Chomsky On Obama's Foreign Policy, 1.13.09

A recent interview; blurb:
CSU Northridge Student Julia Riber Pitt conducted an interview with Prof. Noam Chomsky, about the likely direction of Obama's foreign policy. It took place on 1.13.09 in his office at MIT, Cambridge, MA.

Recorded and edited by Charngchi Way.

Here's the Wall Street Journal article on Rahm Emanuel to which Chomsky refers. Key quote:

An Obama administration could very well be planning to govern from the center. But there's still the reality of the Democratic congressional leadership, which is brimming with left-wing barons who have their own agenda.

Barney Frank wants to slash Defense spending by 25%. Charles Rangel wants to bring back the draft. John Conyers, who has called for slavery reparations, is also sympathetic to Europeans who want to indict Bush administration officials for war crimes. And Henry Waxman is angling for steep energy taxes to combat global warming.

The question is whether these veteran lawmakers will simply steam roll the new White House occupant, the way previous liberal majorities in Congress had their way with Presidents Carter and Clinton.

"Barack Obama can stand up to them," countered Mr. Emanuel. He started to defend a couple of his colleagues -- "Charlie Rangel also supports reducing the corporate tax rate, and go ask corporate America how pragmatic Barney Frank has been during the financial crisis" -- but then he paused. At first, I thought it was because Mr. Emanuel had run out of examples, but it turned out that he wanted to make a larger point.

"Let me say this as to my colleagues," he began. "Although committed to their philosophy, they are incredibly pragmatic. They have lived through an experience in the minority. And they know how they got to be in the minority. And they know one very important political principle. They know that if President-elect Obama succeeds, all of us succeed. And if he doesn't succeed, his failures won't be limited to him."

Mr. Emanuel avoided the word "mandate," but the future White House chief of staff said that the future president has been given "clear directions by the country to change policies in Washington -- to change a health-care policy that is bankrupting the family budget as much as the federal budget, and to change an energy policy that has us exporting $700 billion of our wealth to countries overseas."

Mr. Emanuel said that the best way for Democrats to avoid overreach in the next two years is by thinking "less ideologically and more in terms of future versus past." You have to "constantly be turning over the intellectual topsoil in order to stay fresh," he said. "The economy demands it. The political system demands it. The country doesn't want divided government. It wants progress."