WASHINGTON — Disgusted by the infamous Abu Ghraib torture photos, an assistant to the Bush administration now speaks out against the excesses of American empire.
“I knew that the United States had been involved in heinous activities,” explained retired U.S. Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, during a Dec. 11 interview with journalist Abby Martin on her TV show, “The Empire Files.”
“I never knew in any time in our history where those bad things had not only been authorized by the highest levels in the land, but encouraged by the highest levels in the land.”
In addition to his service in the military, Wilkerson was an assistant to Colin Powell, when Powell was the national security advisor during the Reagan administration. When Powell became secretary of state in the George W. Bush administration, Wilkerson served as his chief of staff until the news of the impending leak of torture photos caused a break between Wilkerson and the administration.
The ACLU is still in court seeking the release of thousands of photos of torture and other war crimes by U.S. military personnel. Under President Barack Obama, many of Bush’s policies have expanded, with the U.S. military now involved in local conflicts or stationed at bases in over 100 countries, including throughout Africa.
In his interview with Martin, Wilkerson asserted that the military-industrial complex, which President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned Americans about in his famous 1961 farewell address, sustains the U.S. economy and has permeated every facet of American government and society. “We aren’t going to correct this until something serious happens to correct the ship of state, which might also sink the ship of state,” Wilkerson warned.
“Today, the purpose of U.S. foreign policy is to support the complex in the national security state that is fueled, funded, and powered by interminable war and the ramifications thereof,” Wilkerson explained, later noting: “Capital is the driving force of the world.”
According to his analysis, corporate and commercial interests are steering the “ship of state” in the direction of unsustainable growth, which in turn requires an ever-expanding war machine. Even when military officials retire, they frequently become lobbyists or even members of the media, where they continue to promote an agenda that leads to endless war.
U.S. intelligence agencies also serve this corporate agenda, Wilkerson added, bending their reports to fit the needs of Wall Street to create more military action. As examples, he cited the falsified reports of weapons of mass destruction that led to a deadly, genocidal war in Iraq.
Similarly, Wilkerson cited the controversial, disputed reports that Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons on his own population. In his own investigation of these reports, Wilkerson personally interviewed a variety of intelligence officials, but found that none could confirm that Assad had used chemical weapons. In fact, he said, “the evidence looked more strongly for other parties than the president,” such as rebel forces.
Wilkerson told Martin that U.S. actions in Ukraine and the Middle East are driven by a proxy war between the United States and Russia, and a similar cold war-style conflict with China. The conflict in “isn’t about al-Qaida or the Taliban anymore,” he explained, but rather conflict with these other superpowers over control over resources like oil and water.
Chillingly, he added that, “The U.S. presence in Afghanistan, I will predict right now, will not go away for another half century … And it will grow.”
The former military leader argued that little short of a revolution can change the destructive growth of U.S. empire. “Empire never has enough, that’s the nature of imperial power,” he said.
Watch “’This Ship is Sinking’ Says Former Bush Official” from “The Empire Files”: