This is the third and final part of a lengthy transcript of the audio podcast posted here. Thanks to Eric Forat for transcript checking/editing.
My guest tonight is Lawrence Wilkerson. He is retired United States Army soldier and and former chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell. Wilkerson is an adjunct professor at the College of William & Mary where he teaches courses on US national security. He also instructs a senior seminar in the Honors Department at the George Washington University entitled "National Security Decision Making."
R.K.: What do you think will be the legacy of Barack Obama? If we look back in history?
L.W.: I'm hoping and I am praying that his legacy will be mostly that he got us out of Iraq, got us out of Afghanistan and didn't, and I emphasize this, didn't get us into Iran. I hope that is his primary legacy. All of the rest of this I can forgive if he just accomplishes those three things. Out of Iraq and not back, mind you now we're going back really fast right now.
We're providing Maliki after he has consolidated his second term now. We're providing him with all kinds of weapons and such. And Afghanistan could, just as well, go down the same road and, of course, Iran could be a new one. So if he continues in the present vein of not doing anything more than supplying arms to Iraq, getting us out of Afghanistan and shutting that theater down and not going to war in Iran, I will clap when he leaves.
R.K.: Well what about-- you are a recipient of the Sam Adams award for supporting regarding Whistleblowers and what have you. What about Obama's treatment of Whistleblowers?
L.W.: Horrible. Absolutely horrible. He has prosecuted more people than all of the rest of the presidents combined and done it under, as I understand it, again I am no lawyer but as I understand it, under the Espionage Act, which is a draconian piece of legislation that allows you to do almost anything as long as you can hype up the threat against which to do it.
And this is at the same time as rhetoric says, and rhetoric said that he was going to create an environment for Whistleblowers that would encourage them. That he was going to be the most transparent president we had ever had. That he was going to do all of these things that were going to be in the best interest of civil rights, a liberal relationship with the people and so forth.
And, sh*t, he has been worse than George W Bush in many respects. Or as one of my former colleagues from the Bush Administration said recently, with a snarl, hey he's out-done George.
R.K.: He has, hasn't he? I think he's far to the right of Eisenhower.
L.W.: I tell you, sometimes I don't know whether we're hearing him though, or we're hearing people like Brennan and Holder and other suits who have his ear at the moment. I mean the guy, let's face he is like Bush in some respects. What could he really know about being president? He had no experience when it came to the White House. He is basically depending on the people who have been there and done that in the functions around him, cabinet and otherwise who are telling him what to do and how to do it.
R.K.: So you're making an excuse for him because of the people around him. See I don't make excuses for Obama. I think the guy knows what he's doing, he's making choices, and he is doing exactly what he wants to do.
L.W.: There is some of that, but I would never say any president does exactly what he wants to do. There are too many exigencies and too many influences on him. Even a president as experienced as Eisenhower or as Franklin Roosevelt in his third term has things happen to him that he has no real power to control.
R.K.: Okay so we need to wrap this up. I have one last question for you. You teach courses on National Security. What's your appraisal of, what are the important national security issues now?
L.W.: Number one is planetary climate change. It is going to produce, is producing so many spin offs that are going to be inimical to our and Europe and our allies interests that if we don't start dealing with it we are going to get behind it to the extent that we can't even play catch up. That is to say it's going to be a juggernaut and it's just going to roll over us. And it's going to produce things that are right now unseeable.