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What Gaza and Israel Want; The Perks of Being a General; Explosions on Gaza-Egypt Border; Doctor Shortage Looming; Preparing for Holiday Travel

Aired November 19, 2012 - 10:30   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Talking about the conflict at hand right now, I mean Senator John McCain has suggested that Bill Clinton go in and mediate and maybe he could calm things down in the region. What do you think about that?

REZA ASLAN, AUTHOR, "NO GOD BUT GOD": Well whether it's Bill Clinton or whether it's the quartet, there has to be a robust American presence in this conflict. The notion that you hear so often, particularly among certain political groups here in the United States, that this is Israel and the Palestinians' problem. That the United States can't want peace more than the parties themselves want is actually completely misguided. Without American leadership there can be no hope or possibility of a lasting peace process between Israel and -- and the Palestinians.

And this is something that the United States has a national security stake in. Of course it benefits us to have peace and prosperity in this region. But without serious American leadership and by the way, an equalized leadership, something that looks as though that the United States is an equal mediator, that it is -- is preventing both the Palestinian and the Israeli interests in this conflict. Without that we are likely to see conflicts like this rising up over and over again until the two-state solution becomes a distant memory.

COSTELLO: So -- so is that -- well, I mean, the U.S. government has appointed special envoy after special envoy after special mediator after special mediator to come up with some sort of Middle East peace plan and it's always ended in failure.

ASLAN: Well, frankly, it's been a half-hearted attempt. The fact of the matter is that regardless of who you blame for the continuing conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, every year since the Oslo Accords were signed, there has been more and more settlements in what's supposed to be the future of the Palestinian state.

A few more years and the demographic balance in Israel/Palestine is going to switch. There may not be a Jewish majority state any longer. So it is in Israel's best interests to do whatever it takes to create an economically viable independent Palestinian state. Otherwise, we're talking about collective suicide on the part of Israelis.

COSTELLO: Reza Aslan in New York, thank you so much for sticking around. We appreciate it. ASLAN: My pleasure.

COSTELLO: We'll be back.


COSTELLO: We're keeping an eye on the events in Israel and in Gaza City, but we want to move on to politics right now.

OK. We'll move on to politics.

I think -- was that Gaza City we just showed? That was Gaza City. There are more rockets being fired into the city as far as we know. The most recent serious that happened to the media center in Gaza City and there are reports an Islamist jihadists was killed inside and that was the Israeli target. We'll keep you posted when more is happening in that area of the world.

On to politics now, the Petraeus scandal drags on with numerous theories as to why a decorated much admired former general would fall for a West Point super fit Harvard educated woman. Senator Dianne Feinstein offered this on "Meet The Press."


SEN. DIANE FEINSTEIN, (D) CALIFORNIA: Our tours are long, they are multiple. Whether you're a private or a four-star, coming back into civilian society is difficult.

Here is a man, and you see "Time" magazine, you see the medals he has, you see the stars. One day he takes all of that off. There's no driver. He gives an order at the CIA. There is discussion, there's flack, people don't like this, and then he goes home to wash dishes.


COSTELLO: Well, there's no doubt that returning to civilian life can be difficult for soldiers. "The Washington Post" had an interesting article on the perks four-star generals enjoy. This is from that article. Quote, "The commanders who led the nation's military services enjoy an array of perks befitting a billionaire, including executive jets, palatial homes, drivers, security guards. Their food is prepared by gourmet chefs. If they want music with their dinner parties, their staff can summon a spring quartet or a choir."

Of course, Petraeus lost all of that when he retired from the Army to become the CIA Director. Seriously though -- with me now, political science professor at Hiram College and chief political correspondent for "Politics 365", Jason Johnson, and Republican strategist and CNN contributor Ana Navarro. Good morning to both of you.


ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning. COSTELLO: OK first off, I'm not ignoring the fact that General Petraeus spent years on the battlefield -- that is serious. But when he came home, it was -- he lived life quote, according to "The Washington Post" sort of like a "billionaire". Actually when he was still a General he lived life like that. When he came back as CIA Director, he didn't.

Ana, I guess what I'm really asking is do you think Mrs. Petraeus would agree with Senator Feinstein?

NAVARRO: I have no idea what Mrs. Petraeus is thinking right now. I would not like to be in those shoes or a fly in that room, Carol. I think what you're seeing -- you know I think actually the politicians, the senators have gone pretty easy and tried to be very understanding of General Petraeus.

