In yesterday’s article Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell, defended Hillary Clinton’s record as Senator and as Secretary of State. In the continuation of that interview, he expands on the root causes for the firestorm of conflicts across the Middle East.
Both President Obama and Secretary Clinton have been blamed for many of the conflicts. When asked about ISIS, Benghazi, Syria and Libya, he began by describing the root causes.
“The most disastrous strategic decision the United States has made in the post-World War II era was not Vietnam, that was bad enough, but invading Iraq was worse,” Wilkerson said. “Iraq is going to have continuing ramifications we will have to deal with for another 30 years. We unleashed when we invaded Iraq the very forces that are now manifesting themselves in ISIS, the Al-Nusra Front and the re-empowerment of Al Qaeda in places like Afghanistan and Yemen.”
“We did all that, we did it,” he continued. “George W. Bush and Dick Cheney hold the major responsibility for that. The idea that President Obama’s desire to extract us from that morass contributed to it is nonsense, it’s laughable. He (President Obama) wanted to get us out (of Iraq) and the military supported him in that. If we would have stayed even with minor forces, there is absolutely no guarantee that the Iraqi armed forces would have been any better than they were when ISIS struck. In fact, we failed in training Iraqi forces year after year. There was no Iraqi military when we left, it was a façade. The fact that it fell apart when we left … anyone could have told you it would fall apart when we left.”
Republicans have spent $7 million of taxpayer money investigating Benghazi. They have blamed Hillary Clinton for this unfortunate attack and the death of our Ambassador Chris Stevens. Have the Republicans’ Benghazi attacks on Clinton and the State Department been justified?
“In most cases there wasn’t any substance to the charges and Benghazi leaps out at me because I know what happened in Benghazi,” Wilkerson explains. “I know who was responsible for what happened and it had absolutely nothing to do with the State Department. To say the State Department had responsibility for a CIA operation gone bad, that’s nonsense. If anybody was at fault, it was ambassador Chris Stevens. But I understand that, he was a brave and courageous man, he was a good ambassador and he wanted to go see what the CIA was doing and he got caught in the repercussions of that and was killed. Yet my party tried endlessly, with congressional hearings and everything else, to blame her (Clinton) for that.”
Immediately following the Benghazi attack there was a great deal of confusion about who or what group was responsible for the attack. Initially, Susan Rice, the National Security Advisor, said it resulted from protests emanating from an anti-Muslim video circulating in the Middle East. Several days later it was revealed this attack on Benghazi wasn’t related to the video and the confusion arose as a result of the fog-of-war. Wilkerson addressed the confusion that created many of the doubts about this attack.
“You don’t ever go to the American people until you have enough information to think that what you are telling them is right,” Wilkerson said. “If you have to delay so be it. Unfortunately, in this case Susan Rice and Samantha Power, U.S. United Nations Ambassador and others, probably should have waited a little longer before they went out and talked.”
The Obama Administration defends the Libyan invasion saying that the French and British asked the US to aid them. Wilkerson provided some important background on Libya.
“I really do have issues with Clinton in regard to Libya. It startled us, (we asked) why are we doing this?” he said. “It was all about this new doctrine, the responsibility to protect … anytime you see anything bordering on genocide or even looking like genocide, you have a responsibility to stop it. That was a large part of the persuasive factor when the French, British and others said come with us, NATO. The French, British and the United States … didn’t think far enough ahead … I would have been more circumspect about how much I did in regard to that (invading Libya).”
There’s a great deal of speculation about Trump’s connection to Russia. Wilkerson expressed his concern.
“I think some of Trump’s staff left the campaign because of their ties to Russia,” he noted. “I think if he were to reveal everything we might find ties to Russia. Is he in complicity with the Russian hackers that are aimed at the Democratic National Committee? I wouldn’t put it past him.”
Wilkerson ended the interview by commenting on Hillary Clinton’s description of Trump supporters as deplorable.
“I wish Clinton wouldn’t have withdrawn it, because she’s right, there are 20% or more in Trump’s base that are deplorable. They’re the kind of people that want the rapture to come, the earth to end, people that want to take over the armed forces for God. They are deplorable people.”
by Rick Smith