Richard Perle Suggests “His Version of the Truth” Differs Before and After an Election


richard perle.jpg
One thing one must really give the neocons credit for is a penchant for “truth in advertising.”
Joshua Muravchik suggested recently that the Neocons should admit their errors on the Iraq War and then move expeditiously to bomb Iran and run Joe Lieberman for president in 2008.
And now as the neocons are huddled in duck and cover positions, trying to blame Bush’s “dysfunctional administration” for the failings in Iraq — Richard Perle issues a salvo against Vanity Fair for issuing tidbits of his juicy assault on Bush “before the election.”
Perle writes:

Richard Perle
Vanity Fair has rushed to publish a few sound bites from a lengthy discussion with David Rose. Concerned that anything I might say could be used to influence the public debate on Iraq just prior to Tuesday’s election, I had been promised that my remarks would not be published before the election.
I should have known better than to trust the editors at Vanity Fair who lied to me and to others who spoke with Mr. Rose. Moreover, in condensing and characterizing my views for their own partisan political purposes, they have distorted my opinion about the situation in Iraq and what I believe to be in the best interest of our country.

In other words, Perle is putting his duplicitousness into the public square for all to see.
He has one truth he’s willing to market before the election — and another after.
Ever wonder what Straussianism is? That’s a big part of it.
— Steve Clemons
Ed. Note: Get more at Think Progress‘s take on Perle’s snarlies at Vanity Fair as well as Eliot Cohen’s pointed nudge back at Perle.


26 comments on “Richard Perle Suggests “His Version of the Truth” Differs Before and After an Election

  1. PANKAJ says:

    great blog.. great news


  2. confusedponderer says:

    … as for Geneva being ‘quaint and obsolete’, I don’t know about Strauss, but that certainly was Field Marshal Keitel’s point of view, and cited by the Nuremberg prosecutor as aggravating evidence when he called for him to be sentenced to death.
    Alberto, tighten your tie, jut to get the idea.


  3. confusedponderer says:

    Basically the idea behind Perle’s utterances is pretty evident.
    Perle gives a juicy interview dissing Bush & Cie, knowing that it will be irresistible. When it is published, he attacks the publisher, Vanity Fair, and accuses it of foul play. What he gains doing this is this:
    (a) He attacks Bush’s administration – now that clear failure in Iraq is undeniable, there is no point insisting everything is swell. No one would believe it anyway. To admit error now is cheap.
    (b) Claiming that Vanity Fair tricked him and ‘leaked’ his story prematurely gives him plausible deniability. Towards GOP he can play innocent.
    (c) His defense toward the GOP plays their tune of ‘the Bush hating evil liberal media tricked me’. Boo-Hoo-Hoo.
    (d) Hitting Bush before the elections, he offers himself to the Dems as somewhat repentant.
    He just got the Hollinger scandal off his back, and now he wants back into lobbying. His reputation is somewhat wrecked beyond GOP and neo-con circles and a Democratic takeover of congress is likely. He wants to get back into business, without totally pissing off the GOP.
    The man knows no shame.


  4. erichwwk says:

