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Is Biden Risking War by Pushing Taiwan Independence? - Larry Wilkerson

With Biden increasingly treating Taiwan as an independent country, is he provoking a military response from China that could go nuclear? Larry Wilkerson joins Paul Jay on theAnalysis.news

TRANSCRIPT:

Paul Jay

Welcome back to theAnalysis.news. This is a continuation of my conversation with Larry Wilkerson. As the year ends, please don’t forget the donation button. If you haven’t and you’re watching, and you want to donate, that’d be great. In the U.S., we are a 501 (c)(3). You can share, subscribe, and all that stuff. We’ll be back in just a few seconds with Larry. 

President Biden recently held his democracy conference, or whatever it was called. Something like that. Where he invited a whole bunch of countries that under their definitions, the White House definitions, are democracies. Of course, a lot of questions can be raised about who got invited. But that being said, one of the quote-unquote invitees— I was about to say countries except they’re not, was Taiwan. What business did Taiwan have to be there? Yeah, they have elections and so on. Still, even according to U.S. law and U.S. diplomacy, Taiwan is supposedly part of One-China, so what is it doing at a conference of countries other than to raise the level of tension with China? 

Now joining us again to discuss the situation in China and Taiwan is Larry Wilkerson, who’s a retired professor. He used to be Chief of Staff to Colin Powell at the State Department, and he’s a good friend and regular on theAnalysis. Thanks for joining us again, Larry.

Lawrence Wilkerson

Good to be with you, Paul.

Paul Jay

So, this invitation is not a one-off. They’ve been making other moves in some of the UN [United Nations] agencies. They’re talking about increasing even more arms sales to Taiwan. They’re getting closer and closer to essentially crossing a line that clearly is a line that will be the most provocative thing the United States could do with China, which comes very close to recognizing Taiwan as an independent entity. I mean, in many respects, they actually really do have short of a formal declaration of independence, and it almost seems like they’re heading in that direction. This is [Donald] Trump-esque in its level of provocation. What’s going on with [Joe] Biden?

Lawrence Wilkerson

I would say it’s [George W.] Bush-esque, as in George W., and Richard Cheney-esque, and Donald Rumsfeld-esque. They started it when Chen Shui-bian was the President of Taiwan and wanted to hold a referendum for independence and came very close to doing it with the strong encouragement of Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. 

So, it’s not something new. The newness of it is perhaps the fact that China has progressed, and when I say they’ve progressed, they’re much more powerful today than they were in 2002 or 2003. Powerful in the sense that, for example, what Bill Clinton did by putting a carrier in the Taiwan Strait would never happen today. No North American sailor is going to take a carrier into the Taiwan Strait. It’s too provocative, and it might be provocative to the point where it wound up in Davy Jones’s locker. So, the situation has really changed in that sense, but in the sense of stupidity, crassness, and very poor diplomacy. The United States seems intent on topping the world again, and again, and again. Taiwan is just another example.

Now, I was there for a lot of the early shenanigans, if you will, over Taiwan. I was a Pacific Commander under [William J.] Bill Crowe, then I was under [Ronald] Ron Hayes, and then I was, of course, under Powell when he was Chairman. Yes, every now and then, we have to assert ourselves a bit and do this or do that, and that shows that we’re still hanging around holding Taiwan’s coat. You could say that this invitation to the Democratic Convention, or whatever, the credentials I would question at that convention are America’s.

Paul Jay

Yeah, right.

Lawrence Wilkerson

Incidentally. Some of my colleagues from around the world sent me emails to that effect, too. How dare you even hold a conference on democracy? Looking at the 6th of January, are you? But anyway, you have to do these sorts of things, and China does them from time to time, too, on the other side of the scales in order to let the other side know you’re still alive and you still care. But you don’t do it provocatively. You don’t do it the way Donald Rumsfeld did. 

