Lawrence Wilkerson on the 70 Years Old and Counting US National Security State

by | Oct 8, 2015

On occasion a college professor answers an interview question in such a way that it creates in some listeners a sudden, if fleeting, urge to drop everything, move across the country, and sign up for a course. College of William & Mary Professor Lawrence Wilkerson, whose background includes being a colonel in the United States Army and chief of staff for former Secretary of State Colin Powell, provided such an answer at the end of a 12-minute interview on RT this week.

In his answer, Wilkerson, who is a Ron Paul Institute Academic Board member, provides an introduction to the 70 years-in-building US national security state that makes US foreign policy very focused on militarism. It certainly would be interesting to see this introduction fleshed out over a semester in a college course.

Here is the exchange between host Tyrel Ventura and Wilkerson regarding the national security state:

Ventura: Now — it’s interesting — you’ve been an insider in Washington, so I’ve got to ask. From an outsider’s perspective, it feels like, regardless of the president or the party in charge of Congress, that our basic approach to foreign policy doesn’t really change, especially regarding the military and its use overseas. I think many would say that [US President Barack] Obama essentially, in a way, continued the Cheney-Rumsfeld kind of doctrine, maybe even escalated it in certain areas like drone use. Do you agree with that perspective? And is there not really a change regardless of the party in power.

Wilkerson: I agree with that perspective for a number of reasons. And I teach this, so bear with me for an academic discussion. Ever since the 1947 National Security Act, the United States has been in a state-building effort, the purpose of which is to create a national security state. What that means in short is: The reason for the state’s existence is to use the military.

There are all kinds of pernicious influences that make this the case in this country now —everything from the military-industrial complex to the penchant for decision making inside the White House minus the Cabinet, minus diplomacy, minus economics, minus finance, minus trade. Everything turns to the hard power, to the military.

Any president of any type, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Donald Trump — God forbid, any president is going to be immediately captured by this apparatus that we’ve been building since 1945. And it’s very difficult to break out of this apparatus, particularly if you don’t have much experience with a bureaucracy and you have to trust people like John Brennan at the CIA and others who are going to tell you what they want you to hear, not necessarily what’s true. They tell you what’s conducive to this state-building effort, to maintaining this national security state — not what’s necessary for US national security interests necessarily.

So this is a very dangerous situation for our republic, an extremely dangerous situation. If we don’t have someone soon inside that Oval Office to do something about this, or the American people to do something about this (and I think the latter is probably a better case than having someone in the Oval), we’re going to be in real trouble — real trouble. If nothing else, we are going to bankrupt ourselves.

The complete interview, in which Wilkerson also discusses the ongoing fighting in Syria and the Iran nuclear deal, may be watched starting at time marker 13:50 here:


  • Adam Dick

    Adam worked from 2003 through 2013 as a legislative aide for Rep. Ron Paul. Previously, he was a member of the Wisconsin State Board of Elections, a co-manager of Ed Thompson's 2002 Wisconsin governor campaign, and a lawyer in New York and Connecticut.

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