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STATE OF THE UNION WITH CANDY CROWLEY

No-Fly Zone in Place in Libya

Aired March 20, 2011 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CANDY CROWLEY, HOST: This morning, U.S. and international forces have effectively put in place the no-fly zone in Libya. That was preceded by a furious assault of Tomahawk missiles from allied forces at sea.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VICE ADMIRAL WILLIAM GORTNEY, DIRECTOR OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: This is just the first phase of what will likely be a multiphase military operation designed to enforce the United Nations resolution and deny the Libyan regime the ability to use force against its own people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: The days of tough talk are over.

Today, the attack Libya, the latest from the chairman of the join chiefs of staff Admiral Mike Mullen, the role of the U.S. military with former CENTCOM commander Admiral William Fallon and former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff General Richard Myers.

Then Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: I think we can turn this tide.

LIEBERMAN: It's late, but it's not too late.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: And the Fukushima reactor sparked anxiety across the world. What we really know from Energy Secretary Stephen Chu. I'm Candy Crowley. And this is State of the Union.

Moammar Gadhafi's bases are getting pounded but he remains defiant. A short time ago there was this broadcast message.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN LEADER (through translator): They have to know that we will fight. Though we are -- we have the depth of thousands in mind, this land will not submit ever. We have defeated Italy when it was a great power like you today. You are agressives. You are...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: A short time ago we talked to CNN's Arwa Damon in Benghazi. Arwa, let me ask you first, where are you? What are you seeing?

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Candy, we're around 20 miles outside of Benghazi on the road that leads to Ajdabiya. And we are standing in the middle of a military vehicle graveyard. This, eyewitnesses are telling us, is a result of air strikes that took place by foreign fighter jets early this morning. The debris stretches for as far as the eye can see. Most of the vehicles are still smoldering, ranging from tanks with their turrets blown off to overturned military trucks, heavy armored vehicles, vehicles, SUVs that Gadhafi's army, eyewitnesses are telling us, had been using to try to advance on Benghazi.

Right now, it turned into something of a victory symbol. The area is packed with vehicles belonging to Benghazi's residents coming out to survey the damage. And they have this message for foreign powers. And that is, thank you.

And they also want the world to know despite whatever propaganda they say Gadhafi is putting out, that these air strikes and other missile strikes are hitting civilian locations. This one, they say, was right on target.

What we have been seeing in the past was the advance of Gadhafi's military machine crushing the poorly equipped, poorly trained opposition. And now we are seeing the results of when foreign powers intervene with their superior military power, Candy?

CROWLEY: And so if i understand you, those forces that were aligned outside Benghazi that were pro-Gadhafi have, what, been obliterated at least the machinery has been?

DAMON: It's not obliterated. They have sustained some very heavy, heavy damage. This, most certainly by all the information we have, looks like it was the military buildup that Gadhafi had established outside of Benghazi. It looks like the same forces that entered Benghazi yesterday wrecked havoc inside the city pounding it. Eyewitnesses tell us the tank rounds, artillery and machine gunfire firing indiscriminately into civilian locations.

Those forces were then driven out by opposition fighters yesterday. Everyone we've been talking to is very concerned that they were going to try to re-attack Benghazi. But now some 20 miles outside of that city, it most certainly seems as if Gadhafi's advance has literally been stopped in its tracks. I mean the extent of the debris here is very hard to explain. We thought that it reached the end of (inaudible) to find out it had stretched on for miles more down the road, Candy.

CROWLEY: Arwa Damon outside Beghazi for us. Thanks so much for your insights. Joining me in now here in Washington, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. Admiral Mullen thanks for being here.

MULLEN: Good to be with you.

CROWLEY: Can you give us an assessment of what almost 24 hours worth of assault on Libya has done to its air defenses?

MULLEN: Well, we worked hard to both plan this in a relatively short period of time, and I would say that the no-fly zone is effectively in place. We've got combat air patrol or aircraft over Benghazi and we'll have them there for -- on a 24/7 basis, start to move to the west. He hasn't flown any aircraft for the last two days. And the whole goal here is to, one, get it in place, two, be in a position so that he is unable to massacre his own civilians and that we affect the humanitarian support.

So from that standpoint, the initial operations have been very effective, taken out most of his air defense systems, some of his airfields. Yet, there is still, I think, a great deal to be done.

CROWLEY: And when you say still a great deal to be done, you mean in taking out some of his air defenses and other air fields?

MULLEN: Well, we'll see. There's some of that left. We've seen some mobile air defense capability. We also struck some of his forces on the ground in the vicinity of Benghazi. And he was attacking Benghazi yesterday. So put a halt to that at least temporarily. And now we'll look to cut of his logistics lines.

He has got his forces pretty well stretched from Tripoli all the way out to Benghazi and we will endeavor to sever his logistic support here in the next day or so.

So we'll see. I mean, we're in a situation now where what we do will depend to some degree on what he does.

CROWLEY: So you're trying to cut off supply lines.

MULLEN: Right.

CROWLEY: What about communications? Have we been able to take out any of that?

MULLEN: We have focused on mostly his air defense capability and air fields, certainly his command and control. What this will allow us to do right now is to get other capabilities where we can jam his communications and do those kinds of things.

So this is -- I think as was pointed out yesterday, yesterday was a first phase of a multifaceted, multiphase approach in a very complex operation. And again, he gets a vote here. What depends in the future in great part depends on what Colonel Gadhafi does.

CROWLEY: And what you want him to do is move back from Benghazi. What are you -- what would make you stop?

MULLEN: Well actually, we would like to see him withdraw his forces across the country back into garrison. Stop attacking his people. And then not in any way interfere with the humanitarian support that is need right now.

CROWLEY: And when you say we are over Benghazi -- so the no-fly zone, as I understand it, has started. You have taken out enough so that you can relatively safe for those planes to be in the air over Libya. And when you say we, that is... MULLEN: There is a coalition here. I mean...

CROWLEY: Are there U.S. planes?

MULLEN: The initial operation involved French planes, British planes, as well as U.S. planes, support from coalition partners are bulling in particular from some of our Arab partners which is -- they're coming into theater. And, again, we expect to sustain this over a period of time. And while the United States leads this right now, we expect in the next few days to hand that leadership off to a coalition led operation and the United States recedes somewhat to the background in support while still providing unique capabilities which would include a capability like jamming, continuing to jam his communications.

CROWLEY: So you don't want U.S. planes -- or U.S. pilots over Libya? You want to move back? First of all, are they there now, U.S. planes? Second of all, is that what you're saying, you want -- the U.S. wants to be in a support role and not actively involved in the, you know, dangerous military parts. I'm not quite sure how to put it.

MULLEN: Well, I mean the entire operation has a danger and vulnerability to it. We've been able to execute it very well and very safely so far. What we see happening in the next few days is, again, the U.S. moving to a support role. I wouldn't go so far as to say we're not going to have airplanes over Libya in three or four days. I think the commander who is there, who is General Carter Ham as commander U.S. AFRICOM, will sort out exactly how he wants to do that.

But as more and more capability shows up from other countries, I think you'll see the U.S. move to more of a support role, recognizing that there still be could be threats out there that the United States as well as others would have to take out.

CROWLEY: So who will run it? NATO? Or -- someone has to be in charge.

MULLEN: There was -- in the summit yesterday in Paris, there was a large part of the discussion that first of all a commitment to the overall operation and second many countries including Arab countries and the details of how we will do the command and control is something we'll work out here in the next few days.

CROWLEY: But you don't want it to be the U.S.

MULLEN: It's clear the intent to have the coalition run this. CROWLEY: OK. The U.K. foreign secretary said that Arab nations, and by this we believe he means the UAE -- United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, will take part with diplomatic and financial support. And he hopes they will give active military support as well.

Do you do more than hope? Because we were led to believe that there would be planes and active military involvement by these two Arab nations, that that was very important to the U.S. effort.

MULLEN: I would like those Arab nations to speak for themselves. I'm fairly confident, actually very confident, that there will be military capabilities from some Arab nations. And that they are actually moving in to theater now. So that has been the commitment on the part of the political leadership in some Arab countries. And I expect it to happen militarily as well.

CROWLEY: Lots of times we hear many generals looking at past wars and saying, you know, what you need is a definite mission going in and an exit strategy. Is this mission militarily to get rid of Moammar Gadhafi? Is it to put so much pressure on him and give hope to the rebels so that they overthrow him? Is that when the mission is over? When is this mission over?