For example, he tried to send himself to Taipei to talk with his counterpart in Taipei. That was on the burner until Powell killed it. So, I don’t have a problem with that. What I have a problem with is doing it inexpertly, doing it constantly, and taking it well beyond the art of the deal, which is what we have with China. We have this tacit bargain that China recognizes Taiwan as part of China, and we recognize Taiwan as something if it’s made part of China by force, we’ll fight over. That’s the tacit bargain, it’s worked for so long, and it’s just really stupid to cast it aside without anything to put in its place except bellicosity that’s going to be rewarded with a massive defeat in the first confrontation.

Paul Jay

Defeat for the United States?

Lawrence Wilkerson

The United States.

Paul Jay

Well, the United States can’t accept a defeat over Taiwan.

Lawrence Wilkerson

No, it won’t.

Paul Jay

So then what? 

Lawrence Wilkerson

It will go nuclear. It will up the ante and go nuclear.

Paul Jay

Which in 1958— people have seen my interview with [Daniel] Ellsberg about this. Ellsberg has this still-classified document that he’s waving around, challenging someone to come charge him for talking about it publicly. So far, they haven’t. But in it, there’s this conversation, and I believe it’s minutes of a meeting between the Joint Chiefs. The document is from 1964 and was commissioned by [Robert] McNamara. It is about what happened in the crisis in 1958 over Taiwan. One of the Generals, essentially, they say to each other a nuclear war would be better than losing prestige and strategic positioning in Asia.

Lawrence Wilkerson

Yeah.

Paul Jay

And that logic, I guess it’s still their logic.

Lawrence Wilkerson

It was still there with Walt Rostow, McGeorge Bundy, and the group around LBJ [Lyndon B. Johnson]. McGeorge Bundy kept using the word prestige, which Dean Acheson called the shadow of power. I kind of like Dean’s approach to it better than Bundy’s, but Bundy’s idea was, okay, 59,000 Americans dead? That’s all right because we fought for prestige. This is a very dangerous concept.

Paul Jay

Yeah. Curtis LeMay used to say, “Well, to defend our prestige, even 10 or 20 million dead Americans wasn’t too many,” and of course, he was grossly underestimating. The other thing to defend American prestige back in Curtis LeMay’s day, it was okay to wipe out Europe because maybe the Russians or the Soviets couldn’t reach more than 20 million Americans. Still, they could have essentially wiped out the whole of Western Europe. The whole of American prestige is more important than that.

Lawrence Wilkerson

I think it was Bertrand Russell in a sort of Oscar Wilde moment who said, “Prestige doesn’t keep you very warm in the grave.”

Paul Jay

Well, then how much of this artifact, about prestige and all that, has internalized the identity of these cold warriors. I believe it must be a large part of that, but underlying it is these tensions just make so much damn money. We talked about this in our other interview about Ukraine. Still, the military-industrial complex in the United States, and I have to say the military-industrial complex in China, are both doing very well out of all this.

Lawrence Wilkerson

Yes, and that’s one of the scary things about recent developments. I was in China in 2009 for a Petroleum disruption exercise, which was quite a good simulation. We had lots of countries there, and I was amazed at how the Foreign Ministry, which was, you know, there were intel people there too, but it was mostly Foreign Ministry people. I was amazed at how they sort of stood back from the military, not in the sense of all, but in the sense of dullards. 

We really are the people who run this country. That’s changed now, and it’s reflected in so many things. Even in the writing, the novels that sneak out of China from time to time. The military is triumphant now, and they’ve taken the people along with them. It’s almost like what Powell did with the first Gulf War. He renewed America’s love affair with the military. After Vietnam, the love affair really soured, and I’m not sure it was ever a love affair. It had to be after World War II to a certain extent, and it’s built up now to where it just got all out of hand.

