That's how we perceive the world now, is nails, and the Pentagon is the hammer. That's what I mean by an insidious takeover of power that is not even recognized the way a coup would be, the way Musharraf, took over in Islamabad. No , this is something that just happens, and it directs American policy towards war, in an increased and ever dangerous manner and we wind up one day with no money left, no economy...
flickr image By DJHEAVYD
INTERVIEW with: Lawrence Wilkerson
Part 2 of two parts.
Link to first part of interview here:
Lawrence Wilkerson Interview Transcript-- The "Israelization of the USA, CIA lies, and; "It's not a Coup. It's Worse!"
link to audio podcast
Speaker 1/ Rob Kall, Interviewer
Speaker 2/ Lawrence Wilkerson , Interviewee
Thanks to Don Caldarazzo for help editing the transcript.
Rob Kall: And welcome to the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show. [reciting Station ID]Sponsored by OpEdNews.com .
My guest tonight is retired Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson . He was the former Chief of Staff to U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell. And he ' s now an adjunct Professor of Government at the College of William and Mary.
part 2 of interview begins here.
Rob Kall: Now, as being engaged as you were in the Joint Chiefs of Staff when Colin Powell directed it and you were his assistant, do the Joint Chiefs of Staff have a control over the military? Does anybody?
That's an excellent question. I think the safest ingredient in our Republic with regard to the civil - military relationship, is the Officer Corps of the military. There are some exceptions to what I'm going to say, but by and large those exceptions prove the rule.
And what I'm going to say, is that the Officer Corps of the United States Military understands the Constitution. They understand their oath to the Constitution. The Constitution is not the President , or their oath is not to the President , not to the Commander in Chief . Their oath is to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies , foreign and domestic. I think that Officer Corps would shudder at the kind of thing that we might be thinking about. Caesar crossing the Rubicon, and not leaving his Legions behind. It's just not going to happen in this country, in my view. But the insidious increase in power, and the influence over foreign policy that the military has, is very dangerous. And maybe in the long run it's even more dangerous than a coup. Because what happens is, the power shifts gradually, and gradually, and incrementally, over to the war making side , to where you wake up one morning and all you're doing is making war. And you have so many people , from Lockheed Martin to the Congress of the United States , to the Armed Forces, to you name it, who are making so much money off that war making , that you can't stop it. That's not a coup, but it is something worse in my view. It is ultimately the destruction of our Republic.
Rob Kall: " It's not a coup, it's worse? ' Talk more about that. What is it exactly you're referring to, and how is it worse?
It's worse because you don't have, like Pakistan had, for example, an interim period where President Musharraf, goes from being a General to being President, and to a certain degree stabilizes the country and turns it back over to civilian control . You don't have a seizure of power by the military. What you have , as George Marshall said to Harry Truman, when he signed the 1947 National Security Agreement Act, 26 th July. George Marshall said " Mr President, I fear we have militarized the decision making process.' George Marshall was right. We have militarized the decision making process. And we're seeing those animals that were created thereby, " creep home to the barn ' even as I speak. Our foreign policy, our security policy, is increasingly dominated by the military instrument. If every problem in the world is a nail and you have a hammer in the Pentagon, guess which one you're going to use in terms of tools. You're going to use the Pentagon. That's how we perceive the world now, is nails, and the Pentagon is the hammer. That's what I mean by an insidious takeover of power that is not even recognized the way a coup would be, the way Musharraf, took over in Islamabad. No , this is something that just happens, and it directs American policy towards war, in an increased and ever dangerous manner and we wind up one day with no money left, no economy, and the only thing we're good at ( and that's going away fast , because you need money in an economy to support a military) is the military!
Rob Kall: Let's wait a second. Let me ask you about this now. I have written about this. I believe that the role of the House of Representatives is to make decisions about war, and that they have pretty much punted and just given up that power.
Totally abdicated! Totally abdicated.