MULLEN: Well, this is a very specifically focused limited military mission to provide for -- to create the no-fly zone, to ensure that we protect the civilians in Libya and provide for the humanitarian support with force authorized in accordance with the United Nations Security Council resolution.

He is more and more isolated internationally than he has ever been. There are heavy sanctions which have been put in place. And, in fact, changes to previous sanctions which would include an ability now in the arms embargo to essentially board ships at sea, which is a new very aggressive part of the United Nations Security Council resolution.

So I think over the long run, you would see more and more pressure build on him. How this ends from the political standpoint, I just can't say. I'm very focused now on the near term military mission as has been given to me by President Obama.

CROWLEY: And your military mission could be over with Gadhafi still in power?

MULLEN: Again, I wouldn't speculate how this exactly would come out and what -- who would be where when. The overall objective here is -- certainly in the near term on the military side is to do as I've described. I think the international community, including, you know, the Arab League, which voted for this no-fly zone, and he's being isolated by those who have been his partners before.

And so I think the pressure will continue to build on him. And I think exactly how this comes out in the long run, it's just too early to say.

CROWLEY: Gadhafi says that there have been civilian deaths, women and children, as a result of these air strikes.

MULLEN: We've selected these targets very carefully. We work to completely eliminate civilian casualties. And I've seen no reports of any kind of significant civilian casualties.

CROWLEY: Admiral Mullen, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

MULLEN: Thank you, Candy.

CROWLEY: Thanks for joining us.

Up next, my conversation on the crisis in Libya with senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: In late February, I spoke with senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman from Cairo during the early stages of the uprising in Libya. During that interview, they said they supported imposing a no- fly zone. Three weeks later, the U.N. approved that no-fly zone which has now effectively been established. Before Congress left this weekend, I spoke with the senators from Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: You all, when I talked to you, called for that no-fly zone. And I think the question that is really out there now is, is it too late?

MCCAIN: I hope it's not too late. And I believe it's not too late. Obviously, if we had taken this step a couple weeks ago a no- fly zone would probably have been enough. Now a no-fly zone is not enough. There needs to be other efforts made.

And I want to preclude ground troops, U.S. or allies ground troops, that is not what we are talking about. But there is a whole lot of things that can be done. Also, we've got to get our assets over there. The aircraft carrier is a long ways away. Aircraft carriers should have been on station a long time ago.

But I'm -- I think the boost of the morale, I think that the -- some of the enforcement that you're going to see from ourselves and our allies including a couple of the Arab countries, I think three of them that I think we can turn this tide. I think the next five or six days we'll know. LIEBERMAN: I think if the world had acted earlier, you know, three or four weeks since the conflict in Libya turned bloody, is not a long period of time. But in a conflict, it is a long period of time. Because Gadhafi...

CROWLEY: Timing is all.

LIEBERMAN: Yes, Gadhafi had so much of an advantage in terms of logistics, command and control, weapons, that time helped him every day while the world refused to make the decision. I think earlier on, maybe a no-fly zone could have done it. Now it's clear from the U.N. Security Council resolution that has passed that the nations of the world have been authorized by the United Nations to take whatever actions are necessary to protect civilians.

You know, Gadhafi the other night said, and it's so typical of him, my troops will go house-to-house, we'll go door to door, we'll go room to room to find the enemies of Libya. And that is exactly what I worry about, that there will be a humanitarian disaster.

So we got to -- it's late. But it's not too late if we act quickly together.

MCCAIN: And the key to it, Candy, is that momentum was all on the side of Gadhafi until that U.N. vote. Now time is not on Gadhafi's side. If he doesn't succeed in a relatively short period of time, he'll be driven back and over time, I believe, defeated.

CROWLEY: We're going to play you something that Under Secretary of State of Burns had to stay on Capitol Hill earlier this week and get your reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM BURNS, UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS: I think there is also a very real danger that if Gadhafi is successful on the ground that you also face, you know, a number of other considerable risks as well, the dangers of him returning to terrorism and violent extremism himself, the dangers of the turmoil that he could help create at a very critical moment elsewhere in the region.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: He was at the Senate Foreign...

(CROSSTALK)

MCCAIN: He's exactly right. And the other aspect of this, if Gadhafi succeeds, it sends a message to every other dictator in the Arab world and outside the Arab world, if your people rise up in search of democracy, go ahead and clamp down and kill as many as you need, you need to in order to stay in power. That's the message.

That would be a terrible message to send to people who are aspiring to freedom and democracy. CROWLEY: Senator, you have this statement by the under secretary. You've had the president of the United States saying Gadhafi has to go. This is pre-U.N. vote, but nonetheless, you've had the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, saying Gadhafi has to go. So it seems to me this no-fly mission is something far more than that. It's bent on getting him out.

LIEBERMAN: Well, you're absolutely right. Look, and the first thing I want to say is once the president of the United States says as President Obama did that Gadhafi must go, if we don't work with our allies to make sure Gadhafi does go, America's credibility and prestige suffers all over the world. I had the opportunity...

CROWLEY: So, we can't afford to let him stay in office?

LIEBERMAN: We can't afford to let him stay in office. I want to say, too, that the first people that asked John and me to please do something to help the opposition to Gadhafi in Libya were the students, the young people, who led the uprising in Egypt, because they see Gadhafi's targets in Libya as their brothers and sisters in this Arab spring. And if Gadhafi survives, the Arab spring maybe comes to an end, at least it doesn't move beyond Tunisia and Egypt.

MCCAIN: On a tactical level, he is -- Gadhafi's acting land, sea and air. And we can take out the air and sea component of that very quickly.

This is ideal terrain for air power. This is made for aviators. And so I think with significant air assets we can have a really big impact.

Now, how quickly we can move back and get him out, I think it's going to be a matter of time.

CROWLEY: And by that, you mean months? Because what you're doing really is...

MCCAIN: I don't know, because you see, there's so much got to go with morale and momentum. I think that if it looks like to the people around Gadhafi and the average soldier that is now fighting for Gadhafi that it's a matter of time, I think it's possible -- I emphasize possible -- you could see a rapid situation, a rapid deterioration on the side of Gadhafi.

LIEBERMAN: I think we've got to be ready for a longer battle to get him out of there. But it could go more quickly. Because his troops could lose their confidence and abandon him.

MCCAIN: And I am confident in the military capabilities that we have as well as other capabilities. For example, jamming his communications. For example, get in some much needed weapons, getting some people trained. There's a lot of things we can do beside just the air power component of it. So I have great confidence in our capabilities, the most mightiest nation in the world is now matched up against a third rate or fourth rate power.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you a bottom line question here, would it have been better -- there are so many people from Libya, our reporters included, who have said, he just needed a -- he was just ready to go. And then there was this two-week delay while we waited for the U.N. to do something.

Did President Obama wait too long on the U.N. to act?

MCCAIN: He waited too long. There is no doubt in my mind about it. But now it is what it is. And we need now to support him and the efforts that our military are going to make. And I regret that we didn't act much more quickly and we could have, but that's not the point now. The point now is let's get behind this effort and do everything we can to support it.

And IO say to my friends in the congress who are nervous about another intervention, I'm confident we can prevail. And I'm confident that if we hadn't have taken this action that the consequences of failure would have reverberated for years.

CROWLEY: Up next, we'll get reaction from two former top officials, former CENTCOM commander Admiral William Fallon and former Joint Chiefs Chairman Richard Myers.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: We want to get reaction now from former U.S. CENTCOM commander Admiral William Fallon and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers. Gentleman thank you so much for bringing your perspective to the table.

What do you -- you heard me talk to the current head of the joint chiefs and I still don't have a sense of what is the end game here? When do we say OK we've done this and walk away from it.

GEN RICHARD MYERS (RET), FORMER JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: I don't think we've heard that from any of the senior political heads of state that have been putting their forces into Libya. So -- I mean, I read very carefully and listened very carefully to President Obama's statement and it was all about stopping the humanitarian crisis. But not the end state. So I think -- I mean, my assumption would be that Admiral Mullen and the president and the secretary of State are working this issue very hard, but we haven't heard that articulated.

CROWLEY: But as a military person, do you think that any of the leadership in the military right now would go in without some idea of when they were getting out?

