Larry Wilkerson: The only hope for the Republican Party is to break with militarism and defense of the super-rich
PAUL 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. Joining us now is in fact Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who was the former chief of staff for U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. He’s currently an adjunct professor of government at the College of William & Mary. He’s a regular contributor to The Real News Network. Thanks for joining us.
COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON, FMR. CHIEF OF STAFF TO COLIN POWELL: Thanks for having me, Paul.
JAY: So I guess the big news, obviously, is the election. How do you react to the results?
WILKERSON: Well, I could say that I thought this was probably what was going to happen. And I could also say that I think if my party, the Republican Party, doesn’t take some major steps to revamp and revise and reformat itself, it’s going to be looking at this kind of [incompr.] with regard to the White House, and, increasingly, other power positions quite often.
The country’s changing. The demographics are changing, the people are changing, and the Republican Party seems to be left in the dust.
JAY: Well, it seems to me, if they want to revive themselvesâ€”and when I say they, I don’t mean people in the Republican Party like you, whoâ€”I guess it’s hard for you to be in that party nowâ€”but I mean people that actually control and finance that party. If they want to achieve their objectives, it seems to me what they have to do is go find themselves a Latino, far-right populace of some kind that can rail against big business and the big banks as a disguise for what those people, meaning Koch brothers and such, want.
WILKERSON: Well, of course, that’s one way to do it. That’s not the way I would do it. The way I would do it is to bring the party around to the issues that really separate us from the Democrats and that are substantial and important to America’s future. And that does not include the kind of social issues, for example, that certain elements of the party like to focus on, everything from abortion to gay rights. It includes such things as international security foreign policy. Republicans believe we shouldn’t be going around the world intervening in places for purposes other than national security interest. The Obama administration’s just created an atrocity preventions board, whatever the devil that is. And this bespeaks using the military instrument for other than national interests, significant national interests. So that’s something we should object to and something we should stand on. In the domesticâ€”.
JAY: But, Larry, when you say “Republicans,” which Republicans? I mean, Bushâ€“Cheney went into Iraq at one pointâ€”sorry. At one point, they’re going to Afghanistan because of women’s rights in Afghanistan, and then they were going to go into Iraq, you know, supposedly weapons of mass destruction. But then it became about democracy for Iraq. I mean, that was all Republican.
WILKERSON: You asked me to define how I would change the Republican Party. So that’s one reason I would change itâ€”we look an awful lot like the Democrats. And for that matter, since Bill Clinton, the Democrats look an awful lot like us on major issues that we are supposed to differ on. And by God, I still differ on them.
You can profess, and with some accuracy and some credibility, that both parties are so similar that in security and foreign policy and domestic policy there isn’t an iota of difference between them. And what really brings this together is the fact that both parties are engaged in an enormous defense of the wealthy in this country. Let’s face it: in 2010, 93Â percent of the wealth that this country generated went to 1Â percent of this country. The other 7Â percent went to the other 99Â percent. And from 2002 to 2007, the percentage going to the wealthiest 1Â percent, about 3Â million Americans, was over two-thirds.
This is unsustainable. We’re headed for a revolution. We’re headed for class warfare. It’s utterly unsustainable. Everyone from Dwight Eisenhower to Teddy Rooseveltâ€”Republicans bothâ€”have said so.
So let’s deal with the big issues and [incompr.] back the Republican Party away from this biggest issue of all and start doing the things within the Republican Party domestically, advocating the policies domestically to put an end to this and to get America back on the track to strengthen its middle class, to build its middle class, which is, after all, the sineÂ quaÂ nonof our republic.
JAY: But can you actually imagine that there’s enough support in the Republican Party to take on those that have the wealth and want to defend it, as you say?
WILKERSON: I know there are people within the Republican Party who believe just as I have expressed, and I know that we would like to have our party back. And we are looking at this defeat and the defeats that string out into the foreseeable future as being a golden opportunity for us to try and reshape and refashion the party. And it’s not just me. There are a lot better souls and spirits in this business than I. But I’m with them all the way.
JAY: Okay. Well, let’s have a look, then. I wish you good luck, sir. But let’s have a look at the next four years of the Obama administration. And one of his early decisions, apparently, is going to have to be a new secretary of state. And what do you make of who that might be?
WILKERSON: We just had this discussion in my seminar today. The rumblings coming out of the Beltway are that it won’t be John Kerry, an individual whom everyone had sort of focused on earlier, that it will be Susan Rice orâ€”get this oneâ€”Tom Donilon, the current national security advisor. I can’t imagine either one of those people being a successful secretary of state for this president. So I hope that scuttlebutt [incompr.] different reasons for both of them.
JAY: Yeah, Susan Rice is a great champion of military intervention in, supposedly, the name of democratic rights and such. I interviewed her during the primaries in 2008 in New Hampshire, and she gave such a vigorous defense of intervention in Afghanistan.
WILKERSON: These people want to intervene with my blood. You check them just like you check the chickenhawks in the Bush administration, mostly neoconservatives, and you will find that their family or they aren’t willing to serve. They’re not willing to let their children serve. What they want to do is bring all these wonderful changes about with the blood of other people. Well, when they reinstitute the draft and put most Americans into the vulnerability of that draft and draft many of them and send them to do these things, then maybe I might revisit the whole proposition.
But as far as I’m concerned, I am a conservative, a true conservative, not a neoconservative, and I say using the Armed Forces for such purposes is not only silly, it’s despicable.
JAY: Thanks for joining us, Larry.
WILKERSON: Thanks for having me, Paul.
JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.
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