The transcript of Dialogos Radio’s interview with economist, author, analyst and former Assistant Secretary of the United States Treasury Paul Craig Roberts. This interview aired on our broadcasts for the week of December 8-14, 2016. Find the podcast of this interview here.
MN: Joining us today here on Dialogos Radio and the Dialogos Interview Series is economist, author, and columnist Paul Craig Roberts. Dr. Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for the United States, a former editor for the Wall Street Journal, and has written over 20 peer-reviewed articles and over a dozen books. Dr. Roberts, thank you for being with us today.
PCR: It’s a pleasure to be with you.
MN: Let’s begin with the presidential elections in the United States. President-Elect Donald Trump. Why did Trump win the election and what does a Trump presidency mean for the United States and for the world?
PCR: Well, we don’t know yet what it will mean. We know what we hope it will mean. Trump won because he spoke directly to the people in a way that they haven’t experienced in my lifetime. He told them that the ruling oligarchy did not have their interests in mind and would not have their interests in mind, that they had been sold out with the oligarchy moving their jobs offshore to where labor is cheaper and still expects the unemployed American workforce to buy the products that are brought in from China and Indonesia and India and elsewhere. This resonated with people, they had been experiencing this now for roughly a quarter of a century. There’s been no growth in real median family income in decades. Young people can’t find jobs to support an independent existence. The worth of a university education is collapsing because there is no employment for that type of an education, and people realize that the economic policy of the country has been captured by the oligarchs and serves only a very few interests. The consequence has been a massive change in the distribution of income inside the United States. The United States now has one of the worst income distributions in the world. In fact, it’s worse than income distributions in many Third World gangster states.
So, he spoke directly to these things, he also said that he would not see the point of conflict with Russia, which no one sees in an era of thermonuclear weapons, and he also said that he didn’t understand the function of NATO 25 years after the Soviet collapse. This also resonated with the public, because they understand that all of these supposed threats are bleeding them in order to put hundreds of billions of dollars into armaments industries. So that’s the reason why he won the election, and the reason we are hopeful is that we assume he is sincere about this. We assume he’s sincere because of the fierce opposition to he has from the ruling oligarchy and from their media prestitutes, their media prostitutes, who did anything they could to demonize Trump, to turn him into a “Putin agent” and so forth, but the public ignored them, or at least enough of the public ignored them, for Trump to carry almost all of the states except for a few really large cities on the coast.
MN: President-elect Trump has made many promises regarding bringing in a new era of peaceful relations with the rest of the world, and about jump-starting the U.S. economy and bringing jobs back from overseas. Do you believe Trump will keep these promises, and what do you make of his cabinet selections thus far?
PCR: Well, we don’t know if he will be able to. You see, the oligarchy’s candidate, Hillary Clinton, lost, so the oligarchy lost the election, but they did not lose it by such a great margin that they’ve given up. They’re still in the fight, they’re still there, Trump has a billion dollars but they have trillions, they’re well-established, they have many, many servants and think tanks and university faculty and the media [on their side], and of course, the neoconservatives, who have dominated American foreign policy since the Clinton regime. So they’re still there, and Trump is in combat with these people.
Trump’s appointments, we don’t know whether they will support what he wants to do or not. If they support him, they are the type of people he needs. They are well-to-do, they’re self-confident, they don’t need money from the oligarchs, they don’t have to worry about their careers when they leave government, so he does have the kind of person you’ve got to have if you’re president, to bring about any change. So the real question is, will they support him or will they go with the oligarchs? We don’t know, we’ll have to wait and see what happens. We can’t judge them based on their past associations. I don’t think any of them are actual representatives of an oligarch’s agenda. So, there’s a chance they will support him and that they will be strong enough people that he’ll have the government that will actually do something. But you can’t take it for granted, because as I said, the oligarchs lost but they weren’t routed. They’re still there.
MN: In your estimation, what would a Hillary Clinton victory have meant for the United States and the world, particularly in terms of foreign policy?
PCR: Well, it would have meant war with Russia and China and the end of life on earth. She’s an insane warmonger, she demonizes Russia, she demonizes the president of Russia, calling him the “new Hitler.” She said that the South China Sea is an area of United States national interest. I mean, you can’t be more provocative than this. And if you have a president who convinces Russia and China that they’re going to be attacked, they’re not going to sit there and wait. So, we really have escaped Armageddon by the defeat of Hillary Clinton. I mean, this would have been the worst possible outcome imaginable, to have her in the White House. Of course, it would have been bad on the other score, jobs, I mean she’s the agent of the big banks, they made her rich! She and her husband have a personal fortune of $120 million, given to them by the oligarchs, and their foundation has $1.6 billion, also given to them, but not just by domestic oligarchs, but by oligarchs abroad. They sold influence for money. And so, to have Hillary there would have been the end, not just of the United States but probably all life on earth.
