Ret. army colonel: 'Amateur hour in the White House is the most dangerous thing' we face


With growing threats around the world and an intentionally depleted State Department, the United States government may become our own worst enemy on the global stage.

In a sobering reminder that the United States is under the governance of people who barely wish to govern, and who seem unaware or unconcerned about the danger that apathy could invite, retired army colonel Lawrence Wilkerson declared that the Trump administration itself may be the nation's greatest danger.

Speaking to MSNBC's Joy-Ann Reid, Wilkerson — who also served as chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell — assessed the current turmoil surrounding North Korea's antagonism toward its nearest neighbors, and toward the U.S.

He noted that the way to properly handle a situation like the one we face with North Korea is through "not brinksmanship, but negotiating."


North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's main goal is for "his regime to stay in power," Wilkerson stated, and therefore "he's not about to do anything to jeopardize that." Thus, while deterrence works, the U.S. cannot only make demands of North Korea but must be willing to give something, too — like, for instance, agreeing to stop our exercises and missile tests in the area in exchange for Kim ceasing his own ballistic missile testing.

But so far, only the South Koreans seem willing to sit down and talk, said Wilkerson. From our own government, we have seen nothing but "more bluster, more Trumpism ... more amateurism" which could lead to a "catastrophe."

"We'd beat North Korea, there's no question about it," he declared, but pointedly added that "it would be a Pyrrhic victory."

Sunday morning, in his latest Twitter outburst, Trump claimed to be "very disappointed in China," and lashed out at "our foolish past leaders" for not demanding that China do more in regard to North Korea — something he "will no longer allow."

"What do you make of that?" Reid asked Wilkerson.

"This shows that Donald Trump has absolutely no understanding" of the situation in that area of the globe. And if his administration cannot figure out how to properly respond, they are "marching toward one of the bloodiest conflicts that you could possibly imagine."

And the administration's intentional dismantling of the State Department will do absolutely nothing to prevent that potential outcome.

REID: How is the State Department even handling this without a full staff?

WILKERSON: We're dismantling the State Department. I think Rex Tillerson has been given that directive by the president of the United States to, in essence, dismantle diplomacy. There is an old theorem of international relations, Joy — it's called 'conservation of enemies.' Simply stated, it means you don't want anymore than you can handle. Look at the lineup we have right now, from China, to Russia, to Iran, to North Korea, to Isis — look at the lineup we have and look at the amateurs we have in the White House in order to confront them. And they won't come in ones, they'll come in twos and threes. This amateur hour in the White House is the most dangerous thing America has faced, and is going to face it, I guess, for another three and a half years.

Shrinking the size of the government has been a pillar of conservative political philosophy for years, summed up best by Grover Norquist's well-known declaration: "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."

It's an ideology to which Trump has also adhered. As Bruce Bartlett, a former aide to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, noted back in March, Trump seems set on "decimating" the State Department in order to "foreclose diplomatic solutions to [international] problems" and to instead "force military solutions."

And apparently, not even the very protection of the nation against a hostile and erratic foreign adversary is enough to convince this White House that a fully staffed State Department is more important than satisfying a right wing fantasy of minimalist government and constant warfare.

"Amateur hour," indeed — but one that carries with it the most serious of risks to America, and the world.