Steve Bannon Says War Begins on Nov. 3rd - a podcast with Col. Lawrence Wilkerson

Steve Bannon says only in-person voting should be counted on Nov. 3rd, and there will be a “war” to “stop Biden from stealing” the election. Larry Wilkerson says Trump’s forces are creating conditions for violence in the streets if he is defeated. AOC calls on people to get organized to defeat Trump as part of a larger battle for survival. Col. Lawrence Wilkerson joins Paul Jay on podcast.


Paul Jay

Welcome to podcast. I’m Paul Jay. And don’t forget, if you like what we do there’s a donate button on the website. We can only do this with your support.

According to Steve Bannon and other Trump allies, the pandemic was a Chinese plot to weaken America and help the Democrats and the far left steal the election from Donald Trump. The Democrats created an artificial panic, according to Bannon, about COVID, to force a mail-in ballot election. And even though Trump will win on November 3rd according to Bannon, Biden will steal the election using a massive legal team -they call it lawfare- to force the recognition of fraudulent mail-in ballots.

The Supreme Court, now controlled by the far-right with a new appointment rushed through the Senate, will support Trump’s bid to invalidate millions of mail-in ballots.

According to Bannon, November 3rd is when a bloody war will start. Here’s Bannon on the Tucker Carlson show:

Steve Bannon

“The Democratic Party has traumatized their base. They’re not going to come out to vote. And so somehow they have to concoct some effort to steal this election cause they’re not going to get people to come out and vote on game day, the 3rd of November of this year. And that’s what I’ve been working on for the last couple of months. I was never going ba- I was never going back to the campaign. And that’s where these guys messed up my platforms better now, my voice is bigger, I’ve got more resources, and all we’re focused on is to make sure that the progressive left and the corporatists cannot steal, cannot steal the election of Donald Trump. I’m more focused than ever. We’re kicking off a national tour on Monday called “The Plot to Steal 2020.” They’re not going to stop my voice in assisting President Trump and making sure that this election that he’s going to win on the third is not stolen from him.

Or here’s what’s going to happen. Donald Trump is going to win the vote on the only day that matters. That’s November 3rd. He’s going to win the real election in the way we’ve done it with secret ballots, with people going into a booth and voting for president United States, OK, by that evening, he will be the winner. And what they’re going to do is that between the lawfare they’ve got with eight hundred attorneys under Eric Holder, the mob they’ve got with Antifa and the radical elements of Black Lives Matter, but most importantly, the digital muscle of Facebook and Twitter, they’re going to sit there and they’re gonna not declare Trump the winner.

Tucker Carlson

Huh. And then maybe the real contest begins. Steve Bannon, I’m glad that you came on. Thank you very much. 

Steve Bannon

That’s when the war starts. 

I’m beginning to think that’s true.”

Paul Jay

Bannon says the death of Justice Ginsburg was, quote, “an act of providence.” God ordained this flow of events, and millions of Americans believe it so. All this while medical experts are predicting another major spike in COVID cases around the country as schools open and the weather grows colder and people stay indoors. If all this is God’s plan, he has a rather cruel sense of humor. Most of the world is watching this insanity and just shaking their heads. But if Trump and his allies are successful, it’s certainly the end of any kind of energy policy that will even start to deal with the climate crisis. AOC sent out a video calling on progressives who don’t agree with Biden to vote for him, calling it a fight for our survival.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

“We need to size up what we are up against, and what we are up against is a profoundly corrupt established network. Because this isn’t just Trump, right? Trump would not be able to do any of the things, almost any of the things that he, that he has done, if it wasn’t for an entire Republican apparatus that allows him, that defends him, and that propels him. We need everything that you can give between now and Election Day, we leave it all on the field, OK, we’ve got to leave it all on the field.

But now is not the moment for cynicism. Now is not the moment for hopelessness. Now is not the moment to give up. We do not give up. We don’t give up. And really, cynicism is not just unproductive, it’s actively harmful for our democracy. It’s an active harm for the progressive movement. It’s an active harm to the, to our democracy. It’s an act of harm for our future, because cynicism says it’s over. Cynicism says we can’t do it.

Cynicism says don’t bother trying. And if those are the sentiments coming out, then at this point you are helping every person that is trying to marginalize the rights, the economic future, and the just prosperity of people that we and that of all people that are deserving here in our country, which is everybody. Everybody is deserving of safety and prosperity and justice. So listen.

Let this moment radicalize you, let this moment, really put everything into stark focus, because this election has always been about the fight of and for our lives, and if anything, tonight is making that more clear to more people than ever before, and I’m gonna tell you, it’s going to get more and more and more clear to up until Election Day. Things are going to happen. They, they are. We have an authoritarian president. That’s what we have.

He has no regard for the dignity of human life. He has no regard for law. He has no regard for justice. He has no regard for anything unless it personally helps him, and his power, and his money, and that of the Republican establishment. That’s just what it is. It’s just what it is. So listen. On the left, there’s a huge diversity, right? And we get mad at each other, that’s the way it is because it’s incredibly frustrating.

I am, I get incredibly frustrated. You all know, I get incredibly frustrated with my own party, too. We all have our disagreements. That’s fine, because we all recognize that November, frankly, I wish it wasn’t like this, and it only serves to highlight the brokenness of our entire system, but whether we like it or not, November is about survival. November is about survival.”

Paul Jay

Now joining us to discuss what comes next in this most crazy year of 2020 is Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson. He’s a retired United States Army colonel, former Chief of Staff to the United States Secretary of State Colin Powell. Larry is a distinguished adjunct professor of government and public policy at the College of William and Mary, thanks for joining us. 

Larry Wilkerson

Good to be with you, Paul. 

Paul Jay

So the narrative coming from the Trump forces is now pretty clear, and November 3rd is when the war starts, says Bannon. They even quote at one point in this interview where Bannon was with Tucker Carlson and then on his own show that Ben hosts called the War Room, he had Rudy Giuliani on, they quote from some documents from the Transition Project, which is something you’ve been involved, with dealing with what are the possible outcomes of Trump refusing to go if he loses. What do you make of all this? 

Larry Wilkerson

Interestingly, we at the Transition Integrity Project have actually received some fairly strong threats of late once we revealed our simulation results, wargame results, is what the press has called them, and some of them being rather dire, the consequences of them associated with the 3 November elections, of course, we got their attention, and we got their attention big time. Now they’re trying to mount an opposition, if you will, that is as formidable as what we’re doing on the side of, really, bipartisan analysis. Now, the Transition Integrity Project has taken on, because of Rosa Brooks’s double-page spread in The Washington Post, a sort of partisan flavor. But we never were really partisan in the sense that we’re just trying to parse what might happen between the declared results of the election and Inauguration Day on January 20th.

And doing that, we simply ran some tabletop exercises, and let teams play Trump and Biden and so forth and so on, adjudicated the results, and came up with some, in many instances, not all, but several, some really dire results, including conflict, including people taking to the streets with their guns. And we didn’t fault either side really so much as say that the conflict would come from both sides. But we were really frightened of the conflict from the point of view of the right, as my father used to say, a lifelong Republican, the left might bankrupt you, but the right will kill you.

The right owns most of the guns. So that’s why we were so concerned about some of these results. And Bannon is picking up on that and essentially not saying, no, that’s not true. He’s ramifying it. He’s saying, bring it on, brother, and we will bring our guns to the street. And, you know, Steve Bannon has always, always wanted to destroy the United States government. He’s Trotsky. He’s the worst radical you could conceive of.

That’s his whole reason for existence now. Bannon for some reason must have been born on the wrong side of the bed, got up with a really hard, hard headache. So he wants to destroy the government and he’s using this opportunity. And I think he’s always had Trump’s ear. I don’t think he’s ever been very far out of earshot with regard to Trump. And Trump is using him opportunistically, just like he uses Giuliani and the other idiots around him.

And he’s exploiting whatever he can that each of those individuals and others like them have to offer. And it’s looking every bit like our tabletop exercises, particularly in their alternative scenarios that got a little rough. Might be true. One person said to me the other day, not a person wont to do this sort of thing or to say these kinds of things, not a passionate person at all, a scholar, “we may be headed for a civil war.”

Paul Jay

Well, civil war would mean what? I mean, the truth is, if Biden wins and, I guess a lot will depend on the Supreme Court, if they really do appoint Trump, I don’t know, puppet or what the word would be on the Supreme Court, and they invalidate the mail-in ballots, then where does that go?

Larry Wilkerson

Let me point out one thing that I think was a fairly clear insight, not just from the TIP project simulations, but also from discussions among some very talented and expert people in the National Task Force for Election Crises. We don’t think the American people will buy the Supreme Court intervening in a presidential election again, they saw what happened in 2000. They won’t buy it. Now, when I say they, I mean, neither side will buy it unless the Supreme Court sides with that side.

And you have to look at the numbers, and you have to understand that you’re probably somewhere around one hundred and fifty million Americans on the one side and maybe one hundred million on the other side. And I’m counting more than just registered voters there, of which there are about 200 million, because, you know, if you’re 16 years old, you can come to the street with a gun. We’ve seen that already in some of these demonstrations in these other cities.

We’ve seen what, a young man goes out and kills some people with a gun. So you don’t have to be 21 to shoot somebody with a gun. So you’re looking at this from the perspective of the bulk of the country is going to be, if I may say so, on the side of the Democrats, of Joe Biden. There’s going to be a sizable portion of the country, though, that’s going to be on Donald Trump’s side. They got the guns, or they got the predominant number of the guns.

So that’s why we’re looking at the possibility of significant conflict. And let me add, that we didn’t count the left out in this regard either. We assigned the left a little bit less aggressive, less ruthless, less intent to come out and do these sorts of things. But there are some people on the left that might join in this with a frenzy and a passion. And so we’re not trying to say it’s all on the right, but we are saying that the predominant tendency towards violence is on the right. And all you have to do is look at what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia. Look at what happened in Richmond, when they gathered around our governor in Richmond with like all their guns. Look at what’s happened in some of the other cities where Black Lives Matter has mounted a protest which was peaceful. Look at what happened in other cities where protests have happened, which were basically peaceful, and people tried to co-opt those. Some of that co-optation was from the left and some of it was from the right.

So the recipe, or the ingredients, rather, for this kind of conflict are out there. And they’re on the streets, and they just wait for somebody to put the cigarette lighter to it.

