Perle and Frum’s New Neo-Con Manifesto

January 8, 2004 at 6:40 pm
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It seems
like, at last, we may get a chance to have a real public debate over the proper
role of the US in international affairs. We seem to finally have moved beyond
closed-door agenda development and into a sort of a dialogue–still, not a truly
open or fair handed dialogue, but a bit of dialogue all the same–about what
we’re really trying to do with the so-called “Bush Doctrine.” Perhaps this year,
we can put talk of conspiracy behind us, put down the blunt weapon of “you’re
wid us er agin’ us,” and deal in the open with the ideas on their own

Richard Perle, Prince of Darkness (anybody else get just a little
freaked out when they see him on camera with that odd, greenish-grayish cast
around his baggy, flint-black eyes?) and David Frum, of the American Enterprise
Institute, have published a new book, An End to Evil: Strategies For Victory
in the War on Terror,
which makes the larger neo-con case for American
hegemony in the new century.

Forget all that talk that Bush used to make
about not believing in nation-building and imposing our will on other nations.
That is exactly, wholeheartedly, what this crew has in mind. With carrot and
stick, they fully intend to transform the world, remake it in our own image;
indeed, make the world safe for democracy.

The reference to the
ideological debate over Vietnam is intentional. This is another phase of that
same debate, to wit: what is America’s proper role?

Listening to the
authors just now on the Charlie Rose show, I was struck by several things. Perle
as much admitted that the reason we went after Iraq on the pretext of their WMD
possession was because “the lawyers” thought that was the best pretext, the one
with the best legal case to be made for it. But the Administration’s mind was
made up before that, and it was mainly motivated by the fear that Saddam would
win. He was gradually finding ways around the sanctions, and they feared that if
he were seen as victorious, we would lose our influence in the region. Straight
up ideological objectives, and absolutely no different than our ideological
pursuits in Vietnam…another war, incidentally, that we entered under false a
pretext (the Gulf of Tonkin incident). As Perle
writes the book, “There is no middle way for Americans: It is victory or

Second, these chickenhawks (and the whole lot of
them, with the exception of Colin Powell, are, having avoided military service
with one excuse or another) really believe in exerting America’s military might
in pursuit of their ideological objectives. I’m sure this sits well with the
hawks among you, but I do believe that on the whole, Americans don’t support
such uses of our military. At least, we’d like to believe we behave defensively.
But we have gradually, under the perceived (and regularly refreshed) threats of
terrorism, transformed into an agressor nation that is unapologetically prepared
to remake the world as it sees fit. First it’s “pre-emption,” then it’s
“persuasion” (to which they falsely credit the submission of Khaddafi), and the
next thing you know, it’s “leadership.” A slippery slope.

Third, they are finally being frank
about their concerns over Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the cozy relationships the
oil sheiks have with Islamic terrorist groups. They’re still not admitting any
culpability on our part, nor–even under very direct questioning from
Rose–would they admit that there’s something just a bit wrong about the way
that Prince Bandar lives in grand style in the US, cavorting with Dubya on his
Crawford ranch, and smoking cigars on the balcony of the White House together on
the evening of 9-11. In fact, Perle’s dismissal was coy, saying we are simply a
friendly host. But the framework of our true targets is finally coming into

It’s clear now that Saddam was simply in the way. He made a mockery
of our power, our influence in the region. He stymied our attempts to continue
to manipulate him to serve our interests, as we had done for decades past. And
we really needed a new base of operations in the Mideast, in part to deal with
the rising threat hosted and funded not by Saddam, but by our close friends and
business partners, the oil sheiks. We had to take him out, to advance our
agenda, and to salvage our pride. Once the claims
about Iraq’s WMD were proven false, Bush tossed the pretext aside casually,
saying “What difference does it make?” They have an agenda, and they’re willing
to sell it as best they can, but if they can’t sell it, they will move ahead
with it anyway, and ask forgiveness later. They don’t care all that much about
appearances, about consistency, even about world opinion. They are the masters
of the universe and they’ve got a job to do.

And this sort of posturing is essential to
understanding the neo-con agenda. It is very much about our national ego. This
article from Commondreams took that slant on Perle and Frum’s new manifesto,
casting bin Laden as Lex Luthor and Duyba as Superman:

A Fistful of Kryptonite Against SuperGeorge…

national ego, apparently, demands superheroism. We need to be brave victors
in glorious wars. We need to believe we are the greatest nation on earth. Our
national mythology requires that we are ever in the Right. But there is a cost
to our chest-thumping: while you were reeling in fear after 9-11, your country
was transformed from a democracy to an oligarchy. Just like that. And we
applauded the bravado of our new leaders. Another example of vanity leading us
astray, is it not?

At least, that’s how I see it. I’ll have more
to say once I’ve read their book, I’m sure. In the meantime, here’s something to
chew on.

