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THE SITUATION ROOM
Israeli Prime Minister Praises President Obama on Relationship With Israel; Michael Moore on Capitalism
Aired September 26, 2009 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: President Obama gives United Nations members a verbal hug. Is his kinder, gentler foreign policy dangerous? I'll ask the US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice.
Israel's prime minister takes direct aim at Iran and its nuclear program. He tells me all options are on the table to defend his country from its volatile neighbor.
And what is Michael Moore so angry about? This hour, my in-depth interview with the filmmaker about his new movie assault on the capitalist system.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in "THE SITUATION ROOM."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow, endangering the global non- proliferation regime, denying its own people access to the opportunity they deserve, and threatening the stability and security of the region and the world.
NICOLAS SARKOZY, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): We cannot let Iranian leaders gain time while the motors are running. If by December there is not an in-depth change by the Iranian leaders, sanctions will have to be taken. This is for the peace and stability. Thank you.
GORDON BROWN, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Confronted by the serial deception of many years, the international community has no choice today but to draw a line in the sand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: President Obama and key allies calling Iran on the carpet over a nuclear facility it had been hiding from the international community. The bombshell and the threat of new sanctions, as Mr. Obama faced new tests on the world stage. This week, he welcomed the leading economic powers for a summit in Pittsburgh as well, and he made his debut at the U.N. General Assembly.
Also speaking at the U.N., three vocal critics of the United States, the leaders of Libya, Iran and Venezuela. But even they had some nice things to say about America's president. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, who once likened President Bush to the devil, declared, quote, the smell of sulfur, hi his words, had disappeared.
I asked the US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, about that and about the president's UN debut.
SUSAN RICE, US AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Wolf, there are 192 members of the United Nations. They all converge on New York this time of year. Every year, three or four leaders provide bar room entertainment.
For the most part, this has been a very serious session. The president of the United States delivered a very important address to the UN General Assembly yesterday, in which he detailed the various important ways in which U.S. policy has changed, and why we see the United Nations as an important instrument to advance our interests and keep us safer.
But he called on the leaders of all the world, and indeed all countries of the world, to step up and take their responsibilities, so that together we have a good chance of meeting pressing global challenges.
So that is the interesting thing that has happened this week. Today, in the Security Council, all 15 members of the Security Council --
BLITZER: Hold on one second, Ambassador. I want to get to that. I want to play for you, because not everyone was all that impressed by what the president had to say at the United Nations, including one of your predecessors, the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton. The RNC, the Republican National Committee, put out an audio of his reaction. I'll play a little bit of it for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, FORMER UN AMBASSADOR: It really signals weakness to America's friends and allies around the world. The idea that the ineffective United Nations can be a centerpiece for American foreign policy I think we find dangerous and really very highly risky.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I think it is fair to say he hated the president's speech.
RICE: Well, you know, this is John Bolton, who wanted to take ten stories off the U.N. building, who had utter disdain for international cooperation. He was part of a set of policies that alienated the United States from the rest of the world, and left our standing in the world at an all-time low.
So it doesn't surprise me that he wouldn't like a speech in which the United States acknowledged that in the 21st century, when the nature of the challengers that threaten our security are inherently trans-national, things like terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, pandemic disease, and climate change. These are things that no one nation, including one as powerful as our own, can tackle in isolation.
So we need cooperation from other states and other peoples. That is why the United Nations is an important instrument in our foreign policy.
BLITZER: Ambassador, the criticism is the president is well liked. He's respected around the world. Attitudes towards the United States certainly have improved. But where is the beef, if you will, in terms of getting that kind of international support for the policies the United States is advancing? Have you seen tangible results yet on some of the tough issues like Iran or North Korea or the Israeli/Palestinian conflict?
RICE: Yes, indeed, Wolf, we are seeing tangible benefits. I was proud to be part of an effort in June to pass the toughest sanctions regime in the world today against North Korea, with the cooperation of Russia and China, two countries that have not traditionally turned to sanctions, but in this instance did so, and did so because we were able to work constructively together.
Today in the Security Council, Wolf, 15 countries unanimously embraced a Security Council Resolution, which I think will be a landmark resolution, that committed us to work towards a world without nuclear weapons, that had very concrete provisions to reinforce the non-proliferation regime, to make progress towards disarmament, to recognize the role of peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and, very importantly, to embrace President Obama's goal of securing loose nuclear materials around the world within four years.
These are critical steps, Wolf, that will make Americans safer. Today in the Security Council, heads of state from all of the nuclear powers and ten non-nuclear powers agreed to this approach.