MN: What is your reaction to the recount effort being led by Jill Stein and the criticism being heard of the electoral college? Who do you believe is behind all of these efforts?
PCR: The oligarchs, obviously. I mean, Jill Stein couldn’t get any funding for her presidential campaign, but she instantly got something like five or six or seven times the amount of funding she got for her entire campaign, for the recount! Where did that money come from? Not her supporters. And what this is about, you see what happened…the oligarchs were positioned to steal the election for Hillary. But, they got deceived by their own propaganda, that she was the shoo-in winner, The New York Times telling them that it was 94 percent certain that she would be elected. They didn’t bother to steal the election, because they didn’t think they needed to. And they were shocked, everyone was shocked—that is, not the people voting for him, but the media, the oligarchs, the established interests, they were shocked by the election results, and so they’ve used Jill Stein, who really has no standing in this issue since it doesn’t involve her campaign, she has no chance of benefiting from a vote recount…so they’re using this corrupt woman, who sold out the Green Party, to try and throw a monkey wrench into the electoral college. It’s unclear whether any of these vote counts will take place by the time the electoral college has to give its results. It’s unclear what the consequences are if the recounts have not happened, if they eliminate the states from the total and if so, there goes Trump’s margin. The only states being recounted are the three that he won which he wasn’t expected to win, and his margin in these three states is not very great. They’re not recounting votes in states that he lost by small margins, only where he won by small margins. So this is an effort to steal the election from the working class who elected him. That’s precisely what it is, and Jill Stein is part of it.
MN: We are on the air with economist, author, analyst, and former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Paul Craig Roberts here on Dialogos Radio and the Dialogos Interview Series, and Dr. Roberts, One of the many reactions of the mainstream media has been to attack online news outlets which they claim are delivering so-called “fake news,” and not coincidentally, these are outlets that have questioned neoliberal policy, they questioned Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and were reporting on the revelations of her scandals. Your website was included on this list of alleged “fake news sites,” and apparently we deliver fake news as well, as the online news outlet that I personally write for, Mint Press News, was also included on the list.. What’s your response to these claims of “fake news,” and who do you believe are the true purveyors of fake news?
PCR: Well, we know the true purveyors are the media, the press prostitutes. We call them presstitutes. The mainstream media throughout the West is totally corrupt and has no integrity. We know that for a fact, and we’ve had the editor of the largest newspaper in Germany write the book in which he says that that is the case, that there are no independent journalists of any significance in Europe that are not on the CIA’s payroll. Same is true here. So what you see happening is that the independent internet media is taking away from the oligarch’s control over the explanations that people receive. So, everywhere you see the subscription rates of newspapers falling dramatically, the viewers of TV programs falling dramatically, and Internet readership rising. And so, this is an effort to try to discredit the people who actually tell the truth by identifying them with Russia. They are hoping that all the demonization of Russia during Obama’s second term has aroused fears among Western and Eastern Europeans and among the American people that the “Russian menace” is back, and they’re hoping this fear is substantial and that they associate those of us who challenge their lies, with Russia, they will discredit us. That’s what the plan is.
Who’s funding it? We don’t know, because the people who prepared this list, no one knows who they are. When the Washington Post gave it all that publicity, they very carefully did not say who these people are. It is a brand new internet site that didn’t exist before a couple of months ago. And who is funding it? I would say the National Endowment for Democracy, which is a U.S. State Department-funded [organization], it could be the CIA, it could be George Soros, but it is an oligarch operation, which of course involves the military-security complex, because they are the greatest beneficiaries in terms of money and power, of all the threats, all the wars. They want a Russian threat, for their budgets, for their police state powers. So those are the people who are most likely funding it. It hasn’t worked, all it did was to provide people with 200 sites they could go to, to find out what the truth is!
