Politics

03.20.13

How Richard Perle Sleeps at Night

Renee Montagne just did an interview with Richard Perle on NPR a bit ago. I wouldn't say it was the world's toughest interview. She put on that anguished-NPR voice. You know the one. It's reserved for interviews with certain categories of penitents, from ex-bigots who've seen the light to war criminals.

But she did haul some illuminating language out of him all the same. She asked one excellent question. He'd been banging on about all the intelligence agencies around the world that thought Saddam had chemical weapons. Then she asked, but as we now know, it turns out that he wasn't trying to deceive the United States into thinking he didn't have such weapons; instead he was trying to deceive local actors (Iran, Kurds) into thinking that he did have them. Isn't it rather a large error not to have seen that?

Perle acknowledged the point: "I am sorry to say I did not achieve that insight."

Achieve that insight! Oh well. That's how it goes. Win some lose some, what's the big deal?

At the end came the clincher. Was it worth it, she asked. Perle regretted to say that that wasn't a fair or legitimate question. Too retrospective. So that's how these people wipe the blood off their hands. Decide that the one question that might potentially force a painful coming to terms with the awfulness of what you've done is out of bounds. I thought you might find this a useful tip with which to start your day.