Appearing on BBC’s Hardtalk with Stephen Sackur this weekend, Iraq war architect Richard Perle attempted, on the one hand, to distance himself from the failures of the Iraq war, and on the other hand, to claim it was a fantastic success.
“I’m not happy about the way events have unfolded in Iraq,” Perle began. But when asked whether he felt a “sense of personal responsibility” for what has happened in the aftermath of the invasion, Perle said “I certainly don’t consider myself responsible” for the disastrous post-war occupation of Iraq.
Asked whether he was wrong on Iraq, Perle gave this response:
Well, I don’t believe I was wrong. Let me be very clear about that. What I think happened is that a successful invasion was turned into an unsuccessful occupation. I didn’t favor the occupation strategy. I think the occupation was a mistake.
Perle also defended his pre-war claim that regime change in Iraq would bring about “dancing in the streets.” “Essentially,” there was, said Perle. “The Iraqis actually tend to shoot weapons in the air rather than dance in the streets,” he observed. “But we were regarded as liberators at the beginning.” Watch it:
Before the war, Perle advocated simply bombing and leaving Iraq. “We do not have to go into Baghdad,” he said in Oct. 2002 on NBC. “We do not have to engage in door-to-door, street-to-street fighting.”
But once the war began, Perle specifically endorsed the Paul Bremer-led occupation of Iraq. And repeatedly claimed it was producing good results. Appearing on Fox News on April 7, 2004, Perle said, “We’re making so much progress with most Iraqis that those who feel threatened by the progress are more devoted and more energetic than ever to try to destroy the progress we’re making.”