And of course, I made a great mockery of it with my published letter to President Putin in which I said, among other things, that now that my “cover” as a “Russian agent” has been blown, would he please give me a passport so I could get out of the country! And I said, any minute now the Washington Post will discover that my fellow KGB agent, Ronald Reagan, and I, cut taxes on the rich in order to make capitalism so oppressive that people would rise up and overthrow it. It was full of things like that. Well, this went viral and made a laughingstock of the Washington Post. It will never recover. And, it went viral in Russia and the media asked Putin if he would give me a passport, and he said “if he applies for one” [laughs]
So, in other words, I think it’s failed, but it shows the desperation of the oligarchs, and what they will do now is, they will use the people they still control, in the House and the Senate—because people who run for Congress have to have campaign donations, and Trump has money, but not enough to fund all the campaigns of the House and the Senate—so they’re funded by the oligarchs, and now the oligarchs will get some type of legislation passed that will put pressure on people who dissent from official lines of the oligarchy, that dissent from stories they plant in the presstitute media. And so, it’s going to be perhaps harder to express dissent or tell the truth in the United States, but we’ll just have to see what they do to Trump. Some people say that he was always a fake, but that doesn’t make sense to me because the oligarchs didn’t need him when they had Hillary. And they clearly didn’t want Trump in the election. They tried to deny him the Republican nomination, and then they used the media against him in very vicious ways during the presidential campaign. So Trump said once that he believes in revenge, and I hope he does. I hope he exacts revenge on the oligarchs.
MN: We are speaking with economist, author, analyst, and former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Paul Craig Roberts here on Dialogos Radio and the Dialogos Interview Series, and Dr. Roberts, let’s turn to Europe now, beginning with Britain… what has been the aftermath of the Brexit vote for Britain, and have the doom-and-gloom scenarios regarding the impact on the British economy come to fruition?
PCR: No, of course not. The opposite! We were told all this doom-and-gloom, if Trump got elected the market would collapse. Instead it went up 1000 points! What’s happened with Brexit is, I think it’s been overturned. The United States is not going to permit Brexit, Washington won’t permit it. Now, this may change with Trump, but under Obama, you may remember traveled to London to tell the British prime minister to forget all about leaving the EU. The EU is a creation of the CIA. It was created so that the United States could more easily maintain control of Europe. It’s easier to control the EU Commission than to control 20-something different governments. And so, what has happened is, the United States government used those three corrupt British judges that “well, the people may have voted, but you did not really have to pay attention to them, it’s all up to parliament and parliament can decide that we’re not [leaving],” and of course Washington is now lobbying the Parliament very hard, with promises and money and, no doubt, threats.
So I don’t think Brexit will happen, it’s being overturned. You can see this all along the way. So, the notion that it would take two years to get out, when that came out, instantly I said “they’ll never get out.” Two years is all Washington needs to overturn it. I think it’s already overturned with that court ruling. So we had three two-bit punk judges overruling the majority vote of the British people, and they call it democracy! [laughs] What kind of democracy is it? That’s not a democracy, when three two-bit punk judges who don’t amount to anything overrule the majority vote of the British people! And they call it democracy, oh boy! What a joke! They are not any democracies in the West. Do you think Greece is a democracy? [laughs] They vote for one thing and the outcome is the opposite. You can’t even get democracy out of a so-called left-wing government! Europe is a collection of American vassals. It’s been that way since World War II.
MN: On that topic, Italian voters recently voted no in a referendum on amendments to the nation’s constitution. What does this vote, in your estimation, mean for Italy and for Europe?
PCR: It’ll end up being overturned, like the Brexit vote. Just like here, they are trying to overturn Trump’s election! I mean, that’s what this vote recount is about. It’s the oligarchy trying to overturn the people’s will, just like the three judges in Britain, like what happened in Greece. So yes, here are people trying to use democracy to establish some control over their own government. They had a vote an Italy…now will it stand? That’s the question. The vote, in itself, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Brexit hasn’t happened, I don’t think it ever will. We don’t even know if Trump is going to be president. But that’s the whole purpose of the vote recount, to block it. They wouldn’t be doing it otherwise. So they’ve got all kinds of agents to use, all kinds of things to do.
One of our best journalists, Chris Hedges, who has had to go independent because the prostitute media no longer will publish his work… he’s concluded that elections can’t change anything, only revolution can change things. And I think that’s what the oligarchy is proving. They are proving that you can’t change things with elections, because it’s really not a democracy, it’s a facade, and when the people vote, in come the oligarchs and they overturn it one way or the other. They used three punk judges. How will they overturn the vote in Italy? I don’t know, but they’ll overturn it, or they’ll ignore it, or some judge will rule that we don’t have to pay attention, or some judge will rule that Italian law is subject to EU law, that EU law is supreme. They can do all kinds of things.