BLITZER: But North Korea is still going forward, despite the tougher sanctions. And Iran, is there any indication you are getting whatsoever from the Iranian president, Ahmadinejad, or his aides that they are about to cooperate with the U.S. -- the International Atomic Energy Agency, and come clean on their program?
RICE: Let me go back to North Korea for a second. Then I will answer your question on Iran.
They are still going forward. They are facing a very tough sanctions regime which is biting. It's being well enforced by countries around the world. We have subsequently seen some indications from North Korea that they may be prepared to return to the negotiating table.
With respect to Iran, the P-5 plus one -- that's the five permanent members of the Security Council, Russia, China, the United States, Britain and France, plus Germany, will sit down on October 1st with a representative, a senior representative from Iran. Iran at that point will face a very stark choice, to negotiate seriously about its nuclear weapons program and to come clean and meet its international obligations, and start a very serious process that will have to proceed quickly, or they are going to face more pressure from the international community.
That is what we heard, Wolf, yesterday in our bilateral discussions with Russia. Understanding that we may need to act in that fashion.
BLITZER: In an interview with the "Washington Post," he makes an offer to the United States, Ahmadinejad -- you probably read it today. He says this, "we hope that Mr. Obama is seeking real change. We are willing to help bring about those changes in the meeting in Geneva. We are ready to discuss some issues, including our willingness to purchase enriched uranium from the United States to the grade of 20 percent of our domestic needs. Iran in return will offer solutions to the changes that are required."
Will the U.S. sell enriched uranium, supposedly for medical purposes, to Iran?
RICE: Wolf, we are going to see what the Iranians come to the table with. I'm not going to speculate on the basis of press accounts. There's a very near-term opportunity for Iran.
BLITZER: This is an interview he gave the "Washington Post."
RICE: I'm well aware of that. But we haven't seen what their proposal is. We haven't seen what, exactly, if anything, they will bring to the table. So we can have this conversation next week.
In the meantime, Iran faces a very clear choice. Let's hope that it comes to the table with some very concrete and serious steps that will demonstrate its determination to prove that it is not and will not pursue a nuclear weapons program.
BLITZER: I know you go to the situation room over at the West Wing at the White House often. I hope you come back to our SITUATION ROOM from time to time as well, ambassador. Thanks very much.
RICE: Good to be with you.
BLITZER: Good luck.
RICE: Thank you.
BLITZER: Israel's leader lays out a threat he says you and the entire world should worry about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: The most urgent challenge facing this body today is to prevent the tyrants of Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to the United Nations and to me. He says time is running out regarding Iran. I asked if Israel might attack Iran in the future.
The filmmaker Michael Moore is here as well. He says the U.S. system of capitalism is no better than a giant ponzi scheme. I'll ask him why.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: This is not the first time that Iran has concealed information about its nuclear program. Iran has the right to peaceful nuclear power that meets the energy needs of its people. But the size and configuration of this facility is inconsistent with a peaceful program.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: President Obama talks about a fresh disclosure, Iran's admission of a second secret uranium enrichment plant. Iran admitted it in a letter to the International Atomic Agency this week. President Obama says Iran is breaking the rules that all nations must follow. Direct quote.
The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, goes even further, saying if there is not an in-depth change in Iran by December, Tehran should be punished with sanctions.
I spoke with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about threats posed by Iran's nuclear ambition.
BLITZER: Mr. Prime Minister, thanks very much for coming in.
NETANYAHU: Good to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: The Russian president, Dimitri Medvedev, told our Fareed Zakaria the other day that he had an assurance from the Israeli president, Shimon Perez, that Israel has no intention of attacking Iran. Is that true?
NETANYAHU: I'm not going to deal with hypotheticals. I think the important thing is to recognize that Iran's ambitions to acquire or develop nuclear weapons is a threat not only to Israel, but to the whole world.
Remember, this is the country that sponsored terrorism world wide. Imagine what would happen if these terrorists had a patron that gave them a nuclear umbrella, or worse, actually gave them the nuclear weapon. I think that these are catastrophic consequences. It is in the interest of the entire international community to make sure this doesn't happen.
BLITZER: Are you willing to repeat what you have been quoted in the Israeli press as saying, that quote, all options for Israel are on the table right now?
NETANYAHU: Well, I'm willing to say what President Obama has said, namely that all options on the table is a position we support.
BLITZER: Have you been concerned at all about the Obama administration's diplomatic initiative in trying to reach out to Iran to see if that will secure some results?
NETANYAHU: Wolf, I've spoken to President Obama several times about this. And he assured me the goal of all his activities, diplomatic and otherwise, is to ensure that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons. I think the goal is what counts.
