NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING

  • Latest News
  • Pitch a Story
  • Work with a Journalist
  • Join the Blog Squad
  • Afghanistan
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Baltimore
  • Canada
  • Egypt
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Russia
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Health Care
  • Military
  • Occupy
  • Organize This
  • Reality Asserts Itself
  • US Politics
  • Obama Under Pressure to Seek Regime Change in Syria and Iran


    Larry Wilkerson: Obama policy to fuel civil war but avoid military intervention in Syria; Neo-cons pushing for direct intervention as lead up to Iran -   May 8, 13
    Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here

    Audio

      Share to Twitter
    Share to Facebook




    I support TRNN because it is the closest expression of the ideal of a free press I have seen. - Daniel
    Log in and tell us why you support TRNN

    Bio

    Lawrence Wilkerson is a retired United States Army soldier 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."

    Transcript

    Obama Under Pressure to Seek Regime Change in Syria and IranPAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore. And welcome to this week's edition of The Wilkerson Report with Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who now joins us in the studio in Baltimore.

    Thanks for joining us, Larry.

    COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON, FMR. CHIEF OF STAFF TO COLIN POWELL: Thanks for having me, Paul.

    JAY: So I think everybody knows Larry's introduction, but just in case, Larry was chief of staff for Colin Powell for many years and now teaches at William & Mary College and is regularly on The Real News and other places.

    So I wanted to ask you a question about where we're at in this debate that's taking place in Washington and, I guess, in military, diplomatic circles. And we're starting to hear the debate about Iran and about Syria and whether to intervene or not. We're hearing kind of these things coming up through The New York Times and op-eds, The Washington Post. And on Syria what's being said is it's time for the U.S. to find a way to intervene. They're not quite defining what intervene means, but The Washington Post yesterday said find a way to intervene to end the war as quickly as possible. It's not clear if that means shifting the balance of power to give a lot more arms to the rebels or does it mean more than that. Then you're also starting to hear talk about Iran, that Iran really couldn't hit back very strongly if they were hit. There's--they make reference to the way--what was supposed to have been a nuclear facility in Syria a few years ago, and the Israelis hit it, and the Syrians never did much about it, and they're saying, oh, look, the Iranians after making all this noise can't afford real counterattack, 'cause it would invite an onslaught against them, so it's safe to attack Iran. It's--all sounds like pre-Iraq War. Even the people on both sides seem very similar.

    WILKERSON: I think you're right. I think it does sound like a lot of what I heard in 2002 and early 2003 before we invaded Iraq. And it's the same choir singing off essentially the same sheet of music.

    There are some nuances, though. Anne-Marie Slaughter, former director of policy planning for Hillary Clinton at the State Department, has put out a piece that is almost Samantha Power like, that is to say, we must, we must, or we'll have another Rwanda on our hands, we must intervene in Syria. Anne-Marie doesn't specify exactly how we should do that.

    Robert Hunter, Ambassador Robert Hunter has a piece out saying we shouldn't. And I think Ambassador Hunter has the better part of the argument, because there is simply nothing the United States can do that will stop the killing in any meaningful way. Probably what we'll do is exacerbate it.

    This is a civil war. This isn't Rwanda. This is a civil war. And we've got Alawites, and we've got Sunnis, and we've got the Saudis backing the Sunnis, and we've got others backing the Shia Allawite. We've got Iran, of course, heavily involved inside Syria. We've got China and Russia standing on the sidelines waiting to see what's going to happen with regard to U.S. intervention or not.

    This is a very different problem from Rwanda, a much more serious problem in its military and strategic ramifications. Perhaps Rwanda shines a light on a lack of humanitarian action when one group of people is committing genocide against another group of people, but that's not what's happening here.

    What's happening here is a lot of brutal death, but it's a civil war. It's a civil war with lots of elements. And so it's extremely difficult to imagine how U.S. military power, which is not the cure-all for every disease in the world, would intervene in a way that would not make the situation worse than it already is.

    JAY: Daniel Pipes, who is usually allied with the neocons and speaks for or echoes a lot of what's said in the right-wing Israeli circles, right-wing Likud circles, he wrote a piece the other day that says, let them all kill each other. In fact, right now he's saying American policy should actually favor shoring up Assad 'cause he seems to be weakening, and it's in Israel's--actually, I don't think he used the word Israel; he said America's interest (excuse me, Mr. Pipes), America's interest to let them all kill each other.

