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Obama and the world

The Real News Network analyst Eric Margolis talks about Senator Barack Obama’s world view and the differences between him, Hillary Clinton and John McCain.
The one foreign policy difference where Obama stands out is that he accepts Iran as a regional power. Margolis also says that Barack Obama isn’t subjected to pressure from the military industrial complex like Clinton and McCain and that makes him dangerous to the neocons.


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Story Transcript

Obama and the world

Paul Jay talks to Eric Margolis

PAUL JAY, SENIOR ANALYST, THE REAL NEWS NETWORK: Welcome back to our interview with Eric Margolis. This is part 2, where we’re going to discuss Obama, foreign policy, the neocons, and Senator Clinton. You were saying in part 1 that Senator Clinton is much more acceptable to the neocons, like Bush and his group and the people behind him. Why do you say that?

ERIC MARGOLIS, ANALYST, THE REAL NEWS NETWORK: Well, because traditionally the Clintons have been very close to Israel, and their position is extremely well known, whereas Obama’s position has not been finely defined. Certainly people on the neocon right are not sure where he stands. And beneath the surface there’s a lot of unrest. But what is interesting is that when Clinton was president, Bill Clinton was president, the coterie of advisers around him on the Middle East were all associated with Israel’s center, moderate-center Labor Party. When Bush came in, all his Middle East group were associated with Israel’s Likud and further-right parties. So the Likudniks kicked out the Labor Party in Washington. So it remains to be seen which group, if Hillary Clinton somehow does win, will be surrounding her.

JAY: Well, she’s been going out of her way to echo the militant language about attacking Iran, potentially attacking Iran, to some extent echoing what Bush has been saying. Obama–it’s the one foreign policy issue that Obama, in my point of view,–has actually distinguished, differentiated himself, where he’s talked about accepting Iran as a regional power, which means you have to talk to them. The neocon policy is not to accept Iran as a regional power and somehow get to regime change. So Clinton on that score seems to be firmly into the neocon camp on Iran.

MARGOLIS: She certainly has. She’s gone right over there. And in fact, her position is now indistinguishable from that of John McCain. We’re all neocons today. So the neocons are going to have an interesting choice between—they’ll win, they think, with either candidate, provided that the unknown quantity of Obama does not win.

JAY: Well, that’s the question that’s been in my mind. It’s completely speculative, of course. But, you know, if Clinton goes to the death on this primary fight and goes to the convention, either wins or leaves Obama wounded because the convention is so split, then in some way you can say the neocons win either way: either McCain will win out of the destruction that’s left, or if somehow Hillary gets this and wins, they still wind up with the same foreign policy.

MARGOLIS: Well, we need to take a hard look at Hillary Clinton’s financing. It would be very interesting to know where her money—remember, she was out of money not long ago—where this flood of new money is coming from. I suspect it’s probably coming from the Republicans and from neocon sources very much.

JAY: Well, apparently Rush Limbaugh was urging his listeners to vote for Clinton in the primaries.

MARGOLIS: Yes, and that’s another interesting—how much of her victory was due to Republicans. The Republicans are down on their knees praying that Hillary will become the Democratic candidate, because they know that John McCain will be able to defeat her, particularly if the current White House gives a little push by bombing Iran or Syria just before elections.

JAY: On the face of it, Obama’s foreign policy positions—with the exception of some kind of dialog with Iran, which is a very notable exception—but otherwise his positions, at least as stated, are not very different from Clinton or McCain for that matter. Is it more a question that he’s just not in the club? Like, he can’t be trusted? He’s not knowable?

MARGOLIS: He is not subjected to as much special interests and by the military-industrial complex pressure as the Clintons are and as McCain absolutely is, who is their candidate. So yes, he’s an odd man out. And the danger with him is that his money comes from average Americans, rather than from big, powerful money interests.

JAY: He has gotten some [inaudible] from Wall Street, and he’s doing pretty well amongst the wealthy.

MARGOLIS: He is, but as Johnny-come-lately, as his initial funding was from the vox pupuli. And this gives him a little more independence from the traditional power structures in Washington.

JAY: Thanks, Eric. In part 3 we’ll look at John McCain, his foreign policy, and just who has Senator McCain’s ear. Please join us for part 3.


Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.