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Perle Handled Propaganda
August 20, 2002
By Mike McArdle

Richard Perle never met an aggressive military action that he didn't fall madly in love with. He is a think-tank-hawk, one of those people who visit talk shows, work for the American Enterprise Institute, and make it their job to tell us that we're not pursuing our enemies with enough ferocity. He's also the chairman of the Defense Policy Board, a panel that advises the Pentagon and apparently actually has military higher-ups pay attention to them. He makes his money thinking about wars and suggesting that they actually occur.

Now of course, Mr. Perle, for all his wild eyed desire to send other people into harm's way to rid the world of the tyrants that he so graciously identifies for us, has never been in or anywhere near a real war. He wanted to make sure that the gun-toting commies in Vietnam wouldn't deprive America of a badly needed think-tank hawk so he developed an insatiable desire for higher education during the era when men his age were being drafted to fight in Southeast Asia.

Perle apparently now senses that his current favorite project, a war against Iraq starting yesterday if at all possible, is losing support both at home and abroad so he's taken to beating the war drums in the press. Writing last week in the Telegraph for an British audience that is increasingly skeptical of the need to get lots of people killed and risk economic and geopolitical chaos to produce what our courageous commander-in-chief euphemistically calls a "regime change" Mr. Perle dragged the charred carcass of old Adolf Hitler out of its Berlin bunker and held it up as an example of what's waiting for us unless we take out Saddam Hussein right now. "A pre-emptive strike against Hitler at the time of Munich would have meant an immediate war as opposed to the one that came later. Later was much worse," wrote Mr. Perle.

Of course, Adolph has been dusted off before in discussions of Saddam. Back in the demonization phase of the 1991 Gulf War the toothbrush mustache was a constant feature of the debate. The war wasn't about Kuwaiti oil we were told by Perle and others, it was about "naked aggression", a madman who wasn't going to stop with Kuwait but would soon be raining nukes down on American cities if we didn't take him out then and there. Funny thing though, once the war started Saddam's Army ran away. Lit up a few oil wells and headed back toward Baghdad. Our guys killed a bunch of them as they hit the road but it wasn't very sporting and once the oil was secure we decided that Saddam wasn't the goose-stepping, swastika wearing devil he was supposed to be so we just kind of left him where he was.

But there were some like Mr. Perle who never quite got over the pre-war rhetoric. I guess it was kind of embarrassing that the guy they sold as Adolf Reincarnated turned out to be about as menacing as Stuart Little and has been nothing but a minor annoyance ever since.

But then September 11 happened and Perle sensed that he was going to get another shot at that triumphant march into Baghdad. "We didn't do the job, in part because we didn't understand the dangers. I think after Sept. 11 those dangers are now much better understood," Perle said in an interview with PBS. Now, of course, neither Perle nor anyone in the administration has been able to connect Iraq and Al Qaeda so he's had to be creative. "Saddam Hussein could -- and very possibly will -- transfer weapons of mass destruction to anonymous terrorists," he told PBS. He hasn't and he didn't but he could and he might. As calls to arms go this leaves a bit to be desired.

So now Perle has come up with a new rationale for going after Adolf, er, I mean Saddam. We have to fight Saddam because we've already said we would. That's right. We can't justify it. It's unprovoked. It has next to nothing to do with terrorism but we have to do it because it will look bad now if we don't. Perle told the New York Times last week, "The failure to take on Saddam after what the president said would produce such a collapse of confidence in the president that it would set back the war on terrorism." Yep. We have to drop bombs on a city full of living people killing tens of thousands of them - mostly innocent civilians - so that people will believe that the miniscule little man in the White House really intends to beat up on those evildoers in the event that he ever does encounter any of them.

Of course Mr. Perle seems to have forgotten the fact that our little commander strutted around last fall telling us all that he was going to bring in Osama Bin Laden "dead or alive" and now has to acknowledge that he is completely clueless about Bin Laden's whereabouts. By Perle's standards then, what meager credibility our boy might have had has already gone south.

But if you bring up such awkward matters you simply don't understand the world of the think-tankers. They have wars to create, young people to sacrifice, and global scenarios to plan. People like Richard Perle can't afford to have reality intrude on matters of such cosmic import.

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