Increasingly, I think people understand in Washington and certainly in -- certainly in Washington and elsewhere in the major capitals, that the problem of Iran's acquiring nuclear weapons threatens everyone. It threatens world peace in a way that very few events could possibly threaten it.
I'm hopeful and I would like to believe that the international community understands that Iran has to be pressed strongly. There are ways of pressing this regime right now because it is weak. It is weaker than people think. It doesn't enjoy the support of its own people
BLITZER: How much time is there, Mr. Prime Minister?
NETANYAHU: Whatever time is there, Wolf, it is getting shorter. Iran is moving ahead. But this a regime that is susceptible to pressure. It has been exposed for what it is. It tyrannizes its own people. The Iranian people detest this regime, as has been plainly evident in the recent election fraud.
But equally, I think Iran is susceptible because its economy is susceptible. Pressure -- the time for pressure is now, with or without talks.
BLITZER: Would you act unilaterally without U.S. support?
NETANYAHU: There you go again asking a hypothetical question. I would like to believe that the United States and the major powers in the world understand that this threat -- that this danger threatens them as well. And you know what? From everything I have seen and heard, speaking to President Obama, speaking to President Sarkozy this afternoon as well, speaking to all the major -- many of the major leaders of the world, I stand by that assessment.
Iran is a certainly a grave threat to Israel, but it is a grave threat to international peace. It is a grave threat to America and to everyone else.
BLITZER: I want to get on and talk a little about the peace process. Give me an answer, if you can, to a sensitive question that a lot of people are asking, especially friends of Israel in the United States. Who is a better friend of the Israel, the former president George W. Bush, who had a very close relationship with you, or the current president, Barack Obama?
NETANYAHU: Let me tell you something about President Obama, because I think this should be fully appreciated. He stood before the entire Muslim world. I don't know if a billion people heard him, but hundreds of millions of people in Muslims countries heard him. And he said the bond between American and Israel is unshakable. We are are absolutely committed to Israel's security.
I think that was a very important statement. I think every president of the United States has had his contribution to Israeli/American relations and to the friendship between our countries. It is a very strong friendship, indeed. And I appreciated the president's comments in Cairo and I appreciated his comments today too.
BLITZER: I hear you saying you trust this president.
NETANYAHU: I think that President Obama's commitment to Israel has been expressed very loud, very clearly by him. I think this reflects the underlying friendship between our two countries. It is very strong. I walk on the streets of New York, yes, but also the Midwest and every part of the United States. I've been in every part of it.
I'll tell you, it is heart-warming, because I see this tremendous, tremendous effusion of friendship towards Israel as a sister democracy, yes, often embattled by these dark forces of terrorism that embattle all of us. I think Israel has a terrific friend in America and the American people. I want the American people to know that they have a terrific friend in Israel.
In the Middle East, you don't have that many friends. But we are at definitely right at the top of the list.
BLITZER: In the first eight months in his administration, he has repeatedly appealed to you to freeze all settlement activity. And you have declined that request. Did anything change today?
NETANYAHU: I think what is important is that we are moving on to talk peace. I hope to make peace. Any time we've encountered an Arab leader who wanted to make peace, we made peace. Anwar Sadat came. Menachim Begin of the Likud made peace. The late King Hussein came. -- of Labor made peace.
I'm telling you that if Mr. Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, generally steps forward and says, we recognize the state of Israel; we are willing to make peace with the Jewish state, just that, the Jewish state -- it will be a peace and recognition and security. Then my government will make peace. I'm no exception, because the people of Israel want peace.
I think people understand that. As to the question of settlements, I think that raising this condition, something that hasn't happened in 15 years of Israeli/Palestinian dialogue -- nobody put this precondition. This is just costing us a great deal of time. The issue of settlements has to be discussed at the end, or in the context within these negotiations, not before. It has to be resolved. We are prepared to look into this issue, as into other issues.
But we have to talk in order to talk about it. That is obvious. Yet we haven't for six months. We've been waiting to talk about talks. I say let's put that aside. Let's just get on with it and start the peace process again.
BLITZER: President Obama has reached out to the Arab world. But is he ignoring Israel? I put that question to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Part two of the interview coming up.
And he has taken on the auto industry and the health care system. Now his biggest target yet. We're talking about the controversial filmmaker, Michael Moore. He is here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Israel's leader talks about the strong ties between the United States and Israel. More now of my interview with the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. We spoke about some criticisms of President Obama coming from within Israel.
