As Barack Obama made his speech before nearly 84,000 of his supporters at a Denver stadium as the official Democratic nominee, Press TV asked the former Alaska senator, Mike Gravel about the Illinois senator’s promises.
Press TV: Mike Gravel, what’s your thoughts about Obama’s speech?
Gravel: Well it is a political speech and where there is the political speech by the person campaigning for president of France…of Britain…it is what you should expect and its so typically American and as you pointed out you know these conventions paid for not only by Corporate America, I mean, they got enough power to go ahead and appropriate federal funds for this and state funds and local funds so the taxpayers pay for this pep rally not as much as the Corporate America. In fact, you see, what is worse than that, you can not find out the details of these corporate sponsors for ninety days. So you can not really make a case for this.
You were rattling off some names earlier but there is a lot more detail than that to be discovered and it would be by the time it comes up. This is capitalism at its best and at its worst.
Press TV: He did seem to say he wanted the closure of cooperate loopholes. He did talk about environmentalism…you know projects that perhaps would not go down as well with the board of companies such as ExxonMobile and he did talk about universal health care. Do you think these are dreams such as we heard during Bill Clinton era which never came to pass or he is really serious?
Gravel: That is exactly what you say…what you were taking about. This is not going to happen where the country is bankrupt. Here is the key to it. They buy into it and this is the tragedy of it and this is why Americans, because our culture has been totally militarized, they buy into this American culture that we are the greatest in the world, we are the most powerful in the world and when he says statements like “we have got to deter Iran…we have got to curb Russian aggression,” I mean, these are codeword for whipping up the American people to think that there are problems out there that we have to fear. We have been stealing fear in the American people since the Second World War so that we could have the people accept the fact to spend all this money that we spend not on education, not on health care, not on all these other things that needs be done but on the fact that we spend more money on defense than all the rest of the world put together. The budget of Iran is infinitesimal compared to what we spend on this defense budget.
Press TV: Do you think they do not realize that a president Barak Obama would inherit a half-trillion-dollar budget deficit?
Gravel: No they do not. They are too busy cheering…not at all…and what they don’t realize is that he can make all these statements but he can not change a simple law. He can not vote in the Congress. This is the Congress that does that and the Congress is going to be a Democratic Congress. Even if McCain were to win there is no question, nobody, nobody expects that the Congress would go Republican. So now we are talking about a congress, and so you look at war in Iraq. That was as much a Democratic war as a Republican war. When you look at the threats to Iran that is as much a Democratic threat as a Republican threat. And now look at Liberman II resolution giving George Bush the authority. I do not know if you are aware of the details of American foreign policy with respect to what we call the SRS, the Silk Road Strategy where the United States of America wants to militarize and control the transportation of gas and oil from China to the European community. This is American imperialism at its worst and, of course, all of the cost that would be involved in that did not this and, of course, the whole nuclear situation. I do not know if you are really aware of the fact that the United Stats trying to organize, under Bush, for the last two years and now that is hopefully falling apart with the Russians by trying to organize the expansion of nuclear energy production. I would hope that Iran will just walk away from this whole idiocy, because fortunately they are too locked into this sort of prestige level but the answer to energy is not oil and gas, in the meantime, Iran has got unbelievable quantities of natural gas it is enough of oil and non-polluting within a space of three or four years.
Press TV: Well, John McCain is now saying tonight Americans witness the misleading speech fundamentally at odds with the meager record of Barak Obama. So, do you think well on personality issues rather than policy McCain would just hit him for the lack of experience.
Gravel: Barak Obama has the same position as McCain on Georgia with respect to Russia and they are both wrong…they are both wrong. What happened was the United States has no business selling arms to Georgia, has no business trying to get Georgia to join NATO. In fact NATO should be dissolved. There is no reason for that in the slightest and so Saakashvili, an elected official, who attacked another country that has an elected president that was guaranteed its autonomy by Russia. This is the sickest situation in the world and the American media and the American government has been complicit in this whole…in misinforming the American people on this and the best way to get information is to go abroad and listen to Al-Jazeera and listen to many your case, your broadcast and a lot more informed about what the America people are getting from the American information system which is so biased in this regard. But the arms race is being initiated by Bush bought into by the Democrats and by the Republicans. And that is the saddest of it all. And what we hear…what we see now is politics as usual in the United States…all the hoopla…and it is very sad because you can get away with this so long. We are raising expectations so high with the hope of change and when change is not realized, and it will not be, it just will not be. Then, of course, comes the alternative which is going to be a very cynical population in this country.