ADM. WILLIAM FALLON (RET), FORMER CENTCOM COMMANDER: One would think they've gone through this, talked about it. They're certainly looking for a way ahead. These are clearly tactical steps. We're very good at this. I think it's terrific that we've been able to get an international coalition together. And it looks like it's a pretty broad based. And the particularly terrain, the circumstances, favor our capabilities there. But the big question is, of course, is going to be what next? How do you recognize and identify an end state and how do you get there?

MYERS: I think -- your question, Candy, about the military's advice here. I think the military's advice is very clear. You know, give us the mission, tell us the end state. We'll work the military means to get to that end state. And I think the advice to the president would be very, very clear in that regard.

On the other hand, the president makes final decision. So the president can decide that's our constitution and that's appropriate.

CROWLEY: Right. Well, I mean, I ask because we have had the secretary of State, the president and the undersecretary of State all say Gadhafi has to go.

MYERS: Right.

CROWLEY: I mean, there is -- it's hard to imagine...

FALLON: Not in a recent statement, however. But, yes.

CROWLEY: Prior to this, but nonetheless, last week we had all three of them saying he's got to go and one of them saying otherwise he's going to be a terrorist and support terrorism. So it's hard for me to believe that the military mission is to get the humanitarian aid in. Isn't that to get arms in?

FALLON: I think the first thing's first. There is a real problem with Gadhafi's forces on the move, pretty rapidly shrinking the area that the opposition forces control. And with the threats that were emanating from Gadhafi's lips in the last couple days, adding fuel to that fire.

So that, preventing that a tragedy seems to me is the first order of business. Now the challenge is going to be OK if you can stop them, then how do you get to the desired end state? At least as it's been enunciated to date and that is to get rid of him.

So I'm not sure how you connect these dots. And that is the political challenge. That's what the diplomats have to do.

CROWLEY: ...political to match up with the military.

MYERS: Absolutely. That has to happen.

FALLON: You can do the military piece. We're pretty confident -- highly confident that we can do this and particularly with the help that we're going to get.

CROWLEY: Also interesting to me is this idea of well we don't want to be in charge here we're just going to be another participant in this. And yet, I always thought when U.S. forces were in battle, they weren't under anybody's command but U.S. command. How is it -- again, you heard Admiral Mullen. What does that all mean? Who is going to take over here?

MYERS: I think the larger issue is the perception of the United States in the Arab world and trying to avoid the pitfalls of looking like it's the west against the Muslim world or the Arab world.

CROWLEY: Right.

MYERS: So that's one piece of it. But I think they've done a really good job harnessing a coalition here early on. And so to have the French in there some of the first aircraft over Libya is actually remarkable.

We've got the Danish coming down, positioning some jets. Italy, as has been said earlier. United Arab Emirates, Qatar. I mean, this is shaping up I think in a very positive way. And whether the U.S. leaves or not I think is sort of a side argument. I mean, we're going to have to provide some of the command and control and some of the assets...

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: There is some stuff that only the U.S. can do.

MYERS: Yes, right. Now do we have to be in charge? I mean, that can all be parsed. But I guess I wouldn't parse the words too carefully. This is an international coalition, legitimate international coalition.

FALLON: The U.S. has the ability, the resources, the assets to actually do things very quickly. And so I think that was pretty obvious in the events of the last 24 hours. So getting this thing in place quickly because there wasn't a lot of time, given what happened on the ground yesterday, our ability to pull these forces together, to execute quickly, and these other capabilities that we have that other nations just don't have in depth, the communications, the command and control, the specific military weapons and things, bring those to bear quickly.

But it's very clear from all the statements that we've heard that we would like to hand over the bulk of this business to our coalition partners. And let be there no mistake about it, when you talk about instituting a no-fly zone, this is not something that is a one-time shot. This is something that could go on for quite a while. It requires a lot of assets...

CROWLEY: It could go on for - we've had no-fly zones that went on for years.

FALLON: Yes. Remember back in Iraq, it went on for a decade. And it's very resource intensive. So I think the idea is, given the other commitments that we have in the world, happy to take the lead, but the idea of sustaining this thing might fall on -- burden on some other shoulders.

CROWLEY: Tell me what the -- we heard Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen, before this all happened, they were among those pushing back the hardest going, you know what, this is not as easy as it seems, let's rethink this. And we had Secretary of State Clinton and others sort of pushing for it. What was the military reservation? Because all I hear is, well, this is a third- or fourth-rate country, we have got the biggest military in the world, we can do this. And yet, the hesitant ones was the military.

MYERS: I think it probably goes back to the -- what is the strategic objective? What is our strategic plan here? What is the end state that we -- and I think it was trouble defining that. But then the humanitarian crisis got worse and worse and the best we can tell from the reports coming out of there that there are shortages of electricity, of water, of medicine. So there really is, it sounds like, a beginning of a real humanitarian crisis. So I think that probably increased the sense of urgency.

CROWLEY: So you think it was more fear of mission creep or mission...

(CROSSTALK)

FALLON: Maybe not so much a fear as just when you resort to military force, under any circumstances, once the shooting starts, then things have a way of happening that are very difficult to predict in advance.

We have ongoing engagements, as we're well aware, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a host of other things going on in the world. And so one of the major issues is, how many of these things -- is it realistically possible to pick up? What's the urgency of this?

And then as General Myers stated, where are we going to go? How do you get this to move on, to get an end state that is acceptable? And that's the real question.

CROWLEY: It does not sound as though Gadhafi at least after last night is equipped to do much damage. What do you -- what does our military now fear the most in this operation?

MYERS: I think -- I don't know for sure. But I think what I would worry about is being able to differentiate between pro-Gadhafi forces and opposition as they get into the major cities.

CROWLEY: Killing the wrong people.

MYERS: Yes, killing the wrong people. Because we have a very elaborate system in the U.S. military, most militaries do, to help our air power understand who the bad guys are and who the good guys are. So I think that would be one of the fears that you don't, you know, hurt the opposition or, for that matter, innocent civilians.

CROWLEY: Admiral Fallon, last word here?

FALLON: This -- the terrain here favors us in many respects. It's wide open. It's desert. Most of the population and most of the potential targets are in a narrow area along the coast. The challenge is really if there's a close engagement of the different parties, extremely difficult, particularly with no people on the ground and a stated preference to have no people on the ground, that could make that very problematic.

CROWLEY: Admiral Fallon, General Myers, thank you so much, both of you, for being with us.

Up next, a live report from Japan on that country's crisis.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CROWLEY: We want to turn now to the other big story we're following this morning, the disaster in Japan. From Tokyo, we have CNN's Anna Coren.

Anna, what is the latest you have?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We actually have some very good news to give you, Candy. And that is that two survivors were found today, an 81-year-old woman and her 16-year-old grandson.

They were found in Inshinomaki which is an area that we spent quite a bit of time with right after the earthquake and tsunami. Apparently the house they were in collapsed and the grandmother was pinned to the floor.

However, the grandson, he stayed with her and was able to -- they were able to survive on food in the fridge, believe it or not. He managed to crawl out, find his way out some nine days after the tsunami and earthquake hit. And that's when rescuers found him.

So some good news finally, Candy, coming out of Japan. But the sad note is the death toll continues to rise. It is climbing beyond 8,000. And as far as the missing goes, that is almost at 13,000.

A police chief from one of the three prefectures that has been badly affected believes that the death toll from his prefecture alone will stand at 15,000. So, Candy, not good news on that front.

CROWLEY: Anna, we often look at these horrible pictures and I think everyone thinks oh, all of Japan looks like that. Give us your quick synopsis of Tokyo right now. Is it up and running full speed?

COREN: Yes, Tokyo is fine, Candy. We are some 250 kilometers almost from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. And that is, of course, the other big story. Tokyo is fine. We had a rather large earthquake here last night, about a 6.1 magnitude. But there were no reports of damage.

On news of the nuclear power plant, they are stabilizing the situation. We believe that power is trying to be restored to all six reactors. The water sprays and fire trucks are still saturating those reactors, trying to keep them cool.

It is unpredictable. That situation, of course, is unpredictable. But they are hoping, endeavoring to restore power to all six reactors. So hopefully that will happen in the coming week, Candy?

CROWLEY: Thanks so much, our CNN's Anna Coren in Tokyo for us.

Up next, we'll have much more detail on the nuclear crisis in Japan with U.S. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Joining me now here in Washington, Energy Secretary Stephen Chu. Mr. Secretary, thanks for joining us.

Can you give us what you know as of right now about the status of the three troublesome reactors in Japan?