BLITZER: Mr. Prime minister, there was an op-ed article written in the "New York Times" back in July by an Israeli journalist named Aluch Ben (ph), who writes for the "Haaretz" newspaper. Among other things, he said that President Obama is ignoring Israel, has not visited Israel, even though he has been to several Arab countries. He is not reaching out to the Israeli people the way he's reaching out to the Arab and Muslim world. He hasn't given any interviews, as far as I know, to the Israeli press, for example, or Israeli television.
Do you agree with that assessment?
NETANYAHU: I think that people should not rush to judgment. I think these are two new administrations, my own new government and the new government in Washington. We've found a way to communicate. I think we've resolved a lot of the issues between us. We can have differences. That happens among the best of friends and it even happens in our own families.
But I think there's a growing closeness that I have found. What people don't know -- and I'm not referring to the public diplomacy. But I want to tell you something about private diplomacy. There is virtually not a day that goes by that the Obama administration and my own government don't communicate on a very senior level, on very important matters, in a very confidential and respectful way. I say that advisedly. I'm choosing my words carefully. There is barely a day that goes by without that happening. That should give you some indication of the growing -- of the closeness of that relationship and it is getting better for sure. There's no question about it.
BLITZER: Because there was a very explosive charge in that same article on the op-ed page of the "New York Times." I will read it to you. I want to give you a chance to respond. It caused a huge commotion. This is what Aluch Ben wrote in the "New York Times." "In Mr. Netanyahu's narrative, the president has fallen under the influence of top aids, in this case Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, and David Axelrod, the White House adviser, whom the prime minister has called, quote, self-hating Jews."
Is that true?
NETANYAHU: No, it's not. I never called them any such thing. And I don't think that. I have known Rahm Emanuel for some time. I just met David Axelrod today, in fact. I think they are American patriots. They think of what is important for the United States. They certainly bear no enmity for Israel. They probably want the best for Israel, too.
I think this is -- we can have, as we say, occasional differences of opinion. But I never called them those things. I don't think that. I'm sorry anyone that has given credence to this kind of nonsense.
BLITZER: Did you reach out to Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, and reassure them that was a lie?
NETANYAHU: We immediately denied it. Yes, we did reach out to them. Of course.
BLITZER: Did you personally call them?
NETANYAHU: I didn't personally call them, but I had my aides communicate this to the White House as quickly as we could.
BLITZER: Prime Minister Netanyahu, thanks very much for joining us. Good luck to the Israelis. Good luck to you. Good luck to the Palestinians. We'll be covering the story every step of the way. We appreciate it very much.
NETANYAHU: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: He took on the health care system in the United States in the film "Sicko." Now the film maker Michael Moore is taking on the entire capitalist system. Just ahead, I press Michael Moore about his new movie, and whether people may walk away thinking he is a socialist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: What you are saying is we don't have a democracy?
MICHAEL MOORE, FILM MAKER: I'm saying we do not have a complete democracy if the economy is not a democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The filmmaker Michael Moore is known for taking on some of the most powerful institutions in the United States, including the auto industry and the health care system. Now, Moore is going after his biggest target yet.
BLITZER: Joining us now, the filmmaker Michael Moore. His new movie is entitled "Capitalism, A Love Story." Michael, thanks very much for joining us.
MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: Hey, Wolf. It is great to be back with you again. It's -- this is our first meeting here in a couple years, since the big -- the big YouTube moment that we had with each other.
BLITZER: We had a moment following the movie "Sicko," which was obviously a very powerful movie. And I haven't seen this one yet. I'm hoping to see it in the next few days. But a lot of people are saying it's very powerful, as well. And it deals with capitalism, right?
MOORE: Yes. Well, yes, it deals -- it deals with a system of legalized greed, and they call that capitalism now. I think capitalism probably used to mean something else a long time ago. But right now, it's a system that is really no better than any kind of Ponzi scheme that guarantees that the very few at the top -- in this case, the richest 1 percent in America -- have more financial wealth than the bottom 95 percent combined.
The richest 1 percent's on top of that pyramid, and they get everybody else in the rest of the pyramid thinking, if they just work hard, they could get to the top of the pyramid, too, someday. But of course, there's only room for a few people at the top of that pyramid.
I just don't think that if we're going to call this a democracy...
BLITZER: All right...
MOORE: ... that we should allow the economy to be anything other than run democratically. You and I should have a say in how this economy is run.
BLITZER: Well, supposedly... MOORE: It should not just be...
BLITZER: Supposedly, we do, by electing presidents and senators and congressmen, local officials. Supposedly, we have a say in all of that. And we'll get to that in a few moments.
But let's talk about -- most people going to see this movie who don't like you are going to say, You know what? Michael Moore has done pretty well in this capitalist or free market system. You've become a fairly rich guy yourself.
