R.Perle & NeoCons condemn handling of Iraq War

[quote]Well, a new article in Vanity Fair is reporting a number of prominent neoconservatives who backed the invasion of Iraq are now criticizing President Bush’s handling of the war. The list includes former Pentagon advisers Richard Perle and Kenneth Adelman; former Presidential speechwriter David Frum; and Michael Rubin, a former senior official in the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans. Richard Perle admitted that huge mistakes were made in Iraq. Perle has criticized Vanity Fair because he claims he was promised his remarks would not be published until after the mid-term election. The article is called “Neo Culpa.” It’s written by Vanity Fair Contributing Editor David Rose.

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Richard Perle; Kenneth Adelman; David Frum; Michael Rubin; also Frank Gaffney, director of the Center for Security Policy – that’s a think tank with very close ties to the high levels of the Pentagon; with Eliot Cohen from the School of Advanced International Studies; really the sort of flower of the neo-con intellectual elite in Washington, D.C.

And what a number of these individuals are now saying is that the war in Iraq has gone so badly, the situation now appears to be so intractable and the likelihood of actually winning this war now so slim, that had they – if they had their time over, they would not now be arguing in favor of military intervention in Iraq, even if they continue to believe, as indeed Richard Perle says he does, that Saddam Hussein did possess stocks of weapons of mass destruction, or at least the capability to create such stocks, and connections with terrorism. Richard Perle told me that if he had his time over, he would now say that that security threat to the interest of the United States should be dealt with by some other means.

And Kenneth Adelman, who, of course, wrote the famous Washington Post Op-Ed about a year before the war, which said that Iraq would be a cakewalk, goes even further. He says that he has been simply crushed by the incompetence of the administration, and particularly by his old friend Donald Rumsfeld, and that if he had his time over, instead of writing that Iraq would be a cakewalk, he would say that while a policy of trying to change the regime there was correct, the execution has been so incompetent that the idea should be put, as he put it, in a drawer marked “don’t do, too difficult,” rather than “let’s go.” Well, this clearly does represent a fairly substantial shift in the positions of these individuals.

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In fact, quite a number of them have used that word “dysfunctional,” not only Kenneth Adelman, but also Richard Perle, Michael Rubin and David Frum. And what they’re particularly referring to is the inability of the administration to make decisions. Of course, they advocated a particular set of policies: a swift handover to an Iraqi government. They also wanted a large number, several thousand Iraqis, to be trained to go in with the coalition forces as auxiliaries.

And I do think there is a very respectable case to be made for both those two positions. If there had been thousands of Iraqi troops with the American-British mobile forces, clearly there would have been interpreters for units, a much better chance of getting local intelligence. And had there been a provisional government quickly, then the war might have been seen as something more akin to a liberation, as they wanted, as opposed to an occupation.

But what they’re really getting at here is that when they advocated that position, as did their colleagues in the Pentagon, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, and the CIA and the State Department argued strongly against such positions, the administration just couldn’t make up its mind. So, as we were sending many thousands of soldiers into harm’s way in Iraq, the administration hadn’t decided what it was going to do next. And as they put it, the process of interagency decision-making, the place where these kinds of disputes should be hammered out, that is the National Security Council, at that time, of course, chaired by Condoleezza Rice, it was dysfunctional and disorganized. Indeed, Michael Rubin says it was one of the worst national security councils in American history. This is a staggering indictment.

But, of course, they also go on to say that while the NSC was dysfunctional, ultimately the buck does stop at the President. It is the President’s job to make these decisions. And they say something, which is perhaps even more damning. While President Bush had this rhetoric, what he called his “freedom agenda” of imposing democracy, of bringing democracy to Iraq, and appearing in his rhetoric to agree with what these neo-cons were saying, actually
he just didn’t seem to grasp
how you had to put that into effect.

And so, coming from people who took those positions, who didn’t just advocate the invasion in 2003, but in many cases, particularly Richard Perle’s, had been arguing in favor of regime change going way back into the Clinton administration, really almost since Desert Storm in 1991, I mean, this is a tremendous indictment of President Bush. And indeed, I put it to Richard Perle in precisely those terms. I said, “This is an extraordinary indictment of the President.” And he just said to me, “Yes, it is.”

. . . . .

Michael Ledeen is slightly different from the rest of the people I interviewed, because actually if you look back at his record, Michael Ledeen did not strongly advocate regime change through military force in Iraq. He really was more concerned with Iran and remains so. He has consistently argued in favor of trying to change the Iranian regime, not through military force, but by supporting pro-democracy forces.

However, he served on Reagan’s National Security Council and saw close-up how decisions were made at that time, and he is absolutely damning about the way things have gone on under this administration. He says that back in the day, when he was on the NSC, it, as he put it, defined the disagreement for the President. If there were competing views held by different government agencies, then the NSC would refine those disagreements so that the President would then know what exactly the points of disagreement were, and he would take a decision, and he would do so in a timely fashion.

Well, quite the reverse has happened, says Mr. Ledeen, under this administration, and he’s had close contact, he tells me, particularly with Stephen Hadley, who was the Deputy National Security Advisor, while Condoleezza Rice was the National Security Advisor. Now, of course, he is the National Security Advisor himself. He says, “What you’re doing is nuts! You’re trying to find common ground, when often there is no common ground, and you’re sending people away for months and months to write new memos, to come up with new attempts to reach agreement. This isn’t what the NSC is supposed to do.” And so, he is another of these guys who uses this word “dysfunctional” to describe the basic processes of decision-making inside the Bush administration. [/quote]

So, there you have it. The Neo-Cons say they got the ideology right, but the BUSH admin got the execution wrong. What do you all think?


This is the part I have trouble understanding. If there were other means to deal with Saddam other than war, then why were they not done instead of the war option. The mere fact that there were other means to deal with Saddam seems to make this war even more morally indefensible.

Some of those quoted inthe article are taking issue with its presentation:
National Review rebutal.

Still doesn’t change what I concluded from the NPR interview, that they believe their doctrine/ideology was correct, but the execution was a disaster. They come down quite hard on the National Security Council, calling it dysfunctional. That is what I’m asking for comments upon. Bush was touted as a guy who is a manager, as in MBA, and as such chooses competent underlings and allows them to do their work. Seems as though he failed to provide any oversight, or hold them accountable for their gaffes.


It’s like hiring management consultants. If anything goes wrong with the strategy, it’s not that the strategy was wrong, it is the implementation. :laughing:

In a way it is consistent with all those MBAs at McKinsey, BCG…etc…

Fair enough. Since 9/11, the neocons have had their way with Bush, treating him like the drunken cheerleader he was in college. He wasn’t curious enough to learn or know any better, but now there are enough people taking him aside, saying, “Ya know, George, you don’t have to let those boys treat you that way,” and he seems to be waking up to the morning after hangover. (Either that, or his dad’s finally had enough and sent his friends over to throw the bums out.) And where have all those sweet talkin’ boys gone? They’re reaming him out in Vanity Fair: “Georgie Bush? Phhttt. He ain’t no good. He wasn’t really into it, ya know.”

So, who’s to blame? George, for believing their sweet, sweet words, or all those bad boys? I blame ‘em both. And George Sr. Leaving your incompetient son out to dry a time or three in the Texas oil fields is one thing; doing the same when it costs others’ lives is another.

Anyone who didn’t realize long ago that George Bush is incompetent is incompetent.

Just before the midterm elections, Vanity Fair published exerts of the full article, now available: http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/01/neocons200701?currentPage=1]Vanity Fair: Neo Culpa

One nice touch for all those constantly hammering–rightly–on the UN corruption and mismanagement…[quote=“On corruption”]Meanwhile, waste, corruption, and grotesque mismanagement were rife. Perle tells me a story he heard from an Iraqi cabinet minister, about a friend who was asked to lease a warehouse in Baghdad to a contractor for the Americans in the Green Zone. It turned out they were looking for someplace to store ice for their drinks. But, the man asked, wouldn’t storing ice in Iraq’s hot climate be expensive? Weren’t the Americans making ice as and when they needed it? Thus he learned the extraordinary truth: that the [color=blue]ice was trucked in from Kuwait, 300 miles away, in regular convoys. The convoys, says Perle, “came under fire all the time. So we were sending American forces in harm’s way, with full combat capability to support them, helicopters overhead, to move goddamn ice from Kuwait to Baghdad.[/color]”[/quote]Now, should this organization be scrapped, or reformed? :laughing:

And this, for the ‘stabbed in the back’ excuse:[quote=“On Where the War is Being Lost”]Adelman’s dismay at the handling of the insurgency is one reason he now criticizes Rumsfeld so severely. He is also disgusted by the former defense secretary’s claims that the mayhem has been exaggerated by the media, and that all the war needs is better P.R. “The problem here is not a selling job. The problem is a performance job,” Adelman says. “Rumsfeld has said that the war could never be lost in Iraq; it could only be lost in Washington. I don’t think that’s true at all. We’re losing in Iraq.”[/quote]