More gems from the apostate neocons

(Note to reader, 11-20-06: I have learned that Richard Perle, as early as January 2004, did make statements criticizing the occupation; however, as far as I can tell so far, these statements were nothing like his amazing statement quoted below, in which he says that had he known there would be an occupation, he would not have supported the invasion. Indeed, in a statement to the House Armed Services Committee in April 2005, after criticizing the occupation, he said that the occupation ended with the January 2005 elections! Not many people would define the occupation in such narrow and legalistic terms. His definition indicated that in 2005 Perle was only criticizing the year-long Bremer proconsulship, not the occupation as such. In short, accordng to my current information, Perle’s current attack on the occupation remains, as it initially appeared, a stunning departure from his earlier statements. I will have more to say on this.)

Interviewed in the Washington Post, Richard Perle and Kenneth Adelman go further than they did in Vanity Fair’s preview of its upcoming January article (discussed here and here) about the pro-war neocons who have turned against the administration over its handling of Iraq:

In an interview last week, Perle said the administration’s big mistake was occupying the country rather than creating an interim Iraqi government led by a coalition of exile groups to take over after Hussein was toppled. “If I had known that the U.S. was going to essentially establish an occupation, then I’d say, ‘Let’s not do it,’ “ and instead find another way to target Hussein, Perle said. “It was a foolish thing to do.”

Whoa! If Perle from the start had been so strongly opposed to a U.S. occupation of Iraq, why has he waited until now—three and a half years after the occupation began—to say so? Moreover, why has he said so at the very moment when the policy was falling apart before the eyes of the world, creating the impression that he was waiting until his revelation would cost him less and gain him more? For the last three years, neocons at all levels—from the “warrior pope” Norman Podhoretz in his bi-monthly 40,000-word-long encyclicals in Commentary, to other leading neocons in their many columns and articles, to the loyal grass roots in innumerable web discussions at and elsewhere—have been cheering everything the U.S. was doing in its Iraq occupation. If Perle believed, not just that the occupation was being handled poorly, but that the very idea of an occupation was a mistake, he could, by coming forward publicly with his views, have helped trigger a much needed debate about Iraq during this period, a debate based in reality, not fantasy, backing up lonely critics who kept pointing out that the Bush policy was not what its spokesmen claimed it to be, but that (as I pointed out over and over at this website) it was going nowhere and could go nowhere. He didn’t do so. If Perle’s statement that he always opposed a U.S. occupation of Iraq is to be believable, his long delay in coming forward must be explained.

* * *

A correspondent writes:

Wow. This article gives a fuller picture. I still want to know who was saying freedom is the longing of all mankind so Iraqis would do self-government the minute Saddam was down. Even if some neocons wanted to turn it over to Iraqi exiles, that still was the basic idea, that they would create democracy. Of course, they may have been canny and brutal enough to get security down first, I don’t know. They would still have needed our military, no? So I’m not sure what the Perle plan of turning it over to the exiles would have meant in reality.


Muravchik says, “It may also be, he said, that the mistake was the idea itself—that Iraq could serve as a democratic beacon for the Middle East. “That part of our plan is down the drain,” Muravchik said, “and we have to think about what we can do about keeping alive the idea of democracy.”

Somebody had better tell Norman P.! Although Adelman later says the idea is discredited, not disproven.

And what a relief to get the author of the “cakewalk” metaphor, and the place of the cakewalk, right in the Washington Post:

Few of the original promoters of the war have grown as disenchanted as Adelman. The chief of Reagan’s arms control agency, Adelman has been close to Cheney and Rumsfeld for decades and even worked for Rumsfeld at one point. As a member of the Defense Policy Board, he wrote in The Washington Post before the Iraq war that it would be “a cakewalk.”

One last thing, Adelman was also disturbed at the three Medals of Freedom going to Franks, Bremer, and Tenet. So we were not alone. It was the kind of thing that really really bothered people. Almost like the act of a tyrant. I wonder who gave that advice. Could it be the feminine quartet?

Randall Parker of ParaPundit writes:

Your point about why did they wait till now to voice their doubts publicly is very important. In the future when the neocons propose something we should ask them a basic question: What doubts are you keeping mum about? What reservations and qualifications are you hiding from us? How do you expect this policy to fail as it is being proposed publicly?

LA replies:

We should certainly ask them that question in relation to their support for mass immigration and their constant assurances that the immigrants are assimilating. The neocons’ credo that all immigrants want to assimilate and are assimilating into America is substantially similar to their credo that Iraqis want democracy and are becoming democratic.

Mark G. writes:

Randall Parker writes on your website: “In the future when the neocons propose something we should ask them a basic question: What doubts are you keeping mum about? What reservations and qualifications are you hiding from us?”

Why? Why should we ask them anything? Why shouldn’t we ignore them for many years till they proove themselves?

Iraq is a slow involving Enron scandal in foreign policy, the difference is its negative consequences are multiplied by hundred times. Do we ask Ken Lay (posthumously) and Jeff Skilling opinions on business isuues? No, we don’t, we put them in jail.

Iqnoring deluded and lying ideologues is the least we can do.

LA replies:

Mark makes a good point. In a more rational society, the neocons would be discredited, they wouldn’t get published any more, people would stop listening to them. And maybe to some extent, in some quarters, the neocons will be henceforth discredited and ignored. But not everywhere. The neocons after all have a significant establishment of funders, think tanks, and publications. They are not going to disappear. We will have to continue to respond to their arguments.
John D. writes:

If liberalism in and of itself has not been totally discredited by this point in time, even after all of its falshoods have been exposed due to its inconsistencies and failures, the neocons will also overcome this impass. As long as neoconservatism continues to have the financial backing it enjoys at present, it can be shoved down our throats at will. As you stated, “In a more rational society.” I wonder what it will take for Americans to wake up from this lethargic state of being.

LA replies:

Excellent point, of course you’re right … but I wonder, neoconservatism being a special, hothouse variety of liberalism, maybe it’s more vulnerable and exposed. I mean, they have really put themselves out on a limb, pushing an unprecedented kind of war, a neocon war, and it has blown up in their faces, and also the liberal world does not see them as liberals, the liberal world sees them as right-wing extremists and fascists, so they don’t come under the protection of liberalism.

N. writes:

One of the things I found frustrating from 2004 on about Hanson and some others is this: there was never any hint of a “Plan B” about Iraq.

Now that we have neoconservatives coming out and admitting that the democracy project in Iraq is, er, not working out as expected, can they nowtell us what their Plan B is? If there is one?

It seems to me that in a not very sane world, where failure in foreign policy is rewarded, a most useful idea to re-introduce into discourse is this: “Ok, if your plan does not succeed as you anticipate, what is your Plan B? What is your fallback position?” Harry Truman famously claimed that his plan was to pass some laws, and if they didn’t work out, then repeal them. Of course, very few of the laws Truman or any other President has signed into law have been repealed, and therefore it is most appropriate to ask, whenever and wherever possible, “If this fails, what next?”

Neoconservatives like to pride themselves on being thinkers. Very well then, I say let us encourage them to think, and deeply, by asking them to entertain the notion of a failure on the part of whatever project they are promoting, and how they would deal with it.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 19, 2006 09:20 AM | Send

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