Contextual Content

Change we can believe in?

Real News Network’s Analyst, Pepe Escobar, examines Barack Obama’s recently appointed Senior Working Group on National Security. Obama’s people are Clinton’s people he explains. Jim Steinberg, Gregory Craig, William Perry and Susan Rice will all be part of the team advising Obama on how the US should be dealing with the rest of the world. In part two of his commentary, Pepe Escobar asks, "is this really change we can believe in?"

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Story Transcript

PEPE ESCOBAR, ANALYST, THE REAL NEWS NETWORK: Let’s continue meeting Barack Obama’s recently appointed Senior Working Group on National Security. These Obama people—actually, Clinton people—will be advising Obama on how the West should be dealing with the rest of the world. James Steinberg was Clinton’s deputy national security adviser. According to The Wall Street Journal, he co-wrote Obama’s recent speech at the AIPAC meeting in Washington which really dismayed the Arab world. In an article published on The American Interest and co-written with Ivo Daalder, Steinberg sounded a lot like John McCain: "Unilateralism is not the only alternative to the UN Security Council—regional organizations and a new coalition of democratic states … offer ways to legitimize the use of force when the council fails to meet its responsibility." David Borin was called "my lifetime mentor" in 2003 by former CIA head George Tenet. He was also very close with former CIA director Robert Gates. He actually helped Gates’ nomination. The CIA under Gates wildly exaggerated Soviet military power, and Gates admitted on the record the CIA gave billions of dollars to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. Blowback was inevitable. As everybody knows, the Mujahideen later turned against the US. Richard Danzig was Clinton’s secretary of the navy. He encouraged Clinton to invest into offensive biowarfare research. Gregory Craig is a super trial lawyer. He was Clinton’s director of the State Department Office of Policy Planning and also a coordinator of the US policy on Tibet. Lee Hamilton is a former chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and, most importantly, he co-chaired the Iran Contra investigation, the Iraq Study Group, and the 9/11 Commission, which for many Americans did not answer the really tough 9/11 questions. Hamilton enjoys the reputation of being an ultimate insider, a Washington wise man. But don’t expect anything controversial from him. Tim Roemer was a member of the 9/11 Commission, and he voted for Bush to invade Iraq. Eric Holder was named by Ronald Reagan as associate judge in the District of Columbia, and in 1997 Clinton appointed him as his deputy attorney general. Then there’s former Senator Sam Nunn, former chair of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee. He’s been sounded out as a possible Obama running mate. Nunn is the CEO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative. He’s been warning of a perfect storm coming: terrorists with nuclear technology acquired in the black market. But he seems a bit misinformed about Iran. This is what he said on Charlie Rose in 2007.

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SAM NUNN, CEO, NUCLEAR THREAT INITIATIVE: The Iranians, from what I read—and I have no classified information on the subject—they are two or three years away, depending on who you believe, from having the ability to make enough nuclear material to make a bomb.

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On the other hand, Nunn outlined what is now Obama’s Iran policy, diplomacy, and not Bush’s "all options are on the table."

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NUNN: Why we didn’t do that is bewildering to me. Why we aren’t willing to talk to Iran about the nuclear problem, I don’t understand that either. That’s what we ought to be doing with the Iranians. We ought to be talking to them directly. Now, is that going to solve the problem? I doubt it. They’ve had a nuclear program going on since the days of the Shah. And if you talk to the Russians about this and ask the Russians why they aren’t tougher on Iran, they’ll tell you, "Well, why weren’t you tough back when the Shah was there? And you were cooperating with the Iranians on their nuclear program then."

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William Perry was Clinton’s secretary of defense, and restructured US defense industry. He worked as a consultant for Martin Marietta before Clinton. Lockheed Martin, the US’ largest weapons manufacturer, was created in a merger just a few months after Perry started his restructuring. And Martin Marietta became part of Lockheed Martin. Perry retired in 1998 and joined the board of Boeing. And he also joined the Saudi-based Carlyle Group, whose partners include some very well known oil men—George Bush Sr. and James Baker. Perry’s take on North Korea in the mid-1990s may offer a fascinating glimpse of how Obama’s coercive diplomacy would deal with Iran. This is what Perry said in an interview with PBS Frontline in February 2003: "We were willing to risk war. We were not willing to initiate a war over this, and we did not believe it would be necessary. . . . We felt if we could ratchet up on diplomatic pressure, we could probably stop this from happening. So we set off on a course of what could fairly be called ‘coercive diplomacy.’ … It was diplomacy, but it was diplomacy that was backed with a very credible threat of military force. We seriously considered solving the problem directly by simply striking the reactor and the processor at Yongbyon." Susan Rice was Clinton’s assistant secretary of state. Anyone suspecting that Bush foreign policy is not fundamentally different from Clinton foreign policy should listen to what Rice said on NPR on November 11, 2002.

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VOICE OF SUSAN RICE, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I think the United States government has been clear since the first Bush administration about the threat that Iraq and Saddam Hussein poses. The United States’ policy has been regime change for many, many years, going well back into the Clinton administration. So it’s a question of timing and tactics, when we do not necessarily need a further council resolution before we can enforce this and previous resolutions.

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And this is what she said on NPR on February 6, 2003, referring to Colin Powell.

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RICE: Well, I think he has proved that Iraq has these weapons and is hiding them, and I don’t think many informed people doubted that.

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Rice is in charge of Obama’s so-called "pragmatic" counterterrorism plan, which she says will, I quote, "dry up support for extremists," in part by upholding the values the US is fond of breaching around the world.

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SEN. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (D): I refuse to be lectured on national security by the people who are responsible for the most disastrous set of foreign policy decisions in the recent history of the United States.

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So, to counter this "disastrous set of foreign policy decisions," Obama has resorted to a galaxy of smart power insiders. Some of these names on Obama’s Senior Working Group on National Security seem not to have a very straightforward view of international law, to say the least, and some seem to be not averse to war, at least in humanitarian-imperialism terms, as in the case of the former Yugoslavia. A remixed Clinton III cabinet is not exactly a radical departure from a Bush-Cheney imperial foreign policy. Americans will ask the question: is this really change we can believe in?

DISCLAIMER:

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