SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) – Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (Ret.) was the main speaker at a forum hosted by the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah. During the talk he criticized U.S. foreign policy on Iran and Syria but said domestic issues could also make us less safe.
Col. Wilkerson is the former Chief of Staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell and served 31 years in Army. He’s now a professor of government and public policy at the College of William and Mary.
During the forum he didn’t hold back his criticism of how the U.S. and President Donald Trump are handling recent situations around the world.
“These are very dangerous times, and we’re not acting like we have a head on our shoulders as we confront them,” said Col. Wilkerson.
The speech was entitled “Coming War with Iran” Col. Wilkerson worries if the U.S. pulls out of the nuclear deal reached by several different countries it could be the first step to a bigger conflict. He notes the impact that could have on our relations with other countries.
“We could have a problem in that the Congress would roll over and say yes OK we’re going to,” said Col. Wilkerson. “Then who’s isolated? The United States is isolated because the Europeans are not going to go along with that.”
Mostafa Ardakani is a U of U professor who was attending the forum. He was born in Iran and agreed with much of what the Colonel had to say on the culture of his home country. Ardakani said many young people in Iran are more pro west than their parents. He said hardliners are already using the unrest to stir up anger.
“So the hardliners are going back to the people and saying hey didn’t we tell you all the way the U.S. is not to be trusted?” said Ardakani.
Col. Wilkerson also defended the use of military force in some situations. Pointing out that there are evil people in the world and a response is sometimes needed.
Although he claims the recent call for a strike in Syria is eerily similar to the build up to the Iraq War in 2002-2003. He believes the evidence that President Assad ordered the strike is not concrete. He also questions the logic behind a strike.
“With Russian and Iranian help he’s won,” said Col. Wilkerson. “Why on Earth would he invite the United States wrath down on him by using chemical weapons when there is no necessity for him to do so.”
The Colonel criticized domestic policy which he believes is also hurting our safety and security. He said the high cost of higher education and our lack of infrastructure spending is correlated with national security. According to him, the angst people feel can cause them to be distracted by other issues or make sudden decisions.
He believes the national debt could hamstring our the county’s ability to respond to a future crisis.
“We have been at war for 17 straight years now with no end in sight. That’s an enormous drain on our treasure that needs to be doing stuff like infrastructure rehabilitation.”