Here are a few of the highlights from the programme:
Do you think that anti-Russian hysteria is being whipped up to get us all ready for new US involvement in Syria?
“No I don't think so, this is just how the press operates. Frankly, if you are implying that the US has some kind of plan I would have to disagree completely, because in the Obama administration, in regards to Syria, there is no strategy or long-term thinking whatsoever.”
I’m implying this because I hope that I am a reasonably intelligent human being, and that countries that undertake military actions usually do have plans.
“No, no, absolutely not. Remember the people you are dealing with. Obama’s strategy, was when he got elected, everybody would just swoon over him because he’s black, he’s got a Muslim father, he would identify with the Islamic world, and they would all love us. The world will be one again, and they gave him the Nobel Peace Prize for being Obama. Then 8 years later, they hate the Americans far more than when Bush was president, they have bungled everything they could possible bungle in the Middle East….When the US Congress asks: ‘What is your strategy?’ The answer is that: ‘We don’t have a strategy, we are working on it.’ Literally, we have no long-term plan or strategy except to show the world that we are responding by dropping bombs.
“The thing is about Syria, is that under American law, you don't commit American forces to a conflict without going to Congress and getting their support. …Bush went to Congress. The conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq whether one likes them or not, followed a national debate, he had to present a strategy, it was a bad one, but he presented one, and it was taken seriously after debate. But in the Obama administration, they don't like Congress. Congress is Republican. In, 2011, Hillary and Obama committed American forces to a conflict in Libya based on a vaguely worded UN resolution, ‘no fly zone’, and we sent Americans into combat operations with no legal authority beyond the will of the President… I personally do not see what the national interest of America is, in protecting the poor people of Syria….When you have talk of a president taking action in Syria, and not having gone through the notions that every other president has done, before sending troops, which is to get national support,…you are making a gigantic political mistake….Under Obama, America is evolving into a Presidential Authoritarian State, rather than a Constitutional Republic. Obama is really out of the American tradition. He doesn't seek advice, he doesn’t seek support from Congress, and right there you have made a huge mistake in any kind of democracy. I’m very bothered by this.”
What about Trump’s foreign policy?
“Trump, in the debate against Syria went against the grain and suggested looking at ISIS [Daesh]. This strikes me as a very reasonable thing to suggest. We are at war with ISIS, they are the enemy. Frankly, Assad is a rather nasty character, I don’t think there are any likeable or non-authoritarian rulers in the Middle East, I have no particular care for any of them, Russia is clearly in Syria for its own national interests, and they have their bases there and I understand that… None of the characters around Obama has ever read Clausewitz. Not a word, not chapter 1. These people have no sense of strategy, long term thinking, planning, and when I wrote about how awful the Bush people were, I couldn't imagine how much worse the Obama people, and Hillary are.”
Do you see Hillary Clinton continuing the Obama way of doing things? Could it be worse?
“Oh yes! We already know her behaviour. She was already a part of these operations in Libya. We went to war without any kind of a plan, and didn't think about what will happen after we get rid of Gaddafi. It was just assumed that these people, who had lived under a totalitarian state for decades, would transform themselves into westerners, and the next thing you know, the place is a hotbed of terrorists! Her idea in Syria, and we still don’t have the details on this, and they probably will never come out, when she is elected, but we do know that we poured in $500 million to create a moderate Syrian army, a pre-democracy moderate force, and we ended up with about 40 people and they deserted. If you gave me $500 million, I’d have a pretty good military unit… there is this ideology in America, that ‘if we provide air support, we’ll find these moderate Syrians on the ground…’ and I don’t think that there are any moderate Syrians out there. The voices of realism aren’t there.”
How serious is this? Is this just people calling each other’s bluff? Might somebody do something stupid and that would bring in other countries in and we are going to have a Third World War?
“After all of these other phoney confrontations that have occurred, I think what you are seeing is production of sound bites for the 5 o’clock news! These people don’t know when to act and they don’t know when not to act. I am nervous because they seem to have no long term idea at all, except getting past the evening news. It was hard enough for anybody to get through to the Bush administration, finally they did, and they fired Rumsfeld and got the right people. I bet you Putin has read Clausewitz, and I bet he reads it in the original, as I do.”
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