Press TV: Mike Gravel, I suppose we should turn now to who will win the election, do you think George W. Bush’s camp have cards under their sleeves, such as Vladimir Putin said, to try and ensure a victory for John McCain?
Gravel: Well you never know. They have got this whole theory of October surprise. And, of course, I think that would copy Saakashvili in his stupidity he was hoping that he could trigger. I have fears that something dumb would happen with respect to trying to incite something with Iran. And that is stupid. You know, the provocations getting out there and, thank God, the leadership of Iran has been more mature. This hardly could be expected during the Cold War. A lot of times, under Richard Nixon and others we had more mature judgment exercised by Soviet leaders than we did by the American presidents and let us hope that we can hang onto that at least until January because I think that Obama will continue American imperialism but I do not think he will be as irresponsible as George Bush has been or, what I feel, that McCain would be. McCain really really would be, in my mind, dangerous as a president and he shoots from the hip.
Press TV: Of course, Obama mentioned the Martin Luther King Junior’s speech as was expected. Well, there is another dream. St Paul, the city of F. Scott Fitzgerald. and of the American dream. What should we expect from St Paul. Will we see Dick Cheney? Will we see McCain speak about no timetable about the withdrawal of troops from Iraq for instance?
Gravel: No, I think that he will be little cleverer than that, but you raised something about Martin Luther King which, of course, they have not really focused on what, in my mind, the most important speech about Martin Luther King. Martin Luther King came out against the Vietnam War aggressively. And that is when a lot of backers of the black movements, of the civil rights movements really pulled away from him. They thought that he should not have done that. Well, to me, that was the greatest thing that Martin Luther King was doing. He was really talking about the civil rights. Not only of the black Americans but of the southeastern Asians who were being repressed, murdered and killed by the Vietnam War. But it is interesting that they do not talk about that with Martin Luther King. They only talk about the interests of the civil rights move in this country and not the civil rights move that he thought was important in Southeast Asia. Now, with respect to the Republican convention, I think we are going to see the same old hoopla that we saw in this convention…, you know, “everything they did was right.” You are going to see more militarism. They are going to play more the military card…the commander-in-chief. And this plays into the militarized culture that has been placed on the American people. This is a tragedy. Here we have the super power of the world and I do not mean just the military superpower. We are the economic super power. We are going to be losing that over time. But right now we are the dangerous country in the world. We truly are and I do not know of any way to change that other than to empower the people to be able to become lawmakers. You’ll never see the representative government correct itself from the inside. It is going to come from the outside. And I know that these are not words that are attractive to your audience at the other end but let me just tell you I do not see all that much difference in other countries. Look at the EU. I mean there are…by the Americans. I mean, why did the Americans support NATO so that we can manipulate the European community? It is an American who heads up NATO. And now we have NATO in Afghanistan and most of the troops in Afghanistan are not under NATO command. They are under American Command, in addition, the Americans command the other troops. We have got a real messed up situation and there is no need for NATO. Who is Europe going to attack and who is going to attack Europe? Russia is selling their natural gas and oil to the European community. Why would Russia want to do anything and any kind of belligerency with Europe. The same thing with Iran. I am asked frequently “what we could do?” and I make the statement “We could cut the price of gasoline in half at the pump right now in the United States of America. All we have to do is to turn around and stop sanctioning Iran and joining them in helping increase their productivity in natural gas and in oil and immediately we would cut the cost of gasoline at the American pump which is damaging the Americans and hurting their cost of living. That is what we could do. In fact, all you have got to do is watch the fact that every time we talk about war in Iraq, Afghanistan or threats to Iran you watch the price of gas go up at the pump and look who is punished the average American citizen who can not put two and two together as to what is going on in this regard. Press TV