    WILKERSON: I think that's a fair approximation of what you might look at if you were looking at it ruthlessly, brutally as a strategist and you were saying, what would be best in order to terminate the killing swiftly and to put some kind of stability back in place. And I could understand someone saying that in that event, if that's your objective, then the best thing to do is to shore up Assad and let the stability he brought be restored and see how long it'll last.

    JAY: Well, Pipes wasn't quite arguing that. Pipes was: shore up Assad until Assad looks too strong; then shore up the rebels and let them go strong.

    WILKERSON: Yeah, let them all go ahead and kill each other.

    JAY: In other words, let this civil war go on forever. And one can see, if one's looking at this, certainly, from right-wing Israeli interest, that's not such a bad situation, 'cause now there's such chaos and disorder and Assad's so weak, any time you want to blow something up on--a shipment on its way to Hezbollah--.

    WILKERSON: Just the way the Israelis just did.

    JAY: Yeah, and you get away with it.

    WILKERSON: I would not want to be in Israel's position right now. I've said this before. I'll say it again. I think Israel is in as dangerous a position strategically, geopolitically as she's been since 1948. That's pretty bad. Look around Israel. Brutal civil war in Syria. Egypt, no one knows. Big question mark over what was the bastion of Israeli-Arab peace, Egypt. King of Jordan making public statements saying he might not want to be king any longer. Lebanon's government walks in and out of a revolving door, and Nasrallah of Hezbollah is gaining more and more political control. Iraq is in the hands of Iran. Nouri al-Maliki might as well be Persian. The civil war in Iraq is heating up again as the Sunnis realize Maliki's bent and our funding the Sunnis inside Iraq to reclaim their power in Baghdad. The Kurds in the north are about to declare their own independent state and tell the rest of Iraq to go to hell. This is a true mess, largely started by the United States invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the incompetence of the occupation afterwards. This is a real mess.

    And Israel is looking at the only ally it has on the face of the earth in Washington. Everyone else in the region is against it.

    JAY: So it seems to me the drumbeats for intervening in Syria can't be disconnected from the drumbeats for an attack on Iran.

    WILKERSON: No, it's a backdoor.

    JAY: And if you go down that road, you've really got to go down that road. And are these people serious?

    WILKERSON: They're serious, but they don't understand what they're serious about. Some of them do, but very few. Let's face it. None of them have ever been in war in their life. So what we're looking at here is people who are neophytes at this sort of thing, just as they were in 2003. And look what we got in 2004 and '05 and '06. What they're looking at is bombing Iran.

    I agree that the Iranians would probably not do very much in retaliation. What could they do, after all? Unleash Hezbollah? Send it around the world? These can be some pretty dire things in the long run, but they're not strategically game-changing things.

    So what could Iran do? Well, I'll tell you what Iran'll do. They'll make a decision to build a nuclear weapon as the bombs are dropping, and they'll build that nuclear weapon, and then the only thing the United States will be able to do is invade, occupy, $2 trillion to $3 trillion, ten years, and the results at the end of that decade will be just like the results in Afghanistan and Iraq today. So sign up to that, baby, if you want to be derelict in your duty again.

    JAY: That bombing Iran leads to the decision that every intelligence agency so far has said Iran hasn't made, which is to build a bomb. But you start bombing, then they make the decision.

    WILKERSON: Absolutely. And what Bob Menendez and John McCain and Lindsey Graham and others like them are really after is regime change. And the only way you're going to change the regime in Iran is to invade.

    JAY: Now, the Obama administration does not seem to be on that page, both the appointment of Hagel and the rhetoric from President Obama. They don't seem to want to do that.

    WILKERSON: They don't, and I'm glad for that. I voted for President Obama, and I began to wonder why. The Iran issue, as you just pointed out, may be the reason why. He doesn't seem to have a predeliction, even a desire, to go to war yet again in Asia and squander American blood and treasure on something that is unsolvable by American military power.

    JAY: And does he stand up under this pressure? I guess we don't know the answer yet. But how much is this pressure building? As I said, we saw op-ed in The New York Times, The Washington Post. You're starting to really see these forces gathering in a way they weren't in the last two, three years.

    WILKERSON: You're right. As with Guantanamo Bay, the president has helped some of those forces to gather beneath him. His use of the phrase red line, for example, with regard to chemical weapons, was an inept use of that term. I would say presidents should never use the term red line, myself.