    Den Valdron wrote:“Keith, excellent description of Straussianism” . Ditto, bravo.
    To Keith’s “but I’m just sick to death at the stupidity which passes for discourse in the US.” I reply:
    Something shared by ALL that believe resources are to be shared fairly, rather than by some sort of elitist class structure? While this view has ALWAYS been a part of American government (read James Madison and Adam Smith on government as a vehicle for preserving property rights of an elitist class- also capitalized value of slaves at the time of the Civil War > capitalized value of sum of all other USA assets), it has gotten progressively worse since Agnew’s fall allowed a fallen President to essentially be the only person allowed to vote for a replacement (Gerald Ford). Coming into office w/o the usual support team allowed Donald Rumsfeld to do what Dick Cheney has done in this administration- appoint himself as effective head of government by becoming chief of the transition team, bringing along his trusted assistant, Dick Cheney. With George H. Bush’s help as head of CIA, they effectively reversed the direction on downsizing the Military Industrial Complex initiated by Richard Nixon (Liberals won’t like this, but Nixon did an lot of good things along w/ the terrible). The three convinced Gerald Ford to offer an alternative decision making process, in which marketing, psychology, and unseen, unmeasurable (and what folks like myself call non-existent, illusionary) “facts” became the basis for determining policy. The head of this alternative process was Harold Pipes whose son David seems to be responsible for fermenting the “Danish cartoon fiasco”.
    A few sources for understanding this shift to “rule by illusion” are referred to
    Dr. Cahn’s FIA account for the Bulletin of Atomic scientists :“>”>
    or Wikipedia’s“>”>
    Perle himself was drawn into this by coincidence. As a student at West Hollywood High, he became acquainted with Dr. Albert Wohlstetter’s daughter. At an oft documented meeting at the Wohlstetter pool (He was employed at UCLA and Rand at the time), Perle was given a copy of Dr. Wohlstetter’s 1958 paper “The Delicate Balance of Terror” , available in full online from RAND classics. Perle went on to major in word crafting (English) at USC, a skill that was to predominate over the rational discourse that Keith and I long for. Wohlstetter also recruited Paul Wolfowitz (Albert knew Paul’s father, a mathematics Professor at Columbia), forming Sen. “Scoop” Jackson’s propaganda wing which has now come to full fruition, essentially converting us from a capitalist society for major inputs/outputs to a fascist or corporate form of decision making. This military industrial complex now is a great source of “no bid” funding for American politicians, forming a symbiotic relationship of attorney-politicians to entrench American imperialism. It is no coincidence that the predominant occupation in American politics is law, whereas the predominate occupation in China is engineering.
    Pursuing Keith’s weblink, he seems to have a link to ABQ and enjoy counter-intuitive decision making. Keith, you may have some interest in a web page that has not been updated since Oct. 2002, a date you likely understand.


  5. sdemetri says:

    I will try to look at the Strauss link, Reader, but I am starting from a position of having to reverse engineer what the neocon’s appear to be doing now. Geneva Conventions, the best we have to go on as far as conduct toward prisoners and the execution of war, depicted as “quaint” or “obsolete” is to me a very dangerous proposition. Whether that sentiment derives from Strauss may or may not be so. It is still dangerous.
    An elite that puts up clever facades to mask their true intentions is the way of the world. Getting behind the mask has always been the task of the non-elite.


  6. liz says:

    Perle never ran for office, never got elected, never held a legit title and should shut up.
    Perle and those like him that think they know everything should go home. They can take their think tanks and go back to the drawing board because obviously thinking and doing are two entirely different things to these ultra smart(alec) men


  7. Marcia says:

    Is Perle learning only now that broken promises abound? How naive to complain publicly that the basis of the neocon policy, lying to obtain power and control has backfired on him.
    Under all their theories they are Bonapartes in action, out to conquer the world by force, leaving in their wake death and destruction. See Goya’s, “Disasters of War.
    It is as though the lust for power contains in itself a suicidal flight forward that is irrestible.
    If by good fortune the election Tuesday allows some diminution of their stranglehold we can hope thay will not return from their “Ile of Elbe” because since the first day they came into power it has not been business as usual…Under their mask of the American dream lies a Portrait of Dorian Gray.


  8. krebs says:

    Richard Perle wants us to recognize what an evil, shameless bastard he is.
    No other explanation of his behavior makes any sense.
    There must be money in it for him.


  9. Den Valdron says:

    Keith, excellent description of Straussianism. What it amounts to is a jumped up version of conspiracy theory. It’s the same sort of esoteric connecting logic as the Kennedy murder types, except, more toxically, its a bit pro-active in its approach. Instead of figuring out the secret conspiracy, by reading it, you get to join.


  10. Keith M Ellis says:

    “Honestly, Steve this is beyond tendentious. Most of the people interviewed in that piece have been quite vocal in their criticisms of the war.”
    I’d guess, perhaps wrongly, that you’re not a war critic. I am, though, and yet I agree with you at least partly about this. I’ve been watching these neocons since long before the war and the war that was fought looked quite a bit different from the war they advocated. Of course, in my opinion, the war they advocated would have been a disaster, too, and in general I think these neocons are, at best, useful fools for the true warmongers and, at worst, dangerously delusional in their own right.
    But my experience in speaking up and defending these neocons, in my very tepid and limited way, has been interesting. For one thing, most people seem determined to place the primary blame for the war on them. It’s like “neocon” is the current liberal boogeyman that, if we kill them, the world will be all hugs and puppies. Or at least not so dismally GOP-dominated as before. Well, actually, I know that this is the case that people believe this fairytale, so that shouldn’t surprise me. The other thing that’s more interesting is that I’ve described the neocons as “idealists”: a description hardly controversial. Countless journalists and bloggers all across the political spectrum have described them as “idealists”, though on the left it’s the delusional and dangerous idealism I think it is. But in the context of talking about these neocons and how they’ve been part of (and used by) the White House, you’d think that “idealist” was some sort of huge compliment only bestowed upon the truly great of heart and the most holy. The neocons are bad guys, right?, so that can’t be idealists.
    I’m thrilled with how I think this election will turn out (a big wave for Democrats), but I’m just sick to death at the stupidity which passes for discourse in the US.


