies there about joining a coalition. He wants to obviously arm and do better with the Free Syrian Army.

But he's going to need to help the American public understand what he really wants to accomplish and what the goal is.

Is it to destroy ISIL or ISIS?

Or is it to shrink it to a manageable size?

He needs to kind of reconcile these different messages that have been sent by his own administration and by himself in the last few days.

SCHIEFFER: Well -- well, Peggy, how did we get -- and how did the president get to where he is now, where you hear people saying, well, does he understand this is really important?

PEGGY NOONAN, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Yes, it's a very funny thing. We have had a few weeks, actually, a few months, in which we have seen, when we look at that part of the world, Iraq and Northern Syria, ISIS, the grimmest, most terrible beheadings and maltreatment of so many people it's -- it's quite shocking.

And yet the president's comments on this immediate crisis have been -- have -- have varied from this is very serious to it's not so -- so terribly serious.

So I think the biggest thing he has to do Wednesday night is tell us this is how I really see it. This is what we're really going to do. This is how we're going to do it. This is doable.

But he's going to have to regain something he's lost in the past few months, maybe longer, which is credibility on these big serious foreign affairs issues.

SCHIEFFER: I want to get your perspective on this same question, David. I mean obviously, people are questioning, you know, they question everything about should he have gone on vacation to should he have gone to Stonehenge on the day that he held this news conference about all of this?

You know, I've been here a long time and I can't ever remember a president going on vacation that they didn't get criticized in some way, shape or form about it.

But the criticism seems especially pointed this time around and it's not all just coming from Republicans.

DAVID IGNATIUS, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, he's -- he's on his back foot. He's defensive. Everything he says often ends up looking like the wrong thing, even if when you parse it, there's some sense in the middle of it.

I think in this speech Wednesday night, in addition to laying out the details of policy so Americans understand what we're going to do, understand where we're going, he needs to bring an emotional resonance to what he says, not to flatter our host, but the piece you just did remembering 9/11 and what it felt like.

And some of that has to come through from the president, because he's taking us back into a deadly conflict with -- with a -- a very dangerous adversary.

So I -- I hope it will have both. I hope it will have clear detail and emotional power.

SCHIEFFER: Well, I mean, you know, is emotion...


SCHIEFFER: -- you know, the president, during his news conference, said he tried to lay out, look, we're trying to be very deliberate about all that. And I think probably that's a good thing...

IGNATIUS: He does...

SCHIEFFER: -- we have to be...

IGNATIUS: -- he doesn't have to worry about...


IGNATIUS: -- deliberate. He gets the deliberate part just fine.


IGNATIUS: What he needs to worry about is the other part.

NOONAN: Well, at the same time, you know, Americans are so used to hearing their political figures try to tug at their heartstrings and hit their heart and all that stuff. I think the unappeal to Oregon (ph) and America is the brain. I think the president has to sort of say you know what, let me tell you what's different about ISIS and why this is a very specific thing in history and why, because of that, we do have to move forward and do something.

I do not think people -- my friends keep saying he needs passion. I keep saying he needs good, clear sense.

SCHIEFFER: Well, you heard Henry Kissinger. Kissinger basically said, look, I would have already hit them and -- and he basically said there cannot be a measured response when we see the kind of atrocities that...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. SCHIEFFER: And he said he needs -- I think what he was trying to say -- well, what he did say here is to get through to the American people that I -- I understand how awful this is...


SCHIEFFER: -- and -- and we're going to do something about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think that's right. I mean and part of the -- whether it be passion or -- or it's at least a sense of -- of understanding, a visceral understanding of how horrible those beheading videos were and how horrible the situation on the ground is, not just for Americans, but for Iraqis and Syrians, it's hard to -- for him, it seems, to convey that.

Now, you know, we're impatient. We want to hit right away if we're going to hit. It's interesting to remember, after you talked about 9/11, after 9/11, it took four weeks before President Bush did anything in Afghanistan because it does take a little bit of time to get the surveillance right, to figure out what targets you want to hit, to figure out what your strategy is.

So even a -- a person like President Bush, who's often criticized for cowboy actions, took time to figure out what the plan is. That's what President Obama has done. We're not a patient society right now and ISIS doesn't make us feel like we want to be patient.

SCHIEFFER: Well, looking for the way to respond, I mean it's easy to say, let's go bomb them, but you've got to have something to bomb, David. And we saw this overnight. They hit ISIS in -- around this second dam, which apparently there was worry that they were going to take that over.

IGNATIUS: If you want a -- a little model of what's ahead and what the strategy is, do look at the events of the last 48 hours. The U.S. used its air power over new targets in the Anbar Province, in the western part of -- of Iraq, to -- to hit ISIL fighters at this dam. They've been hitting them at -- at another dam in the north. Now they were at the Haditha Dam.

