Retired Army colonel calls administration ‘most inexperienced in history’


Brandon Ghazali/Iowa State Daily

Retired Army Colonel and former chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson spoke about the inexperience of the Trump administration and other concerns Wednesday night at the Memorial Union.


More than a hundred people gathered in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union Wednesday night to hear from retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson during his lecture on redefining global and national security.

Wilkerson’s lecture focused primarily on the lack of experience of the officials who make up the Trump administration and what that could mean in both national and global scopes of policy and security.

Wilkerson served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell from 2002-2005 and associate director of the State Department’s policy planning staff.

Referring to himself as a conservative, he spent much of the night criticizing politicians — including his fellow Republicans — and voicing concerns regarding the Trump administration.

“A conservative believes that the best that’s been taught, said and done in the world should be conserved, and change only with great deliberation and circumspection,” Wilkerson said.  “There isn’t a conservative in Washington.”

Wilkerson said that thanks to a “vestige of slavery called the Electoral College,” Trump was elected with only 1 in 4 Americans’ votes.

“Don’t tell me that the American people voted for Donald Trump, because they did not,” he said.

“They voted through a system that is a vestige of the past that allows Wyoming, with 400,000 people, to have two senators in the Senate, while California, the eighth largest economy in the world with millions of people, has the same representation,” Wilkerson said.

An audience member asked what he would have in place of the Electoral College.

“One person, one vote — in everything — that’s what democracy is,” Wilkerson said. 

The audience member countered that there’s no such thing as a “pure” democracy.

“I agree with you, but you can be a hell of a lot closer than we are,” Wilkerson said.

Wilkerson said the United States is closer to being taken into a monarchy since Alexander Hamilton with President Trump.

“That’s what I see, is a narcissist assembling a crew around himself that really brings into question some major points that my students have brought up during the past 30 years of my educational experience,” he said. “And that is the most dangerous aspect of any post-World War II presidency is inexperience.

“This is the most inexperienced administration in our history.”

Wilkerson joked that he’d won money thanks to a bet that Michael Flynn, who was recently forced to resign from his position as National Security Adviser, would be the first to go.

Wilkerson said he hopes the administration does well, but that he is “not at all confident” that’s going to happen. He also said he believes there is a 50-50 chance that Trump could be impeached.

Important foreign policy points that Wilkerson said people are concerned about under the Trump administration include China’s presence in the South China Sea, the Iran Nuclear Deal and a loss of confidence overseas in the American dollar, which he said has nothing backing it except the U.S. military.

Wilkerson hopes that politicians will spend less money on preventing existential threats like terrorism and more on combatting the effects of climate change.

“Tell me why we spend 2 trillion of your dollars to combat a threat that has the same potential to kill you as a lightning bolt,” he said.

Wilkerson said the best way to make a change is to vote out the current members of Congress.

“I don’t believe there is a single senator who can’t be unseated,” Wilkerson said.

He said that personally, he would get every person in Congress unelected who didn’t look like they were doing the right thing, and that he’d keep on doing it “until they got the right person in there.”

Wilkerson’s lecture was a part of the World Affairs Series. Upcoming lectures can be found on the Committee of Lectures website.