  11. Keith M Ellis says:

    “I like this blog, and can’t stand Perle, but you sound like a hack at the end of this post.”
    No he doesn’t. Straussianism is exactly one thing and one thing only. And it’s no secret—Strauss had too many students that adored him for his views on the Great Books to be something only discovered in the depths of his writing. Basically, Strauss advocated the view that there is an esoteric reading of these texts which is more correct than the exoteric reading. He made a case for how this might be on the basis of an elitist notion of how civil discourse in an democracy must necessarily function. The political philsophy writers in the canon, over the course of history, became aware of this need for esoterica and thus begin to make their primary arguments as esoteric arguments. Thus, his reading of these texts is both its own proof and argument.
    At any rate, the core elitist idea that requires such esoterica is that the unwashed masses just don’t have the preperation to fully engage on these matters. Thus a political philosophy argument made in public must be carefully crafted to say what needs to be said for those with the ears to hear it, and something else again for those who are, lamentably, members of the ‘oi poloi.
    Of course the foundational idea in all this is almost certainly Plato’s “noble lie” found in the Republic. It’s the sort of thing that firmly catches the imagination of the fascist-leaning young freshman that I’m sure Strauss was at one point. Popper called Republic the most fascist document in history not the least because of the the “noble lie”. Strauss is just one among many in a long line of political philosophers that took Republic seriously as a bluepring for the proper civil organization, and in doing so he embraced the “noble lie”.
    It’s notable that Perle and the other neoconservative Straussians embrace a form of American Imperialism. For all its rhetoric about democracy, imperialism is always in some sense totalitarian, especially at the fringes of empire. Fascism has appeal to elitists, and Straussianism to elitist political philosophers, because it is of course the elite who wield power. I imagine that Machiavelli plays a big role in Straussianism.
    What’s sad, of course, is that these misreadings of these books in the end tarnish these books.


  12. Dalivision says:

    Why does Bush listen to these Neo’s? Can he think for himself?


  13. erichwwk says:

    sorry, that’s Carl Schmitt
    the attorney whose works were imported by Gonzales and Yoo.


  14. Reader says:

    Carroll & sdemetri:
    Prof. Drury may be completely correct, partially correct, or just plain wrong. My argument is simple: it is impossible to make an honest and intelligent decision about whether her reading, or an alternative reading of Strauss is the correct or more plausible one unless you go back to the original texts.
    Unfortunately much of the very little Strauss wrote on foreign policy is presently unpublished. But excerpts with accompanying analysis may be found here:
    “A nation may take another nation as its model: but no nation can presume to educate another nation which has a high tradition of its own. Such a presumption creates resentment, and you cannot educate people who resent your being their educator.”
    I would imagine that at some point these unpublished materials will find their way into print.
    Happy reading.


  15. erichwwk says:

    Glad to see the Wiki entry on Strauss now acknowledges some of the connection between Leo Strauss and Carl Schmidt.
    For those who want further evidence that what has happened here is not so much that we exported democracy as we imported German fascism I direct you to where one learns:
    “And in the margins [of a Helmuth Moltke memo advocating adherence to the Geneva convention], in the unmistakable pencil scrawl of Field Marshall Keitel, were found the thoughts that these rules were “quaint” and “obsolete,” they reflected the “outmoded notions of chivalric warfare.” This was cited as an aggravating factor justifying a sentence of the death against Keitel.”


  16. Eli Lake says:

    Honestly, Steve this is beyond tendentious. Most of the people interviewed in that piece have been quite vocal in their criticisms of the war. Perle, when asked, has said he would do this that and the other different. What I find amazing is that so few of any of the war critics actually bother writing about the actual policy makers other than to say can’t implement their brilliant plans because of a bunch of neocons who haven’t been in the government for now two and a half years. It’s just silly.


