The Washington Post

Richard Perle on Iraq War: Don’t even ask

Former Pentagon adviser Richard Perle (Greg Wahl-Stephens/AP)

But the quote of the week goes to Richard Perle, who was on the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board and a vociferous backer of the war.

Wednesday, Perle had the perfect answer to the inevitable question, posed by National Public Radio’s Renee Montagne.

“When you think about this, was it worth it?” she asked.

“I’ve got to say,” Perle responded, “I think that is not a reasonable question. What we did at the time was done in the belief that it was necessary to protect this nation. You can’t a decade later go back and say, well, we shouldn’t have done that.”

So critics should start being reasonable.

Former deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz was first runner-up, when he reflected on the war in a Fox News column.

The problem, it turns out, was really just a matter of strategy, Wolfowitz wrote. But it took four years to develop the right strategy, Wolfowitz said, noting “how different things might have been if the U.S. had been pursuing a counter-insurgency strategy from the outset.”

And it’s not that the problems weren’t evident almost immediately, judging from an article by our colleagues Glenn Kessler and Dana Priest only a month after the invasion.

The headline? “U.S. Planners Surprised by Strength of Iraqi Shiites.” The report found that “U.S. officials looking for allies in the struggle to fill the power vacuum left by the downfall of Saddam Hussein.”

Just a week into the war, the Army’s senior ground commander in Iraq was saying “The enemy we’re fighting is different from the one we’d war-gamed against.”


Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.
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