Memo To: Henry Kissinger
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Richard Perle
I was surprised to see you on television last night making arguments I associate with the world’s No. 1 hawk, Richard Perle, who has been the chief architect of our policy toward the Arab/Islamic world. There is no single American more responsible for inciting outrage among Muslims globally than Richard, whose maniacal prescriptions led inexorably to last week’s cataclysm. It was no surprise to me to see Richard on CNN’s Evans&Novak, Hunt& Shields program on Sunday, calling for all-out war against the Arab world with a coalition entirely composed of western Europeans. If he were just an ordinary maniac, we could live with him, Henry, but he is chairman of the Defense Policy Board, which advises the Pentagon, and which gives him total access to all military secrets. Do you have any doubt that he is now in constant communication with Ariel Sharon and Binjamin Netanyahu, the leaders of the coo-coo wing of the Likud Party in Israel?
Over the last four decades, since I first met both you and Richard in the first year of the Nixon administration in 1969, I always associated you with the moderates, like the late Sen. Jacob Javits of New York, who would look for diplomatic solutions to conflict. Richard, who was then a 25-year-old boy wonder who worked for Sen. Henry (Scoop) Jackson, Washington Democrat, was a protege of Albert Wohlstetter, who played hawk to your dove in our dealings with the Soviet Union. Back then, I was allied with Wohlstetter, a Cold War hawk, although I at least had an appreciation of your views. Now I see you practically in lockstep with Perle, who we have always known as the Prince of Darkness, a master of disinformation who helped us win the Cold War, and who now wants to bring the Muslim world to its knees.
You know how these things work, Henry. There are basically two approaches to solving the problem of terrorism. One is that you understand the mind of the terrorist in order to establish defenses against it. The other is that you kill all the terrorists and all the potential terrorists. Richard would certainly not flinch at that possibility, although I’m sure he would think we would only have to kill a significant fraction of the 1.25 billion Muslims before the rest “got the message.” Before their deaths, Wohlstetter and former president Richard Nixon had designed our policy toward Iraq, by which the U.S. would allow Iraqi civilians to die of starvation and disease until the people were so miserable they would topple Saddam Hussein. I’ve noted a number of times in this space that 1.5 million Iraqi civilians have died thusfar, according to the United Nations, because of a policy designed by two dead men, now carried out by Wohlstetter’s proteges, with Perle at the top of that deadly totem poll. Nixon, I’m sure, could not have imagined Saddam would still be in power after all these years. You know as well as I do that it has been criminal for our government to pretend to the American people that the embargo would have been lifted on Iraq if Saddam complied with the 1991 UN resolutions. Insofar as you have known this and done nothing about it, I suppose I would have to list you on the negative side of last week’s equation.
Remember when Madeleine Albright, our UN Ambassador, was asked by Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes if it were worth the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children to keep the embargo on, and without hesitation, Madeleine said it surely was. Richard Perle, I’m sure, cheered her statement. So did Paul Wolfowitz, Perle’s acolyte, who is now Deputy Defense Secretary. Our Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, probably flinched at the comment, as he still has some sense left, but Don still follows Perle’s lead, as he has since the Ford Administration. When Wohlstetter was the big intellectual cheese at the Rand Corporation, he brought Rumsfeld in on the Rand board, where he was fully indoctrinated on how to end wars and how to start them. In 1996, when the GOP came up with the Dole/Kemp ticket, I did my best to come up with ideas on how Bob Dole could present a more diplomatic image to the American people. Alas, Dole had Perle at his side. When President Clinton bombed Iraq on Labor Day, to kick off his re-election campaign, he violated the War Powers Act. But Dole quickly praised the bombing and other Republicans, whose staffs include members of the Perle network on Capitol Hill, immediately complained that Clinton should have dropped bigger bombs.
In case you did not know it, Secretary of State Colin Powell refers to Perle and his network as “the bombers.” They include the WSJournal editorial page, which Perle has in his back pocket, The Weekly Standard, which he has in his front pocket, and Bill Safire, his mouthpiece at the NYTimes. We were all buddies during the Cold War, but when the Cold War ended I became a peacenik. I do not have any influence, just a little guy trying to figure out how to prevent hot wars, cold wars and terrorist wars. But you have influence, Henry. You could pick up the phone and advise our young President to weigh Colin Powell’s advice a little more heavily than Rumsfeld’s, which is in fact Perle’s. I’d hate to see our country overrun with Muslim McVeighs, blowing up this, that and the other thing. Wouldn’t you?