  17. sdemetri says:

    Here’s another Shadia Drury article.
    The “Straussianism” link Steve added above has several of her articles listed. Some of his supporter’s works are there as well.


  18. Carroll says:

    People who “wonder what Straussianism is” should go to their public library, read some of his books, and decide for themselves, instead of depending on others to do their reading and thinking for them.
    Posted by Reader at November 5, 2006 05:07 PM
    I read some essays by a Canadian professor several years ago on Straussianism and couldn’t remember her name, but goolging around I found her and an interview with her …..
    If her studies of Strauss are accurate ( and she has done a lot of work on him) then it’s safe to say neo’s share his ideas… and the way our current goverment operates it is a lot too much like Straussianism also.


  19. ROFLMLiberalAO says:

    In other words, Perle is putting his duplicitousness into the public square for all to see.
    Well duh.
    Perle = War Criminal.
    Which is also to say:
    I don’t give a rat’s ass about
    Straussian philosphy.
    That BS may play well on campuses
    from Peoria to Pretoria…
    but that doesn’t mean the ideology is viable…
    Rather… it means,
    Only that it is rancid
    and plays to the dog in every human male.
    You are either on the good-will side of humanity… OR YOU AREN’T.
    Bush and Bin Laden aren’t.
    Perle and Dracula aren’t either.
    All four deserve to be hung in a public square and spit at as they sway…
    They are all human garbage.
    Piss on ’em….


  20. Eli Rabett says:

    Down below I mentioned that Perle had no honor and his actions have cost the US its honor (that means you and me bucky). So with this latest little bit, I will ask Steve Clemons why he continually sucks up to and makes excuses for the Washington think tank trash which supports and glorifies Perle.
    Mr. Clemons should also think hard about what electing his “friend” Chafee will have if the Republicans hold the Senate. Sometimes you have to do what is necessary not what is pleasant.


  21. Reader says:

    “He has one truth he’s willing to market before the election — and another after. Ever wonder what Straussianism is? That’s a big part of it.”
    By this measure, every politician who has ever run in an election is a Straussian. I like this blog, and can’t stand Perle, but you sound like a hack at the end of this post.
    People who “wonder what Straussianism is” should go to their public library, read some of his books, and decide for themselves, instead of depending on others to do their reading and thinking for them.


  22. Carroll says:

    Posted by steambomb at November 5, 2006 01:58 PM
    Ah…if only voting would do it.
    But I admire your efforts.
    I am taking five neighbors to “lunch and vote” Tuesday but I am so cynical about both parties these days I haven’t even asked them who they are voting for.


  23. Prabhata says:

    I had a friend who once proclaimed that a husband when confronted by a wife with his infidelity, had only one option: deny it. Deny it even if pictures show the contrary. Make up a story. His position was that a wife is more willing to believe the impossible than to forgive.
    So the neocons and Bush follow that logic, and many who want to believe will continue to believe. And why not, millions believe in a virgin birth.


  24. steambomb says:

    I know alot of you have watched me complain about current affairs and the direction that our nation has taken as you read through these threads. Today I am doing something about it. I get free minutes on weekends and nights with my Cell service. I am calling to help get out the vote. You too can help. Just follow the link below. Thank you.


  25. Carroll says:

    Who does Perle think he is influencing? I doubt the average voter out here knows enough about Perle..unless they have read Bamford’s Pretext for War or are addicted to watching the neo’s like some of us are.
    I want to see the neo’s next move…MOST of all, I want to see WHO in congress is going to join the neo’s attack Iran scheme.
    We need an American-American Political Action Committee, AAPAC, to issue red alerts every time one of the neo’s surface anywhere.


  26. Pissed Off American says:

    Interesting. In effect, Perle is admitting that his take on the situation will influence the American people to vote out an inept and bumbling Administration. And he regrets the fact that his comments might lead to such an eventuality.
    Obviously, the man sees a less desirable scenario than an inept and bumbling Administration remaining in power. Gads, what COULD be worse?
    One can only assume he sees the possibility of replacing the inept fanatics with competent ones. And the irresponsible malleability of the Bush Administration may well be the door that he wishes to remain open.
    Who knows what monsters lurk in the wings?


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