MOORE: Well, first of all, Wolf, there's nobody that doesn't like me. I don't know who these people are.
BLITZER: There are a few.
MOORE: If you have a list of names...
BLITZER: ... a tiny number out there.
MOORE: Provide me with those names and I'll go to their homes and cook them dinner...
MOORE: ... and you know, perhaps they'll like me better. So yes, your point was, I've done well. Yes, for a documentary filmmaker, I've done very well.
BLITZER: You've done very well. And the allegations are...
MOORE: So why am I...
BLITZER: You know, you're being hypocritical.
MOORE: Yes, why am I...
BLITZER: ... because you're hearing a lot of that.
MOORE: Why am I against capitalism if I've done so well?
MOORE: You know, isn't the question better put -- and I'm not trying to do your job for you -- but wouldn't the question better be, Gee, Mike, you've done so well, you know, why don't you just kick back at the lake and enjoy life? Why are you caring about all these people losing their health care and their jobs and all that? You're not losing yours, you know? I wonder if there was, like, a Wolf Blitzer, like, 200 years ago who asked Thomas Jefferson or John Adams or George Washington, Hey, you know, you guys are wealthy landowners. You've benefited from the king's system. What are you complaining about? What's this revolt all about?
It's, like, you know, sometimes people, even people who have actually had the good fortune and blessings in life to not have to struggle with worrying about their health care, whether or not it's going to be here tomorrow or the next week -- sometimes those people actually are willing to take great risks and create sacrifices for themselves, in the hopes that others will have it just as well. So...
BLITZER: So just to respond to the charge that either has been made or will be made that Michael Moore is being hypocritical, you're saying?
MOORE: The charge that will be made. I love it. Now that we're -- we're actually -- I have to respond to...
BLITZER: You know it's going to be...
MOORE: ... things that people are going to say to me in the future!
BLITZER: You've made a lot of money.
MOORE: I can do that. I can do that, Wolf.
BLITZER: Go ahead and respond.
MOORE: Yes. Yes. What's the charge again that will happen?
MOORE: Hypocrisy over what?
BLITZER: That you've made a lot of money in this free enterprise, capitalist system, and now you're railing against it.
MOORE: I know. Isn't that amazing? Isn't that amazing that I actually -- I actually, with a high school education, through my hard work and my ideas, have done OK, and then -- and I still want to do these things to help people who have it worse off than I, that I'm actually following through on the religious principles that I was raised with, that I will be judged by how I treat the least among us. And you know, I think -- I just think that's an interesting question.
BLITZER: Well, you call capitalism evil, right?
BLITZER: What do you want to...
MOORE: Well, before...
BLITZER: What do you want to...
BLITZER: What do you want to replace it with?
MOORE: I want to replace it with democracy. I want you and I and all the people watching to be able to have a say. And when you say, Oh, we get to elect our representatives, well, you and I know the truth of that, that hundreds of millions of dollars are spent every year on lobbying Congress. And you and I don't have that kind of money to spend on that.
So the average person doesn't get to see the things they'd like to see happen. Otherwise, the 75 percent who want universal health care would have universal health care right now.
BLITZER: So what you're saying is, we don't have a democracy?
MOORE: I'm saying we do not have a complete democracy if the economy is not a democracy. You can't call it a democracy just because I get to vote every two or four years. There has to be democracy in the economy. There should be democracy in the workplace.
What's wrong with democracy? Why do these companies hate America? What is it about America and our love of democracy where they just go, Oh, that's -- that's not good. We think the 1 percent, the richest 1 percent, should be calling all the shots, should be buying the politicians, making the decisions. That's the kind of democracy they like, where the 1 percent control everything.
It's just -- it's not right, it's not fair, it's not American, and it's not part of our Judeo-Christian ethic, or whatever religion you belong to. Buddhism, Islam, all the great religions...
BLITZER: Whose economy...
MOORE: ... are opposed to the wealthy being in charge and letting the poor suffer as a result of that.
BLITZER: Which country has an economic system you like?
MOORE: Well, I don't think that this is -- I don't think that exists yet. I mean, I think -- I think that we're -- you know, we're talking about usually two ideologies, capitalism and socialism. One's a 16th century idea, one's a 19th century idea. We're in the 21st century. Can't we come up with our own system that meets the needs of this new era and has democracy at its core?
BLITZER: So you don't...
MOORE: So -- but...
BLITZER: You're not -- you're not a socialist. Are you a socialist? I'll just ask the question.
MOORE: I'm a Christian. And I'm a heterosexual, too, if you want to know that.
BLITZER: But as far as socialism is concerned, would some emerge from this movie saying Michael Moore is a socialist?
MOORE: Oh, no. When you walk out of this movie, first of all, you will have had one of the best laughs throughout this film that you've had in a long time, all at the expense of the people down on Wall Street, I might add.
You're going to walk out of this film saying, Michael Moore loves this country. Michael Moore is a true patriot. He loves democracy. Michael Moore is following through on the values that his parents and the nuns and the priests gave him as a child.
He considers -- he believes that he is his brother's keeper. He believes that he will be judged by how he treats the least among us in this society. And that's why I encourage -- if there are people who maybe disagree with me politically on other issues, at least on this one, this film is not about Democrats or Republicans. In fact, I go after a number of Democrats who are also on the take. We're all in the same boat here, us Americans.
BLITZER: All right.
MOORE: And we're going to sink or swim together.
BLITZER: All right, stand by for more of my interview with Michael Moore.
BLITZER: It sounds to me you're disappointed in President Obama's economic advisers.
MOORE: Oh, disappointed? Why do you use such mild language, Wolf?
BLITZER: Moore takes a hard look at President Obama and his economic team. That's coming up in part two.
BLITZER: Now more of my interview with the filmmaker Michael Moore, whose new movie is entitled "Capitalism: A Love Story."
BLITZER: "The New York Times," in its review of the movie, said among other things, they said this, "In the end, what is to be done? After watching `Capitalism,' it beats me. Mr. Moore doesn't have any real answers, either, which tends to be true of most socially minded directors in the commercial mainstream and speaks more to the limits of such filmmaking than to anything else."
Do you have real answers in the movie?
MOORE: Yes. I talk about democracy in the workplace and how to reconstruct our jobs. I talk about how this economy could be controlled by the majority, instead of the 1 percent. That's actually -- the review in "The New York Times" was really an excellent review, but she's pointing out the limitations, obviously, with a two-hour movie, that I'm not an economist and I'm not going to be able to lay everything out in two hours.
I make these movies in the hopes of engaging with other Americans, starting a discussion, a debate, whatever it is, so that we get ourselves out of the rut that we're in. We're in -- we're in a place now where -- I mean, here we are a year later, Wolf, after this crash, and there are still no new regulations. They're still running loose in downtown Manhattan and...
BLITZER: So let -- let me ask you. If you're in a room...
MOORE: ...nobody's in charge!
BLITZER: What did you think of President Obama's decision to bail them out?
MOORE: You mean President Bush's decision to bail them out, which...
MOORE: ...President Obama...
BLITZER: And then President Obama continued that.
MOORE: ... which -- yes, right. OK. But let's...
BLITZER: Well, let's take a look...
MOORE: Let's not revise history here, Wolf. I mean...
BLITZER: Oh, no, no, no. I've covered all this.
MOORE: ... the president...
BLITZER: Let's go back to Clinton...
MOORE: ... president...
BLITZER: ... President Clinton...
MOORE: President Clinton.
BLITZER: ...President Bush and President Obama.
BLITZER: Let's put pictures of all three of them up on the screen.
BLITZER: And they all basically, when it comes to the economy, seem to have pretty much a consistent posture. But correct me if I'm wrong.
MOORE: No, I think you are wrong. President Clinton presided over the deregulation that -- that started this whole mess.
BLITZER: He was there with Phil Gramm at that signing ceremony, when he deregulated so much of the banking industry. I was there, as well.
MOORE: And what -- and what do you think President Clinton thinks about that now?
BLITZER: He probably thinks it's a mistake.
MOORE: Yes. I think so. And you know, I think he's a big enough guy to -- to admit that, too. President Bush? Well, we know what he thinks. It was in "The New Yorker" this week, the story where he said to Ben Bernanke and to Henry Paulson, "Hey, boys, one of these days, you've got to tell me exactly what happened here."
MOORE: OK. Now, President Obama. He's inherited a catastrophe, a catastrophe that he did not create, and...
BLITZER: How has he handled it?
MOORE: Well, I think the jury's out on that. I think he, first of all, he tried to find ways to put people back to work. The unemployment rate continues to go up, which, of course, then the Dow Jones goes up. The Dow Jones goes up whenever the unemployment rate goes up because Wall Street likes it when people lose their jobs. It's better for the bottom line of companies when they don't have to pay people and they can get the remaining people to work twice as hard.
But you know, listen, I trust President Obama, where his heart is at, who he is as a person. And we're going to have to wait and see. I mean, I don't know much more to say about that. We're just -- he's...
BLITZER: Because if you take...
MOORE: He's been president for eight months.
BLITZER: If you take a look at the men and women who he's put in place to run this economy of ours -- you know, he's asked Ben Bernanke now, the Federal Reserve chairman, to stay on. Timothy Geithner, who used to run the Federal Reserve in New York, he's the Treasury Secretary, Larry Summers. What do you think of his top economic team? MOORE: He's like my dad, you know? Like, when I, like, made a mess when I was a kid, he'd always make me clean it up. And so he's brought in the -- the people who helped create the mess -- Geithner, Summers, Rubin. He's brought them into his administration and then he's said, OK, boys, you -- you created this. Now you've got to clean it up.
It's the same thing banks do. You know, banks hire bank robbers, or you know, reformed bank robbers, to come in and advise them on how to avoid being robbed. And I'm hoping that President Obama has brought these individuals in to advise him how to fix the very system that they helped erect.
BLITZER: Because Bob Rubin, the former Treasury secretary, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, he was an adviser during the campaign, but he hasn't been brought into the government. He's been on the outside.
MOORE: That's correct. He -- yes. So now -- so his -- the people that he mentored when he was at the Treasury Department, Mr. Summers and Mr. Geithner, you know, and now it's sort of up to them to see who are they going to side with? Are they with us or are they with Wall Street?
BLITZER: But it sounds to me like you're -- correct me, once again, if I'm wrong. It sounds to me you're disappointed in President Obama's economic advisers.
MOORE: Oh, disappointed? Why do you use such mild language, Wolf?
BLITZER: Well, tell us how you feel. Tell us how you really feel, Michael.
MOORE: Well, listen, I mean, you've got the foxes in charge of the henhouse right now. That's how -- that's what it looks like to me, so -- but President Obama's in charge, and myself and tens of millions of people are counting on him to do the right thing.
BLITZER: Michael Moore certainly has strong opinions about a lot of subjects, including the war in Afghanistan.
MOORE: It goes all the way back to that time, but this -- I'm telling you, there's -- there's no way to win this, President Obama. And it's going to have to be decided by the people in Afghanistan.
BLITZER: Stand by for more of my in-depth interview with Michael Moore. We'll talk about war, politics and capitalism.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Now for the rest of my interview with the filmmaker Michael Moore, who has a new film out entitled "Capitalism: A Love Story." He weighs in here about President Obama's push for health care reform.
BLITZER: Do you think he's doing the right thing now in compromising on health care? We all remember the movie "Sicko," and you made a very compelling case for a single-payer nationalized health insurance. At one point in his life, he liked that. Listen to what then politician Barack Obama said back in 2003.
BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS STATE SENATOR: I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer universal health care plan.
OBAMA: I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, is spending 14 percent -- 14 percent of its gross national product on health care and cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody.
BLITZER: That's what President Obama said back in 2003, but now he's backed away from that as president of the United States. And he seems to be backing away even from the so-called "public option," which would allow the government -- a government-run health insurance company to compete with the private insurance companies.
Is this what you wanted?
MOORE: Well, here's the -- here's the problem with President Obama on the health insurance proposal. He's a nice guy. You know, I mean, really, I believe he came into the White House with an olive branch to the people on the other side of the aisle. He believed in bipartisanship. I mean, you've got to give the guy credit. He really -- he did not come in wanting to fight. He came in saying, You know, we're all Americans here and we need to fix this, and we need to put aside this partisan stuff.
The other side didn't want to put it aside. The other side wanted to fight him tooth and nail. And -- and as part of his nice guy thing, he -- he backs a half measure, a public option.
BLITZER: That might not even...
MOORE: And we need...
BLITZER: That might not even make the final bill that he signs.
MOORE: And that may not -- well, of course not, because any time you don't fight for the thing you want, any time that you start off compromising, you're never going to get what you want. He started off with a compromise position -- let the private insurance companies still sit at the table, have a public option. He should have started with what he truly believes in, what he believed in, what he said in 2003, a single-payer national health care system, like all other Western countries have. We should have the same thing.
I know he believes in that, but he was trying to reach out and say, You know what? I'm not just going to come in here and ram this, so I'm willing to work with you and listen to your concerns. They don't want to listen to him.
BLITZER: It sounds like you think he's naive..
MOORE: I don't think -- no, I'm -- no, I -- no, I'm saying that he's operating with those same Christian values that I spoke of. I think that he -- I think that he is a generous person with a very open heart and was willing to work with people who had no intention of ever working with him.
So now that he's realized that, now he's got to go back to the drawing board and come back with something, because you see, Wolf, the reason he -- you know, he's out there alone. I mean, nobody really has his back on this because the base is not energized by a half measure.
