“There is no such thing as a neoconservative foreign policy.”
– Richard Perle talking to a gathering sponsored by National Interest magazine.
So what about the 1996 report he co-authored that is widely seen as the cornerstone of neoconservative foreign policy? “My name was on it because I signed up for the study group,” Perle explained. “I didn’t approve it. I didn’t read it.”
Mm-hmm. And the two letters to the president, signed by Perle, giving a “moral” basis to Middle East policy and demanding military means to remove Saddam Hussein? “I don’t have the letters in front of me,” Perle replied.
Right. And the Bush administration National Security Strategy, enshrining the neoconservative themes of preemptive war and using American power to spread freedom? “I don’t know whether President Bush ever read any of those statements,” Perle maintained. “My guess is he didn’t.”
Gotta love the logic, eh?
Just because Bush doesn’t read it means that the neoconservative foreign policy doesn’t exist.
Steve Benen points out that the folks at the talk found it equally amusing…
It was apparently quite a performance, which literally drew laughter when Perle insisted, “I’ve never advocated attacking Iran.” He added that he doesn’t “accept” the notion that there’s even a “neoconservative school of thought,” and said his book, “An End to Evil,” is actually a text devoted to realism. “There’s hardly an ideology in that book,” Perle said.
As Milbank reminds us, the book argues, “There is no middle way for Americans: It is victory or holocaust. This book is a manual for victory.” No, no ideology there.
Apparently, at the end of yesterday’s event, the moderator thanked Perle for being there: “You certainly kept us all entertained.”