CHU: Certainly. Of the three reactors, one, two, and three, two of them we believe are intact, the main containment vessel. There is a suspicion...

CROWLEY: So no danger of meltdown in two of them?

CHU: That's true.

CROWLEY: Okay.

CHU: Well, I should be more precise. There's a containment vessel. I think there is suspicion of damaged fuel rods in the reactors themselves. But the issue here now is whether the containment vessels are intact. And the main containment vessels in two of them we believe are intact. We don't know the status of the third one.

CROWLEY: OK. So inside two of them, you might have some damaged fuel rods, but the containment is secure?

CHU: That's what we believe at the moment, correct.

CROWLEY: And the third one, I'm assuming is what they call number three?

CHU: Right.

CROWLEY: The one that you're still worried about?

CHU: No, number two is the one we're worried about.

CROWLEY: I'm sorry number two, right.

And what is -- tell me again, what are you worried about there?

CHU: Well, because of the higher levels of radiation, we take that as evidence that there might be a breech in that containment vessel. But they're not extraordinarily high. So it appears if there is a breech, it is a limited breech. But again, we don't really know.

CROWLEY: Is the worst over? CHU: Well, we believe so. But I don't want to make a blanket statement. What you do in events like this is as you go and get more information as you bring back power online and do all those other things, that means you're mitigating and assured things are taken off the table and that's the process which the Japanese government and the people at TEPCO are doing. They are slowly bringing them off the table.

CROWLEY: And you -- we know that they need the power to try to cool the reactors and the core. Is power now linked up in at least one of those? CHU: Well, very quickly after both the access to grid power was taken off line due to the earthquake and tsunami and the local power taken off line, emergency diesel generators were in place. And so what you're talking about are the mainline power from the place. And so power has been restored and they're beginning to start to hook up the main equipment, the pumps and things of that nature.

CROWLEY: Do you feel comfortable now with the honesty and the knowledge that you are getting from Japanese authorities about what's going on at these plants?

CHU: Well, there's no evidence that I've ever heard that the Japanese were holding back. I mean, they're giving their people and us reports of what's going on. It's sometimes hard to tell because a lot of time the sensors are out. Remember, this is a place where there's no power. So we are getting information from them. We have confidence in that information. And we've actually loaned them and are working with them on other monitoring equipment.

CROWLEY: Then why -- what accounts for the difference of assessments that the U.S. had early on about how serious the problem was and the Japanese had? Were they not, do you think they were hiding something? Did they not know? Did you know something they didn't know?

CHU: No. I think it's -- what we do is we have our own set of standards and safety and we thought we would err -- the United States would err on the side of prudence and caution. And you're probably speaking about the different zones where you would have to evacuate. And that was just done out of abundance of caution.

CROWLEY: Well, and U.S. officials seemed more alarmed at the time than Japanese officials did.

CHU: Well, I don't know about that. Because I think it really depends on how -- now you're beginning to read body language and things of that nature. I think both the Japanese officials and the United States officials are taking this very seriously. They're working as best and as fast as they can to determine the situation and most important to mitigate further risks.

CROWLEY: Disasters tend to happen when things you don't expect come along. The Japanese didn't expect an earthquake over 7.0. They didn't have reactors that could withstand that. They didn't expect a huge earthquake, 9.0 followed by a tsunami. What is it that the U.S. is not expecting? Could our reactors on the west coast withstand a 9.0 right now followed by a tsunami?

CHU: If a reactor is located in the vicinity of site -- it's forbidden to put a reactor on an earthquake fault, but if they're located in the vicinity of the site, then there is an estimate of what the largest ground motion would be at that site. And then you design above that ground motion criteria.

The ground motion criteria we use is something where the probability is so low we're looking for a potential quake that would occur once every 7,000 to 10,000 years. And so you're allowing a huge span of time to allow for significant ground motion.

CROWLEY: What are they built for on the coast?

CHU: Again, it depends on the site of the reactor. Let me give you an example, because sometimes people translate this to scale of the Richter Scale, but it's really an acceleration at the site. And, for example, it could be something like Diablo Canyon, I believe is something like two-thirds of the acceleration, vertical acceleration due to gravity. In lay person's language, that might translate into something like a 6.0, 6.2 Richter Scale.

But it's really at the site, the ground motion or what the geologists know.

CROWLEY: OK. Just need a quick yes or no. So anything above 6.2, let's say, in layman's terms, you might not be able to withstand on the coast?

CHU: Oh, no. That is the estimated, the maximum size of the ground shaking. Then you go well above that. So maybe 7.5.

CROWLEY: OK. So a 9 would, as it was troublesome for Japan would be troublesome for us?

CHU: Yes, except a 9 does not come from the type of faults around that reactor site. That's the other thing you have to consider. The very large earthquakes that Japan saw are what are known as subduction zone earthquakes where one piece of ground goes under another.

CHU: And these other faults, they are slip faults like that. And you simply don't get 9s in those kind of faults.

CROWLEY: Secretary Steven Chu, energy secretary, we appreciate your time.

CHU: Thank you.

CROWLEY: Up next, we'll go to CNN's Jill Dougherty, who has been in Paris with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Let's go now to CNN foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty, in Paris, who has been traveling with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Jill, we've been talking this morning to Admiral Mullen, who said, listen, the no-fly zone is up and running. We heard from Arwa Damon in Benghazi that those Libyan forces that were outside the city have been smashed by this alliance.

As far as the secretary of state is concerned, what next? What are we looking for?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the word they're using, Candy, right now is "sequencing," because they don't know exactly what's going to happen.

So they do the military part, you know, degrade his air offenses, keep the -- the no-fly zone and keep pushing, ultimately try to help the opposition.

President Obama has said he has not said that they cannot arm them, so that might be a possibility.

So that's, kind of, the military side. And then from the inside, what Secretary Clinton said yesterday here in Paris was very interesting, that they are looking for and have already seen defections within Gadhafi's people.

And it is very clear, she said, the message right now from the United States is very much directed at that, that they hope to see more defections.

So I think you could say it's, kind of, like outside and inside pressure, hoping that ultimately somebody from inside will either get rid of Gadhafi or put enough pressure for him to go away some place.

CROWLEY: So, in essence, they are looking, with this military action, to infuse the rebels with hope and say to some of these upper echelons that are still supporting Gadhafi, this is your chance; this guy is on his way out, in the hopes of, kind of, making that come true?

DOUGHERTY: Yes. And, you know, it was interesting also, one really key person to look at is the foreign minister, Musa Kusa. He has been in contact, actually right up until the last minute, with the United States.

I was talking to one senior administration official who was talking about some of those contacts from Musa Kusa. And he has been all over the map in terms of where they are heading, even as -- when we were here in Paris as Secretary Clinton arrived, he was saying that we are going to -- we are going to observe a cease-fire, even as the forces of Gadhafi were moving on Benghazi.

So he has -- you could say that the confusion coming out of Musa Kusa is a good example of what they hope to see more of, a fracturing within these supporters of Gadhafi.

CROWLEY: CNN's Jill Dougherty for us in Paris today. What a great skyline. Thanks, Jill.

Up next, more of our coverage of the breaking news out of Libya. Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander General Wesley Clark is standing by.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: I'm Candy Crowley and this is a special edition of STATE OF THE UNION. "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" will be back at its normal time next Sunday. This morning we are following the breaking news out of Libya where U.S. and allied forces have effectively implemented the no-fly zone. We want to go first to CNN's senior international correspondent Nic Robertson who's in Tripoli.

Nic, we have heard from Gadhafi this morning. We know that he is claiming that civilians died in some of these attacks on Libya. Can you tell, from your vantage point, because we've talked to Admiral Mullen who says, look, we were pretty precise in these things. How much of this is propaganda coming out of Gadhafi and how much of it can be documented?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's very hard to document any of it.

What we have seen on state television, here on these pictures emerged perhaps an hour and 10 minutes after those bombing missions on Tripoli, on the eastern side of Tripoli, there were pictures of army officers inside a hospital visiting wounded men of fighting age. A couple of them appeared to have military uniforms on. Some of them had severe injuries. One of them at least had a severe head trauma and was being ventilated by hand by a medic.

They were holding up pieces of shrapnel to show what they were hit and injured by. The soldiers were saying "miya miya" which is sort of a catch phrase here, 100 percent -- 100 percent support for Gadhafi, saying we will be victorious.