Paul Jay

But the American state, the police force, the army, there’s no right-wing guns on their own, or the left, but it’s mostly the right that’s going to do this kind of stuff. I think the left is certainly not organized around with any guns to speak of. Maybe the odd individual character, but not in any organized form. But the thing is that the Supreme Court, if they are successful in this ramming through someone, and the Supreme Court puts a quote-unquote “legal” stamp on it- 

Larry Wilkerson

What are they going to do?

What are they going to do? They’re going to say, Minnesota, your election is void? Minnesota is going to tell them, middle finger extended. Wisconsin is going to tell them, middle finger extended. South Carolina is going to tell them, middle finger extended, unless their view ratifies what’s already happened in that state. If it’s a contradiction of what’s happened in that state in any way, fashion, or form, the bulk of the people in that state are going to tell the Supreme Court, go to hell, pack it up, boy, go away.

We don’t want you interfering in fundamentally a political process again, I think that’s a very sound observation. 

Paul Jay

So if the states certify the vote, including the mail-in vote, and the states then essentially say Biden did win, and the Supreme Court wants to go the other way, then what the hell happens?

Larry Wilkerson

Well, what you’ve got, it’s more serious than that, I think, Paul. What you have when you look around the country is you have several possibilities for states that are in the hands of the Republicans, either in the governorship, or the legislature or, sadly enough, both. Then you’ve got some real problems because you might have the state actually reversing, as it were, the election in that state based on their determination that there were some illegal votes or whatever.

That’s the real problem. It’s a problem in several states, some of which are battleground or swing states. If you get that, then you’ve got a situation where the courts in that state are probably going to be more important than the Supreme Court. Supreme Court may ultimately have to rule on it, but it’ll probably be well, well past the time that it will be efficiently done if they do. So, if you’re looking at a problem in a state, the problem potential is fairly significant, but it’s based on the fact that that state happens to be in the hands of both governor and legislature or at least one of the houses, of the Republicans. 

We have to face the fact I think, and Americans need to face this fact, Republicans have faced it, Paul. If there were free and fair elections in this country, we would never have a Republican elected again. That’s a fact. I know people don’t like facts anymore, and I know they don’t like science and they don’t like experts and so forth and so on, but the demographics of this country, for better or for worse, are such that the Republicans would never get elected again. They know that. And so they know they have to cheat. They have to gerrymander. They have to use the Supreme Court. They have to do everything within their power to change that fact. But a lot of those things they have to do are illegal. So if you just stay after them, if you just stick to them, if you don’t let them get away with any of these things, challenge them in the courts, challenge them in the streets, and so forth and so on, there’s no way they can win unless they use force majeure.

And that includes everything from federalizing the National Guard in various states, to using the United States military, and I don’t think they’re going to do that. I pray they don’t do that, because if they do that, there are going to be a lot of Americans who take to the streets in a more or less non-violent manner, and they’re going to have to shoot them. That’s civil war, Paul.

Paul Jay

The financial elites, the technocratic elites, where the real money is, the preponderance of big money, as far as I can tell, while they certainly liked a lot of Trump’s policies, they don’t really want him to continue. There’s a section of far-right, Sheldon Adelson and others that that do.

Larry Wilkerson

They’re connected with Israel. 

Paul Jay

Yeah, to a large extent.

But the majority do not seem to want him, and they certainly don’t want the country descending into that kind of chaos, it’s just not good for business. At some point, you know, maybe not publicly, but you would think at some point they weigh-in, and maybe they don’t have any influence over Trump himself. But the rest of the Republican Party have got to be susceptible to that kind of pressure. 

Larry Wilkerson

I think so, and I hope so because I think that kind of pressure, for example, you’re going to see exerted between now and November 3rd with regard to whether or not Trump is allowed to put another justice on the Supreme Court. I think you’re going to see some really deep, profound thinking by some Republicans as to whether or not they want that temporary victory accompanied by permanent and long term defeat, perhaps even party destroying defeat, or they want to cross the line, so to speak, and say this isn’t going to happen, not on my watch.

We’re not going to do this. You are death knelling the Republican Party, and I refuse to let you do that. Now, I realize there aren’t too many people out there right now that look like that, perhaps Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, maybe one or two others. But I suspect between now and 3 November, there’s going to be some people in the Republican Party doing some really hard thinking, and they’re going to decide that they need to save the country and not the party.

If it doesn’t happen, if we get to that time, let’s say they ram this other justice through, and then we have the election and it’s as perturbed as I think it could be, as the TIP project, for example, and its simulations have demonstrated I think, fairly definitively, that it could be. Then we’re back to what I said before, we’ve got a really significant problem. We’re talking about reliving 1860 again, and we’re talking about it being exactly like it was in 1860.

The minority by far is on the Confederate side. The majority by far is on the Yankee side. And the results are going to be the same in the long run. But it might be quite a long run.

Paul Jay

We’ve talked about this before, but where does the military come down in all this? I would assume if they control the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court rules in one form or another in Trump’s favor, the military will go with that decision?

Larry Wilkerson

That’s a good question. Again, I hark back to what I said before, I don’t think anybody is going to buy the Supreme Court intervening. And here’s a point I didn’t make, I don’t think Justice Roberts is going to buy it intervening either.

Paul Jay

That wouldn’t be enough to stop it, with a new . . . 

