From: Democracy Now! Agents of Change or Hawks, Clintonites and Neocons? A Discussion about Barack Obama’s Advisers

JEREMY SCAHILL: …what I’ve looked at in depth is the foreign policy team that surrounds Barack Obama. These are people that are on the transition team or are foreign policy advisers or already have been named to the cabinet or very well may get cabinet positions.

…what’s important to remember is what 1990s foreign policy looked like, because while Barack Obama campaigned on a pledge to bring change, if you actually analyze US foreign policy from George H.W. Bush through Bill Clinton to George W. Bush, there are great consistencies.

I mean, Bill Clinton’s policies, his foreign policies in the 1990s, really laid the groundwork for much of what President Bush did when he was in office. You had the Iraq Liberation Act, which was passed in 1998, which was the result of a collusion between neoliberal Democrats, neoconservative Republicans. That made regime change in Iraq mandatory. Clinton mercilessly punished the people of Iraq through economic sanctions, the longest sustained bombing campaign since Vietnam. They dismantled Yugoslavia, bombed it. They implemented policies such as the Rambouillet Accord against Milosevic, that was essentially a setup to take away Yugoslavia’s sovereignty, very similar to what Bush did in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion. Clinton hit Sudan. He hit Afghanistan. His free trade globalization policies devastated economies around the world and working people.

And what I point out in my piece is that many of the architects of those policies in the 1990s were not only people who supported the Iraq war in the lead-up and promoted the myth that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, but they are now at the center of the Obama foreign policy team.

I mean, from the jump, you had Joe Biden. His selection as the vice-presidential candidate was a clear indication that the old guard Democrats were going to be securely embedded in the Obama White House. You know, Biden is—I think one of the experiences in Biden’s life bears particular mention, and that is that Biden was the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the summer of 2002, when the Iraq war was being debated. Joe Biden was the man in charge of framing the so-called debate, and he refused to call two witnesses, in particular, who would have thoroughly debunked all of the lies that were being told. One is the former chief UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter. The other is the former head of the UN program in Iraq, Hans von Sponeck. Now, I was with von Sponeck at that time, and we were pressing Biden’s committee to call him to testify. The reason we wanted von Sponeck there is because he had just come back from the north of Iraq and had observed Ansar al-Islam guerrillas, the so-called al-Qaeda presence in Iraq, and would have testified that in fact they were not being trained by Saddam’s government, that they were receiving no assistance, that in fact they were fighting Saddam’s government and were operating from the US-enforced safe haven of northern Iraq, or Iraqi Kurdistan.

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