So, clearly, the message the government was putting out last night to its own viewers was that soldiers had been hit and the soldiers were coming up valiantly after -- after being injured. That was the image.

They did also show 12 bodies in a morgue, wrapped in sheets. But the images they showed seemed to be of military age men and apparently soldiers, Candy.

CROWLEY: Nic, we have heard a lot this morning from our Jill Dougherty and from some of our other guests who have said, look, the idea here is to keep military pressure on Gadhafi and to diplomatically, privately, secretly suggest to people around him or supporting him, hey, the end is near here. Time for you to defect.

Have you seen any sign of that? And, given all of your expertise in this area, how likely is that sort of thing to happen?

ROBERTSON: We're not seeing anything of that nature taking shape at the moment, and the rhetoric around Gadhafi is -- is -- that we've heard recently, it seems to indicate that the people he has around him are staunchly loyal to him and the people that were going to jump ship, I think we've seen them jump ship. The former Justice Minister now is -- is a leader with the opposition.

So the people that were going to jump have jumped, and it's never clear that they were in a position to really effectively take on the leadership. So I think what we're going to see, and this is sort of based on what we've seen in other countries as well where the leadership has been challenged by the West, by Saddam Hussein in Iraq for example, is the leadership here to cloak themselves in the mantle of, this is the west, this is Christians, an invader crusade against an Arab, against the Muslim nation. And Gadhafi is doing that. That's what his speeches are focusing on.

So I think that we're not going to see visibly cracks in that leadership around him. I mean, think about it this way. Over the past couple of years, there has been a sort of a -- a movement for a change in leadership, to hand it over to his son, Seif Gadhafi. That was muted and neutralized by the -- the sort of old guard security chiefs here.

Seif Gadhafi has now thrown himself fully, fully behind his father, talking about arming the people in this country. The family is rallying around Gadhafi and I think that's what we're going to see. I think what we're going to see here is the west push Gadhafi's forces back to a line that we don't know yet in the -- in the east, and then the country will be effectively partitioned and Gadhafi will strengthen his hold on whatever he has left. That seems to be at this early stage where we're heading, Candy.

CROWLEY: Nic Robertson in Tripoli for us. Thanks very much. We will be talking to you, I'm sure, throughout the day. Appreciate it.

Joining us now from Little Rock, Arkansas, CNN contributor General Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander.

Let me make some use of that, General Clark, to just ask you, NATO is set to decide whether they're going to join this coalition to take military action. Is there any doubt in your mind that NATO wouldn't join?

CLARK: You know, it really depends on the internal politics of the countries there and how this is perceived. Every country has its own internal political dynamic.

There are traditionally (ph) a lot of interest in Libya and Libyans living in Italy, so Italy has had some concerns. Germany doesn't want to be engaged in another ground operation. They've already had troops in -- in Afghanistan. And so these countries are going to have to be persuaded to go along.

But I think they will be ultimately, but, Candy, it's more important that we get Arab participation than we have the visible symbol of NATO. It's -- it's not as effective to have NATO involved diplomatically as an organization as it would be to have very strong forward leadership from the Arab league and the -- and the organization of Islamic Conference and even the African Union. The more regional pressure that can be put on Gadhafi, the more legitimacy the operation will gain.

CROWLEY: And -- and yet we have heard certainly from the British, and I did ask Admiral Mullen about this earlier, but the British are saying, well, we think that the -- the UAE, United Arab Emirates, and we think it kind of will be helpful to us. We don't know if they will be militarily involved.

Is it not important in some ways to have some military involvement by countries in the region?

CLARK: Yes, it would be important, and obviously it's what would be sought and as the -- as the no-fly zone is implemented, I think it's more likely that we'll get more overt participation from those countries because the risks will go down, the risk of embarrassment.

But, you know, just to pick back up on something that Nic said, if this goes down into a stalemate, which it could, then all the pressure is on the diplomacy, and in that case it may be more useful to us that some of these countries that are aligned with us don't participate militarily but use their diplomatic leverage to try to pry Gadhafi out of power in Libya.

CROWLEY: One of the things that's been interesting as we follow this over the course of the past couple of days is the real need publicly for the U.S. to kind of say, well, we're just kind of in the back row here and we're just part of this thing. And we heard Admiral Mullen say well, over the next couple of days we want to hand over command and control to somebody else.

And yet the U.S. certainly played a heavy part in the Tomahawk missiles that came in from the sea, most of them were ours. We had 19 planes that were degrading some of Gadhafi's air defense weaponry. We are currently in command and control.

So is this a question where we're saying we're really not, you know, a big part of this, we're just a part of the group, but we actually still are? I -- I get politically why we have to not be leading this, but isn't it the truth that in the end the U.S. is the only one that can lead it?

CLARK: Not -- not necessarily. I mean, we -- we have the can opener.

What we did with the Tomahawk missiles and the takedown of the air defense system there is a standard -- it's a -- it's a playbook play that our military forces have run time and again. I saw it and it worked extremely well when we were operating in Kosovo 11 years ago and 12 years ago. So we know how to do this. Nobody else has the technology to do that.

But, that having been done, the real work comes in, the art of balancing the -- the no-fly zone, the strikes on ground forces with the diplomacy, there's no reason the United States has to lead that. In fact it's better if we don't. It gives more space for maneuver and it keeps our national leadership from making this a head-in -- head-on conflict with Gadhafi because if it goes in that direction, then the outcome is that we're going to be drawn into a ground war in Libya, and certainly the United States doesn't want that and that's been one of the reservations we've had that when we started we'd be on the slippery slope down. Now, I think the European leadership -- and we can get some Arab leadership in there at the same time -- to be the face of this operation and actually lead it diplomatically, make use of the military leverage that's provided with a no-fly zone but then work to get Gadhafi out. That's the heart of the operation.

We'll be behind it, as the president said, but we don't have to lead it.

CROWLEY: Militarily, General, when you look at the situation now, what would you be most worried about?

CLARK: Militarily I'd be worried about he's going to try to find a way around our ability to use air power to block the ground forces.

So we heard this morning that aircraft, don't know whose they were yet, struck that column of armored vehicles that was heading towards Benghazi, apparently just devastated it. That's great. The day the orange painted tank in the desert is over. We knew that. I guess the Libyans had to learn the hard way.

But there are other ways to get forces moved around and positioned, and if he does that and the fighting begins and it's a -- it's a sort of house to house combat in the cities, that makes it a difficult matter to resolve from the air.

CROWLEY: Former General -- Retired General Wesley Clark, a former NATO Supreme Allied Commander. Thanks so much for your insight on this.

CLARK: Thank you.

CROWLEY: We will be talking to you later in the day, I'm sure.

CLARK: Thank you.

CROWLEY: When we come back, we'll go to the United Arab Emirates, one of the Arab countries in the coalition attacking Libya.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CROWLEY: For insight into how governments in the Middle East are responding to the intervention in Libya let's go to Mohammed Jamjoom in United Arab Emirates city of Abu Dhabi.

Mohammed, let's me first ask, the UAE is one of those places that we've heard is willing to put lives on the line to support this effort, yet we haven't yet seen a sign of that. What are the military risks for UAE and what are the political risks?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Candy, let's first talk about political risks. What's interesting about the GCC being involved in this, and the UAE specifically, is you're talking about countries.

The GCC, the Gulf Cooperation Council, many of the member countries are dealing with rebellions, uprisings of their own, so how are they going to navigate this with the Arab world with the own -- their own discontent in their own backyards? How are they going to go into Libya and enaction (ph) -- enforcing a no-fly zone, basically supporting the rebels there by doing so? How is that going to play in their own backyards? Those are some of the political risks.

Now, the UAE, even though they've said they'll be part of this force, it's still unclear what they'll be doing. The UAE and the GCC being very tight lipped right now about exactly what they're going to do.

We've heard from military analysts that the UAE will contribute planes and that Qatar will contribute planes, but will it be to enforce the no-fly zone? Will it be for humanitarian aide? We just don't know.

Now we're also hearing that, you know, these countries, yes, they do want Gadhafi out, but, in the larger picture, how is that going to play out across the Arab world? We're seeing editorials today, people are wondering how the leaders in these countries that are so repressive, how are they going to -- how are they going to play out that they are basically supporting the rebels in Libya -- Candy.

CROWLEY: On the other hand, what is the relationship, say, between the UAE and Libya? There's no love lost there. Wouldn't they just as soon he be gone?