MN: We are on the air with economist, author, analyst, and former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Paul Craig Roberts here on Dialogos Radio and the Dialogos Interview Series, and Dr. Roberts, in light of the way in which people have voted in the United States and Britain and Italy and in Greece, do you believe that we are heading towards that revolution that you speak of and that Chris Hedges has spoken of?
PCR: I don’t know. It depends on the people. They don’t seem to be nearly as feisty as they used to be. In previous times in the United States, when we reached this kind of situation, the government was scared of the people and had to make concessions. I don’t see the government afraid of the people. They’ve got a police state established, they’ve got internment camps built, they’ve militarized the police, the police are as well-armed as the military, the police routinely shoot people down the streets. I just don’t know how hard the people have to be pressed. Maybe they just simply will cease to have any gain in their living standards and some slight declines over time but won’t actually be facing starvation and homelessness, as they have in the past. So, who knows, I don’t know. But I don’t think they will succeed in changing anything with elections. Possibly, Trump being the kind of very strong-willed, determined, ego-type person that he is, that’s the kind of person you need for a leader if things are going to be changed. You can’t have some conciliatory, shrinking violet who wants to get along with everybody. You can’t get change out of that.
It could well be that Trump is already rich, he doesn’t need any more money, he has a big ego and he wants to go down in history as the man who saved America, “Trump the great.” So if he has that kind of a goal, then the oligarchs are up against a real formidable president. If he can find other people to back him, we can get some change. But it remains to be seen. We can’t know that in advance. That’s the hope. What the result is, we don’t know, but that’s the hope. The hope is…Trump has a huge ego, wants to be “Trump the great,” wants to save America, and that that’s more important than having a few more billion dollars, that he doesn’t care about all these people, these oligarchs, they haven’t supported him. So maybe something will happen, we’ll just have to see. Maybe they’ll prove Chris Hedges wrong. But it’s hard to bet one way or another.
MN: We are speaking with economist, author, analyst, and former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Paul Craig Roberts here on Dialogos Radio and the Dialogos Interview Series, and Dr. Roberts, what’s your take on recent developments in Syria and in the Middle East, including the attempted invasion of Syria by Turkish troops, and what do you believe we’ll see in Syria going forward in light of a Trump presidency and considering what’s been happening in Europe as well?
PCR: As far as I can tell, the Russians and Syrians have won that war. They’ve defeated the American-supported ISIS, or the Washington-supported ISIS. The Americans don’t support them, but Washington support ISIS. The Obama regime sent ISIS to Syria to overthrow Assad, when the Russians prevented our invasion. So that way we can pretend we don’t have anything to do with it. But I think the Russians, as I said, defeated ISIS. I think it could have happened much sooner, but Putin kept pulling out, kept trying to appease the Europeans, hoping they would see they didn’t need to be American puppet states, but he seems now to have finished the job, more or less. I don’t think the Turks would be permitted to invade Syria, the Russians would just tell them no. And, I don’t think the Turks think they are a match for Russia or that the Turks are stupid enough to think Europe and the United States is going to come to their aid if they get in a war with Russia.
You know, these nuclear weapons are very, very powerful. Russia can wipe out all of Europe in a few minutes. For these idiot European politicians to be running around fomenting trouble with Russia, they’ve got to be insane. There’s no way Europe can come out of this. The same with the United States, here we are demonizing Russia and China. These are powerful nuclear powers. We can’t possibly survive a conflict with them, no one can. So it’s all insanity, it’s nonsense. It makes you wonder… Europe is unable to produce leadership that’s intelligent. Putin, he’s intelligent. For some reason the Chinese can produce intelligent leadership. Who in Europe has intelligent leadership? Nobody. Maybe we finally have it with Trump, we don’t know yet. But there’s not any intelligent leadership, there’s none in Europe.
MN: In closing, and very quickly, going out on a limb, what political and economic developments do you believe we will see in the new year, 2017?
PCR: I don’t know. I mean, there’s a whole range of possibilities. We don’t have to talk about that range of possibilities, but after the first six months, we’ll have some idea what Trump is, and we’ll just have to wait and see.
MN: Wonderful… Dr. Roberts, thank you for taking the time to speak with us today here on Dialogos Radio and the Dialogos Interview Series.
PCR: You’re welcome, and I appreciate your interest and thank you for sharing your audience.
Please excuse any typos or errors which may exist within this transcript.