Contextual Content

Surprise! … Obama’s people are Clinton’s people

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama recently introduced his Senior Working Group on National Security, including former Clinton advisers Anthony Lake, Warren Christopher and Madeleine Albright. Real News Network’s Analyst Pepe Escobar explores Obama’s true foreign policy colors in his commentary, explaining that this group of Clinton-related names tells a lot about Obama’s view of the world.

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Story Transcript

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SEN. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (D): There’s going to be a clear choice in this election. John McCain wants to continue the Bush-Cheney foreign policy. I want to turn the page. Instead of adhering to a rigid ideology, I want to get back to the pragmatic tradition of American foreign policy, which has been so ably advanced by the people in this room, a policy that’s focused on using all elements of American power to protect our people and to advance our interests.

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Obama’s true foreign policy colors

PEPE ESCOBAR, ANALYST, THE REAL NEWS: This is Barack Obama introducing his Senior Working Group on National Security. And—surprise!—the Clintoneers are back. That’s a not-so-secret secret of Obama’s very pragmatic campaign: Obama’s people are Clinton’s people. Bill Clinton and his advisers were no pacifists. Clinton’s decision to bomb Serbia caused the deaths of hundreds of civilians. He also decided to unleash cruise missiles against civilian targets in Sudan and in Afghanistan, and he enforced sanctions on Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. Anyone familiar with Iraq knew that when Hussein Kamel married to one of Saddam Hussein’s daughters, defected to Jordan in 1995, he told UN inspectors Saddam had closed Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program. But Clinton and his advisers kept telling the world Saddam had WMDs. This is Clinton, December 1998, following the unanimous recommendation of his national security team, ordering the US—

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BILL CLINTON, US PRESIDENT: —to attack Iraq’s nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors. And mark my words: he will develop weapons of mass destruction, he will deploy them, and he will use them. Because we’re acting today, it is less likely that we will face these dangers in the future.

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What Clinton and his people wanted is what Bush got in the end: regime change.

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CLINTON: The best way to end that threat, once and for all, is with a new Iraqi government.

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So Clinton’s people were as convinced as the president that:

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CLINTON: I have no doubt today that, left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will use these terrible weapons again.

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Except there were no weapons. If Obama is now relying on some of the same people who advised Clinton during the 1990s, that’s not what he promised in his campaign. This is Obama in Iowa in November 2007.

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OBAMA: I don’t want to spend the next year or the next four years re-fighting the same fights that we had in the 1990s.

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Was Bill Clinton, in the 1990s, embodying a vision of change? Not exactly. When Clinton decided to expand NATO to Eastern Europe, this is how it struck Mikhail Gorbachev in March 1999: "The issue is not just whether Czechs, Hungarians and Poles join NATO. The problem is more serious: the rejection of the strategy for a new, common European system agreed to by myself and all the Western leaders when we ended the Cold War. I feel betrayed by the West. The opportunity we seized on behalf of peace has been lost. The whole idea of a new world order has been completely abandoned." Now let’s see who are Obama’s people—or Clinton’s people. Anthony Lake, Clinton’s former national security advisor and White House special envoy, is currently a professor at Georgetown University. He’s no realist like Brzezinski. He was a big advocate of containment, but he’s more like in favor of all means necessary to achieve democracy. He’s like democracy or nothing. Warren Christopher is a former Clinton secretary of state. He used to call Bosnia, I quote, "a problem from hell." In a talk he made at UCLA in 2005, he basically outlined what are some key Obama foreign policy points now. On Iraq, Christopher said, "I don’t think there has been any satisfactory historical explanation for exactly why we did what we did." Christopher is firmly in favor of negotiations with Iran, and most of all he believes in American soft power: "We have to make use of our soft power, our power of persuading, our power of support, to try to reclaim our reputation around the world." "Soft" is not exactly what comes to mind when associated to Madeleine Albright, Clinton’s former secretary of state and UN ambassador. Until a few days ago she was advising Hillary Clinton. On a September/October 2003 article in Foreign Affairs, Albright wrote, "NATO should be used in Afghanistan (where it has finally gained a role, two years after September 11) and in Iraq, where its umbrella might help relieve the pressure on hard-pressed US troops." Well, that’s basic Clintonism, the same thing that struck Gorbachev—NATO, a US-Western Europe alliance, expanding to the extent of taking over half of the world. And to do what? To protect democracy. Albright had the decency to apologize to Iranians for past and very undemocratic US foreign policy decisions.

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MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, SECRETARY OF STATE: As President Clinton has said, the United States must bear its fair share of responsibility for the problems that have arisen in US-Iranian [relations].

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But she never apologized to Iraqis for what she said in CBS News in May 1996. Asked that half a million children had died in Iraq from US- and UN-imposed sanctions—more than in Hiroshima—and if the price was worth it, Albright said, "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–I think the price is worth it." Other names in Obama’s group include a who’s who of the special interests, and even some of those Washington insiders vigorously denounced by Obama himself in his campaign. To meet them, please watch Part 2 of this report.

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