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Strategic Intelligentia

Reflections on U.S. policy, international affairs and the limitations of the Bush administration

(The Henry Jackson Society) – In a candid conversation with Barak M. Seener, Richard Perle offers insightful observations and analyses ranging from the current administration’s recent departure from neo-conservatism, the failings of the Presidential bureaucracy, and the fundamentally flawed strategy pursued by the U.S. in Iraq. Perle delves into the principles of neo-conservatism and addresses the misconceptions surrounding it. He asserts that the promotion of alternative energy is central to national security. Perle goes on to construct an argument for the continued use of interventionism as a legitimate and justifiable policy option. He also delineates the threat of U.S. military primacy and the steps necessary to sustain it. Finally, he discusses his perception of the inevitable failure of any Israeli- Palestinian peace negotiations which ignore the aims of Palestinians, and considers the possibility of militarily engaging Iran and North Korea.

B.M.S. Do you not find it problematic that the Neo- Conservative movement was short-sighted in the fact that they promoted a coherent philosophy which stated that there exists a nexus between autocratic states which lack human rights and their attempt to provide logistical and financial support to terrorist groups around the world? These same regimes threaten international security by their promotion of nuclear proliferation which may find their way into sub-state actors. On the other hand, they did not conduct a rigorous quantitative study as to how the current troop capacity would be able to achieve the grand aims of macro-democratization in the region.

R.P. I would, firstly, like to say that there does not exist a Neo Conservative’Movement’.Neo-Conservatismisaninclination and what does exist is a group of like-minded individuals that share the same inclination on a number, but by no means all, issues. The people who advanced the need to promote democratization as a doctrine did not have in mind military force to facilitate this. To associate support for regime-change with the advocacy of military force is a common misconception. Amongst the many of articles I have written, testimony I’ve given to Congress, television appearance and the like, I have never advocated the use of force as the way to achieve the development of democratic institutions. Douglas Feith and Paul Wolfowitz have argued against the use of military force to achieve this end. Thus, there was no Neo- Conservative focus on the Revolution in Military Affairs in connection with the advancement of democratic institutions. They simply did not consider force. Rather, they saw the necessity in creating institutions such as the National
Endowment for Democracy which would offer political and moral support for subjugated people seeking democracy. Portugal under Salazar or Franco under Spain, as well as Serbia under Milosevic, were all democratized primarily through political action.

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Barak Seener is the CEO of Strategic Intelligentia and a former Middle East Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). He is on Twitter at @BarakSeener.