Retired United States Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson has seen some things in his 70 years of life.
Wilkerson set aside three years of college studies in the fields of philosophy and English literature to honor a family tradition of serving in the military. And not only did Wilkerson voluntarily join the military, but he joined during a time of war, and an unpopular one at that, Vietnam.
Wilkerson logged 1100 hours in combat as a helicopter pilot and lived to tell about it. After Vietnam, Wilkerson went on to become an airborne ranger while simultaneously garnering college degrees in English literature, international relations and national security. He attended the Naval War College and later served as the deputy director of the Marine Corp War College. Wilkerson's distinguished career led him in to the position of national security adviser in the Ronald Reagan administration and ultimately as Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell's chief of staff under George W. Bush.
Why is The Gadfly sharing the impressive and unimpeachable career accomplishments of this impressive military man and life-long Republican with you dear readers?
Because Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson has some things to say about your modern day Republican party, for while it is understandable for some people to dismiss the voices of people like yours truly, The Gadfly, as just being partisan snipers, it is a whole other measure of deniability to dismiss the voice of a man who has seen it all and most all of it from his position as a Republican party insider.
Observe Col. Wilkerson's view of the racial taint staining his party:
You have been very critical of the Republican Party. Why do you stay?There are sane and sober people in the Republican Party. The public persona of the Republican Party has changed since the days of Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower.
In the past you have said the Republican Party is full of racists. Do you stand by that and aren’t you afraid of a backlash?I’m not afraid of a backlash. The GOP has scores of racists. Under Richard Nixon’s blessing, the GOP took advantage of disgruntled Democrats in the South. They are still there and their children are there. This is very much known in our party. This was a conscious strategy.
Col. Wilkerson on Cheney & Bush's Iraq adventure and the same assholes now pushing for war with Iran:
Your boss, Colin Powell, helped move forward the Iraq War with his presentation to the United Nations. But that turned out to be wrong information. What happened?It wasn’t just Powell, he just said it convincingly. I helped him. It was everyone in the administration. [The information] was provided by 16 U.S. intelligence agencies and CIA director George Tenet. The Russians, French and British spy agencies all provided the same evidence. It was a political and intelligence failure. The politicians took advantage of that. They took the intelligence and cherry-picked it, reinforcing the idea that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.
So if Iraq never had WMD, what were the real reasons behind the war?There are several reasons. President George W. Bush wanted a stellar victory. Vice President Dick Cheney and Bush are both oil men and wanted to ensure 300 billion barrels didn’t stay in Saddam’s hands. The Israel lobby and [former Deputy Secretary of Defense] Paul Wolfowitz wanted to get rid of Saddam. There is no singular motivation. There are many, including wanting to send a message to all concerned after 9/11 that said, very forcefully, “Don’t mess with America.”
I have read that another reason for the Iraq War was to send a message to other Middle Eastern countries that America has the military might to overthrow their countries and reshape the region.The opposite occurred. [The Bush administration] demonstrated we were incompetent. They destroyed the balance of power and we are living with the result. Iraqis will tell you that Iraq was a better country under Saddam. There was more freedom for women and a better economy. It shows you how bad the situation is today.
Was the war partially about making money for defense contractors? The Financial Times states the U.S. government has paid contractors $138 billion. KBR, a subsidiary of Cheney’s former company Halliburton, received about $40 billion in government contracts.We wasted a ton of money. It went into people’s pockets, like Halliburton and Lockheed Martin and Bechtel — and a lot of Iraqis like Ahmed Chalabi. I also understand Eisenhower’s warning about the Military Industrial Complex’s unchecked power. It was a prescient warning. Eisenhower said this unchecked power was in every office of the federal government, every statehouse, and impacted our economic power and even our spiritual well-being.
So the Iraq War was a costly disaster. Why are Republicans pushing for war with Iran?There are three components of this push for war with Iran. The neoconservatives feel the only way to settle the problem is to destroy the current Middle Eastern governments, and they will turn into democracies in 30 years. The second reason is Israel. We have come to the point where we blindly follow Israel. Congress gave multiple standing ovations to Benjamin Netanyahu. If Middle Eastern countries are in chaos, they can’t unify against Israel. The third reason is there is a regional power struggle between Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council [a union of gulf states] and the United States. These people don’t want Iran in power. They want Iran isolated.
Some Republicans have called for an attack on Iran. Rep. Duncan Hunter said we should use a tactical nuclear weapon.If we attacked Iran, they would go nuclear. If we attacked Iran it would take 500,000 troops, 10 years and trillions of dollars. Alexander the Great almost died in Iran. You don’t want to invade Iran. Iran has 75 million people. It’s the most stable country in the region.
You have also been critical of the way the military is structured, and the strains on an all-volunteer force.The people who are pushing this [war with Iran] are not going to fight. They are chickenhawks. They have no skin in the game. I don’t see how you can have a democracy with 1 percent of 330 million people doing all the fighting. In the future we will have to look at conscription. The all-volunteer military is far too expensive. One rifleman can cost more than $1 million over 20 years. My half-pay in retirement, if I live to age 88, is $2.1 million. Powell’s is probably closer to $3- or $3.5 million, if he lives a similar time.
You raise an interesting point about the cost of these wars. If the government is going to start all these wars, they need to raise taxes to pay for them and no Republican politician wants to do that. George W. Bush invaded both Iraq and Afghanistan and actually reduced taxes. New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman says this has never happened at any time in human history.For the first time in American history, we had no war tax. Even European monarchs levied taxes to fight wars. It is inexplicable not to do so –unless of course you are stupid or don’t care that we have a national debt of $17 trillion.http://www.salon.com/2015/04/10/the_gop_has_scores_of_racists_a_former_bush_official_condemns_modern_republican_orthodoxy/
Nothing new -- not insofar as to what The Gadfly and many others have been saying about these same subjects for the better part of a decade or so now.
It's great that someone of Col. Wilkerson's prestige is going on the record and telling the truth. And while Col. Wilkerson's views are the proverbial day late and dollar short, it is nothing but bittersweet vindication for the The Gadfly, for it is the exact same goddamn message that he has been trying to share with all of you for all for these many years on the pages of this shitty little blog dear readers.
Now - what becomes of this information? - well that story has yet to be written. But if Americans truly want a happy ending to that story, they really ought to start paying more attention to -- no not The Gadfly -- although that would be flattering to say the least -- but to people like Col. Lawrence Wilkerson and other sane Americans who have seen up close and personal, just how deep the damage can be to our nation from the senseless ignorance and hatred of people and the idiocy and and incompetency of our political and military leadership ranks.