Mondoweiss / September 22, 2021
Retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson is the former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell who emerged as a leading critic of the neoconservatives. In remarks to Mass Peace Action last June, he made some bracing assertions about Israel that I just saw the other day:
- Israel won’t exist as a state in 20 years because it is delegitimizing itself as an apartheid state.
- Israel is a “strategic liability of the first order” for the United States and is “the most likely state in the world to take the United States to Armageddon.”
- The U.S. ought to tell Israel now to “change swiftly” or it will cease to fund and protect Israel, but the U.S. will not do so.
- The neoconservative agenda in the Middle East was “to set the Levant on fire, to keep Israel’s enemies so at one anothers’ throats” that they could not give Israel trouble.
Wilkerson is a fellow at the Quincy Institute and teaches at the College of William and Mary.
On Israel being a strategic liability and disappearing within 20 years:
Israel is probably a strategic liability of the first order for the United States. I’m hoping that getting rid of Netanyahu and at the same time getting rid of Kushner and Pompeo and Trump will alleviate the situation to the extent that we will get a government in Israel maybe that will see how dangerous its future is.
I said the other day Israel would not be a state in 20 years, it would be gone. It certainly will not be a democracy. It will be an apartheid state and the world will just reject it as they did South Africa. I’m now saying it won’t be a state, it will be gone.
Go back and read the report of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when Truman was trying to decide whether to recognize Israel in 1947-48 and what to do about U.S. policy. Completely No came from the Joints of Chiefs of Staff, based on the fact that there were 400 some odd million Arabs and about that time 3 million Israelis and other things too.
God, how prescient that report was. Well, it has come true. They are a strategic liability now. The only strategic positive with regard to Israel is our relationship. That is to say, there are a lot of American Jews and there are a lot of connections with Israel. That’s the only positive aspect to our relationship, everything else is negative.”
Taking the U.S. to Armageddon:
“And if you want to go the full Monty, you could say Israel is the most likely state in the world to take the United States to Armageddon. I could paint you all sorts of ways we can do that and the ways we could get there.
One would be the fact that For 40 plus years the military said don’t ever tell use to put a base in Israel. Don’t ever tell us that, we will not comply. Well we just put a bae in Israel. There is a base in Israel flying the Stars and Stripes now. In for a penny, in for a pound. Hezbollah shoots a rocket and hits that base– guess what, the United States is with Israel when it goes to war with all those Arabs and maybe half the world combined. Not a good deal. Not a good deal!”
We need to rein Israel in, but we won’t.
“Yes, Israel needs to be reined in and it needs to be told in no uncertain terms that you will change and you will change swiftly and effectively or you can count your sugar daddy gone. Its’ not going to happen. Not going to happen.”
Here’s the bit about the plans of the neoconservatives. Brian Garvey of Mass Peace Action asked Wilkerson about Joshua Landis’s statement that U.S. policy in Syria was “to create a quagmire for Russia and Iran.” Wilkerson responded:
“I think it’s worse even than what you intimated he said. I think the plan of the neoconservatives in this country joined by people like Richard Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and others was to set the Levant on fire, to keep Israel’s enemies so at one anothers’ throats whether it were Arab-Persian or Arab-Arab or whatever, that that would insure that they could not coalesce, and come together, combine, and give Israel trouble militarily or otherwise. I think that was their whole plan. I’m not saying that everyone was motivated by that purpose. There were other purposes, for example, that motivated the invasion of Iraq.
I saw plans in the Pentagon for continuing beyond Iraq. They thought Iraq would be over in 55 days or less. Syria was next. And then whoever happened to be the propitious target of opportunity was next. It could be Iran, it could be Lebanon, it could be Egypt. It could be anybody in the Levant. As long as it kept the place afire and therefore protected Israel.”
Some of that agenda was laid out in three neocons’ policy recommendations to Netanyahu in 1996.
Philip Weiss is senior editor of Mondoweiss.net and founded the site in 2005-2006