JAMJOOM: Oh, absolutely. By -- by even stating that they will participate in a military force, yes, they are clearly showing that they want Gadhafi gone.

And another country in this region that clearly would want Gadhafi gone would be Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, a long-torn -- a long-term sworn enemy of Libya. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has even accused Gadhafi of trying to assassinate him.

So no love lost between these countries and between Libya. They clearly want Gadhafi gone. But how are they going to after that navigate this? How are they going to spread a message of, yes, we'll take out one dictator, although the people wanting these dictators in these countries gone, we're not going to support those demands -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Mohammed Jamjoom for us in Abu Dhabi. It seems to be a beautiful day across most of the world today.

Thanks so much, Mohammed. Appreciate it.

Before Congress left for the weekend, I spoke with Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman about the international response to the Libyan crisis and the message it sends to governments in the Middle East who resist reform.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LIEBERMAN: I think the administration and the world community waited too long while Gadhafi was moving against his people, but the resolution passed at the United Nations the other night is very strong, probably stronger than would have been adopted earlier, and -- and I give President Obama and the administration credit for being actively involved in that effort. And I -- I think it sets a -- a tone now and sends a message, which is a -- a very positive message.

I think what John said is very important to come back to. We now have to work to make sure we build a bipartisan consensus in Congress to support this international action involving the United States against a -- a threatening madman and dictator, and I -- I believe we will.

CROWLEY: Do you --

MCCAIN: Some of our colleagues are very nervous --

LIEBERMAN: Right.

MCCAIN: -- and I understand that nervousness whenever we send young people into harm's way.

CROWLEY: The American people are nervous.

MCCAIN: So we're going to have to work hard on a bipartisan consensus.

CROWLEY: You have mentioned a couple of times, Senator Lieberman, I want to get to this point, that this is not just a message to Moammar Gadhafi but it's a message to dictators everywhere about what they can expect. It's a message to our democratic friends everywhere that we will stand by them, that it's a message to young students --

LIEBERMAN: Right.

CROWLEY: -- that we support democracy.

What's the message to Bahrain at this point?

LIEBERMAN: Well, the message to Bahrain -- and here's the difference, of course, the -- the royal family in Bahrain are very different from Gadhafi. They haven't supported terrorism. They've been much more moderate.

But --

CROWLEY: Pretty hard on their people.

LIEBERMAN: But it's -- what they're doing now with their people is unacceptable, and I think if any lesson should be learned by any of us from what happened in Tunisia and Egypt is that you cannot forever suppress the desire of your people to be free and have opportunity, economic opportunity.

And so I regret what our friends in Bahrain are doing now. I hope -- I hope they stop it and that they enter once again into peaceful negotiations with their opposition to -- to create a better future for their country.

MCCAIN: That's another country, Morocco. The king of Morocco has announced they will have a transition to a constitutional monarchy. He's been progressive for a long period of time. That's the example, I think, that a lot of these countries should follow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: Up next, two diplomatic experts on the international's community's next moves on Libya.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Joining me now here in Washington, Robert Malley, former Special Assistant to President Clinton for Arab-Israeli Affairs; and Edward Walker, former U.S. ambassador to Israel, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

I want -- let's start at the United Arab Emirates because this was just fascinating for me, talking to our correspondent there because this really does -- no -- it didn't seem like anybody in the region much likes Moammar Gadhafi. He's a loose canon.

On the other hand, you do have some things happening in countries where the U.S. is favorable to the leadership there but they are less than democracies there. Bahrain comes to mind. UAE's reticence, we're told, is that we -- we have other countries that they wouldn't want to interfere with.

How do they walk this line?

EDWARD WALKER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Well, I think in this case we have a very clear mandate from the international community, from the United Nations Security Council resolution, that authorizes this action. I cannot see a single Arab country engaging in an action that is not authorized by the Security Council under Chapter 7.

So they can hide behind that, we can hide behind that, and we don't have to operate in Bahrain. CROWLEY: Because you -- you're looking at -- let's just take Bahrain just out of the -- so we've had I think at least eight deaths there. Some people have been disappeared, whether on their own, because they're in hiding, whatever. And they brought in Saudi troops to crack down.

ROBERT MALLEY, INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP: Well, I mean, the great irony was almost in the same week that Saudi Arabia and the GCC countries and the -- and the United Arab Emirates backed the use of force through a no-fly zone in Libya to back the protesters, they would -- decided they would intervene in Bahrain against the protesters, on almost the same day.

I mean, I think Ned is right that there's a difference, and -- not only because of the U.N. Security Council resolution but because of the degree to which Colonel Gadhafi had been using force against his own people. But these contradictions are going to be extremely difficult to navigate. Take the case of Yemen, where over 40 people were killed just two days ago. Let's see what happens throughout the region.

It's going to be very hard for these countries to remain consistent.

CROWLEY: And wouldn't it be very -- even harder in the future sort of around the world, you know, when the president is saying things like we can't allow a country to go after its own people. Well, I could name you 10 countries that are going after their own people.

MALLEY: Including many who voted for this resolution, by the way --

WALKER: Yes.

MALLEY: -- or who abstained in the -- in the vote for this resolution.

WALKER: Now, you can't be consistent in international relations.

CROWLEY: We all know (ph) hypocrisy is not an unknown, right?

WALKER: Right.

CROWLEY: Let's talk a little bit also about the other subject today which is fascinating, which is we can't quite get the military folks to tell us what the end game here is because it seems that the end game may be diplomatic. Take us behind the scenes and imagine for us what's going on now.

We understand bombs are dropping and missiles are coming in. But what -- diplomatically, what's taking place?

WALKER: And this is a place where the Arab countries can really play a role, not necessarily with Gadhafi because none of them like him, but with some of the other people around Gadhafi, like Moussa Koussa.

I worked with Moussa Koussa back in -- when we were trying to establish a relationship with Libya, and the Saudis were very helpful in putting that together even though the king is not very keen on -- on Gadhafi, given the threat to his life. But I do think that they'd be willing to help out and some of the other Arab countries would be willing to take an intermediary role. That's what we need.

CROWLEY: And -- and what is that role? Do they call up and go, time -- time to defect? What -- what's the role they're playing?

MALLEY: Well, I think you're putting a -- you're putting a finger on what is really the big question mark. I understand why we're doing what we're doing. It's much harder to see where what we're doing leads to.

And right now there is a notion that we have to protect civilians, but protecting civilians in Benghazi is one thing. You could prevent troops from entering. What happens in the west? And we've already heard President Obama say that the ceasefire or the -- the U.N. Security resolution also applies to what Colonel Gadhafi is doing in other parts of the country.

Ultimately, if one believes that Colonel Gadhafi is a threat to his people, that means implicitly we're saying he has to go. How do you get that to happen?

I don't think that defections will -- will make him depart. It may happen, but that's a big role of the dice, and what happens if he doesn't leave?

Partition may be the best case scenario for us. It's not very good for the Libyans. But you may also find yourselves getting down that -- that slippery slope of saying, well, if he has to go, we're going to have to arm the opposition, we're going to have to support the opposition in different ways, and then what? What if it doesn't work?

In some ways it's -- it's what happens in Iraq, but in a -- but trying to do it very differently. And President Obama almost deliberately is trying to do the opposite of what happened in Iraq. The U.S. is not taking the leading role in trying to overthrow Gadhafi --

CROWLEY: You're saying it's not -- it sort of seems to be, but --

MALLEY: OK, but it's --

CROWLEY: -- sort of saying it's not.

WALKER: Fair enough.

CROWLEY: Right.

MALLEY: Insisting on a Security Council resolution, which we didn't get in Iraq, and hoping -- hoping, praying that the opposition on its own, with the support of air power from the U.S. and others, that the opposition on its own can do what it took allied troops to do in Iraq.

It's -- it's a roll of the dice. It may work, and if it works many people will be grateful. But it may not.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you a question, because people have asked me this, a friend saying you mean there's not one person -- I mean, here's this crazy person who's also evil. That's, like, not a great combination. We can't find one person that could get close enough to him to do him harm? Because this does seem to be not a country we're against. It seems to be a country we're supporting and a guy we don't like. Why is this so difficult?

WALKER: Candy, we tried to do that in Iraq. We couldn't do it. It is -- these guys have wall after wall between them and any threat. Gadhafi has been under threat from the air, from the ground for years and he survived.

I mean, they have a -- a longer life expectancy than we would like to see.