I’m very happy to see recent polling showing that the American people find the military slipping a bit, in their estimation. Still in the 70s, but it was in the 75,78, 79, 80 range. It’s slipping a little bit now. Afghanistan, no doubt, did some damage to it. It should have done a lot of damage to it. Braindead people in Afghanistan for 20 years, but it’s scary with China because the Politburo now has its own deal, its own problem, its own challenge, and you got to satiate these people. You got to give them what they want from time to time. And from time to time, you probably got to give them war. This is scary. This is very scary because as Mao [Zedong] used to say, hey, we got— at that time, almost a billion people. Now they’ve got 1.4, 1.5 billion people. We can take a lot of casualties.

Paul Jay

You get a chance to talk to a lot of members of Congress, present and former military. When you listen to the language coming out of much of the Democratic Party, pretty much all the Republican Party, it’s at the level— I mean, the anti-China language—

Lawrence Wilkerson

Jack Reed scared me to death.

Paul Jay

—it’s at the level when it was worst, during the 1950s Cold War Anti-Soviet stuff. If anything, it’s actually at a higher level. Do they actually believe this stuff? I mean, it’s ridiculous.

Lawrence Wilkerson

Seven hundred and 68 billion dollars, Paul. And Jack Reed was cheering it right along. Seven hundred and 68 billion dollars. That’s about 100 billion dollars of pure pollution. Pure pollution. It gets in their brains and waters them. 

Just look at what they’re doing right now with this business of the vaccinations. Now, they’re saying they’re going to force 50,000 plus sailors, soldiers, airmen, and marines out for refusing vaccinations. They’re going to force them out, and Congress said in the language of the NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act] about this now. This year’s budget language says they’ve got to give them honourable discharges. Well, this is because they don’t want them to flock straight away to Trump’s legions. They don’t want a January 6th repeat to be fueled by 50,000 ready soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines.

Paul Jay

Let’s have a whole other conversation about that because I want to get back to China.

Lawrence Wilkerson

Well, it’s all about China, too, because how are we going to fight China, Paul? This bellicose rhetoric and everything. How is this country going to fight China? There’s only one way… nuclear weapons.

Paul Jay

How do you explain people who are in the Democratic Party, who are relatively progressive on most issues, and have all the virulent anti-China rhetoric as any Republican, do they believe this stuff? Or they’re doing it because they don’t want to be critiqued for being weak on China or—

Lawrence Wilkerson

Bingo.

Paul Jay

What the hell is it?

Lawrence Wilkerson

I think that’s the principal reason. That’s the principal reason. When I had an hour-long conversation with Reed, we started out talking about—

Paul Jay

So, tell people who Reed is.

Lawrence Wilkerson

Jack Reed’s the West Point graduate, long-serving Senator now from Rhode Island. And Jack is a Democrat, and he’s from Rhode Island. Yet I didn’t meet anyone over there who was more adamant about the defence budget and it having to go up rather than down, flat, or whatever. We’re now giving the military more money than we’ve given them in any single year since the peak of World War II. More than Ronald Reagan’s 1980 build-up, the early ’80s build-up. More than the Vietnam War, more than the Korean War, and what have they done lately? Lost, lost, lost, lost. Now part of that is the stupid wars the civilian leadership sent them on, but they went willingly and said, can do, can do, can do. Send me some more troops and some more money, and I can do it even more.

Paul Jay

Yeah, but you’re missing one very important and glorious victory for the American military.

Lawrence Wilkerson

Do you mean the First Gulf War?

Paul Jay

Grenada.

Lawrence Wilkerson

Oh, Grenada. I don’t even top that.

Paul Jay

They were able to actually change the government there. I think that’s the actual one-use of military power that quote-unquote worked.

Lawrence Wilkerson

But it is the use that was studied hard because it was such incompetence, and it produced Goldwater Nichols, the 1985, ’86 DOD [Department of Defense] Reorganization Act because it was so poorly done. It was the feeble enemy that made us victorious, but the first Gulf War was a victory. It was a victory.

Paul Jay

Go back to Reed again.

