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The Interview

Former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes on Trump, racism and Syria 'red lines'

FRANCE 24 sat down with Ben Rhodes, a member of Barack Obama's inner circle. He served during both of Obama's terms as his speechwriter and deputy national security adviser. Rhodes reflected on Donald Trump's shock election win in 2016, as well as Obama's decision not to strike Syria in 2013 despite having set a "red line" on chemical weapons use.

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In his book, "The World As It Is: Inside the Obama White House", Ben Rhodes gives an insider's account of his time working with Obama. Speaking to FRANCE 24's Marc Perelman, he reflected on Donald Trump's shock election win in 2016.

"Progressives tend to think that history is inevitable, that it is moving in one direction, becoming more inclusive, more tolerant. And Trump obviously reflected the opposite vision of that," Rhodes explained.

"Obama said [to me]: 'What if we were wrong, what if people want to just fall back into their tribe, their nation, their ethnicity?' And ultimately he landed at the conclusion that history zigs and zags, it doesn’t move in a straight line."

Rhodes also discussed the issue of racism in the 2016 presidential campaign. "To [Obama], it was obvious that the opposition he faced from the Republican Party, the birther movement led by Donald Trump, was rooted in racism. He didn’t want to say that as president because he knew that if he did, we’d just be having a debate about race," he told FRANCE 24.

Finally, Rhodes shared his insight into Obama's decision not to strike Syria in 2013 despite having set a "red line" on chemical weapons use.

Programme produced by Narimène Laouadi and Morgane Minair.

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