CROWLEY: And -- and so what is -- I mean, are there even efforts for that? Are there -- I mean, do we have the CIA or whoever might be doing this sort of thing? I realize it's a little hard for us to operate in these --

MALLEY: And I suspect -- I suspect there's a lot of efforts in that direction.

But one thing, just as Iraq was a black box to many of us, Libya is a very dark box. Indeed, people don't know what Gadhafi's support structure is. We don't even know right now on the ground how much support he enjoys, not just among the people right around him, but are they tribal alliances? Are we seeing now even more than before a division between the east and the rest of the country, which would not be good for the future of Libya?

I -- I suspect Gadhafi, who has been in power now for a very long time, knows his country quite well and will be able to use and to manipulate alliances, divisions. He may still be taken out by somebody who believes the future -- his future and the future of the country relies or depends on getting rid of Gadhafi, but Gadhafi has shown, for all these depictions of him as a madman, that he knows how to run his country.

WALKER: It's not just that. It's not just Gadhafi, and I think that's what you were trying to get at. It's a -- it is a whole set of conflicts that have been inherent in Libya over many years since it was artificially cut out by the Europeans.

It is not a coherent country. It has an eastern set of tribes and a western set of tribes. And the tribes that support Gadhafi do support him. I mean, it's not as if they're going to be walking out.

They also know that if the east takes over, they are in trouble. Deep trouble. And they don't want that.

CROWLEY: It -- I mean, if I had to sort of judge the tone at the table, you don't think Gadhafi is going any time soon.

MALLEY: You know what, one thing I've learned for the past two weeks is you don't make a prediction because you're going to be immediately contradicted the next day. I mean, this is a region that is in such torment that for anyone to try to assume what the next step will be is -- is really taking a -- a big, big gamble. So I --

WALKER: On that basis, I will predict that he's out tomorrow and then -- and if it's -- and hope that you're right that Gadhafi just proved --

MALLEY: He may go because we -- again, we just don't know what the dynamics are within Libya. But he may also be here for a long time. And, again, we have to then make the decision, we -- I mean, not just the United States, what next? Is it sustainable to have the east building up as a platform for the rebels, Gadhafi entrenched not just in Tripoli in but parts of the west --

WALKER: Right.

MALLEY: -- with his repressive apparatus acting there. Do we then wash our hands and say we've done what we needed to do? Do we go in more deeply with all the very dangerous consequences?

CROWLEY: Diplomatically -- in our last couple of minutes -- does it harm U.S. prestige or U.S. power across the world to have the president of United States and Undersecretary of State -- the Secretary of State all going this guy has to go and have him not go?

WALKER: Of course it harms us. It undercuts the credibility of the administration and it undercuts the credibility of the Secretary of State and the president.

CROWLEY: Why do they say it?

WALKER: Why do they say it? Well, you know, Candy, there's a lot of things that are said by our officials that I would cringe at sometimes. But they believe it. They think that he has to go.

MALLEY: And he does have to go but I think --

WALKER: Yes.

MALLEY: -- I think you're right that -- and rhetoric often gets ahead of action. And in this case when the president said Gadhafi has to go and we didn't have the Security Council Resolution authorizing anything, it was taking a leap that was well beyond where we were and we may have to live to either swallow those words or act upon them.

But I think the future of Libya now is, as I said early, to really it's a roll of the dice. We know what we're trying to prevent. It doesn't mean that we know what we're trying to achieve.

CROWLEY: Robert Malley, Edward Walker, again, thank you both for your expertise. Appreciate it.

MALLEY: Thank you.

CROWLEY: When we come back, we will turn to Japan and the health concerns over radiation in the air and the food supply.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Today, there are more signs of radiation from Japan's nuclear plant in the food and water supply. Authorities are still analyzing data after finding abnormally high levels of radiation in milk and spinach. And in Tokyo, very small amounts of radioactive iodine had been detected in the tap water. Joining me now in Washington to discuss the health implications of this crisis, Dr. John Boice, a radiation epidemiologist and professor at Vanderbilt University.

And with a long history of studying -- you were just in Hiroshima, you were telling me. I know you studied Chernobyl and the after effects of that three-mile island. So, let me start with what you know about what's going on in Japan now. How troublesome is this latest news that they're finding traces in spinach and milk and it's showing up in the tap water in Tokyo?

JOHN BOICE, PROFESSOR, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: Actually, the levels that they're reporting are very low. And so the information that's coming out is very reassuring that these will not result in any immediate health effects and the late effects, the possible risk of cancer later on in life seems to be very, very low also.

And that's because we live in this sea of low level radiation exposure right now. And the amount that's in the food supply or that's been reported is just very small and adds very little to the amount of radiation we received from natural sources.

CROWLEY: So, for those that are far away from the nuclear reactors, we're looking at something that's quite doable if you want to use that word, right?

BOICE: That's right.

CROWLEY: Tell me about these workers.

BOICE: The workers now are receiving a little bit higher levels and they've increased the allowable level for their called (ph) emergency workers. And the allowable level in emergency was 100 units, 100 millisieverts and they are now being allowed to receive up to 250.

So for some of the workers that will be -- that are involved in putting more and more water on the burning reactor, they will be increasing their future risk of cancer perhaps up to about one percent right now. But the levels even among the workers are not of sufficient magnitude to cause radiation sickness.

This is not Chernobyl, in other words. Chernobyl was a major radiation accident. The fire burned for 10 days and radiation was released into the environment for 10 days. The workers themselves received so much radiation that four of them -- or 28 of them died within four months. It was just a massive amount of exposure. And the population received very, very high levels of radioactive iodine in the milk supply and many of the children over 6,000 developed thyroid cancer because of that massive amount of radiation release.

Chernobyl, a major radiation accident, it did not have a containment vessel. There were massive releases of radiation for 10 days. That is not equivalent to the Fukushima situation which has a containment and releases -- although they're detectable, they're very small. CROWLEY: So if the workers at Fukushima that are there at the plant trying to get it cooled down, if they were 50 and over, let's say, someone said if they are, they are more likely to die of something else than of anything that would happen to them as a result of radiation they've gotten so far. Do you buy into that?

BOICE: Well, of course, you're exactly right. And there's two reasons why. One, the young are more susceptible to the cancer- producing effects of radiation. So there's more susceptibility if you're a child. But then there's a latency. There's a time that it takes for radiation to cause cancer. And it's about 5, 10, 15, 20 years. You don't develop cancer immediately after you're exposed. It's a very, you know, it's later on in life.

And so among those that are elderly, if there are workers there over the age of 50, they would not likely develop a cancer that could be linked to the radiation exposure.

CROWLEY: From this. Because we get, you know, there was this talk about the suicide mission and that sort of thing. But what I'm getting from you is, this is not nearly so dangerous as it felt?

BOICE: Oh, you're exactly right. I think the fear is out of proportion to the actual risks right now and might even for the workers. And the workers have been my concern because they are exposing themselves to higher levels of radiation. The radiation fields -- no question around the reactors are -- are higher than normal.

But right now, from what I have read and understand, only six workers have received more than 100 millisieverts. OK. That's a unit of radiation we receive from natural sources three per year.

CROWLEY: OK.

BOICE: So it's larger than what we receive naturally. But in contrast, the former Soviet Union sent a half million recovery workers to Chernobyl to clean up the radiation damage. Their average dose for this half a million workers was 100 millisieverts. So in that side, there was a massive radiation release with a very major clean-up effort.

Right now, in Japan, even among the workers, the ones that will experience the highest exposure, there's only six.

CROWLEY: So what is the biggest threat right now from -- if nothing more happens and -- we've had some people say we think the worse is behind us, but we'll see. What is the biggest threat to the environment and what's the biggest threat to people?

BOICE: Well, to the environment it would be if there is any continuing radiation contamination, it probably would be locally where -

CROWLEY: The ground. BOICE: -- the reacting (ph) on the ground and the cesium would remain for -- it has a half life of 30 years, so it would be around for quite some time. The radioactive iodines, they have a half life of eight days. So in three or four months, they're all going to be gone so that wouldn't be an issue.

So, for the environment and perhaps a little bit in the food supply, the Japanese government will have to be monitoring what -- what the levels might be in the environment near the reactors.

