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Larry Wilkerson: Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush states he would have authorized the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, showing little regard for the fact that Neocon policy created more chaos in the region.

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JESSICA DESVARIEUX, PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore. And welcome to this edition of the Wilkerson Report. Now joining us from Williamsburg, Virginia is Larry Wilkerson. Larry is the former chief of staff for U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, and he’s currently and adjunct professor of government at the college of William and Mary. And of course, he’s a regular contributor to The Real News. Thanks for being with us, Larry. LARRY WILKERSON, FMR. CHIEF OF STAFF TO COLIN POWELL: Thanks for having me, Jessica. DESVARIEUX: So Larry, I know you’ve been tracking Jeb Bush’s campaign. Fill us in, what’s the latest? WILKERSON: I think you’ll recall that I was recently in New Hampshire and looking over the 19 candidates that had paid their $1000 in that state to commence the primary process. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush and so forth. As I looked over that cast of characters, I thought the only viable one really was Jeb Bush. Well just recently, as you probably are aware, he’s made some statements that make me question my own judgment in that regard. Those statements were something like, if he had the Iraq war to do over again, that is the 2003 war, the one his brother did, he would do it exactly the way his brother did it. And furthermore, his brother was his principal advisor on the Middle East. I attribute these kind of statements, though perhaps not quite as egregious, to the same kind of actions John McCain perpetrated when he picked Sarah Palin to be his vice president. After that, no one really took John McCain that seriously, certainly enough Americans to put him in the White House didn’t take him seriously. Or, for that matter, Mitt Romney’s overheard comment, and thus publicized comment about the percentage of Americans who basically were worthless. These kinds of things ruin a person’s potential even before they get started. I attribute Jeb’s statements to the neoconservatives he has arrayed around him. They are as prolific around him now as they were around his brother, George W. Bush, and they are just as contaminative. They’re just as dangerous. They’re just as Luddite and stupid, in my views. Because their interests are not the interests of this country. So whereas a week ago I would have said Jeb Bush gives me some hope for my political party, and I might even vote for him, I’m thinking now after statements like he just made, I wouldn’t vote for him if he were the last candidate on earth. DESVARIEUX: So Larry, what are these neoconservatives bringing to the table? WILKERSON: The neoconservatives from the more intellectual, and I hesitate to use that term to describe any neoconservative, side like Bill Kristol and Richard Perle and so forth, to the more or less operative side like Doug Feith and others of his ilk are too much in the presence of George–of Jeb Bush right now, in my view. Having some of them around you, make sure that some of the base is activated like it needs to be, the base being the right wing of the Republican party growing ever more, almost insane in its religious, its racist–and other connotations these days. But nonetheless, clearly necessary to be elected to office in that party. The neoconservatives are all around Jeb Bush now. They’re surrounding him. They bring a radical form of international policy. They bring a radical form of domestic policy, for that matter, because they bring things like, oh yes, it’s okay to wage interminable war and not have taxes to pay for it. It’s all right to run up $18 trillion worth of national debt and counting, and not worry about it. It’s all right to print $4 trillion in the last six years of money and not expect inflation to rip the guts out of this economy as soon as it raises its ugly head. These are neoconservative thoughts. These are neoconservative pieces of advice, to whomever they’re advising. They’re radicals, they’re Trotskyites, they’re friends of Bibi Netanyahu, they’re friends of the most radical elements in Israel. They have the most dangerous foreign policies. And to see them surrounding and influencing a candidate like Jeb Bush, who otherwise I knew as a fairly pragmatic, realpolitik-type person, really disturbs me. DESVARIEUX: But I would think, too, these neoconservatives certainly know how to raise some money. WILKERSON: They do, because they know how to appeal to people like the Koch brothers, like Sheldon Adelson, like Paul Singer and others who have very deep pockets, and who have other objectives than those of the neoconservatives. But who see the neoconservatives as good tools, if you will, their policy objectives. The neoconservatives see them as good tools of their policy objectives. The problem there is neither is looking at the ramifications of those policy objectives for the other 90 percent-plus of us who really care about this democracy and really care about civil rights, really care about civil liberties, really care about the direction this state is proceeding in. They don’t seem to care. They would just as soon have the United States fall off a cliff, so long as it accomplishes their purposes, which are to radicalize the Middle East, principally, and to make sure that Israel in that radicalization of its region is safe and secure. Even that’s preposterous, because that’s not a way to make Israel safe and secure, by making sure its enemies are all at each others’ throats. Sooner or later they’ll be at Israel’s throat. DESVARIEUX: All right. Larry Wilkerson, always a pleasure having you on. Thanks for being with us. WILKERSON: Thanks, Jessica. Thanks for having me, Jessica. DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.


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Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Government and Public Policy

Lawrence Wilkerson's last positions in government were as Secretary of State Colin Powell's Chief of Staff (2002-05), Associate Director of the State Department's Policy Planning staff under the directorship of Ambassador Richard N. Haass, and member of that staff responsible for East Asia and the Pacific, political-military and legislative affairs (2001-02). Before serving at the State Department, Wilkerson served 31 years in the U.S. Army. During that time, he was a member of the faculty of the U.S. Naval War College (1987 to 1989), Special Assistant to General Powell when he was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989-93), and Director and Deputy Director of the U.S. Marine Corps War College at Quantico, Virginia (1993-97). Wilkerson retired from active service in 1997 as a colonel, and began work as an advisor to General Powell. He has also taught national security affairs in the Honors Program at the George Washington University. He is currently working on a book about the first George W. Bush administration.