What Would a More Rational Administration Do?
Paul Jay talks with Larry Wilkerson, part 11
PAUL JAY: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay, now joining us is Larry Wilkerson. Thanks for joining us again, Larry.
LARRY WILKERSON: Good to be here, Paul.
PAUL JAY: All right. I’ve got a final question for you, from Aidan Moloney on Facebook: What would Larry do if he was appointed DOD secretary? I think I’m going to have to add something to that, because if you’re DOD secretary under the Trump administration, number one, you’re never getting appointed, and number two, you’re getting fired before the first day is even over. Let’s imagine a more rational, a little more progressive to some extent, and by that I do not mean Clintonesque … Let’s say there was a somewhat more progressive president, administration, and you actually get some input on foreign policy and defense policy. What would you do? What would you recommend in this situation?
LARRY WILKERSON: Actually, that’s not a very difficult question to answer in a substantive, early blush way. The very first thing I would say to the president is, “Fire me. I don’t care. Fire me. Mr. President, we have too many enemies. We are partly responsible for creating many of these enemies. I am going to lay out for you a way to extract ourselves from some of these potential engagements. This ranges the gamut from Russia to the North Koreans. I’m going to show you ways where, without the use of hard military power or Treasury assets that are exhausted, because we’ve got a $21 trillion debt, I’m going to show you ways that we can limit these enemies.
Once I’ve done that, I’m going to show you who the principal ones are, and I’m going to give you some policy recommendations and some strategies to go along with that policy to deal with the ones we should be dealing with, because Mr. President, we are no longer the new Rome. Our power has dissipated majorly. We’ve gone from having in 1945 51% of the world’s gross domestic product to having about 21% today. That alone is a humongous diminishment in power. We have $21 plus trillion of debt. That’s about $24,000 for every American coming down the road. We have a $5.6 trillion debt to the last 16 years of war. We have an interest payment on that debt now that is bigger every year than our defense budget, which is far too big too, and I’ll get back to you on that, Mr. President, because I’ve got ways to cut that majorly, maybe $1 trillion over the next 10 years. By the way, Mr. President, knock out all that nuclear crap.”
When I got through with that substantive overbrush, if you will, conversation and the president said, “Come back and give me some specifics,” I’d be happy to.
PAUL JAY: Who are, in your opinion, the real enemies, and why define them as enemies?
LARRY WILKERSON: There’s one big one. There’s one humongous one, and I wouldn’t describe it as an enemy. I would say, “Mr. President, do you know about the Thucydides trap, the thing Graham Allison talks about all the time? Do you know about how rising powers and great powers are inevitably going to fight one another? We need to stop that from happening.” I’m not telling you we’re going to stop China from ultimately replacing us as the number one economic power, but I’m going to acquaint you a little bit with Chinese ideology.
I’m going to acquaint you with a little bit of what the Chinese believe and what was just exemplified by the 19th Party Congress, with President Xi Jinping. The Chinese believe that you go through these cycles. You come to an apogee of power, and wealth, and influence, and then you collapse, and then you rise slowly back up again, and you do the same thing again. Xi Jinping knows that China is coming to that apogee. It’s not imminent, but it’s going to happen in the next 20 to 25 years. In other words, China’s going to replace the United States in almost every parameter of state power, if global climate change doesn’t kill us all first.
Xi Jinping is going to be very careful about how he approaches that apogee, that zenith. The Chinese are going to be very careful. They’re going to deal with that in economic and financial terms, and they are going to rue dealing with it in hard military power terms. The United States needs to be smart, and to take advantage of that, amplify that, help China do that. At the same time, we step down from some of our global responsibilities and convince the Chinese that they ought to help us manage them so it’s a little more equitable situation in terms of power. We bring other countries who are what I would call peer powers, and I would include Brazil, and India, and Russia, and Japan, and maybe a unified Korea even, because I have a plan for that too, into this game.
We’d all be managing power in the world a little bit better, a multi-power world if you will, and we’d all be focusing on what we’ve all got to focus on. Are we even going to be here? That’s global climate change, which by the end of this century or earlier, and the things I’m hearing right now from scientists scare me to death that it’s going to be much earlier. It’s going to be in my grandkids’ and my kids’ lifetime. We’re going to see sea rise. We’re going to see hurricanes. We’re going to see earthquakes. We’re going to see all manner of things, flood out of proportion to anything we’ve ever seen before, that are going to tackle all our resources, all our talents, all our competencies, in a way that will put us to shame if we’re engaged in these otherwise internecine wars and battles and so forth, because we’re going to lose this Earth. We’re going to lose this planet.
By the way, the planet isn’t going to give a damn. The planet threw the dinosaurs off without any concern whatsoever. The planet will throw the human race off without any concerns whatsoever. We have a responsibility to our grandchildren, their grandchildren, and so forth to do a better job of that, and it’s going to come to haunt us in a year or two, if not sooner in some respects.
PAUL JAY: It seems to me that 2020 elections are rather critical.
LARRY WILKERSON: They are.
PAUL JAY: I don’t think you get a rational foreign policy … By rational, I mean rational in the interest of the majority of people, not rational in the interest of the people who make money out of-
LARRY WILKERSON: Did you-
PAUL JAY: Just one sec. Who make money out of this. Whether it’s a question of war and peace, or whether it’s a question of the climate change, if we don’t undermine, break up, take out the political and economic power of arms and fossil fuel, you can’t get to those kind of policies.
LARRY WILKERSON: No, I agree with you. I’m just as frightened of the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the potential use of nuclear weapons that leads to an escalation of that use as I am of climate change, and on a shorter-term basis.
PAUL JAY: All right. Thanks for doing this, Larry. Let’s do it again in a few weeks, and we’ll focus a little bit more again on what a foreign policy that’s actually in the interests of the majority of people looks like. Thanks very much, Larry.
LARRY WILKERSON: Okay. Take care.
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