With regard to the health effects, probably the largest effect will be psychological. That people will have been concerned that they were exposed, they were evacuated. It follows after this terrible tragedy where the earthquake, the tsunami, many, many thousands of people have died, the bodies washing on the shores. Terrible tragedy and now you add this nuclear crisis and people have been disrupted again, moved from their homes. The psychological effects will probably be the lasting effects of this accident.

CROWLEY: Rather than the physical.

BOICE: Yes.

CROWLEY: Dr. John Boice, radiation epidemiologist out of Vanderbilt University, thank you so much for your expertise. Appreciate it.

BOICE: You're welcome.

CROWLEY: When we come back, Fareed Zakaria's take on the disaster in Japan during a conversation with the head of Sony.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: CNN's Fareed Zakaria, who is normally seen at this time, got a unique perspective on Japan's trials. He talked to the Chairman and CEO of Sony Corporation, the Welsh born, Sir Howard Stringer.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: People think of the Japanese outside of Japan as a very stoic, expressionless people. How are they handling this?

SIR HOWARD STRINGER, CEO AND CHAIRMAN, SONY CORPORATION: Well, the calmness is, of course, an enormous strength in a crisis like this. It's sometimes a problem in the recession trying to develop a sense of urgency. A little part of me says this will now have a sense of urgency and this will kick start the Japanese economy in ways that maybe nothing else would out of crisis comes an opportunity.

But the calmness in this circumstance is unbelievably good. I mean, people take care of each other first. People wanted to know what -- what they were doing, whether they need help.

There was one classic -- with Sendai, which is the big northeastern city, we have two factories there that were damaged there and we had people above rising water -- over -- about a thousand people in rising water. And at one point, the following day, they fashioned a boat. They manufactured a boat and floated to the neighbors to give them supplies and give them water to support them, which is -- which is remarkable.

So that -- that calmness of the Japanese and the selflessness and unselfishness came -- became obvious to all of us and really quite remarkable. That's why the world has said, wow, would we do this somewhere else? What an extraordinary people and it was easily demonstrated.

ZAKARIA: You're talking about the, you know, the helping other people, one thing that has struck everyone, so many power outages, so much chaos and yet not one reported incident of looting anywhere.

STRINGER: No. It's -- it's a long tradition. It's one of great strengths of the Japanese people, which -- which one tends to forget because it's a consensus society and that can drive you a little crazy every so often and you think come on, let's get going. But in this situation, the thoughtfulness and the unselfishness adds to a society that can more easily cope with this.

I mean, I remember the image a few days ago, people spending their time carving chopsticks out of wreckage, sitting on the edge of a broken home as a group, acting as a -- as a social group -- as a social community trying to make the best of a really bad job.

ZAKARIA: What about the government, the Japanese government? You know, this is a society where you see all these the very positive features, but in the last 10 or 15 years there has really been a sense that the government has not been able to make the kind of hard choices it needs to do the kind of reforms. You've had five prime ministers in five years in Japan. Will this change any of that?

STRINGER: Well, my hope is that it will. Obviously, the prime minister has made a few very bold decisions and shaken the calm of his colleagues. I mean, his anger directed at the Tokyo Power Company I think was totally appropriate. So I think this is -- this will jolt us out of the complacency, which is kind of the lovechild of all this prosperity. There's no -- there's no sense that why would you live -- there's a sense, why would you live anywhere else? We have everything. It's comfortable. Everything works so well that developing, as I said earlier, a sense of urgency is critical.

And my most difficult job during the recession was to point out that actually the company was in difficulty with those kinds of economic problems and that, you know, at one point it's OK to take care of the passengers and the crew, but somebody has to save the ship. And this is what will happen to Japan now, I think. But it's about leadership and it has to come along at the right time and that's true of every society we witnessed. Whether it's Margaret Thatcher's time in England or Lee's (ph) of China, it requires that moment.

In the short term, there will be a demand for it, but also the country will be so preoccupied with rebuilding, it has an enormous energy, an enormous skill and it will rebuild with ferocity the world will not have seen because it will have a revalued sense of purpose and I feel confident about that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: Sony's Sir Howard Stringer talking with Fareed Zakaria.

Up next, the latest on the military strikes in Libya from both the French and U.S. perspectives.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: We want to go now to CNN's Jim Bittermann, who is following the latest efforts by the French government in the attacks on Libya. Jim, what can you tell us?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Candy, France's only aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, sail out of port at Marseille just a short while ago on its way to the Coast of Libya. It will take about 24 hours of sailing for it to get there and about 36 hours before it's operational with its 20 war planes and 2,000 men.

It's just the latest assets that are being added to the coalition forces there. In fact, the French were among the first to get war planes into the skies over Libya even before the summit here ended yesterday, a summit presided over by President Sarkozy of France, who in fact had this explanation for why this military action is necessary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT NICOLAS SARKOZY, FRANCE (through translator): Arab peoples have chosen to free themselves from the enslavement in which they have felt trapped for too long. These revolts have given rise to great hopes in the hearts of all those who share the values of democracy and human rights. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BITTERMANN: In terms of protecting the civilian population of Benghazi, there appears to have already been some progress by the military coalition. We are hearing reports of burned convoys of Libyan Army vehicles and a report from Washington that in fact all forward progress of the Libyan Army towards Benghazi has been stopped -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Jim.

We want to get the latest on the U.S. Military side for that. Of course, we bring in CNN's Chris Lawrence, who's joining us from the Pentagon. Chris, what so far have been the results of about 24 hours worth of military activity in and around Libya?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pentagon officials, Candy, are saying that they have degraded Colonel Gadhafi's ability to attack any jets that are flying. And I think that's why you saw Admiral Mullen come out earlier today and say, yes, the no-fly zone has started to become established especially around the area of Benghazi. British jets, U.S. war planes -- 19 U.S. warplanes all flying, hitting not only his service to air missile sites but also going after some of his airfields and even ground forces. Pentagon officials tell us that they believe some of his ground forces carry mobile -- the mobile capability to attack planes in the air and so that those ground forces would be targeted as well.

Now that that has been suppressed, not entirely, but to a point where I think the allies now feel it's safe to start flying some of these patrols, especially around the area of Benghazi, and from there they can push out to the rest of the country.

CROWLEY: Chris, we've heard the president, we've heard Admiral Mullen and to a certain extent, we've heard Secretary Clinton, all say not a U.S. operation. We're a part of it. It needs to be led by other people. And yet the bulk of the firepower in the first 24 hours and certainly the central command has been the U.S.

Who does this get handed off to if in fact the U.S. really wants to realistically back off? We know that, you know, politically we understand why they don't want to be seen as the point people in this and also understand that it's important to have Arab nations in, but who's going to do this if the U.S. doesn't?

LAWRENCE: That's right. It's a good question. And, you know, for the first 24 to 48 hours, there are certain capabilities that really are very unique to the United States. Some of the Tomahawk missiles that were fired yesterday, going after some of his longer range ballistic missiles, some of the equipment that you'll still see used jamming electronics and communications that the U.S. has, very unique capabilities.

But there are other nations, the French, the British. We've been told that several of the Arab nations are preparing to come into the theater. One of them perhaps even preparing planes today. So once his air defenses are suppressed, some of these other nations can take up the patrol.

But ultimately, it's going to be a question of what happens on the ground. You can institute the no-fly zone. You can disrupt some of his logistics from the air, but ultimately as we've seen in the past in other countries, it's really what happens on the ground that's going to decide the future of Libya.

CROWLEY: So in the end, the other thing we know is that we've had a no-fly zone in Iraq for a decade. How long could this sort of thing go on? Do you hear anyone expressing concern about that at the Pentagon?

LAWRENCE: Yes. That -- that is a big question, what is the endgame and a lot of that really depends on Colonel Gadhafi. I think Admiral Mullen today, when he was speaking with you, stopped short of saying that he must be gone in order for this to end. So it remains to be seen exactly what the final solution the allies would be willing to accept. You know, when we look at Iraq, it's a good thing you mentioned that, you know, it really shows the good and the bad, the successes and failures of a no-fly zone. When it was instituted in Northern Iraq, it was very successful, but in that case, you had the Kurdish Militia controlling the ground. When the no-fly zone was instituted over Southern Iraq, it didn't stop Saddam Hussein's forces from killing thousands of Shiites there because there was no ground control.

CROWLEY: Thanks so much, Chris Lawrence, from the Pentagon. Appreciate it.

We will have updates on the latest news from Libya throughout the next hour. But up next, Howard Kurtz takes a look at the media coverage of this crisis.