In their own words:
Richard Perle: "The levels of brutality that we've seen are truly horrifying, and I have to say, I underestimated the depravity."
"The decisions did not get made that should have been. They didn't get made in a timely fashion, and the differences were argued out endlessly.… At the end of the day, you have to hold the president responsible.… I don't think he realized the extent of the opposition within his own administration, and the disloyalty."
"I think if I had been delphic, and had seen where we are today, and people had said, 'Should we go into Iraq?,' I think now I probably would have said, 'No, let's consider other strategies for dealing with the thing that concerns us most, which is Saddam supplying weapons of mass destruction to terrorists.' … I don't say that because I no longer believe that Saddam had the capability to produce weapons of mass destruction, or that he was not in contact with terrorists. I believe those two premises were both correct. Could we have managed that threat by means other than a direct military intervention? Well, maybe we could have."
Kenneth Adelman (who wrote in the Washington Post, "I believe demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk."):
"I just presumed that what I considered to be the most competent national-security team since Truman was indeed going to be competent. They turned out to be among the most incompetent teams in the post-war era. Not only did each of them, individually, have enormous flaws, but together they were deadly, dysfunctional."
"[If I had it to do over again,] I would write an article that would be skeptical over whether there would be a performance that would be good enough to implement our policy. The policy can be absolutely right, and noble, beneficial, but if you can't execute it, it's useless, just useless. I guess that's what I would have said: that Bush's arguments are absolutely right, but you know what, you just have to put them in the drawer marked can't do. And that's very different from let's go." [Kind of a weaselly answer, IMO]
Frank Gaffney: "[Bush] doesn't in fact seem to be a man of principle who's steadfastly pursuing what he thinks is the right course. He talks about it, but the policy doesn't track with the rhetoric, and that's what creates the incoherence that causes us problems around the world and at home. It also creates the sense that you can take him on with impunity."
There are more. These late-in-the-game enlightenments would carry a lot more weight if there weren't literally millions of people out there able to say, "We told you so." These Masters of Reality were really just moonie utopians, believing the world could be rebuilt with guns.
If the world needs to be rebuilt, you use a hammer and nails -- the hammer alone can't build squat. But the neocons thought you could just walk around knocking down structures with a hammer and better ones would just sprout up like magic. Burn down the weeds and corn will grow, seems to have been the reasoning.
This line of reasoning, that liberty is the human default and undemocratic structures are only impediments to democracy, requires a breathtaking ignorance of history. And, considering the educations and resumes of the players here, we have to assume it was a wilfull ignorance. History shows that authoritarianism and monarchy are the human default. Those are were the first governments and those have been the longest lasting governments.
And the modern equivalent to the king is the dictator -- the entire power of government in one pair of shoes. To believe that knocking down a dictatorship will cause a democracy to grow organically is an amazing misunderstanding of human history.
It's hard to see much that's positive in what amounts to a bunch of cultists admitting they were in a cult -- you can't unbreak the vase. They wouldn't listen to reason to begin with -- some, like Adelman, are still unwilling to admit it was all a mistake -- and they come to it far too late in the game to absolve them of any guilt. This is their crime, as much as it is Bush's.
In court, showing remorse might get you a lighter sentence, but it doesn't transform guilt into innocence. Getting religion now is too little, too late.
Technorati tags: politics; Iraq; war; disaster; neocons like Richard Perle. Kenneth Adelman, Frank Gaffney have a lot to answer for