Larry Wilkerson

I think it would be. I mean, if the chief justice comes out and says, we aren’t doing this, I don’t know how the rest of the court moves to do it. Now, we might have a dilemma in the Supreme Court in that respect. That would not necessarily be unhealthy in these circumstances, that the Supreme Court were so divided that it couldn’t even rule, not in a real significant sense. But I think his tendency is going to be, and maybe one or two of the other justices tendencies is going to avoid this like the plague, to pronounce it purely political and avoid it like the plague.

Now, they might rule on some individual cases in states if there are some real significant problems, like, for example, as it was in Florida; you couldn’t finish the count in time for the drop-dead date for the Electoral College. So, you know, you can argue that that was a sound decision by that court. I wouldn’t argue that, it’s a different argument altogether, but you could. What I’m looking at here, though, with regard to the military, is the military has made its point of view fairly clear through General Mark A. Milley’s comments at the National Defense University, or virtually to the National Defense University, National War College, actually, and that is that the military’s allegiance is to the Constitution.

And people need to read the Constitution. They need to read part one and part two. More responsibility for the United States armed forces is assigned to the Congress than to the president. Far more, including their appropriations, that is to say, their lifeline, their lifeblood, their existence, is approved in the Congress. And by the way, the part of the Congress that does the appropriations in an instrumental way is the House, which is dominated by the Democrats.

So if I were the military, I’d be looking at that Congress, and I’d be looking at that president and I’d be saying “Nut on one side, a bunch of useless bums on the other side, but nonetheless, the useless bums control my money.” And they do a lot of other things under the Constitution, which is their responsibility for the U.S. armed forces. So where would my allegiance be? To the Congress, you better believe it would be to the Congress.

Paul Jay

So let’s say Bannon’s scenario sort of plays out on November 3rd, although he loses, meaning Trump loses the popular vote, he does win the Electoral College as of November 3rd, meaning it actually isn’t a win, it just, you know, like on television or whatever it is.

As far as the reporting goes, he’s ahead, which may not even be the case.

It’s very possible that he won’t even win the Electoral College on November 3rd, but let’s say. And let’s say they do ram through the Supreme Court appointment.

Let’s say that the mail-in ballots are certified by the states, and enough states certify, and Biden actually does win. I guess there are two scenarios. Trump refuses to go, and then, I don’t know what, I guess you guys have played out that scenario. Well, let’s start with that. Let’s say that’s the scenario. But Trump says no, the supreme court’s on my side, you guys all go to hell. What does your model say happens next? 

Larry Wilkerson

Well, what we say happens next is that there is a potential for conflict and great consternation.

We didn’t go into what happens actually. That is to say, what does Congress do, what do the courts do, so forth and so on, what does the military do. I think what you’re talking about here is a situation where there is a clear, this is one of our scenarios in the simulations, there’s a clear win for the Democrats in both the Electoral College and the popular vote eventually. And eventually means we know and we’re telling the press, we’re telling the American people as much as we can.

You need to understand that it’s going to take five or six days maybe to count these votes because of all the new methodologies of voting, not just mail-in voting, but like I’m going to vote in Virginia. There’s almost no excused absentee voting in Virginia now. So on the 14th of October, I’m going to vote. And we already started voting in Virginia on the 18th of September, and the lines were legion. They’re lining up to vote. And they had some squabbles in the lines between Trump supporters and Biden supporters.

Incidentally, the Biden supporters seem to well outnumber the Trump supporters. But anyway, we’ve already started to vote, so it might not be immediately that we know, it probably won’t be, even if it’s a blowout. But if it is a sizable win by Biden in both the Electoral College and the popular vote, then Trump’s got a lead. And if he doesn’t leave, I think there are a number of solutions to that, and I would just be remiss if I said I didn’t think that people within the government and out are not talking about that right now, and will continue to talk about it as we approach November the 3rd. And as the situation becomes even more dicey with a Supreme Court justice trying to be forced through, with Pelosi saying that another impeachment is not out of the question, and so forth, we have a lot on our plate, and it’s going to be extremely difficult, I think, for Trump to wade through that mess, that morass, and get more votes. I think he’s going to lose votes. And so the potential for a blowout in both the Electoral College and the popular vote grows every day.

Is that the best scenario? Our simulations showed it was. That’s sufficient probably to keep the base being called to the street with their guns down to a minimum and sufficient motivation for the other institutions and instruments of government, including the US military and the state National Guards and so forth to say, well, “ah, Biden won, this guy’s nuts, he’s got to go.

Paul Jay


Larry Wilkerson

And I think that’s what’ll happen.

Paul Jay

I think that’s the most likely scenario, unless he wins the election.

Larry Wilkerson

Well, there are other possibilities too, and we explored them. There are just infinite possibilities that you could really screw up the election in several key states by doing really off the wall things. Off the wall, but nonetheless doable in this really fractious environment with a man in the White House who will do anything. Things like Paul, having Dejoy declare an entire postal district null and void in terms of whatever. So let’s say he says the COVID-19 problem is so great in this particular district that he impounds all the mail-in ballots that are in those post offices.

You could have all manner of little things like that compound across the country and cause enormous problems. Even if the tendency, or the trend, or even much of the result at that point is for Biden, you could still have a lot of perturbation on the election process.

Paul Jay

Let’s say your previous scenario is the scenario, which is, by the time all the ballots are counted, there’s a decisive Biden win. Those states have certified these votes, and even if the Supreme Court doesn’t like it, as I think you said and I think you’re right, I don’t see the Supreme Court overriding all these states who have certified their votes even if Trump is screaming, let’s say. So, Biden then actually does get inaugurated, but he’s facing a Supreme Court that is going to be hostile to almost anything he tries to do. Does he pack the court as some Democrats are calling for? Should he?