And then today, Sunday, Iraqi Special Operations Forces trained by the U.S. -- we've maintained pretty good contact with them -- came in to hit the ISIL fighters on the ground joined by, we're told, Iraqi Sunni tribal fighters, who had been organized in a quiet effort that does involve Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan and the U.S. over the last month.

So that's the shape of what's coming.

It's a very tough strategy to execute, but it's getting started. And it's -- it's going to damage them.

Now, the problem is, you're going to have to go house-to-house in Mosul in -- in Fallujah, in Ramadi, in all these cities where -- where they're dug in.

And who's going to do that if it's not Americans?

SCHIEFFER: Well, that's -- that's an -- that's the question here. I mean you don't do that with airplanes.

IGNATIUS: You don't.

SCHIEFFER: You do that with troops on the ground.

And can there be a successful strategy without U.S. troops or troops from some place in the West going in there to do this?

NOONAN: I feel like, in a way, we're -- we're confusing two things. It is one thing to send U.S. guys in there for intelligence, for guidance, for some leadership. I get that.

That different from hey, guys, let's invade a nation and do nation-building. ISIS is a specific threat. We probably know of 50 targets on which we can go boom, boom, boom. Yes, there will have to be human beings on the ground.

But this doesn't have to be hundreds of thousands of Americans invading a country that does not want us.


NOONAN: It's different and as I hear the president in his interviews, I -- I think he allides (ph) the two and sees them a bit as the same, which surprises me.

SCHIEFFER: Well, I want to make clear, I'm not advocating that we send U.S. troops...

NOONAN: I understand.

SCHIEFFER: -- there, but...


SCHIEFFER: -- somebody is going to have to do this.

Peter, what's the latest news on the Iraqi government?

Are they going to be able to come together and form some kind of a force?

BAKER: Yes, that's, of course, the key to all this, because we're not going to put troops on the ground in any substantial numbers. It has to be the Iraqis to do it themselves. And you have to get a new government in there. Maliki is on the way out. We have to, you know, help them make sure that they form this new government as they promised to do, because otherwise, it doesn't go anywhere.

And then you look at Syria, where we don't even have a government we're working with. Obviously, we're at odds with President Bashar al-Assad. We want him to fall. We said he should go.

So who are our friends there?

Our proxies are the Free Syrian Army, maybe 4,000 some fighters at this point that we've trained and vetted. Not a very large force. They haven't been very effective so far.

Can we make them more effective on the ground to, uh, go along with the air power?

A very big question. I mean if you follow ISIS to the gates of hell, you don't do it with drones.

So how do you -- how do you -- how do you get there?

SCHIEFFER: Well, well, David, are there other ground forces in that part of the world that could be, if we could convince them to do it, that could -- could be a -- a factor here?

IGNATIUS: The truth is that the United States is going to have to keep trying to build them, especially in Syria. We've decided that we're not going to ally with President Bashar al-Assad, who's going after ISIL himself. So there -- there are plans now taking shape -- I just talked to the head of the Syrian moderate opposition's anti-ISIL cell.

There -- there are plans to build a force to go along with the force that Peter mentioned that the CIA has been training covertly. It is -- but as Peter said, between 4,000 and 5,000 people, with a much bigger force that would be trained by our military trainers under an overt legal program that would go into areas where you bomb and ISIL is on the run and then you need something -- that's the one lesson from Iraq. Don't knock the pegs out without being able to fill the vacuum.

NOONAN: Yes. Yes.

IGNATIUS: And that's what they're trying to think through.

NOONAN: And break ISIS' or ISIL's mystique. They've got mystique going for them. They have been kind of winning so far, at least until the Mosul Dam. That has to be broken and the world needs to see that it is broken. And it can be broken, but you have to move relatively quickly and sharply.

SCHIEFFER: Somebody deconstruct for me the president's latest pronouncements on immigration -- Peter.

BAKER: Well, of course, he said he's going to wait until after election to take action but he will take it, which is interesting formulation, of course. It's a fairly cynical calculation on some level that he doesn't believe that the action he would take and that he says he will take, would be ratified by American voters in two months in the mid-term election. It's also recognition that if he does it he makes that the central issue for a lot of races, a lot of races where Democrats are very vulnerable. And if the Senate goes Republican because of his decision to do it, he obviously would have suffered a lot of blowback from within his own party. He thinks that making it easier for illegals to stay here, which is the plan, it would be sustainable only if it's taken outside of this electoral environment where a billion dollars worth of ads or what have you would fight it out. And so he wants to wait until after the election much like he did with other issues along the way like don't ask don't tell.