Rob Kall: [repeating Lawrence] Totally abdicated their powers, and handed it over to the President , who, basically nowadays we've had two Presidents, who say " I'm going to have the Generals tell me what to do! '
Yep. Romney, in a recent interview, actually said when he was asked, I forget whether it was Jamie McIntyre or whomever asked him . "Was he going to go to Congress if he used the military instrument in Iran ? "
And he said "I don't believe I have to! I don't believe that's necessary . I believe it's within my prerogative as Commander in Chief to go to war with Iran without any Congressional approval."
Holy mackerel! I about fell off my seat . And yet I have to back up and say that's exactly what Obama did with Libya. No Congressional consultation whatsoever . Not even the War Powers Resolution was invoked. So where are we ? We're at a point where James Madison would say, "We are a tyranny!" James Madison wrote very eloquently that the closest way to get to tyranny, the most direct route to get to tyranny, was to give the war power to one person.
Rob Kall: Yes. So, let me ask you this. Let's say a candidate comes forward with the courage to say " I am not going to ask the Generals. You're electing me to be the Commander in Chief . And I will decide!" How would the Generals respond? How would the officers respond to that ? How would the Joint Chiefs of Staff respond to that?
The first thing I would say, is that it depends on who the officers are you're referring to, and who the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is . I would give you a historical example though, that comes close enough to make some comments. And that is when John F. Kennedy took over. John F. Kennedy not only told the Pentagon where to go, when he insisted that the Bay of Pigs invasion, which had turned out to be a huge failure, be suddenly reversed into a victory by a military invasion , which the Pentagon was sitting on, had plans for, and were ready to go . In many respects the leadership in the Pentagon in 1961 was hoping the C.I.A. invasion would fail so they could pick up the pieces. And when Kennedy said no , stop the covert operation, and there will be no invasion, man he pissed some guys off in the Pentagon . Then when you get the Cuban missile crisis, and you ' ve got his military leaders insisting on striking the Russian missiles before they can be erected, and before nuclear war heads get to Cuba, we now know that there were already ten nuclear warheads in Cuba but we didn ' t at that time , ma king Kennedy ' s ultimate decision even wiser. Kennedy essentially stood up to them again, especially the Chiefof Staff of the Airforce, Curtis LeMay, who wanted to bomb Cuba back to hell. So we ' ve had a President, young, inexperienced, who took on the military not once but twice.
Rob Kall: And he got assassinated.
Then he was assassinated in Dallas . [laughing] I'm not implying a connection. You can come to your own conclusions about that, but I'm not so sure if our President of the United States would be all that eager to alienate the Pentagon.
Rob Kall: Well, wait a second now. Now I've just interrupted you and I said he was assassinated. Were you going to be saying that anyway?
Rob Kall: Is that what you were about to say? [laughing]
That ' s what I was about to say.
Rob Kall: Now, we have to get each other a beer then, clearly . [laughing] And do you think Obama faces the same kinds of considerations when he makes decisions, in terms of standing up to the Generals and the Joint Chiefs of Staff ? Even the ones he's appointed?
I asked this question of my seminars for the past three years. And the way I put it is, in December 2009, one December I guess was the day he actually made the decision, I said, I asked my students to say, "Do you think President Obama had any choice about the surge in Afghanistan? ' And my students, you know they sort of puzzle over it for a moment or two, but generally I asked them this question after they've had a few seminars and they understand a little bit about the military industrial complex , the Oval Office, the Pentagon, the military, the National Security State, and so forth and so on . And generally speaking, they pretty much, to a person, come to the conclusion that "No, he didn't have a choice '.
First of all, he sort of walked himself into a corner, painted himself into a corner if you will, by his campaign rhetoric. He said Afghanistan was the right war, and we should be emphasizing Afghanistan. So that, he ' d sort of trapped himself. But once he gets in the Oval Office, he doesn't know squat! The exception would be maybe Dwight Eisenhower, maybe George Washington, and we ' ve had, I can count them on one hand, the Presidents we've had, who were prepared for the office.