Lawrence Wilkerson

Well, I think—

Paul Jay

Why does he think China is such a problem? Or does he just, you know, he wants his piece of the military budget.

Lawrence Wilkerson

I think that’s it. I think you’ve got to have your piece of the military budget. You’ve got to show bona fides in national security. It’s not a traditional strong point of the Democrats, which is stupid. Harry Truman was a Democrat, but that’s part of it. And part of it is, I think, and I don’t know if this is true with Jack. I’d have to go back and look at the chart. Bill [William D.] Hartung sent me a chart recently that shows all the money, exactly whom it came from, and to whom it went. Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, and all those people in the center are represented and getting it on the receiving end. I don’t know if he’s heavy into that, but it’s a combination of all these things. That you don’t think you can get re-elected unless you are strong on defence, you are getting money in your packs from defence contractors, you genuinely feel like America’s losing its way, and China is the reason. All of these things combined. I think for Jack, it’s not just purely the complex, giving him money or whatever. As it is, I think, for some of the more crass members, like the guy from Oklahoma who brought a snowball into the Senate to disprove climate change.

Paul Jay

I was watching an interview, David Frum, the right-wing now pundit or whatever the hell he was, but he actually was one of Bush’s speechwriters. He’s credited with the “Axis of Evil” line. I’m not sure it was his, but he gets credit for it. But certainly, he was a hardcore neo-con. I don’t know exactly what he is now.

Lawrence Wilkerson

David was a member of the group that I belong to called the Transition Integrity Project. He was one of the guys in there that was helping us plan for the worst in the 2020 elections. I think he’s seen a little light since the Bush administration.

Paul Jay

He was interviewing another big neo-con a few months ago, and I should get this guy’s name because I can’t remember, but he’s a very senior—one of the big neo-con brains. He was talking about how terrible the strategy is in terms of dealing with China. Not that he didn’t want a hostile strategy towards China. He just thought the current strategy was pretty bad. He talked about how aircraft carriers are actually totally useless because both the Chinese and the Russians can knock out an aircraft carrier with ease. Yet, they’re building, I think, something like 12 or 13 new Ford-class aircraft carriers at about 14 to 15 billion each.

Lawrence Wilkerson

Which makes no sense.

Paul Jay

Which makes no sense, but everybody in on it is so conscious.

Lawrence Wilkerson

A lot of people get money out of it, yeah.

Paul Jay

And everyone in on it knows it’s bullshit.

Lawrence Wilkerson

If you’re going to hit someone like Syria or you’re going to hit someone like Iran or some country that doesn’t have a really formidable military, [inaudible 00:18:14] you sail right up with that carrier and pound them. But if you’re going to hit Russia, or you’re going to hit China with sometimes double and even triple sea-skimming hyper missiles, high altitude low altitude missiles, 65-centimetre wake homing torpedoes, diesel submarines, nuclear submarines. If you’re going to hit somebody like that, your aircraft carrier is no good at all. In fact, it’s a sailing tomb.

Paul Jay

And if you do want to sail it right up to the border of a country that doesn’t have the ability to knock out your aircraft carrier, you don’t need a 14-billion-dollar Ford-class carrier. What you got is plenty. You don’t need anything new.

Lawrence Wilkerson

You could put a marine amphibious ready group on the shore, push it in a little bit, build an airfield, and fly off the airfield.

Paul Jay

Such a scam. I just hope we can get workers and others who are buying this defence of American freedom— it’s all national security, how much they’re being scammed by all of this.

Lawrence Wilkerson

It’s a terrible scam on the American people because they think they’re getting security, and they’re not. Just look around you and see what’s tearing you up. Covid-19. Just look around you and see what really bled you dry for the last 20 years. Stupid wars in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and a whole bunch of other places I can’t mention. That’s what’s tearing you up. What is an aircraft carrier going to do to Covid-19?

Paul Jay

Spread it.

Lawrence Wilkerson

Yeah.