First, an article about how change is finally fomenting in Saudi
Arabia, and the royal family is finding itself increasingly on the defensive
against forces within the country who desire a transfer of power from the royal
house to a parliament under a consitutional monarchy. Very interesting stuff
that you’ll never see in the US media:

Second, a far more vitriolic and
personalized, leftist take on Perle and Frum’s new manifesto, from
Counterpunch. And yet one with some very good observations. See

Frum’s New Neo-Con Manifesto

The title
is not part of my usual vocabulary, but sometimes an expression
fits so
perfectly that it becomes irresistible. And so it is for the authors
of a
neo-con “manifesto” on foreign policy. The Gomer Pyle of American
recently was presented with a plan to reorder much of the world,
a plan
intended to build on his remarkable achievements in Iraq and
spreading resentment and future mayhem against Americans across

Have you ever noticed how many of those odd people, the American
use the rhetoric of nineteenth century European radicals? You’d be
hard put
to count all the references to “revolutionary,” “radical,” and
in the American Right’s industrial-scale output of pamphlets and
This practice may have started as a marketing gimmick, the
application of a term from an unexpected context, but this kind of
is far more revealing than its authors realize.

Hitler was
partial to just this kind of language. That lover of fire
roadsters, cane and cape at the opera, and tea with elegant
pastries always
used such terms to describe his political movement when he
strutted in public
with whip and jackboots.

One of the authors of this “manifesto” is David
Frum. After years of
dutifully churning out his quota of words for one of
America’s well-endowed,
right-wing propaganda mills styled as academic
institutes, Frum’s big moment
came with his elevation to presidential

Knowing the quality of Bush speeches, you might think that
being dismissed
as a speechwriter would be impossible, but Frum managed the
feat. He or his
wife, the case is not clear, committed the sin of
speechwriter lese-majeste,
letting people know he wrote the original version
of what became the “axis
of evil” expression. You are never permitted to know
such things. You are
supposed to think such stirring words sprang directly
from the head of Presi
dent Pyle. When Frum or his wife bragged of his
contribution to history on
the Washington cocktail circuit, they found
themselves packing their bags
before the hangovers had lifted.

by now missing out on the greatest period of winks, nods,
influence-peddling since President Grant’s administration, Frum hasn’t
from his knees since being ushered from the imperial presence. Teaming
with Richard Perle may or may not rekindle a nearly-dead career, but it
Frum’s first opportunity to walk upright in months.

Richard Perle
needs little introduction. He might be summed up as
Washington’s resident
Creature from the Black Lagoon, displaying the
accumulated toxic effects of a
lifetime spent wallowing and bottom-feeding
in the Potomac. He is exalted
“fellow” at another of those propaganda-mill
institutes, Defense Department
wheeler-dealer and profiteer, tireless
advocate for every American colonial
war and bombing run, and energetic
lobbyist for the Israeli military’s way of
doing things.

The “manifesto” is contained in a new book, An End to Evil:
How to Win the
War on Terror. Now, there’s an intriguing title suggesting
fresh thought. An
end to evil? Do the neo-con crackpots ever stop talking as
though the date
were 700 BCE? Perhaps Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell or others
of the
trailer-park heavenly host are credited in the Acknowledgments
contributions or inspiration?

The title should frighten us. After
all, anyone even near to influencing the
use of atomic-powered aircraft
carriers and thermonuclear weapons who speaks
about ending evil in foreign
policy is a very dangerous person. One can’t
help but recall General Ripper’s
concerns over a declining “purity of
essence” in Dr. Strangelove as he
launched his strategic-bomber wing on a
pre-emptive nuclear attack. But as we
live in a time when an American
president himself speaks this mumbo jumbo, I
suppose we have added nothing
to our stock of fear. As for pre-emptive
attack, hasn’t President Pyle made
that an official doctrine of the United

The authors express concern over what they see as a faltering
will to win in
Washington. Will to win? The expression chillingly recalls
announcements crackling over the airwaves from Berlin, circa 1944.
language can be so revealing.

I suppose an American military
now up to its armpits in long-term
commitments combined with a public tired
of hearing about dead soldiers
would have a little something to do with this
perception of flagging will.
Undoubtedly, too, a frenzy of spending while
cutting taxes and running
monumental trade deficits, a reckless policy
combination that ultimately
threatens the economic stability of the United
States, might contribute.
But, as we all know, when you are fighting evil,
there can be no
half-hearted measures. That’s how the President’s oily,
well-fed spiritual
advisors in silk suits admonish their flocks as they pass
the collection
plate for the third time.

The “manifesto” brims with
stuff to please the kind of Americans who never
read genuine news or books on
international affairs yet maintain
chest-thumping opinions on how to treat
foreigners. Surprise, surprise, we
find in these pages demands for “regime
change” in Syria and Iran, although
the explanation of just where the U.S.
would get sufficient holy warriors
for these crusades while still holding
down Iraq and Afghanistan may be
consigned to some very fine type at the back
of the book. As it is,
America’s reprehensible system of buying poor young
military recruits by
promising money for college is coming under strain with
the sudden
realization that you may actually have to face a stinking,
pointless war for
your tuition.