So here ' s Obama. He ' s sitting there and the DNIs ' briefing him , the Directors of National Intelligence , the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff , maybe even the combined Chiefs of Staff . The CIA Head is briefing him , the Secretary of State is briefing him. All of these people are giving him his decision on a silver platter! So, if you're going to surge in Afghanistan, you're going to surge in Afghanistan! You don't have any choice ! It's frustrating for my students to come to that realization. It's frustrating for Americans, if they sit and think about it, to come to that realization . But let's face it, that's what it ' s all about, and if you believe in our system of government, in the way it works, you say "Well, that's the way it should be ' . Because we cannot elect a man who is all knowing, all proficient, and militarily competent and so forth, all in one. And yet when you think about it, it's scary, because I've seen it work, and I've seen it work to the detriment of this country . And it's not a pretty thing to watch work. The President is trapped . He ( or she , some day) don't have much maneuver space between the eight hundred pound gorillas that occupy the advisory position s to them: Their Ministers, their National Security Advisors, their intel people and so forth, all trap them. And it ' s very difficult to maneuver outside that trap. What do you maneuver with? Your intellect? I'm sorry, no one's intellect matches the complexity of the security and foreign policy challenges that America confronts today. No one's! In fact, I would argue that very seldom do you get a collective intellect in the government that matches these challenges. The best you can hope for is a sixty or a sixty five percent [60-65%] success rate. Recently, we haven't even had that. And that tells you something about the nature of our system.
Rob Kall: Incredible! Yeah. It makes sense. So what is the answer? So what, do you have any ideas for how to fix this ?
Well, the first thing I think you have to do , is you have to stand back and be a little more humble. You have to say, " we really don't need to fight everybody in the world who might potentially not like us or want to do us harm. '
Second, we have to revisit our entire " management of power, ' as I call it. This business of, for example, in the Western hemisphere continuing to blockade Cuba, is nonsense. Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, all the major countries of South America, and even Canada ( to a certain extent), are moving away from us.
We " if we didn't have the residual " and I want to say that, residual, financial and economic power that we do, in places like the IMF, the World Bank in New York, and so forth, in terms of our still very potent economic and financial capability, no one would speak to us. No one would speak to us! Even in our own hemisphere. They hate us, and you can't blame them. They're moving out on their own; Brazil, Argentina. Brazil is probably one of the most successful countries in the world in terms of looking at twenty years ago and where she is today. Lula, and now Bilbao after him, are " Fidelistas ' . They were raised, they were brought up and educated in Fidel Castro's philosophy. They are Socialist par excellence . They are moving away from us, and they're taking their countries with them with all their resources, their people
everything is moving away from us . When President Obama went to the Summit of Americas in Colombia , they essentially told him , "You maintain your embargo on Cuba, and we will not come to your Summit anymore ' . And they walked away. Obama came home and fired his Latin American advisor, as well he should have . But the guy he put in his place isn't much better .
So, we've got to change the way we work in the world. We've got to change the way to cooperation, engagement, win - win situations, instead of dominating situations. We've got to talk to people. We've got to negotiate with people. We've got to use diplomacy again , like we did for our first hundred years when we weren ' t very strong. We've simply got to do better, and w've got to do less and less with hard power, named: The military. It's not hard...
Rob Kall: Now you mention hard power , a couple of " Go ahead. I ' m sorry, let me know when you ' re finished.
No, it ' s just not productive. I mean, we're creating more enemies than we are making friends , and our friends are leaving us.
Rob Kall: So a couple of thoughts come from what you just said.
One, on Joseph Nye . He wrote the book Soft Power, and the Future of Power, and he's now head of The Trilateral Commission . So, he's in a pretty powerful place to have some influence on the role of Soft P ower. I interviewed him, because I call this radio show Bottom Up Radio, because I believe we're transitioning from a top-down world to a bottom-up world, where the kinds of ideas of Soft Power rather than Hard Power are emerging, where decentralization and moving away from hierarchy are the future. And I think that it's the Internet primarily that has catalyzed this. I interviewed Anne Marie Slaughter about it last year, and I'd like your thoughts about it. What do you think about that? Is this happening? Do you see more possibility for it? Do you see it as important, [it] sounds like what you're describing as some of your solutions are, are ones that threaten this bottom-up rather than top-down world?
Well, I think yo're absolutely right, but I'm not as optimistic about it as I would like to be. In fact, I'm fairly cynical about it, and here's why. Let me give you an anecdote. I'm talking to Royal Dutch Shells' strategists, their Think-T ank so to speak. And by the way , I think that Royal Dutch Shell has a supremely competent strategic body that looks at the future. And they've crafted this document for public consumption. They have a private one, of course a proprietarial one. But the one for public consumption is called " Scramble on the One Hand '. And I can't remember what the other word is, but it's " let's just call it " managed '. And they see two alternative futures out there. The one you ' re talking about, which is basically managed, but managed bottom-up, not managed top-down, by the oligarchy, by the one percent, or whatever you want to call them, because that's indeed what we have in this country today. The other scenario in Scramble, is where we all, for dwindling water, for dwindling non renewable fossil fuels, for dwindling arable land, dwindling food supplies, therefore and other things, it's where we all fight. Very sanguinary! Very bloody!
We fight for another half century until these things sort of sort themselves out, or we destroy ourselves. So I see this happening, what you ' re talking about, happening, but much like the French Revolution I see it being, not aborted, but I see it being a very painful process, and frankly I see a lot of blood being shed, as the bottom challenges the top. And I'm not just talking about Occupy Wall Street. I'm talking about much more serious efforts than Occupy Wall Street, which, at root, was inchoate, in coherent, and more or less ( as far as I can tell) has sort of fizzled out. There will be a time, and it will come overnight, I think, where the majority of the world, if not the majority of this country, wakes up one morning and says "It's finished!" And the leadership will be there. The leadership will be politically opportunistic. It may be motivated by genuine altruistic reasons, or it may be just pure power that they're after, but the leadership will be there, just as it was there for the French Revolution. Robespierre after all, didn't just materialize out of thin air. And Napoleon didn't materialize out of thin air either. So we're going to go through a period, I think, of very near anarchy and chaos, as all of this sorts itself out, and as we again move into a different dimension of democracy, because I think that's still going to be the dominant political force, and as that democracy becomes more democratic.
Rob Kall: So, okay. Let me just take this back " you said, there will be a time, and it will come overnight, and the majority of the world will be there when they will say " it's finished ! '
"I was in London for example, when the first " I guess it was about a quarter of a million, building to almost a million people took to the streets protesting the Iraq war. And I was stunned. You couldn't move. The only other time I've been in London when it was that bad was the Fireworks Display on New Year's Eve, when my wife and I were down in the Thames River and even the B obbies on horseback couldn't move. The horses couldn't move, because they were immobilized by the mass of people around them. That's the kind of phenomenon I'm talking about. When we suddenly wake up one morning and find out, essentially, that the middle class on down is frankly fed up. And they've figured out intuitively or intellectually, that the Oligarchy, that the corporate powers that run this country, for example, are not conducive to their interests. [laughing] And they wake up ! Right now you've got " I find this phenomenon absolutely " it's just unbelievable to see when you go to some place like Southern Ohio, or Southern Pennsylvania, or out West where I just was, in Eastern Washington State, in Northern Idaho, and you find people who say things like " I'm going to vote for Mitt Romney, because Mitt Romney is going to restore this economy. ' And you look at them and you say " How? ' And they can't tell you how, because they can't tell you what's wrong with this economy. They can't even tell you that, for example, our gross domestic product used to be seventy five percent [75%] manufacturing and maybe twelve percent [12%] services, and that our gross domestic product today is seventy-eight percent [ 78%] services and less than eleven percent [ 11%] manufacturing. And they can't grasp that, what we've done to this country, what the corporate leadership of this country has done to us. It's not just exporting jobs to China. It's rape, pillaging, and plundering the country, largely the middle class, and the banks have been their conduits for doing so. And the banks are largely responsible for storing these trillions of dollars of taxpayers' money. They don't understand! But one day they will. One day they will. And when they do, Katie, bar the door !
Rob Kall: What you're saying reminds me of conversations I've had with what happened in Argentina, where it was when the leadership there shut the banks for the middle class, and hundreds of thousands went out on the streets. Where in Venezuela, where they raised the price of gas, after it had long been really expensive prices, and they were flooded with gas in the waters off their shores. It's when, it's almost like what happens is, when the government makes a mistake, and finally there's a viral recognition and realization that the middle class is being screwed, and the people just explode into the streets.
Rob Kall: Do you think that can happen?
Rob Kall: Here, in the U.S.?
Let me tell you about a conversation I had with a Congressman, which I think was very revealing. I was talking to him about the National Defense Authorization Act, and the portion of it at that time that would do away with "Posse Comitatus," and essentially allow the military to enforce domestic law. And I asked the question very pointedly, " this is not about terrorism, it's not about potential martial law to fight terrorists. This is about Occupy Wall Street. ' He nodded his head up and down. I said, "I understand now !" The Congress was frightened! The Congress was frightened that the next place they'd Occupy would be the Capitol Building. And so they wanted the Armed Forces of the United States to be able to react in the event such a thing should happen.
Rob Kall: And who was this you said you spoke to you about this?
This was a Congressman, a member of the House of Representatives.
Rob Kall: Yeah
We were over there.. A friend and I were over there to talk about the war power, and we took the occasion also to ask why he, for example, had acquiesced, and as it turned out, he hadn't. He'd been one of the few votes against it, the National Defense Authorization Act amendment, that would destroy Posse Comitatus, which has been in effect since reconstruction, which essentially prohibits the military from aiding civilian law enforcement.
Rob Kall: And there's a lot more going on"
Rob Kall: "That is anticipating when people go out onto the streets, isn't there? You know anything about it? All these talks about the camps that have been created by FEMA and what have you? Do you give any credence to that?
No, but I can tell you that having studied what we did throughout our history. I mean, I was just, I don't want to bore you, but I was just looking at the 1840s and 50s, when we essentially allowed Louisianans and Kentuckians, and others in this country, to go to Cuba and try to take Cuba from Spain. We actually did that. We actually had a motion in the Senate of the United States to repeal the Neutrality Act, so that these people would not be criminals under U.S. law. They were invading a sovereign country off the coast of Florida against the Neutrality Act. So they could be put in jail, but we were encouraging them to do it. And why were we doing it? We were doing it because we thought if we got Cuba, it would increase the slaveholding States, and therefore give the South more power.
This is our country! This is America!
Rob Kall: Crazy! One last question. What's your take on globalization, and global trade agreements, like World Trade Organization, and NAFTA and KAFTA, TPP and what have you?
I think globalization is a phenomenon that is here to stay. You know, I don't take the Tom Friedman or the Dave Schmidt angle on it, I simply say it's been here before. Interestingly and somewhat frighteningly, the last period of massive globalization was just prior to World War I, when, you know, the telegraph cable had been laid, connecting continents for the first time in human history. You had all these different things going on, that you could argue that it was even more intense, relatively speaking, in the late 1800s, early 1900s, than it is today. So it's a phenomenon, that I think has been around, and it 's not going away. The question in my mind, is how are we going to, we being the governments in the world that care, whether you call it the G20 or the G8, or the G77, or whatever How are we going to manage it, so that we get better results in terms of balance of current accounts and so forth? One of the big problems is that China had so much in it's reserves, and other countries have, after the Asia crisis in '98, started having so much in their reserves, that we were the ones providing that so much. So we were bleeding our Treasury through consumption, buying Chinese products, Vietnamese products, and so forth, while their current account balances were really going way off the charts in terms of positives. So we've got to do a better job globally of balancing those accounts and of creating, not managed trade, in the sense of destroying entrepreneurship and so forth, but trade that's better guided. And that's not Socialism, that's not Communism, that's simply common sense. You've got to have a plan, and you've got to have a strategy, and you've got to manage global trade better.
And when you talk about free trade, forget it. There's no such thing as free trade. There never has been. It's a pipe dream, and if it were free trade than it would be, it 'd be predatory capitalism, it'd be all over the world; like Bank of America and Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Chase and everybody else screwing everybody else.
So you don't want totally free trade, what you want is a trade that is basically free, but you want institutions that factor in all the things we've learned since World War II, for example, that capital controls in some instances and for some countries might be good! Brazil sure has proven that. And that the IMF needs to completely adjust its outlook, because it's operating right now under the auspices of the big banks and the big corporations. See, we've got to adjust some of this stuff that we built after World War II, and maybe even destroy some of it, and put some other institutions in its place. And we've got to do a better job of managing globalization. And that's not Communism, that's not Socialism, that's just practical reality.
Rob Kall: Do you think it's possible that to have a globalization that is not, as it currently is, designed primarily for multi-national corporations?
Well, I'm sure you know, that's partly at least the way it's designed right now. Whether it's Exxon Mobil, or it's Monsanto, or one of the big drug companies, or whatever. The way we structured the global financial system is designed to favor large corporations which are less and less sovereign in their nature. That is to say Rex Tillerson when he goes, CEO of Exxon Mobil, when he goes to Kazakhstan and says he'd rather be in Kazakhstan then the United States, he's telling the truth. Kazakhstan's a terrible place. It's an authoritarian, "you're tortured tomorrow morning" country. But he'd rather be there because it treats its energy companies better. It treats its energy assets, resources better. It gives better pay on the dollar and so forth. So Tillerson has no nationality. He is an oil man, and that's something that we have to deal with. We can't give these multi-national corporations like Exxon Mobil, Monsanto, Central, you know-- raping places in South America to grow more soybeans and so forth. We can't give them that kind of power. We either have to give the local governments the power to rein them in, and to override WTO or other rulings that might be blessing this, or we have to do it ourselves. And I think it's probably going to wind up being a combination of the two as it's been in the past, but not been that successful.
Rob Kall: Alright. I lied. One last question! What's your take on how different things will be, whether Obama holds or Bishop Romney wins the Presidency?
I don't know Romney at all. I know President Obama from four years of experience with him. I'm disappointed! I'm disappointed he didn't close Guantanamo. I'm elated that he said "we don't torture!" I'm disappointed that he made a deal with the banks rather than essentially telling them "to put up or shut up." I would have loved to have seen him nationalize a couple of them. I'm disappointed that he didn't do more things to make America's role in the world a little more positive.
For example, shutting down the drone strikes. We've struck 348 times, I understand, with over four thousand casualties, half of them probably not even enemy. People in Pakistan, for example, won't even go to a funeral or a wedding now. They're too afraid of collecting and being killed by drones. This is not a good policy, "policy by assassination." People are going to start doing it to us. And when they do that I'm going to watch carefully to see how we react, when a drone's flying over Manhattan or flying over Times Square, and we are affected the same way Pakistan is being affected right now. Then Americans will suddenly understand what I'm talking about! And believe me, there are other people in the world that have drones. All of that said, I think that President Obama's record shows that he will be a more positive influence on all the things you and I have been talking about that should happen, than what I have seen from Mitt Romney would indicate he would be.
And second, about Mitt Romney, I am most discouraged to have seen how he shifted from the primary language to the actual campaign language, and almost completely reversed himself on almost every major issue. I don't know where his backbone is! I don't know where his spine is! I don't know where his brain is! And I'm not willing to run the risk of finding out, and not liking it.
Rob Kall: Hm! Okay. This is the Rob Kall Bottom-Up Radio Show.
We've been talking to Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell. Now he's an adjunct Professor of Government at the College of William and Mary.
The show's sponsored by OpEdNews.com. If you came in late in the show, you can go into iTunes, look for my name Rob Kall K-A-L-L, to download the interview and lots more.
Thank so much for being on the show. I really hope that you're come back, because it's been a great conversation.
Thanks for having me, Rob. Appreciate it.
Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind. Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big) to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project.
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