Monday, September 11, 2017

Richard Perle, Optimist

On this auspicious anniversary I feel it is a good time to take a break from all the hurricane porn on TV and look back...

Almost fourteen years ago, neo-conservative operative Richard Perle gave an historically significant—or at least worth noting—speech at an American Enterprise Institute event entitled "Turkey at the Crossroads." Perle's speech was largely but not entirely overlooked at the time.

The following paragraph sums up the enthusiastic mindset of the neo-conservatives, the Bush administration and its lap-dogs in the media, and a large chunk of the American electorate who fell for the whole scam:
"So the problems that affect Americans and Turks are, I think, largely behind us. The problems in Iraq are ahead of us, but we're doing better than people think. And a year from now, I'll be very surprised if there is not some grand square in Baghdad that is named after President Bush. There is no doubt that, with the exception of a very small number of people close to a vicious regime, the people of Iraq have been liberated and they understand that they've been liberated. And it is getting easier every day for Iraqis to express that sense of liberation. 

Wohlstetter Conference Center, Twelfth Floor, AEI
1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036
September 22, 2003. (emphasis added)

MP3 of the quotation

Full Transcript of the Speech (for the sake of completeness) [link broken beyond my appetite to fix it]

Update: a functional link to the full transcript is finally available again.

I know you're not going to bother to read the entire transcript so I'll leave you with a section that also tickles the jaded funny bone:

"MS. : I have a question. I was reading [inaudible] a few days ago in the New York Times, and he said that the emphasis on our Ahmed Chelabi was too much. In fact, they tried to work with other Iraqis and build a post-war Iraq. But a great emphasis [inaudible] in Ahmed Chelabi, who is in exile. Did you read that article? What are your thoughts on that article? 
"MR. PERLE: The question was about Ahmed Chelabi and reference was to an article which I haven't read. But let me just say that the Iraqi people must choose their next government, their leaders. If they choose Ahmed Chelabi, I think they will have a very bright future. 
"I've known Ahmed Chelabi for more than a dozen years. He is a man, in my experience, of absolute integrity and courage, and he would be a great Iraqi leader. 
"I read stories all the time about how he has the backing of the Pentagon. Some of us who are connected one way or another to the Pentagon who know him have a high regard for him. But he doesn't have the backing of the Pentagon. Whatever he is able to accomplish in Iraq will be on the strength of his own abilities, his character, his intelligence, and his commitment to the freedom of the people of Iraq. 
"I can't imagine a leader who more fully embodies the values that caused the Americans to believe we should liberate Iraq. He believes in democracy. He believes in individual freedom. He's a Shia who does not want a theocracy in Iraq. And it pains me to see some officials of this government make disparaging remarks about him. For the most part, the disparagement comes from people who don't know him, who have never met him, and it's based on jealousies and in some cases embarrassment. Chelabi was right over many years when they were wrong. 
"So it's been troubling to see the disparagement of this great man. But I have complete confidence that his qualities will lead him into a position of leadership in Iraq."

Let us give a big thanks to and the Wayback Machine. The Internet never forgets. 🐘