Larry Wilkerson

 That’s the least of his problems, I think, Paul. FDR demonstrated what packing the Supreme Court did for you. It probably did more damage to his three, almost four, administrations than any other single act he ever did, and that’s saying something. More people got disenchanted with FDR over that attempt than anything else. So I don’t think it would be very smart. And I think Biden is going to have far more things of greater profundity to deal with, not least of which is going to be the economy. I’m hearing some really dire reports on what’s going to happen to the economy over the next four or five years. And, you know, we all know the incumbent, even though he had nothing to do with it, gets blamed for the economy.

One of the great misconceptions of the purblind American people is that the incumbent president has anything to do with the economy. The economy right now, if it’s shown any strength, or any capacity to grow, and so forth, lays on the previous president, Barack Obama, not Donald Trump. But we don’t understand economics enough to know that. But the problems that are going to accrue to Joe Biden immediately upon taking the oath of office are going to be just incredible, maybe as profound as 1932 and 33, so that things are going to confront him.

Climate crisis, the climate crisis, Paul, is on us. California, the rains on the East Coast, the hurricanes we’re seeing, and are going to see. There are still probably 14 or 15 left to hit us. The climate change problem is with us in the global south, in Brazil and Bolivia, in Iraq and Syria. They know the climate change is upon us. It’s about ten years ahead of time for them in terms of our impact. So these problems are just going to get worse and worse and worse.

And I haven’t even talked about nuclear weapons. We’re looking at an enormous challenge, getting nuclear weapons back under control, getting the growth down again, getting some kind of arms control agreements going, and including not just Russia. Russia, in many respects, is the least problem right now, though you’ve got to deal with it. It’s China. It’s India, Pakistan. It’s Israel. It’s North Korea. Trump has done nothing but exacerbate the problem on the Korean peninsula.

He’s made the problem on the Korean Peninsula 10 times more dangerous and worse, not helped us. So all of these things are going to confront Joe Biden the moment he takes office. And I will guarantee you this too; MAGA TV will be out there equaling Fox, and well supported by the billionaires who will still be with Trump, like Sheldon Adelson, out there doing everything it can to delegitimize Joe Biden.

Paul Jay

Yeah, I think that’s the more likely next step for Trump is a media empire that they use to create a really overt fascist movement.

When I’m watching Bannon’s podcast and video on YouTube and so on, every other sentence is about China.

If he attacks even AOC, somehow China comes into the equation.

He can’t talk about Biden without talking about the Chinese threat. Everything is laced with the threat to America from China, as bad as anything in the 1950s, McCarthyite kind of rhetoric, maybe even worse.

Larry Wilkerson

That’s exactly what I was thinking about while you were talking. 

Paul Jay

Yeah, if they start to see that this thing is not playing out well, November 3rd, that the scenario that Trump wins on November 3rd actually isn’t going to happen, he’s not going to win the Electoral College, I know you and I have talked about the possibility of an October surprise with Iran. And I guess that’s still a possibility because there are lots of provocations taking place now. But do they try to instigate some kind of drama with China just before the election? 

Larry Wilkerson

I don’t think they would actually try, and that’s the operative word, try. What I fear, and what I’ve feared now for some weeks, is that the situation with China has been brought to such a boil, mostly with his inept overtures in the economic field, but also with his sending a cabinet-level officer to Taipei, essentially saying strategic ambiguity is out the door.

This cabinet official tells you that strategic clarity is my policy. We will bash you if you do anything using force with Taipei, with Taiwan. I think all of those arrows have built upon themselves and have told Xi Jinping, and even more importantly, the army in China. China has its own military-industrial complex. Now, they have enormous, and I can’t believe how much has changed since Ambassador Richard Haass and I were in China in the summer of 2001, dealing with some of the people who are now leading China.

And we heard a message that said essentially, we’re OK with US military presence in the Pacific, we’re OK with a presence on Okinawa, with presence in Japan and Korea and so forth, because really, you know, we won’t say this publicly, but really, this is protective of our growing economy, too, especially your freedom of navigation and these other things, because we want freedom of navigation. That’s how our products get out to the world. That isn’t the way it is anymore.

The Chinese military is salivating over sinking multiple U.S. aircraft carriers. They’re salivating overtaking the U.S. on in the South China Sea. That’s a real problem for Xi Jinping, it’s a problem for him, like our military-industrial complex is a problem for us. It’s no different now in China. And it happened, the transformation happened, in a decade. It’s incredible what’s happened. So what I worry about is we beard China, we taunt China, and Trump does it really well.

And all of a sudden China says, OK, fine, fait accompli, we have Taiwan now. OK, that would be very easy to do. You just pick up the phone, you call Taipei and you tell them what you’re going to do to them if they don’t surrender. Nine chances out of ten, they’re going to surrender, and we’re going to see the mandate of heaven extend over Taiwan. The flag will go up. What are we going to do then?

Well, given the purblind idiotic Congress we have, and the Taiwan Relations Act, and all the rest of that good crap, and given Trump, that’s what worries me, that we will do something then. What we should do, of course, is say, well, our policy has just been bankrupt, which it has, our policy has just been terrible, which it has, and accept it and say, OK, Hong Kong is now in the mandate of heaven.

