Will Chavey , Staff Writer
Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell from 1989-2003, will visit the University of Dallas campus on Thursday, April 25, to deliver a lecture on U.S.-Iranian diplomacy in the 21st century. The event will take place at 7 p.m. in the Art History Auditorium.
In addition to serving under Powell during the Bush White House, Wilkerson is also a retired U.S. army colonel and current distinguished visiting professor of government and public policy at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.
Wilkerson memorably criticized himself and the U.S. government in general for the intelligence communication justifying the U.S. war with Iraq. He said in a 2005 speech at the New America Foundation: “I can’t tell you why the French, the Germans, the Brits and us thought that most of the material, if not all of it, that we presented at the U.N. on Feb. 5 2003 was the truth.” Wilkerson would ultimately criticize himself as well as the entire intellectual community for the intelligence communication justifying the Iraq War.
Wilkerson’s lecture, titled, “We Need Not Be Enemies: Iran and the U.S. in the 21st Century,” will push for increased cooperation between the constantly quarreling nations.
History department chair Dr. Charles Sullivan emphasized the timelessness of the U.S.-Iranian conflict. “Given U.S. interests and recent involvement in the Middle East and Central Asia, the volatile U.S.-Iranian relations are potentially of greater significance [than those in North Korea], hence the interest of the talk.”
“A win-win outcome stares both capitals in the face,” Wilkerson told University of Houston staff. “However, a history of mistrust, misinterpretation, bad policy and strained-to-no relations pushes heavily and compellingly against a sane and sound solution.”
Sullivan also mentioned that he hopes for considerable off-campus attendance due to connections that emerged from serving on the planning committee for the Holocaust Legacies program. The opportunity to host such a high-profile speaker, he added, “arises from the fact that various members of the Bush administration will be in Dallas” because “the Bush Library will be dedicated [this week].”
Others in the UD community expressed significant interest as well. Even prospective students, such as Mark Knackstedt, heard about the topic and had expressed their enhusiasm.
“Right now, the major thinking in America is that … we need to go to war or some other non-peaceful means of stopping [Iran’s] development of nuclear weapons,” Knackstedt said. “I’d like to hear a perspective on how our relationship can be more friendly.”
Sullivan also encouraged students who disagree with Wilkerson to attend the event, noting that Wilkerson enjoys hearing alternative views.
“I know Lawrence Wilkerson would like a vigorous conversation from an interested and intelligent student body,” he said.
Junior history major Lucas Lopes falls into the category of students capable of creating that lively question-and-answer session.
Light refreshments will be served following the lecture and question-and-answer session.