SCHIEFFER: Then what I found kind of interesting the president said flatly he was not doing this for political reasons. And yet all weekend White House officials who have been briefing reporters on background made no bones about it, they said, yes, this is why we're doing it. We're trying to keep the senate democratic.

IGNATIUS: Well, I mean, the president's denials that it's politics are, I think are pro forma. Of course it's politics. And, you know, the president is a political leader, and it's not forbidden for him to make decision that are sensible politics for his party and his governance -- governing strategy.

So I mean, there are not lot of surprises here.

Truly, you know, one wrap on Obama is that he's not political enough. He just doesn't do politics well.

So, you know, seeing him in a little more political, cynical calculating mode that doesn't shock or upset me.

SCHIEFFER: Well, what do you think -- what do you think would be the fallout from this, Peggy?

NOONAN: I think it was an odd move and an odd announcement on the president's part. Here's why. It will upset his friends and strong members ever his base while at the same time it will not quiet his opposition because his opposition will say, okay, you know what we said probably going to do Tuesday? He is going to do it Tuesday, but Tuesday in November do you know what I mean?

It's not as if he changed his stance, he's only his timing. I don't see what that gets him -- actually I'll leave it there. I don't really see what that gets him.

SCHIEFFER: Well, I mean, you've already seen Republican reaction. Mitch McConnell said well he didn't say he wasn't going to do it. He said he's going to wait until after the selection.

BAKER: Well, here's the analogy you hear in the White House this weekend. And it's the 1994 mid-term election, which Newt Gingrich won against President Clinton and is often blamed on Clinton's decision to go ahead with gun control measures in the election year.

And what this White House has concluded is had Clinton waited until after that election he wouldn't have given issue to the opposition that cost them the Congress. So they don't want to make what they see as mistake that President Clinton made then. It is calculation, it is political, of course it's political. Even the president's own words say it's political. He says I want it to be sustainable, meaning he doesn't think it would be sustainable if he did it now in this political context.

SCHIEFFER: But he said that's not why he's doing it.

BAKER: But he says that's not why he's doing it.

NOONAN: But he didn't say, and by the way, I'll spend the next two months making the case, talking to the American people, he said the American people don't really understand this. But then he did not say but I'm going to do this, I'm going to drive it home, because I'm going to explain it and I'm going to win you over and persuade you. I am certain I am right. Come along with me.

He didn't do that. He seems -- well, his statement sort of suggested the American people will magically come to understand and agree with his position in November.

SCHIEFFER: You know what, why don't we take a here. And then we'll come back and talk about all this some mire.


SCHIEFFER: One thing we haven't talked about this morning is Russia. And I'm going to say it up front, I don't give advice obviously, I report on what others do. But I would send Henry Kissinger tonight to Moscow to talk to Putin and see what he can find out and decide where we should go from there.

What do you think is going to happen on that front?

BAKER: Well, of course they reached a so-called ceasefire in the last couple of days, and in theory that's, you know, going to tamper down the violence. You're already seeing it beginning to fray.

The real administration goal here is kind of get this off the front page and then try to see if they can deal with the larger, more substantial issues underlying the conflict. That's not an easy thing. And you can easily see this becoming what they call a frozen conflict in the Soviet era. Soviet area, which they simply remain at loggerheads in a low key kind of way for years to come.

SCHIEFFER: Do you see any good news there?

IGNATIUS: I don't. It's when there's a ceasefire agreement you always are thankful that people won't get killed, but I think this agreement ratifies Russian gains, ratifies Russian interventions through proxy forces, leaves Ukraine, the pot boiling. Any time the Russians want to turn up the heat, they'll be able to.

I think this is an unfortunate deal, shows really that the President Poroshenko in Ukraine was getting overwhelmed on the battlefield.

SCHIEFFER: All right.

I want to turn now to something else. As we speak, the funeral has begun in New York for Joan Rivers. And Peggy, you wrote a blog about her this week and what you think she means to the American people. I just want to hear from you about that a little bit.

NOONAN: Well, I think, a lot of people were swept the past few days after Joan died, by a real affection for her, an affection that almost took them aback. They really liked her. It was a tribute to how much we appreciate people who make us laugh.

She was profane, she was on the border, she was transgressive, she was subverse, she was whacky, she played the fool. She made America laugh for a long time, half a century. Beautiful things have been written about her. I think she would have loved everyone of them. She was a great woman.

SCHIEFFER: You know, I thought it was interesting, she left instructions to her daughter. She said I don't want to quiet thing here, I want a big deal. I want a Hollywood, I want a lot of paparazzi which was just so Joan Rivers.

NOONAN: Yes, it's going to be beautiful. The gay men's chorus is going to sing and they've planned the songs, and it's going to gorgeous. The NYPD is there with the horses. It's going to be a show She would have loved it.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, thank you all very much.

We're going to be back to look all those senate races outside Washington and how they're shaping up so stay with us.


SCHIEFFER: ... for some brand new results of the latest CBS News/New York Times joint venture, the "2014 Battleground Tracker," with David Leonhardt, editor of The New York Times "Upshot," and our own director of elections here at CBS News, Anthony Salvanto.

Well, Anthony, what is the headline?

ANTHONY SALVANTO, CBS DIRECTOR OF ELECTIONS: Republicans still have their edge, Bob. We would say that if the election were held today, it would be 51-49 Republican Senate. The overall environment continues to favor them, by which I mean the state of the economy is still seen as poor by most voters. And, you know, the president's approval rating still under 50 percent.

Historically, you would imagine that would give the party out of power an edge. But it's how big that edge is that really becomes the political point here. Those numbers could go a lot higher if the Republicans, and we see this in almost every state, can move beyond their very enthusiastic, very motivated conservative base, and start winning some of the moderates that they aren't yet getting.

SCHIEFFER: I know in one of the key races, and that is down in Georgia, where Michelle Nunn is trying to win that seat that was held by Republican, and someone down there told me, said, look, this is going to come down to two things, men and women, blacks and whites.

They said if Michelle Nunn gets big turnout of women and big turnout of African-Americans, she's going to win. If it goes the other way, the Republican Perdue is going to win. What are you finding on that front?

DAVID LEONHARDT, EDITOR, "THE UPSHOT," THE NEW YORK TIMES: So we see a gender gap in nearly every state, I mean, in nearly every state women are going for the Democrats and men are going for the Republicans. So I think that is certainly the case.

And I think turnout is going to be huge in a lot of these states. In a lot of these states there are large parts of the electorate, Georgia is one of them, North Carolina is one of them, Louisiana is one of them, where you have heavily Democratic groups that tend not to vote in large numbers in the midterms, including African-Americans.

If that changes, you suddenly see Democrats having a better chance. This is by no means over. Republicans are in a better position, but I think at this point it's sort of a 60-40 thing, 60 percent chance the Republicans get the majority, 40 percent chance the Democrats keep it.

SCHIEFFER: It's very, very close in all these races, Anthony.

SALVANTO: It's close in all of them. And, you know, what is keeping it this close is not just gender gap, but it's also views of the current administration, you know?


SALVANTO: The president is always on the ballot in midterms to some extent. But in some of these states we see that over half of voters say that they're going to the polls just as a vote about the administration, even against the administration. That is certainly a motivating factor for Republicans.

So for the Democrats running in states, that is in Arkansas, that is Louisiana, it's a lot of the already conservative southern states. You know, that campaigning at a distance from the president, we see that going on all over.

SCHIEFFER: Talk about that, David.

LEONHARDT: The basic problem...

SCHIEFFER: What are the close races right now?

LEONHARDT: So the way I think of it is there are six battleground races. And the Democrats need four of them to keep the Senate. And the problem is only two of them are in states that the president won.

So basically they're on Republican territory. And these six are Arkansas, Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, North Carolina. Democrats need four of those. And they are some fascinating races, I mean, Iowa is a great race with Braley and Ernst, where you've got a populist Democrat and a really conservative Republican.

And we have got TV ads with people firing guns and talking about hog castration, and it's really close race.


LEONHARDT: And the winner is either going to be populist Democrat or a conservative Republican.

SALVANTO: Colorado is another good one. You know, folks around the country may be looking at these races and saying, well, what do I learn nationally about what is going on in some of these states?

Colorado has so many interests at play there. You've got energy. You've got guns. You've got pot. You've got lot of things at work.

Now I think that in all of these races though the other commonality that we see is really about whether Democrats can motivate that -- to something like a presidential year turnout among their base, and right now we just don't see that, which is why Republicans have a very narrow edge, if at all, but across so many of them.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, thank you all both.

And we'll be back in a moment.


SCHIEFFER: That's it for us today. Before we go we want to note the passing of longtime CBS News correspondent Bruce Morton, who died Friday after a long battle with cancer. He was a gifted writer who reported for CBS News for almost 30 years, and he loved politics. He was 83.

And next week we will be right back here when we'll be talking to New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand about her new book, "Off the Sidelines." And Ken Burns will be here to preview his new series for PBS, "The Roosevelts." We hope to see you then. And I'll see you tomorrow night on the "CBS EVENING NEWS."

Thanks for watching FACE THE NATION.

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