Now, Taiwan, 23 million people in Taiwan are, sad thing, but they are. That’s not what we’ll do Paul, we’ll contest it. That’s what I worry about. And that turns nuclear in every war game I have ever played, US versus China, it winds up going nuclear.

Paul Jay

For five or six of the 15 largest manufacturers of arms in the world are now Chinese companies, which I was kind of surprised to find out recently.

Larry Wilkerson

If you look at the real fundamentals of what is happening in the world right now in terms of economics and finance, you understand some very scary things, one of which is the world has grown sick and tired, including our allies Paul, of our sanctioning everyone. In other words, are carrying out economic warfare because, under international law, that is what it is. What we’re doing in Iran, Venezuela, Russia, it’s economic warfare. Those countries under international law have every right to respond, to take us on, to send missiles at us.

They have every right to do that under international law because of the economic warfare we’re waging against them. The world is growing weary with us, Paul. That’s the first thing. The second thing is watch the Chinese, and to a certain extent, the Russians, and what they’re doing at the IMF, in the IMF, at the World Bank, and other places, and independent of those financial institutions that we created after World War Two, to get rid of the dollar as the basic currency in the world.

They are moving every day closer to that goal. And the third thing they’re doing, and this is reflected in the three different versions of the Base Road initiative, is they are convincing more and more people, probably up to two billion now, that their future, no matter what China’s policy may be seen in terms of adversity, like in Africa and so forth, where they seem to make slaves of people and so forth, nonetheless, 2+ billion people, and I’d say it’s closer to three, are now saying about their future China is more important to us than the United States. These developments are happening while we keep our head up our asses in Washington, pontificating about things like the threat from Iran, where there is no threat whatsoever, the threat from Venezuela, where there’s no threat whatsoever, and all the rest of the crap we throw out every day, and don’t do real due diligence in terms of our diplomacy. We haven’t done due diligence for a long time. The world is turning against us.

It’s turning against us in significant and substantive ways, and we’re watching it happen.

Paul Jay

The existential threat here is not China. The existential threat here is the climate crisis.

And there’s no dealing with the climate crisis without collaboration between the United States and China.

Larry Wilkerson

You got it. You got it. I mean, it’s like, I wish I could remember the exact words, but one of the scientists with whom I talk frequently said the other day, you know, we’re the first human generation, and we’re not talking about the millennials or, you know, generation Z or X or anything else. We’re just talking about people alive right now of all ages. But my generation probably most to blame for this. We’re the first generation of humans, the first group of humans, who have the scientific methodologies and means to determine that we’re killing ourselves.

And the difference between wisdom and unwisdom is whether or not we use those means to remedy the situation. I think he’s right. We’re stupid, we’re dumb. Collectively, we’re some of the dumbest animals on the face of the earth. I won’t even I won’t even grace us by calling us animals, because the deer and the birds and the bees and all the rest of nature’s creation out there, they know differently. It’s going to do it. It’s going to cast us off the planet, it’s going to cast us off.

And it’s not going to give a damn. Just as it cast the dinosaurs off, it’s not going to give a damn. It will go on for four and a half whatever billion years until it burns out in the sun. And we will not be here. But we have the knowledge, the scientific knowledge, to do something about it if only we would start, if only we would apply ourselves to the task. But we’re not doing it. And that’s not fair.

Germany’s doing it. France is doing it. Italy is doing it. Other countries are doing it. China is trying to do it. China is one of the biggest polluters in the world now. The United States is the only major power that I see that’s not doing it. And I have to qualify that, too by saying, the leadership is not doing it, because there are lots of very brave, courageous Americans out there in the hustings from California to New York, from Michigan to Texas, doing things, and doing things fairly smartly and fairly swiftly given the circumstances.

But if you don’t have the cohesion of the country -you don’t, you have a third of us saying it’s a hoax and the president joining in that chorus- and you don’t apply the money that needs to be applied; we spent 6.7 trillion dollars on the global war on terror, 23,000 dollars per American on the global war on terror. We haven’t spent a penny of that kind of money on the climate crisis, which is far more threatening to us than any terrorist or all terrorists combined ever were.

We are stupid, Paul. We are stupid. And if we don’t wise up, and we don’t get a little bit smarter or a lot smarter, yeah, we’re going to perish. That’s the sad thing here, is we’re going to take the rest of the planet with us.

Paul Jay

Well, that message needs to get to the Lords of finance because they’re smart enough, most of them on Wall Street and some of these big financial corporate investment firms and so on, they got to know that this threat is real.

They’re so locked into this economic model, which is you absolutely have to make the maximum return on capital every second of every minute, never mind this quarter. 

Larry Wilkerson

Shareholder profit.

Paul Jay

Yeah, and I was just saying the other day about BlackRock, you know, Larry Fink from BlackRock, he says that it’s their responsibility to defend their investors’ assets.

And I want to write them and say, Larry, don’t you think you also have a responsibility to defend your investors’ asses?

Because the kind of policies that you’re allowing, promoting, facilitating, you know, it’s going to wipe your own investors out, but they seem not to be able to get over the incredible, myopic, short-term-ness of what’s driving this.

I like I don’t put this down to the kind of stupidity of most hardworking, ordinary people, even Trump supporters. They have they’ve gone through an education system that’s been so destroyed, they have no idea of history at all.

