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Colonel Wilkerson: George Bush Сhose Between Invading Iraq, Iran and NKorea

© AP Photo / Jim MacMillan, File / US Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, run to a building after detonating explosives to open a gate during a mission in Ramadi in Anbar province, Iraq
US Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, run to a building after detonating explosives to open a gate during a mission in Ramadi in Anbar province, Iraq - Sputnik International
In the first episode of Radio Sputnik’s brand new show “Loud and Clear,” host Brian Becker talks to Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Chief of Staff under Colin Powell during President George Bush’s first term - and learns that back in 2003, Bush was actually debating whether to invade Iraq, Iran or North Korea. So what made him settle on Iraq?

Col. Wilkerson: Bush Was Choosing Between Wars with Iran, Iraq and N.Korea
Apparently, it was easy pickings. 

“It was a tragic mistake. It was a hoax on the American people, on the international community, and on the UN Security Council,” Wilkerson says. “Within the groupthink psychology…we drank our own Kool-Aid.”

And as the colonel notes, Iraq wasn’t necessarily the intended target — just the member of the “Axis of Evil” the administration settled for.

“Dick Cheney selected it,” Wilkerson told the host of the Radio Sputnik’s brand new show “Loud and Clear.”

“The discussions in the Pentagon, of course, once the speechwriters had given the president those magic words — the Axis of Evil — the conversation amongst the military…we were talking about which one. Is it going to be North Korea? Is it going to be Iran? Is it going to be Iraq?

“And we all smiled and looked at each other…and said we knew it was going to be Iraq because it was low hanging fruit.”

North Korea’s Nuclear Program

The colonel also questions the sour relations between the United States and North Korea. While Washington continues to accuse Pyongyang of pursuing nuclear weapons, the Bush administration may be directly responsible for North Korea’s actions, destroying nuclear agreements established by President Clinton.

“What I saw was the Congress — Republicans, primarily — destroyed the agreed framework with North Korea,” Wilkerson says. “Which came first? Our destruction of the agreed framework, and therefore North Korea's movement into a nuclear weapon? Or their movement into a nuclear weapon for which we destroyed the framework?”

This is partially explained by the Bush administration’s aversion to anything conceived by President Clinton. “What they did was make sure — and the Congress helped immensely — it didn’t deliver the heavy fuel, it didn’t provide the money for the Korean energy development organization that was building the lightwater reactors that we promised,” Wilkerson says.

“They essentially reneged on our obligations under the agreed framework.”

But the invasion of Iraq also proved to North Korean leadership that agreements with the United States couldn’t be trusted and forced Pyongyang to develop a uranium enrichment program.

“Did they have this program latent and were they ready to with it at any given time? Or did they go with this program because they realized we weren’t going to live up to our end of the bargain? History doesn’t give an answer to that yet.”

“Putting myself in Pyongyang’s shoes, I would have done the same thing,” Wilkerson says.

Innocents Lost at Guantanamo

Wilkerson is also a harsh critic of America’s secret prisons spread across the globe, including Guantanamo.

“There is, as I know, one particular individual who died in the hands of contractors working for the Central Intelligence Agency, and no one, not a soul, as far as I know, has been punished for that death,” he says. “We killed a number of people.”

“I campaigned, for the first time in my life, for a presidential candidate named Barack Obama. And I voted for him. And I well tell you that I thought his promise to do what he said he was going to do — stop torture, close Guantanamo, and so forth — I thought he was going to live up to it.”

NATO Expansion

With tensions between Washington and Moscow at an all time high, it becomes difficult to determine which side through the first stone. According to Wilkerson, the souring in US-Russia relations can be traced back to the gradual expansion of NATO.

“Why did we violate H.W. Bush’s informal coordination…over the reunification of Germany and its retention in NATO and what that would mean to Moscow?” he said. “Why did we start doing things like expanding NATO all the way to Tbilisi and ultimately to Kiev? 

“We wanted to sell Lockheed missiles, airplanes, and so forth to more and more people in the world.”

American Empire

While the US may not have the appearance of a traditional empire, Wilkerson says, comparing the United States’ current foreign policy to the British Empire, America is, nevertheless, the new Rome.

“We have military bases all over the world…They look a lot like what used to be British East India Company…and they’re all over the world.” he says. “…When you count the ones that really have a footprint, it’s over 600 [military installations].”

Even Africa, which used to lack any real US military presence, is now being overrun by American soldiers.

“Djibouti — one marine told me the other day — if we put another marine there, it might sink,” he says.

Not only does this global military only serve to advance America’s interests, but it ultimately fuels terrorist groups like Daesh, also known as ISIL/Islamic State.

“We’ve known about this [Daesh] for some time. We’ve known about it since it raised its ugly head as al-Qaeda in Iraq when we invaded,” Wilkerson says. “We created it, my God, we ought to know about it, we created it. We gave it birth.”

“There’s no way in the world you’re gonna get me to admit that John Kerry, Barack Obama, and anybody else in this administration understands how deeply complex it is, or is advocating or pursuing policies that will deal with it.”

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