Mitchell Reports | November 27, 2012
>> o'donnell. joining me now is ambassador nicolas burns, former undersecretary of state and ambassador to nato , now with the john f. kennedy school of government at harvard. nick we've been through this before, seen confirmation hearings go off kilter. this is not getting a great start.
>> and it's a shame, andrea , because i think these charges against ambassador rice, i don't find convincing. she was simply representing the viewpoint of an entire administration and many of us have been in positions of defending administration 's republican and democrat in the past, i have, where you're not out there, you know, just trumpeting your own personal views. you're relying on a collective judgment made ats the state department , the white house , the cia and other places, and she was merely the person representing the position that day. so i don't think it's fair to hold her responsible. you know, she's a very effective highly intelligent person who by all accounts has been a very good ambassador to the united nations and there's so many issues, andrea , that confront the united states from the global economic recession to the afghan war to iran and north korea to the arab revolutions to what's happening in egypt today , i really think that those are the issues that ought to be in front of our congress as well as our administration officials.
>> nick, what do you think is going on? this seems to be a proxy war ?
>> well, it does. it does. i mean, obviously there are a lot of unanswered questions about benghazi and i've certainly believe that members of congress in both parties have a right and responsibility to asks those questions, but there are official commissions that will soon speak to those very questions. there's the commission headed by ambassador pickering and chairman mike mullen , former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff , other by the u.s. government . these investigations have been done in a deliberate, comprehensive way and we will soon know what their findings are. i think it's better for us as a collective here in the united states , to wait for those commissions and not rush to judgment and not be unfair to a very fine public servant in susan rice .
>> and let me just share with our audience and you what senator mccain said just after that session on capitol hill with susan rice . he went to the newseum for a package discussion on syria and this is one of his offhanded remarks.
>> but i believe in american leadership, i believe in the greatness of america, i believe that this president can lead. i believe that his secretary of state, whoever that might be, can also lead.
>> john mccain 's humor, we understand, but he was certainly treating this as though it is very much in play. of course, as we point out, the president has not nominated her, but we understand all of our reporting and colleague's reporting he would like to nominate her to be secretary of state. can she try to -- can they try to ram this through?
>> well, you know, the president has a right to nominate the person he thinks is best for all these positions and andrea , as you know, there may be vacancies in four or five key positions in his administration . so he has to make the best judgment for that. i would just hope that all members of congress would give any nominee, obviously, due consideration. and today ambassador rice is being asked lots of questions and she -- i thought she made the right decision. she took the initiative, the administration did, to have her go up to capitol hill . that's the right position. and as long as the administration is open about what's been happening in benghazi with the investigation, then i think the facts will come out and we'll wait for these official commission -- alluded all the problems that will face whoever becomes secretary of state in this term, iran front and center today, i think the associated press reporting that a country hostile to iran and suspicious of its nuclear intentions has shared a nuclear diagram supposedly a diagram obtained by this other country's intelligence services of iranian scientists that have made a dangerous weapon diagram at least that would produce more than triple the explosive force of the bomb that went off in hiroshima. of course we can infer from this could likely be the israeli intelligence service. what do we know about iran right now? we have the nuclear concerns, the fact that there are suspicions iran is continuing to try to arm the hamas militants in gaza, despite the cease-fire and we don't know whether egypt is going to monitor that and protect those tunnels from being penetrated again? what is iran 's role in all of this?
>> andrea , i have not seen the report to which you just referred but we do know, because of the public reports made by the iaea over the last couple weeks, that iran continues its efforts to enrich uranium and drive towards a nuclear weapons capability. i believe this will be the number one national security challenge that the united states faces in the next 12 months. i do think that president obama 's instinct to try to see if iran is amenable to negotiations is the right one because that will tell us whether or not iran is serious about stopping short of a nuclear weapon , whether they can live with -- well live without a nuclear weapon and be live within their international obligations. but iran faces -- does pose other challenges and you mentioned them, they've been supplying these rockets to hamas, supplying very sophisticated rocket technology to hezbollah. this poses an enormous security threat to israel. we've seen that play out in gaza. so there are a lot of issues before the administration . many, many very serious, but none bigger than iran in stopping them sort of a nuclear weapon is a very urgent national priority.
>> nicolas burns, thank you very much. thanks for joining us.