But these people at the higher levels of finance have gone to Ivy League schools. They really have had an excellent education. They do know history.

And still, you know, they’re leading us and allowing Trump type politicians and hacks to run the government because the more chaotic and crazy it gets, the more money they make.

Larry Wilkerson

Well, I see two things right now, two really prominent things from my perspective on the Climate Security Working Group and other groups with which I work, like the citizen’s climate lobby all across the country in all 50 states. I see the opposite of what you just said with a lot of American corporations. I see the market beginning to spin them in a different direction. I see the market beginning to spin them towards investment in renewables rather than fossil fuels and things associated.

That’s one phenomenon. I don’t know if it’s in time. I don’t know if it’s profoundly significant enough to make a real difference, I hope. The second thing I see all across the country is a recognition in groups I never thought I would see it of the crisis. And I’m talking here about farmers who understand that the rain they’re getting, for example, the extended seasons, growing seasons they are getting, the increased yields they’re getting, are all a product of a changing climate.

And they’re worried about what that change might mean ultimately. Well, in its current form, except for the excessive rain, it might mean that they can grow more crops, they can make more money, and so forth and so on. But there’s an itch in the back of their minds when I talk to them, whether it’s in Iowa, California, or wherever, they say this can’t be right. Something’s really wrong here. Why isn’t my government telling me what I should be doing to right this wrong?

I love these extra-long growing seasons and these greater yields and everything. I can deal with this water, I can deal with it. It’s coming down in tons, but I can deal with it. I just hope the river doesn’t flood and wash me out. That’s what one of them said to me in Iowa, but I know something’s wrong. Why isn’t somebody doing something about what’s wrong? That’s happening in more places than you might think. So here’s another interesting thing.

You know, we didn’t have any Republicans to count to amount to anything in the climate caucus in the Congress. Well, we’ve got some now. And I think the reason we’ve got him is because they’ve gone home to town hall meetings and their people have asked, what are you doing about climate change?

Now I’ll admit, they came back to Washington to join the climate caucus and put that membership on their website, so their people back home would think they’re doing something, and meanwhile, they aren’t doing a damn thing. But eventually, their people are going to force them to live up to that potential and promise, and they’re going to have to do something. Is that going to be in time? That’s the operative question.

Paul Jay

Well, I think the answer is pretty clear. The answer is, it won’t be. I agree with your observations, including how in sectors or sections of the corporate world, there’s a growing consciousness of the need for some kind of action on this. And shareholder meetings, there’s been a lot of shareholder motions, at the very least, trying to get the companies they own shares in to be accountable and have a climate policy. 

Although it’s interesting, the big asset managers like BlackRock and Vanguard and State Street, I know it was in 2018 or 2019, I believe it was, defeated, something like about 80% of those shareholder resolutions. 

The thing is is that the significant ownership of all of corporate America, practically, at least the part of corporate America that’s on the stock markets, privately-owned companies are different, are these big asset managers and other financial institutions.

 And while even there there is a consciousness, like BlackRock has written about the need for conscious investment in climate crisis issues and so on, the thing that’s absolutely clear, and here’s the rub. It’s only with government intervention will there be a climate policy that can do something in time.

Larry Wilkerson

We’ve seen that. We’ve seen that in so many things Paul.

Paul Jay

But here’s the thing, is that the same people who want the market to try to solve this when clearly it can’t, and even though they see the real nature and problem and even the extent of the crisis, they’re so against government intervention and government planning, unless, of course, it’s intervention and planning that props up the stock market and corporate bonds, but otherwise they’d rather let the world burn than have the government intervene so vigorously in the economy.

Larry Wilkerson

I go back and look at 31 and 32, and I’m not trying to compare the crisis there with the crisis now because I think the one now is truly existential. But nonetheless, the modus operandi is probably going to be something of the same. The question is, will it be in time? In 32, you still had Republicans, you still had the former administration saying all that’s necessary is to do what’s necessary within our economic system, and that is shut down everything.

Just don’t do anything. Don’t flood the markets with money. Don’t do any of this government intervention, government regulation, government oversight, don’t do Social Security, don’t do any of this stuff. That’s what they were saying, Paul. They were saying you’re stupid if you do that, let’s just ride this one out. If the poor people die, let them die, and decrease the surplus population. That’s essentially what Republicans were saying. And FDR got in there and said, “screw you and the horse you rode in on,” and in 100 days passed more legislation than probably any president in history.

And we got Frances Perkins in there and we got all manner of things going that began to turn the situation around, took World War Two to really turn it around, but God, that’s a hell of a thing to say. Do we need another world war? But that’s what it took. And we don’t have that right now. But we’ve got to get that. Maybe this election is going to bring that in. I certainly hope so. But we’ve got to have a leadership that says, yes, the federal government is important, yes, our regulations and our policies are important and we must pass them and we must enforce them. And we get a Congress that agrees with that. That’s essentially what happened in 32 and 33. Now, it was a struggle. Read one of the biographies of Frances Perkins. You’ll understand just what a struggle it was. I’m sure you probably have. Most Americans probably don’t even know whom I’m talking about, but that’s what it took then, it’s going to take ten times that kind of concerted effort, that kind of federal government effort, that kind of regulatory and oversight effort. It’s going to require a robust, rejuvenated labor force out there that’s organized to contend with the overstretch of corporate America and so forth.

