Mitchell Reports | June 18, 2012
>>> is getting conflicting advice in some cases from some of his closest advisors. some arguing for more, some for less u.s. intervention. in the new book "the obaminans" james mann describes the fact between establishment democrats like secretary of state hillary clinton and the president's inner circle , who came of age after the cold war . he joins me now. congratulations, the book just out and we're happy to see you. let's talk about that division, because it's fairly clear the president first of all from your reporting and from what i've been able to observe, he is the decider and he's surrounded by some people who are more politically rooted than foreign policy rooted, and they seem to have the sort of inner access to him, more so even in some cases than hillary clinton and some of the cabinet secretaries .
>> it's some of the people who worked with him now on foreign policy , they work with him during the campaign, so people like dennis mcdonough, or speech writer ben rhodes or samantha power , who is now on maternity leave, but has been a key player in the administration.
>> and susan rice falls into that category.
>> she is someone who has been suggested would be a possible successor to become secretary of state because hillary clinton has made it very clear she's leaving after one term if the president were re-elected.
>> i think it's quite possible that she will be the next secretary of state. you also have senator john kerry , who wanted to be secretary of state at the beginning of this administration. i'm sure he would still like to but i would kind of bet on susan rice .
>> and the national security advisor might have aspirations in that regard. he's very close to the president, taking a much more active role, taking trips to china, meeting with foreign leaders and also what they have in play here are so many issues from syria to the new relationship with vladimir putin , and we see this meeting is going on as we speak with putin. we don't know how putin is going to respond to pressure from the u.s. to basically throw assad under the bus.
>> the underlying issue in all this is american power and really, how much american power do we have and how much should we exert. i mean, there's an old school that thinks look, america's the indispensable nation, nothing has changed, just keep going the way we are. and the younger people around obama who tend to say well, it would be nice but we just don't have it as much as we did before. other countries are willing to challenge us because we don't have the clout in economic terms that we had, we can't really tell them to do things.
>> some critics would say that this group themselves gave up possible leverage by not following up immediately on the cairo speech, for instance, by not taking what advantages that the president had when he took office as being the non- george w. bush , at least as far as europe and the middle east was concerned, and actually being more aggressive and more adept at foreign policy .
>> in both cases, i think that they were -- they were not -- they were politically inept on guantanamo, they didn't follow through, they gave a speech in prague about nuclear weapons and they retreated from all the things they promised in that speech. so it's been a problem in political terms but also a problem of really pushing ahead with what they wanted to do. they were in that first year or two a little insecure.
>> what surprised you most about the way the president conducts foreign policy from your reporting?
>> first that it really is him. there's no one strategist under him. i think tom donellen does some of that but it's mostly obama. so that really has surprised me. they are very different from the bush team.
>> fascinating detail. thank you very much. good to see you.