What you see is all the years that he was in Washington working the halls, and he was a fixture. You know, he did a lot of senate hearings. He really worked the politics in Washington as part of his job as General and I think you're seeing the fruits of that, which is that they feel sympathy towards him, they feel friendship towards him, and they feel very charitable towards him and Mrs. Petraeus.

COSTELLO: And Jason, I guess my second question, there was a time Petraeus was escorted by 28 cars security to a party at socialite Jill Kelley's house in Tampa. I get that he needs protection but do our Generals really need gourmet chefs and executive jets?

JOHNSON: Look, part of the reason that the Senate has been so nice to this guy is because you know those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. It's not like we don't see sex scandals in Congress all the time. And I have no problem with our generals being treated with a great deal of respect and having a great deal of perks, but that's not why this man cheated.

Look, I can speak personally. I grew up in a military family. I was around the military all the time. These things happen. These things happen with captains, they happen with sergeants. So this is more of a reflection of military culture in general. It's not because he lives so well and he was trying to recapture his youth. There are just a lot of affairs going on and that happens with powerful men and powerful women.

COSTELLO: Well Ana, I guess it's just -- it's sort of intriguing to me that he's being treated one way and the women involved in this scandal are seemingly being treated in an entirely different way.

NAVARRO: Well, that's because the women in this scandal don't have friends in Washington and don't have friends in the press and don't have spokespeople speaking to the press on their behalf and you know and I think it's because of the respect that General Petraeus has earned.

You know, Carol, I know a lot of generals. The Southern Command is stationed here in Miami. In fact, later today I am going to the change of command for South Com. We have a retiring general and a new general coming in. Most of these guys are really grounded, good people. Some of them get caught up in the trappings of the job and the transition into a normal life becomes difficult, but I think it's a warning for all of us.

You know, when you let your position and your job become completely intertwined with your identity and your persona, when you lose that position, then you lose your identity, and the transition becomes that much more difficult. But I do think that most of these guys are grounded. They go on to good private sector lives and look this is not rocket science. You want a private life you go to the private sector. You want the perks that come with public live, you've got a public -- with public sector, you've got a public life, no private life.

COSTELLO: I think she said it very well, Jason.

JOHNSON: Look, I mean, look, I think that's all perfectly reasonable, but I think again it doesn't have anything to do with this transition. If you're the kind of person who is going to cheat, you're the kind of person who is going to cheat. I mean, we saw this you know was it ten years ago with Jesse Jackson. He ended up having an affair with -- with his biographer as well.

I think a lot of these things have to do with ego, they have to do with a sense of power. And if you're a powerful man, or a powerful women you attract people too.

And to be honest, yes, I think that women are being treated very differently. It's not necessarily because Petraeus has more connections. I think it's because in his particular instance, he's the person who stepped down. He's the person who said, all right, I am the first person to face consequences for this, so I think the women in some respects are being treated lighter because they haven't at least at this point haven't lost as much as he has.

COSTELLO: Interesting. Jason Johnson, Ana Navarro, thank you as usual.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

COSTELLO: We'll be right back.

NAVARRO: Thank you.


COSTELLO: We're hearing of more explosions in Gaza. We want to take you now though to the Egyptian border, to an area called the Rafah Crossing. This is where humanitarian aid from Egypt is going in to Gaza to help the people there. No weapons, just humanitarian aid, things like food and medical supplies.

Reza Sayah is at the Rafah Crossing, what are you hearing there?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Carol, obviously the most intense Israeli air strikes have been taking place in northern Gaza, but we're seeing and hearing some air strikes in southern Gaza as well, and we're close to that location.

Behind us is the famous Rafah Crossing. Beyond that lights is Gaza. We're standing in Egypt. About 20 minutes ago we heard a huge explosion. Earlier in the day at least four separate explosions followed by a black plume of smoke. We've spoken to Egyptian security officials here. They believe those explosions are being caused by Israeli drones that are flying up above. They believe that these Israeli drones are trying to send the message for anyone who is on this side of the border not to cross into Gaza.

Now, we can't independently verify that these are drone strikes but throughout the day, even right now, we're hearing the buzz of what sounds like Israeli drone strikes, carol.

When things aren't exploding, this place is relatively quiet. Supply line, non-perishable food, fuel trucks -- that type of stuff being taken into Gaza, Carol.

COSTELLO: Have the Egyptians been able to freely take that kind of stuff into Gaza?