And ultimately, Paul is going to require us transforming ourselves and moving into a newer economic model that says growth and consumption be damned, be damned eternally. What we need is an economic model that says to the earth, we know what you are, we know who you are. We need to keep you like you are, make you even better. And we need to have sustainable, resilient economic policies and principles in order to do that. And I’m sorry, Milton Friedman, go to hell.

Paul Jay

He probably did. All that being said, there needs to be a mass movement.

People have to get organized, because none of what you just said is possible without a mass movement conscious of these kinds of objectives. And people everywhere get organized in every possible way.

Larry Wilkerson

But it takes leadership too, you know, I don’t think we would have gotten organized the way we did in 32 and 33. From looking back, it looks like turmoil, it looks like incredible turmoil. But if you parse it, and you look at some of the things that were said, and done and some of the legislation that was passed, you can see clearly that they were defying the entire structure of America at that time. Call them socialists, call them communists. Frances Perkins was called a communist time and time again. She almost lost her clearance, she had to go before the Congress and defend herself as non-communist. That’s what we’re seeing today, too. These people are stupid, Paul. They’re ignorant and they’re stupid. Just like you just pointed out. They’ve been ill-educated. Whose fault is that? 50% of America right now couldn’t tell you what years the civil war occurred in. The other 50% couldn’t tell you we ever had a civil war. It’s terrible. So you have to have leadership, enlightened leadership, leadership that’s determined to do the right thing, and leadership that’s empowered to do the right thing by just what you said, a people that believe in them and trust them and can be educated by them to the task at hand and do it. It can’t be done by either side all by itself, not by the federal government by itself, or the people by themselves.

It’s going to take both of them. Otherwise, put a fork in us, we’re dead. 

Paul Jay

Thanks for joining us, Larry. 

Larry Wilkerson

Sure. Thank you.

Paul Jay

And thank you for joining us on podcast. Please remember, if you’re listening to this on one of the podcast platforms, come over to website and click the donate button. If you’re actually already on the website, it’s even easier to click the donate button.


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  1. It is you, you the media causing these issues of nothing but “fear the dictator trump”. This is coming from a normal liberal, not some leftist communist like what seems to be the “norm” today. Things like media always calling anything republican “far right”. The far right controls the court. The “far right” is in office… well when you have swung so radically left that now normalcy of liberals and democrats of four years ago seem conservative i guess this makes sense. It is stories like this causing this decay of our nation, not trump. It is pushing political rhetoric as news causing it, not b sanders. It is the democratic modern party and media that have become sudo intellectuals that have no tolerance for anything other then their view and will use violence and any means necessary to obtain power. Of course real regular Americans will rise against that and why shouldn’t they, but it is not them suddenly being born on the right, it is radicalizing the left and suddenly claiming it is the norm. Reap what you created, but stop blaming those not at fault.

    1. The radical right always framing themselves as ‘normal’ or ‘common sense’. It goes back to the French Revolution,

      In Ontario we had a “common sense revolution” led by a right-wing austerity ghoul that led to deaths, rioting and the massive corruption of unshackled police.

      If you think “leftist communism” is the “norm” in the USA you are *heavily* indoctrinated. Deeply and thoroughly.

      [Also ‘sudo’ is spelt ‘pseudo’ ]

  2. As others have posted, this is an excellent discussion. I would add that it’s a matter of some significance that Bannon’s background is a mixture of military and finance sector employment. A perspective emerging from such a career trajectory would tend towards a predatory, anti-democratic outlook- exactly what we’re seeing in Bannon.

  3. AOC alludes to how dire politics have become in the US. But not how we got here. Which was with a big boost from the Dimocratic Party. She suggests it is crucial we now support the representative of that party just because it’s that party. Never mind Biden’s record. His increasing dementia. It was the Dim Clinton who gave away $200 billion of digital frequencies to telecommunications companies. Clinton who obliteratd Glass-Steagall, paving the way for the crash of 2008. Clinton’s Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act accelerated mass incarceration. Clinton who pushed for NAFTA after Bush before him failed. The whole voting process is a sham anyway. I live in Illinois, double-digits for the Dimocratic candidate. The Dims have perennially been enablers of the catastrophes of the reactionary right. I fail to understand the appeal to endorse them.

  4. I find it somehow Victorian and slightly off putting that Col Wilkinson , Colin Powell’s valet ala Wodehouse’s Jeeves in another era , is now the voice of moderation and a font of insider truth. I do enjoy reading his interviews even though it requires not considering certain fictions that he takes for granted to be true, it makes my cognitive dissonance rash itch.

    1. Because I know the Powell/Wilkinson appeasement of the neo-cons in the infamous Bush Jr.’s UN speech, I know what position he represents: the liberal establishment.

      Wilkinson is giving warning from the Democrat-aligned military faction.

      In times like this I’m curious on their perspective.

  5. Excellent context and delivery. But why no transcripts. I like to read and think.
    I am an old man. English is even not my mother languish.
    Could you please give us transcripts.
    Thank you,

  6. War will begin on main-street America for real when food shortages begin to be common place . That could very well be as soon as November, as the world you, I , and Col. Wilkerson knew and thrived in sunsets. US politics as world shaping and this necessary nation nonsense is over. Replaced by globalized neoliberal minds that issues draconian rules and policy from cyberspace on the advice of computer generated research for the masses’ our own good we are assured.

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