BLITZER: Why is that? Because there seems...
MOORE: If he would come out . . .
BLITZER: ...to be so much rage on the right right now...
MOORE: Because -- because they believe in something.
BLITZER: ...and there doesn't seem to be the same kind of passion on the left. Why is that?
MOORE: No. Because -- because he hasn't proposed something that -- that liberals, Democrats, the left, whatever, progressive people, decent people who think when people get sick, they should be able to see a doctor and not have to worry about paying for it -- you know, those kind of people. He just -- he just needs to -- when he comes forth with a single-payer proposal, something that's going to provide true universal health care for all Americans, you are going to see millions of people -- millions of people -- backing him. It'll look -- make those town hall meetings look like the Disney Channel.
BLITZER: But there doesn't seem to be any indication, Michael, he's about to do anything resembling that. As I said before, he seems to be backing away even from that compromise of a so-called "public option."
MOORE: Right. OK, right, but he hasn't watched this show yet, so...
BLITZER: All right, so give me the message. If you could -- and he might be watching this interview right now. From your heart, tell the president of the United States what you want.
MOORE: Well, I would say, President Obama, first of all, thank you for taking on this job. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, so thank you for being willing to do that for us. We need you to really -- to really fight the fight for us -- us, the majority of the people who put you in there. We are the majority of this country.
Seventy-five percent of this country wants universal health care for all Americans. We're sick and tired of having the middleman -- the private insurance company -- get between us and our doctors, us and the hospital, us and the pharmaceuticals that people need. You've got to really come forth now with a program that guarantees this for all Americans. And if you do that, you're going to find tens of millions of us out there behind you, supporting you every step of the way.
BLITZER: You also made a powerful movie, "Fahrenheit 9/11," in which you really went after President Bush and the build-up and the war in Iraq. All of us remember that movie, as well.
Right now, this president, President Obama, he's at a pivotal moment in the war in Afghanistan because the generals now say, You know, we need another 30,000 or 40,000 troops. He's already committed another 20,000. About 68,000 U.S. troops are in Afghanistan right now. The situation doesn't seem to be going well at all.
Speak to President Obama, what he should do right now as far as Afghanistan is concerned.
MOORE: Well, he's got to stop sending troops there and he's got to bring the troops there home. Otherwise, we will stop thinking of this war as Bush's war and it will become Obama's war. This is a losing proposition. He must know this. History has proven nobody can win there. That's just -- if he doesn't believe that, Gorbachev's number is in the book. I don't think he can get ahold of Genghis Khan. It goes all the way back to that time.
But this -- I'm telling you, there's -- there's no way to win this, President Obama, and it's going to have to be decided by the people in Afghanistan. You can't deliver freedom and democracy through the barrel of a gun. We know that. That's -- I mean, we -- we -- the French couldn't have come to the United States and freed us from the British. We had to do it ourselves. The French could help, but we had to do it ourselves.
And this has to be left to the people in Afghanistan, and they're probably owed a huge apology from us by now, considering what, you know, we've done.
BLITZER: All right...
MOORE: And hopefully, we'll be able to help rebuild them when they get things straightened out. But this war can't continue.
BLITZER: On that note, I will leave it. Michael Moore's new film is entitled "Capitalism: A Love Story." Michael, don't wait another two or three years to come back to THE SITUATION ROOM. We'd like to have you here more often.
MOORE: I won't, Wolf. And I -- you know, we are -- we are joined together once again, like two men never have been. And it's been a special, special moment for me here.
BLITZER: Thank you.
MOORE: A forbidden love.
BLITZER: And Rutgers University is getting a nice bit of publicity in the process, as well. Michael, thanks very much.
MOORE: Thank you very much, Wolf.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BLITZER: Iranian troops march to commemorate Iran's war with Iraq, just one of our "Hot Shots," pictures of the week.
BLITZER: Here's a look at some of this week's "Hot Shots" coming in from our friends at the Associated Press. In Iran, troops wore special gear as they marched in a parade remembering the Iran-Iraq war.
At the United Nations, the prime minister of Japan listened to President Obama chair a meeting.
In Washington, a portrait of baseball Hall of Famer Tommy LaSorda was placed in the Smithsonian.
And in Kazakhstan, at the zoo, check it out, a 40-day-old lion cub made its first appearance in front of the news media.
Some of this week's "Hot Shots," pictures worth a thousand words.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. Join us weekdays in THE SITUATION ROOM from 4:00 to 7:00 PM Eastern and every Saturday at 6:00 PM Eastern on CNN, and at this time every weekend on CNN International.
The news continues next on CNN.