NORMAN — Mincing no words, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson said, “We’re going to war.”
And that war, Wilkerson told a group at the University of Oklahoma on Wednesday, will be with Iran. At least that is the current path the nation is on as long as we refuse to engage in serious diplomatic exchanges with that powerful Islamic republic.
“The president has said it is unacceptable that Iran have a nuclear capability. He has said all options are on the table. That includes the military option. He has said he is pursuing the diplomatic track, and that is true. But the diplomatic track is sanctions. Sanctions. Sanctions, pure and simple.”
And sanctions, Wilkerson said, won’t work in the long run.
“If we’re not willing to negotiate, where does that leave us? It leaves us with bombing … we’re going to go to war. We’re going to drop bombs, and those bombs aren’t going to do anything but force the Iranian people to be more cohesive and force them to support their draconian government and force them to make a decision about making a nuclear weapon. They’ll go underground and they’ll do it.”
And if that is the path that is taken, he predicts they will do it in two to five years.
Wilkerson, a vocal critic of the corporate takeover of the government and wars that are waged to line the pockets of Big Oil and others, spoke to the group at a luncheon as part of a lecture series on U.S./Iran relations that is being hosted by the University of Oklahoma’s College of International Studies and the OU Iranian Studies Program.
Wilkerson, who served as U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff during the first George W. Bush administration, was the man who infamously provided Powell with the information that he presented to the United Nations Security Council in 2003 that ultimately led to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Wilkerson has since renounced his role in that debacle and has since been speaking and lecturing about the plutocrats and “military industrial congressional complex” that has taken over U.S. government and led to the recent wars this nation has been engaged in, much of them based on a need to control energy supplies.
“I’m not opposed to oil and I’m not opposed to gas and I’m not opposed to energy,” Wilkerson said. “But I am opposed to young Americans having to die for ill-advised actions that essentially are designed to do something about that, that could be done economically, financially, diplomatically, politically or otherwise and not with boots on the ground and not with boys and girls dying.”
Wilkerson asked rhetorically and who is doing the dying. Less than 1 percent of the population. And with the recent approval of women serving in the front lines, Wilkerson explained that the real reason is not an interest in “egalitarian instincts,” it is that the armed forces “can’t recruit enough men.”
As a result, the armed forces are strained to the limit and the top brass are looking at all options to keep warm bodies in their ranks as long as the U.S. government continues to engage our military in foreign wars — as we are with the ongoing “War on Terror.”
He said “women make the best soldiers.” Women come in way ahead of men on every level.
“But is that the way the country should be going? For those reasons?” he said.
The U.S. military is worn out, he said, and without a draft, their ranks will continue to be stretched to the limit.
“Thirteen years of war,” he said, “War that in most soldiers’, sailors’, Marines’ and Airmen’s eyes has led to almost no success ….” he said. “It will give you post-traumatic stress disorder. It will push suicide rates in the Army and Marine Corps to historical levels — levels we’ve never seen before.”
And now with the prospect of an attack on Iran, morale will likely worsen and the casualties will likely be far worse than what was witnessed during the Iraq War of 2003-2011.
Wilkerson said our interference and meddling with Iran goes as far back as 1953 when the CIA, led by Kermit Roosevelt Jr., and the British MI6, led a coup — Operation Ajax — to depose the democratically elected prime minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, thereby installing the “tyrannical” Shah, who was a dictator but brought stability to the region.
“One could argue forever if that was a good bargain,” Wilkerson quipped.
And since those days, U.S. relations have been strained and, at the present, are at an all-time low as that nation threatens to build up a nuclear program.
And while prior wars, Wilkerson said, had more to do with control of energy production than an actual threat to the U.S., the situation in Iran has to do with protecting our ally Israel, “hegemony in the region” and what nation will we support in that region — Saudi Arabia? Iran “and the mad mullahs”? or Israel?
Ultimately, the reasons for our concern about Iran are mixed, he said.
“It has nothing to do with a nuclear weapon,” he said. “It’s all about power. It’s all about power in the Gulf” and keeping the Strait of Hormuz open.
Quoting foreign policy experts who have said that a war on Iran would be “catastrophic,” Wilkerson said with a dark tone of sarcasm, “If you liked Iraq, you’ll love Iran.”