    But he also has a red line with regard to Iran. What is it? No option is off the table--repeated, repeated, repeated. That means that when you get to the point where your diplomatic track is not working--and the Republicans and others will be all over him to make sure they identify that point really well--then you've got two options. You either step down from your rhetoric and say, I didn't mean it, or you exercise the military option. So the president himself, by his own rhetoric, as has been the case with him in other instances, has trapped--has painted himself into a certain corner with regard to Iran. I can only think that he probably hopes he can get out of the second term in office before this rhetoric comes home to bite him.

    JAY: And the people that want regime change, the people that are driving for, you know, real--we hear calls for military intervention in Syria from these forces, Lindsey Graham and those circles. And they've been, you know, bomb--John McCain's been bomb, bomb, bomb Iran for many years ago. What drives them? They must see themselves the kind of chaos that this is going to create. Do they want that? I mean, and how much? I've asked you this question before, but I don't know how to discuss it without asking it again. How is this also--how much of this is just about banal wars? A lot of people make a lot of money out of this kind of war.

    WILKERSON: A lot of it is about that, Paul. The military-industrial-congressional complex is alive and thriving well, even in this age of sequestration.

    The Greeks had a saying: old men send young men to die in war. That's John McCain. He's an old man. He's over the hill. In many respects it's the same with Lindsey Graham and Bob Menendez and others like them who are constantly calling for war. You don't see their children going to these wars. You don't see anyone related to them going to these wars. I'm constantly amazed at how many times I meet congressmen and others in the leadership who want to use the military instrument, but their family is nowhere near that military instrument. Sign up again, John. Get on over there and do your thing. I think old men ought to go to war.

    But it's bigger--as you intimated, it's bigger than that. Lots of people are invested in this war machine now. Lots of people have heavy investments in it. Lots of people make big, big money off this war machine.

    It's not just that. It's other things too. It's American hegemony. It's we have been defied. We have been shown that our superpowerdom now exclusive to us post Cold War can be challenged, people can say they don't want to live under the kind of regime that we absolutely insist they live under. That can't happen, that can't happen, because the smallest little crack in that facade of American power would be delimiting. It would be utterly, utterly failure for the United States.

    That's the way these people think. They're strange people, in my mind. They don't understand that there's a big world out there, and there are a lot of people in this world, and the way to get along in this world is not with military power, it's with economic and financial and diplomatic and political power. Military, keep it in your back pocket if you need to use it, but don't use it all the time.

    We've become a state, we have become a state that lives for war. We've been at war now for over a decade, and I don't see an end to it. The authorization for the use of military force, the AUMF, James Madison would've said that is the top rung on the ladder to tyranny. That's what James Madison would have said, the father of our Constitution. We are on the top rung of the ladder to tyranny.

    JAY: Thanks for joining us, Larry.

    WILKERSON: Thanks for having me.

    JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

    End

    DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


    Comments

    Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

    Comments


    Latest Stories


    The Modern History of Venezuela and Popular Democracy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (9/9)
    An Asia "Pivot" Should Mean Cooperating with China to Solve the Global Environmental Crisis
    Assessing the U.S. Environmental Movement
    Intimidation and Political Interference Goes Unpunished in UAW Case
    Exclusive Investigation Uncovers How BP Uses Bribes To Do Business
    The Modern History of Venezuela, The Protests and Democracy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (8/9)
    Greek Politics 4 Years After The Financial Crisis
    CBO Report Confirms U.S. Deficit Back to Normal Level
    Israel Uses Refugees as "Currency" in Arms Trade with Africa
    Who Will Pay for Climate Change Disaster?
    Canada Shifts to Right Under Harper, Mimicking the United States
    The Savings and Loan Crisis Demonstrates the Importance of Glass-Steagall
    South African Platinum Miner's Struggle Challenges ANC Leadership
    TRNN Original Report: Manning Determined to Fight Back After Army Upholds 35- Year Sentence
    Hundredth Anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre
    The Bundy Ranch Standoff Demonstrates Values Shared by Corporations and the Far Right
    The Resegregation of American Schools
    The Modern History of Venezuela, Why Still So Much Crime? - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (7/9)
    What Role Has Russia Played in Eastern Ukraine?
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (2/2)
    University Sit-In Targets World's Largest Private Coal Company
    The Modern History of Venezuela and the Need for a Post-Oil Economy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (6/9)
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (1/2)
    One Percent of Environmentalists Killings Lead to Convictions
    Investigation Finds Former Ukraine President Not Responsible For Sniper Attack on Protestors
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Ukraine Transitional Gov't Moves Militarily To Reclaim Seized Buildings
    IPCC Report Flawed By Narrow Focus on Carbon Emissions
    The Modern History of Venezuela: The Bolivarian Revolution - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (5/9)
    Obama Signs Directives to Reduce the Gender Wage Gap
    Eastern Ukraine Lacks Political Representation in Kiev
    Demystifying the Role of Mitigation in the Most Recent IPCC Report
    Hypersurveillance State Won't Prevent Another Boston Marathon Bombing
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Univ. of Maine Faculty Reinstated After Students Protest Against Cuts
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1908 to 1973 - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (2/9)
    IMF Will Address Global Inequality, Says Managing Director Christine Lagarde
    Raising Big Banks' Leverage Ratio Good, But Not Nearly Enough
    TRNN Replay: Austerity Road to 19th Century
    Has Palestinian Maneuvering Revived Peace Talks?
    Late Jackson Mayor Lumumba's Son Wins Primary to Replace His Father, Runoff Election Ahead
    Quebecers Reject PQ and Elect a Liberal Government Representing Big Business
    TRNN Debate: Decriminalization vs. Legalization
    The Beginning of the Chavez Era - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (4/9)
    "Off With His Head": Court Upholds Obama's Power to Kill
    Workers at Nation's Top Hospital Strike For Fair Wages
    From Exile to Radicalization in Venezuela - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (1/9)
    Rwanda 20 Years Later: Genocide, Western Plunder of Congo, and President Kagame
    Ukrainian Protesters in the East Demand More Autonomy From Kiev Government
    Hunger Strikers Demand President Obama Halt His Record 2 Million Deportations
    Indian Parliamentary Elections - A Primer With Vijay Prashad
    West Looks to Carve Up Ukraine & Privatize Industries Held by Kleptocrats
    Where Are Israeli-Palestinian Peace Negotiations Headed?
    The Multiple Kingdoms of Saudi Arabia (5/5)
    Do the Afghan Presidential Elections Signify Progress?
    Republican Presidential Hopefuls Pay Homage to Billionaire Casino Tycoon Sheldon Adelson
    Will Extremist Lieberman Become Israel's Next Prime Minister?
    Why do the Saudis Want the US to Attack Iran? (4/5)
    Immigrant Advocates and Families Tell President Obama 'Not One More'
    Elections, Pipelines, and Protests - The Canada Panel
    Chris Hedges on "Israel's War on American Universities"
    Baltimore Residents Decry Lack of Affordable Housing
    Yellen Talks the Talk But Will She Walk the Walk?
    Hopkins Hospital Workers Speak Out against "Poverty Wages"
    Will Venezuela's New Floating Exchange Rate Curb Inflation?
    The European Central Bank's War on Wages is Pushing Europe's Economy to the Brink
    Supreme Court Decision Opens Floodgates for More Campaign Cash
    Charles Keating, the Financier Behind the Savings and Loan Scandal, Dies at 90
    Saudi Arabia and the al-Qaeda Monster (3/5)
    Maryland Residents Voice Opposition to Natural Gas Fracking Export Facility
    Supreme Court Ruling Gives Wealthy Individuals More Influence Over Elections
    What are the Saudis Afraid Of? - Madawi Al-Rasheed (2/5)
    Baltimore's MICA Adjunct Professors Set to Vote on Unionization
    Boycott of Israel Moving to Next Level?
    Hypocrisy Dressed Up as "Realism" Justifies American Alliance with Saudi Dictatorship
    Immigration Reform in the Shadows of Cesar Chavez's Legacy
    Leaked Senate Report Shows Use of Torture As "Ineffective"
    UN Report Says Climate Change Will Threaten Food Production Worldwide
    The Hypocrisy of US Calling for Enforcement of International Law
    How the Ecuadorian Economy Grew in a Global Recession
    'Shadows of Liberty' Trailer
    Kristina Borjesson on Why CBS Shut Down Her investigation into Flight 800 (2/8)
    Glen Ford on Racism in the American Media (3/8)
    Paul Jay on What Drives Corporate Media and What Drive The Real News (4/8)
    Creating a New Media Paradigm After Citizens United (5/8)
    Should The Left Engage with the Mainstream Media? (6/8)
    What Is the Financial Backing For The Real News? (7/8)
    Standing up to Character Assassination (8/8)
    Oligarchs, Fascists and the People's Protest in Ukraine
    TRNN Debate: Is Obamacare In the Interest of Workers?
    Too-Big-To-Fail Advantage Remains Intact For Big Banks
    Obama and the Saudi Agenda
    TRNN Replay: Investigating the Saudi Government's 9/11 Connection and the Path to Disilliusionment - Sen. Graham on Reality Asserts Itself pt 1
    The Iraq War's Real Legacy
    Petitions with 100,000+ Signatures Call for Snowden's Passport to be Reinstated
    We Need to Harness People Power - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (4/4)
    BC Pipeline Fight and Quebec Elections - The Canada Panel
    Jonathan Schell - 1943-2014: Board Member of TRNN on Why We Need The Real News
    Teachers on Strike from the UK to Argentina
    Connecticut Poised to Become First State with $10.10 Minimum Wage
    Oil Spill Threatens Wildlife and Local Economy
    DC School Test Scores Up, But Poor Black Kids Are Doing Worse - Andy Shallal on RAI (3/4)
    Obama's Proposal To End NSA Bulk Data Collection Won't Protect Privacy
    How Google, Apple & The Biggest Tech Companies Colluded to Fix Workers' Wages
    An American Should be One that Questions Their Government - Andy Shallal on RAI (2/4)
    What's Driving Putin & Obama's Posturing on Ukraine?
    Hundreds of Students & Faculty Occupy College Campus to Fight Cuts to Public Higher Ed
    Due Process 'Impossible' In Harsh Death Sentencing Of Over 500 Muslim Brotherhood Members
    Has Anglo-American Capitalism Run Out of Steam?
    Being the "Other" in America - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (1/4)
    TRNN Debate: Should Baltimore 'Ban The Box'?
    How Fallujah Became the Iraqi Government's New Battleground
    Why I Decided to Blow the Whistle on the NSA
    NASA Climate Predictions Show Serious Threat To Humanity
    Professor Who Teaches Israel-Palestine Conflict Accuses College of Violating His Academic Freedom
    CIA and NSA Wrongdoing Requires Independent Investigation, Says Former Church Committee Staff
    Are Tuition Breaks Enough To Combat High Student Debt And Low Graduation Rates?
    Industries Across the U.S. Are Stealing Wages From Their Lowest Paid Workers
    Who In Ukraine Will Benefit From An IMF Bailout?
    NSA Recording All International Calls From U.S.
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (2/2)
    BP Gets Green Light to Drill in Gulf, But Has Safety Improved?
    Residents Still Not Drinking Tap Water Two Months After West Virginia Spill (1/2)
    Libya's Descent Into Turmoil Three Years After NATO Intervention
    From Pipelines to Peladeau - Canadian Report
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (1/2)
    Congressional Progressive Caucus Budget Strikes Back Against Austerity
    Libya Three Years Later - Chaos and Partition
    Why Was Gaddafi Overthrown?
    Should Ukraine and West Accept De Facto Crimea Joining Russia? (2/2)
    Tony Benn Saw Socialism as the Culmination of Democratization
    Why Didn't Bush/Cheney Attack Iran and Can Obama Make and Sell a Deal? - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (3/3)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi? (2/2)
    Crimea Referendum: Self Determination or Big Power Manipulation? (1/2)
    Sen. Graham: President Must Side with Openness About CIA and 9/11
    Manufacturing a Narrative for War - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (2/3)
    Protesters Hit the Streets of Brooklyn to Demand $15 Minimum Wage
    Hammer: 'Moral Bankruptcy' Behind Massive GM Recall
    White House Withholds Thousands of Documents from Senate CIA Probe
    I Grew Up Believing in Time Magazine's Version of America - Gareth Porter on RAI (1/3)
    Western European Banks Vulnerable to Ukrainian Sovereign Debt Crisis
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (2/2)
    CIA vs. Senate: Who Is Obama Protecting?
    Will Tipped Workers Get Excluded Again From Minimum Wage Hike?
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (1/2)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi?(1/2)
    TRNN Replay: A Look at Who's Poised to Become No.2 at the Fed
    How Right-Wing Nationalism Rose to Influence in Ukraine (2/2)
    Netanyahu Attacks Boycott As Campaign Enters New Phase
    Moving Towards a Police State - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (7/7)
    Fighting Reagan's Secret, Illegal Wars - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (6/7)
    Puerto Rican Independence Movement and Cuba Further Radicalized Me - Michael Ratner on RAI (5/7)
    The Butcher of Attica - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (4/7)
    MLK and a Radicalizing Moment in American History - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (3/7)

    RealNewsNetwork.com, Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

    All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network.  Click here for more

    Problems with this site? Please let us know

    Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting