One true love

by Ted on May 28, 2004

Last week, Daniel Drezner asked, “Who will the neo-neos go with — Bush or Chalabi? My money is on Chalabi.”

I hope that he made that bet:

Richard Perle, until recently a powerful adviser to U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, described U.S. policy in post-war Iraq as a failure.

“I would be the first to acknowledge we allowed the liberation (of Iraq) to subside into an occupation. And I think that was a grave error, and in some ways a continuing error,” said Perle, former chair of the influential Defence Policy Board, which advises the Pentagon…

“We didn’t have to find ourselves in the role of occupier. We could have made the transition that is going to be made at the end of June more or less immediately,” he told BBC radio, referring to the U.S. and British plan to transfer political authority in Iraq to an interim government on June 30.

Don’t get me wrong: I haven’t suddenly discovered the previously unsung wisdom of Richard Perle because he’s started criticizing the administration. He’s been wrong since the beginning.

What I’m marvelling at is the fact that Perle is willing to attack the Administration on the record, calling the Administration’s policy a “grave error” and the current situation an “occupation”, because they didn’t follow his plan to hand the country to Chalabi just after the statue of Saddam fell.

Amazing. Will a widely-denounced tell-all book be next?

(via The Poor Man.)



David 05.28.04 at 8:01 pm

It gets wilder; check out Michael Ledeen at NRO, and Laura Rozen’s commentary on same.


q 05.28.04 at 8:10 pm

_”we allowed the liberation to subside into an occupation.”_

Ted, _allowed liberation subside occupation_ are all words with loaded meanings. That said, it is REFRESHING to see someone with influence willing to discuss the turn of events.


chun the unavoidable 05.28.04 at 8:11 pm

When the Angel of Death comes down after you
And you’ll smile and say that you have been true
Can truthfully say with your dying breath
That you’re ready to meet the Angel of Death


jdw 05.28.04 at 8:30 pm

How can it be surprising that _anyone_ would try to distance himself from the Bushies?

In Perle’s case, I don’t see how he could wield much influence even if Bush is reelected — he’s one of the chief architects of a failed policy, and even without that on his resume, he’s not got a good reputation. And if Perle remains loyal to Bush and Bush _isn’t_ reelected, no administration is likely to give Perle any opportunity for even the most petty evildoing.


Ted Barlow 05.28.04 at 8:44 pm

Here’s the reason that I’m amazed: The Bush administration, as weakened as it is, is clearly a stronger horse than Chalabi. Chalabi is sealed out of the Iraqi government, has no popular Iraqi support, has been abandoned by the Americans, and savaged in the press as an Iranian double-agent. Barring a miracle, he’s untouchable.

You’re right that Perle isn’t going to be able to wield much influence among the neo-cons if Bush is re-elected. But a little is better than nothing, and this kind of disloyalty is guaranteed to get him shut out. What can loyalty to Chalabi do for him? I must not be seeing all the angles, because I don’t get it.


Lance Boyle 05.28.04 at 8:45 pm

As Bush craters the choice narrows toward the binary – go down with him, or go someplace else.
Dis-association, remorse, and self-criticism.
What I find unforgivably disgusting is Kerry’s spineless positioning.
“Stay the course” for whom?
Ask Admiral Zinni about that.
What’s next may be Perle’s reconfiguration as an advisor to the Democratic contender. Then Rove, Wolfowitz; Cheney they may have to abandon, although he’s pretty resilient for a first-run cyborg.
You know what I really think? I think all those guys are doing designer mood enhancers. Even their handlers. So nobody in the mix ever has that panic-attack, struck-by-lightning, OMG bad feeling. Which can be healthy, depending on the circumstance.


jdw 05.28.04 at 9:02 pm

I don’t think it’s particularly a matter of loyalty to Chalabi (unless I missed something, I don’t think he explicitly said anything in defense of Chalabi) so much as Perle distancing himself from Bush. Now he can say, “I tried to be a force for good in the world, but Bush botched it.” And it’s conceivable that the neocons could find themselves a place in another Republican administration, if it’s believed that the failures of this one are in its execution, rather than policy.

Some of the defenders of Chalabi could be doing it on moral grounds, too. I doubt Chalabi has done anything recently that he hasn’t been doing for a long time, and I doubt that the US has just discovered that he’s kinda a scumbag. So if you thought the guy was a hero six months ago, you should think he’s a hero now, too, because nothing’s really changed.


Giles 05.28.04 at 9:06 pm

“Richard Perle, until recently a powerful adviser to U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, described U.S. policy in post-war Iraq as a failure. ”

No he didnt – the Toronto star said that – he just described the timing of soverignty handover as an error.

Ted – it’d be a good idea to learn to understand english before you start posting.


Ted Barlow 05.28.04 at 9:10 pm


You must speak a charming dialect of English in which the timing of handing over soverignity cannot possibly be described as a “policy”.


Jeremy Osner 05.28.04 at 9:17 pm

Giles: speaking of learning to read English, the words you quote are not Ted’s.


Adrian Spidle 05.28.04 at 9:22 pm

The PUBLIC ENQUIRY PROJECT is a new political debate site designed to host debate on substantive matters (free of insults and ungrounded charges) between the candidates and their supporters. There are plenty of Lefty and Righty sites, but this is designed to host serious debate on substantive matters designed to convince undecided voters.

I’m the son and father of committed Democrats and was a Democrat for two decades before becoming a Republican. I’m now a registered Libertarian.



DCharles 05.28.04 at 9:38 pm

Accuracy and good manners are, I think, the foundations of great debate. The effort to remain accurate is a continuing part of the intellectual enterprise. Innaccuracy can be gently corrected. However, be warned, since lack of good manners is often a substitute for intellectual rigour and sometimes a sign of intellectual laziness or arrogance.

Would it have been better said thus:

Richard Perle, until recently a powerful adviser to U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, described U.S. policy in post-war Iraq as flawed.


Ted Barlow 05.28.04 at 9:48 pm


Sure, I’d have no problem with that. The word “failure” is a harsh one. Perle actually does use the word “failure”, but there’s a strong case that it shouldn’t be applied to the policy as a whole:

Perle said the biggest mistake in post-war policy “was the failure to turn Iraq back to the Iraqis more or less immediately.

Sandro Contenta wrote the story; perhaps this concern could be usefully addressed to him.


Giles 05.28.04 at 10:33 pm

Ted – the quote would have been accurate if is said Perle described “a” US policy as mistaken.

But instead it “described U.S. policy in post-war Iraq as a failure”. A (sort of ) subtle but very significant distortion of what he meant.

Its also interesting how many people at the time said that it would be a mistake to move tooo fast (and I agree). By contrast it would also be a mistake to move too slowly – as has happened in Kosovo.

But anyway I’d be interested to know if you, even with hindsight prefered the Rumsfeld immediate handover plan, the current Bush 12-18 month timeline or the Kosovan some time in the long to medium term strategy.


Walt Pohl 05.28.04 at 10:36 pm

Hey, Giles, how does it feel to be advancing the foreign policy interests of Iran? Feels good, doesn’t it?

I wonder if there’s another positive side-effect for the Iranian government — did the US intervention in Iraq discredit the pro-democracy movement in Iran?


Ted Barlow 05.28.04 at 10:40 pm

A very good question. Let me think about it.


DCharles 05.28.04 at 10:45 pm

As you claim that Ted needs to “learn to understand english” why are you posting messages to him in English, and it would seem pointless in asking him a question in English.


moog 05.29.04 at 12:40 am

Now that Chalabi and the INC are no longer receiving the monthly stipend, and his office has been ‘raided’, I’d say that Perle is probably attempting to remain nominally supportive so that Chalabi doesn’t publicize…certain financial kickbacks?…the identity of who leaked to him the very top secret NSA info?

I’m searching for some links, but I have been reading other Perle quotes that lead one to the impression that Perle is not distancing himself from Chalabi with quite the alacrity of some other neo-cons.

How could the US have possibly turned Iraq over to the Iraqis when we first entered Baghdad with all the looting and violence that was occuring? Pearle must still be hanging on to the fantasy that Chalabi had wide-spread support in Iraq.


elliander 05.29.04 at 1:01 am

I just get the fuzzy feeling that there’s no way to tell what’s going on – Perle could be floating an idea for the Administration, whereby if Iraq spirals out of control, we just walk away clean. Especially if Bush’s numbers need it. Since the “liberation” was never meant to be an “occupation” we walk away as if that was exactly what we planned all along, not a decision forced by circumstances.

Or, Pearle could just be trying to salvage a bit of a legacy for his “preemptive and transformative wars (against Arabs) for democracy” idea.

I have no idea, but I take nothing at face value from an Administration hack.


NeoDude 05.29.04 at 3:25 am

George Bush Jr. is a Punk!


gorgoron 05.29.04 at 4:09 am

yes, but who will mathemeticians go with?

didn’t frum and perle already write their book? albeit escaping wide denunciation. gently-chided maybe? taken into account perhaps? ignored?

bill kristol, btw, was remarkably conciliatory the other nite on the daily show, if not contrite.

the FT is touting allawi’s nomination for interim PM as a “victory” for the state dept/CIA against the pentagon. i don’t really see it, but it is i think an object lesson for the ‘narrow ideologues’ in realist practise.


liberal japonicus 05.29.04 at 6:48 am

Maybe this is simply a case of the devil you know versus…


pepi 05.29.04 at 2:47 pm

I don’t get it either. Some people seem to have no shame.

Ledeen’s another one. Particularly interesting since he was among those directly involved in the Iran-Contras affair. No wonder he’s got a soft spot for Iranian spies, he was one.

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