Paul Jay

Talk about super-spreading events. They probably aren’t letting us know just how bad it may be on some of these subs and aircraft carriers.

Lawrence Wilkerson

We had a little brouhaha there for a while, but it seems to have subsided now. I’m assuming that with respect to the Navy, I’m assuming that they’re really pushing the vaccinated troops hard, really hard in order to try and keep from breaking out again.

Paul Jay

Right. So, we look ahead to 2021. Biden is so weak. If he ever had any intention of a better foreign policy, the Democrats, and I don’t know that he actually does or did but let’s say there are some people in the Democratic Party that would like a saner foreign policy. We’re looking now at a likelihood that the Republicans might be in charge of the Senate, the House. So, it’s like a perfect storm, and I don’t, you know, talking about a perfect storm for the Democrats. It’s a perfect storm for the world.

Lawrence Wilkerson

It is. 

Paul Jay

We’re both on the military side, and you get climate deniers controlling. All they need is one House. Never mind both. Two if they had the presidency. Jesus, it’s a bloody scary situation.

Lawrence Wilkerson

And you have there— because I’m relatively familiar with the way the Chinese think, having been in the Central party school. And in that Petroleum simulation, we actually had the person who was really running the school at that time. It had been Hu Jintao, and he’d been elevated to be President— at dinner a number of times and talking with them. 

So, I think I know a little bit about how they think about matters like this. And the Russians, I think I’ve got some insight into it. Not like Jack Matlock, but I do have some, and I’ve got to tell you, they’re not stupid, and they have superb intelligence. So, they’re sitting back. We’re going to kill ourselves, Paul. They don’t want a war with us. Neither China nor Russia wants a war with us. We’re killing ourselves. We’re destroying our own democracy. We’re doing it the exact way [Abraham] Lincoln predicted we’d do it. If we ever did it, we’re killing ourselves. If I were Beijing or Moscow, I wouldn’t want to— I’ve exacerbated as much as I could like they are doing, but I wouldn’t want to open the door because that might revive us.

Paul Jay

Well, it’s pretty stupid on their part to exacerbate it as well because—

Lawrence Wilkerson

I agree.

Paul Jay

—it’s going to be chaos for everybody, mostly on the climate side.

Lawrence Wilkerson

Yes, and there you put your finger on the big issue. If we don’t cooperate, at least minimally cooperate, in order to meet this train wreck— it’s not a train wreck. It’s a colossal disaster threatening the existence of the human race, not the planet. The planet will get older and go right on. Develop some new form of sentient life, maybe, but it will get rid of us. If we don’t do something together to do something imperative about that. Not just adaptive. Don’t just build sea walls and retreat to the inner parts of our countries and so forth but do something that ameliorates the situation. That is, stop burning fossil fuels, primarily. We’re toast anyway. People have got to get that through their heads. They watch these 200 tornadoes rip through Kentucky and Tennessee, and it’s like, the news goes out and says, whoa, let’s interview these people and everything. You see these heartrending stories on the television, and that’s good for the media to do that, especially local media, but who’s out there saying, wow, I wonder if this has anything to do with the changing climate? Yes, and guess what? It’s going to get a lot worse.

Paul Jay

All right. Thanks for joining us, Larry.

Lawrence Wilkerson

Thanks for having me, Paul.

Paul Jay

And thank you for joining us on theAnalysis.news. Please don’t forget that if you can donate by the end of the year, that’d be great. You get a tax receipt in the United States. Subscribe, share, and push what we’re doing out there. As I’ve mentioned before, YouTube seems to be doing everything they can to suppress what we’re doing, but you can go to the website at theAnalysis.news and let people know about it. Thanks again. 

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2 Comments

  1. Larry Wilkerson “Neither China or Russia wants a war with us, we are killing ourselves. We are destroying our democracy. We are doing it the exact way Lincoln said we would do it.” – Powerful

    Mr. Wilkerson comments on fossil fuels are also powerful. Great Interview Paul Jay, thank you.

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