Our steak-fed Potomac revolutionaries
give little thought to how the
international community would regard such
wholesale aggression. Their
anointed leader already has done more damage to
America’s traditional
alliances and friendships than perhaps any president in
history, but Frum
and Perle think America needs to throw off entirely the
yoke of
international concerns. If Marx and Engels could call for humanity to
off its chains, Frum and Perle can call for humanity to take a

The boys appear to have sworn off using their expense accounts at
serving frites with their bifteck, because they are really pissed of
France. They want France treated as a rival, perhaps even an enemy, of
United States. Never mind that France secured America’s independence in
late eighteenth century and that she has been a dependable ally through
number of wars and conflicts since. Never mind that France remains one
the world’s true beacons for freedom and the human spirit, the kind
precious values supposedly motivating Frum and Perle.

Does it
matter that France sustained a successful struggle against terrorism
before the subject became trendy with neo-cons and did so
overthrowing other societies? Does it matter that France might have
genuine insight and wisdom in these matters? France simply must be
especially, one suspects, because virtually every point the French
made in
public against attacking Iraq has proved embarrassingly

The scope of Frum and Perle’s historical vision is not limited
to creating
more havoc in the Middle East and spitting on old friends like
France, they
want to do great things in Asia, too, starting with a military
blockade of
North Korea. America should seriously plan a strike on that
nuclear facilities. These are the words of pyromaniacs ready to
lighted matches into dry tinder around Los Angeles just for fun.
concerns about how the world would see such acts of war are brushed

More importantly, concerns about what South Koreans might think
are brushed
aside, people whose thriving, populous capital of Seoul is
vulnerable to attack from the North. Of course, in this Frum and
reflect the spirit of much of the President’s dealings with the North
date. He doesn’t waste time on anything beside the point, the point
much always coming down to “you’re with us or against us.” Anyway,
people in
Washington are better equipped to understand Korea than Koreans,
they? A lifetime of scribbling for imperial patrons on how the planet
be run qualifies you as an expert and a man of action, so Frum and
call for action.

The manifesto is about many things, but despite
its boast, it is not about
ending terror. As a brave Anglican Bishop of
Durham, Tom Wright, said so
perfectly recently, “For Bush and Blair to go
into Iraq together was like a
bunch of white vigilantes going into Brixton [a
bad neighborhood in London]
to stop drug dealing. This is not to deny there’s
a problem to be sorted,
just that they are not credible people to deal with
it.” The manifesto is
about permanently deputizing the white

Its recommendations lead in only one direction and that is
towards a system
of extreme suppression of views and beliefs in the world
that mainstream
America either does not understand or holds to be
unacceptable. It invites a
fear-forged world in which there can never be
enough security, paralleling
closely what one sees in territories touching on
Israel. Israel never has
enough security. Occupation, reprisals, and wars
haven’t supplied enough.
Arrest and torture haven’t supplied enough. Spies
and assassinations haven’t
supplied enough. Atomic weapons haven’t supply
enough. Walls will not supply

The simple act of refusing to
make a genuine peace is what makes Israel’s
paranoid apparatus seem
necessary. And so the United States with its
invasive, destructive policies
that created Bin Laden in Afghanistan, that
inflamed Hussein’s ambitions, or
that brought a quarter century of hatred
from Iran. Frum and Perle don’t want
a revolutionary change in policies,
they want Israel’s paranoid apparatus
extended to world-scale.

This is a mad vision of a world which perhaps
resembles nothing so much as
Orwell’s 1984 politely introduced through the
back door in the name of
stopping terror instead of being imposed by a police
state, although in this
vision America would become effectively a police
state vis-a-vis the rest of
the world.

The manifesto might be viewed
as a call to fulfill what was once known as
America’s Manifest Destiny when
only Indians and Spaniards in Western North
America were affected. Now that
call is openly to assume the imperial purple
of Rome on a planetary scale.
You have the military power, America, use it.
To hell with what the other
ninety-five percent of humanity thinks or fears.

Considering the book’s
timing, entering an election year, its major purpose
may be to make Bush look
moderate by comparison. Of course, he is not a
moderate: every major proposal
in this book has already been noised about
during his administration. But
then again neither is he a war hero, yet he
has been able to stupidly play
act at that with considerable success for a
large audience of Americans. Who,
a year or so ago, would have believed Bush
pig-headed enough actually to
invade Iraq, an action whose full, terrible
costs will be coming in for
years? Not a single reason given for his doing
so was true, yet Americans
still support him in the polls.

The sick puppies’ manifesto may just
become a forecast.

“The Iraqi regime is a threat to any American and
to threats who are friends
of America.”
— Our leader, [“The Gomer Pyle of
American Presidents”!!] Jan. 3, 2003

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