SAYAH: If it's non-military equipment, they have. This is a restricted crossing. You can only go back in and out if you have special permission. So if it's an ambulance, if it's truckloads of sand, if it's other non-perishable food items, it looks like they're freely taking them back in and out.

Also, we've seen some activists, delegations of political leaders here going in there to show their solidarity for the Palestinians in there. We haven't seen any military equipment being taken in there, Carol.

COSTELLO: Reza Sayah at the Rafah crossing on the Egyptian side. Thank you so much -- thank you so much, Reza. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be back with much more after this.


COSTELLO: We're coming up on 50 minutes past the hour. Taking a look at some of the day's other top stories.

Vice President Joe Biden gets a close look at the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy. He met with first responders who lost their homes and he sat in on a briefing on the recovery efforts in Seaside Heights, New Jersey.


JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The President has made it clear that we're going to do everything we can to make sure that the corps is fully funded, that we have -- FEMA has what it needs, and that all the programs that exist under the auspices of the federal government are -- not only continue to exist but are funded so that we can make sure that this area of the country is fully, fully, fully restored.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COSTELLO: The Florida congressional race between controversial Republican incumbent Allen West and Democrat Patrick Murphy may finally be over. A recount showed Murphy holding his slim lead of less than 2,000 votes. Now it's just up to the State Election Board to certify the results. Allen, though, has refused to concede.

This hunk of metal may not look like much, but it's the Soyuz capsule that just landed in Kazakhstan. Carried three crew members home from the International Space Station including American astronaut, Suni Williams. Those astronauts and cosmonauts were up there for four months.

More people will be driving this Thanksgiving Day holiday than last year. AAA estimates that 39 million people will drive 50 miles or more. That's up from 38 million a year ago. Luckily gas prices are expected to drop some more before you hit the road.


COSTELLO: Imagine being in excruciating pain and being told you have to wait three months to see a doctor. Well, that's not so farfetched. That's because with an aging population, we're facing a critical shortage of doctors. Here is CNN's Casey Wian.


CASEY WIAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: George Haupt's rheumatoid arthritis pain was manageable. He had an active job in the Las Vegas food service industry until one day last year.

GEORGE HAUPT, ARTHRITIS PATIENT: All of a sudden one morning when I woke up, it was like I thought I had a stroke or something. My feet, my knees, my hands, I couldn't get out of the bed. I wasn't able to even dress myself.

WIAN: He called his arthritis doctor, but the office was closed. Haupt didn't know his doctor was semi retired only seeing patients three days a week.

HAUPT: I was told there's only five places to go in Vegas, and I tried three other ones, and the waiting period was three to four months.

WIAN: A trip to the ER provided little relief.

HAUPT: Three times in the last year where I couldn't get out of bed for two days, three days, I actually prayed I wouldn't live and that's for me was the low point.

WIAN: it's a growing problem for baby boomers.

Yes, for Dr. (INAUDIBLE). We are booking out into mid January.

WIAN: they need care more often but doctors themselves are aging and retiring, and medical schools aren't producing enough replacements to keep pace. (on camera): By 2020 the United States faces a projected shortage of nearly 92,000 doctors according to the association of medical colleges. That's seven times worse than the shortage that existed just two years ago.

DR. MITCHELL FORMAN, DEAN, TOURO UNIVERSITY, NEVADA: The access to health care is clearly affected. People wait longer to see their physicians for everyday kinds of illnesses. Those illnesses get worse and by the time you see a physician, you might need to be admitted to a hospital.

WIAN (voice-over): and it might put your life in jeopardy. Margo Johnson had a stroke last year linked to a rare autoimmune disease. She was referred to Dr. Foreman, a specialist.

MARGO JOHNSON, STROKE PATIENT: It was four or five months down the road before Dr. Foreman could see me, and even with my neurologist's intervention he was only able to move it up a week.

WIAN (on camera): That had to be kind of scary.

M. JOHNSON: Yes, I could have died.

WIAN (voice-over): Margo is improving thanks to proper treatment, and so is George but their doctor says the shortage of physicians is likely to worsen partly because of 2010 health care reform law which will expand insurance coverage to tens of millions of Americans.

FORMAN: You're going to have a large number of individuals who now have health care insurance. Who is going to take care of them?

WIAN: The law provides funding for physician residency programs to help ease the coming shortage, but for some baby boomers, that prescription may come too late. Casey Wian, CNN, Henderson, Nevada.


COSTELLO: And I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me today. CNN continues after a quick break.