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"We don't seek empires. We're not imperialistic. We never have been. I can't imagine why you'd even ask the question." Donald Rumsfeld, questioned by an al-Jazeera correspondent, April 29, 2003.

"No one can now doubt the word of America," George W. Bush, State of the Union, January 20, 2004.

A Blog by Rahul Mahajan

Perle and Frum: No End in Sight

When William Shakespeare said, "Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediment," he was probably not thinking of the marvelously apposite union in authorship of Richard Perle, the man known even to his colleagues as the "Prince of Darkness," and David Frum, who invented the phrase "axis of evil."

No note of internal dissension mars their new book, "An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror." Nor is the book marred by any contact with reality, except by accident. Given the history of this administration, it should come as no surprise that the book is filled with deceit, misrepresentation, half-truths and outright lies. What is perhaps more surprising is how few of those there are. The book has virtually no content. Set in large type, it's full of opinionated ramblings that make virtually no reference to actual events, concrete facts or historical context. The book has only a handful of footnotes, left unnumbered to disguise the thinness of the content.

Even so, the book contains some incredible whoppers. We learn on page 3 that the U.S. war on Afghanistan saved the Afghans from famine. No reference to the fact that the massive humanitarian risk started when, within five days of 9/11, the United States insisted that Pakistan close its borders to humanitarian aid, nor to the fact that it was U.S. threats and bombing that kept aid from flowing into the country for two and a half months. Nor, of course, was there reference to estimates like those of The Guardian, which said that perhaps 20,000, and as many as 50,000, died due to the cessation of aid.

Regarding Iraq, Perle was never interested in the weapons of mass destruction excuse, always preferring the humanitarian argument, and there his imagination is actively at work. To prove that Saddam Hussein, not the sanctions, was responsible for the incredible suffering from 1991 to 2003, he tells us that Saddam deliberately ensured that Iraqis' need were unmet. To prove this, he cited the "fact" that on the day Iraq was "liberated," there was $13 billion left unspent in Iraq's Oil for Food escrow account. Looking at the United Nations' Office of the Iraq Program's reports, one finds that $3.2 billion was unallocated and $10.3 billion in goods were in the "production and delivery pipeline," which was largely delayed due to U.S. obstructionism. Furthermore, $6 billion in contracts had been approved but not funded.

All in all, this is pretty much the opposite of the picture Perle and Frum paint. In fact, considering the U.S. record 10 months into the occupation, it's clear that in terms of provision of basic necessities, Saddam did better for the people of Iraq, even with the insane mosque- and palace-building spree he went on.

The book is really written, though, not to spread lies like these. They are just afterthoughts. The main point is the declaration, once again, as if we hadn't seen it enough, of a global kulturkampf. Frum and Perle dwell at length on their view of the sickness in the Arab world. Unlike "moderates" such as Bush Sr., but like Michael Moore, the authors attack the Saudis, who, they say, "qualify for their own membership in the axis of evil." Moreover, Frum and Perle declare a right to "destroy regimes implicated in anti-American terrorism," which is a fascinating doctrine if one turns it around. In 1986, for example, the International Court of Justice found the United States guilty of terrorism against Nicaragua, but it didn't order that the U.S. "regime" be destroyed, just that it cease, desist and pay an indemnity.

Along the way, the book is full of jibes at the CIA and the State Department, probably the real enemies at whom the book is aimed. The fact is, extremists like Perle are not very good imperialists. He suggests, for example, that Libya continue to be treated like an "implacably hostile regime," an approach that would never have allowed for the triumph over Libya that Bush so happily trumpeted in this year's State of the Union address.

What makes Frum and Perle truly dangerous is the marriage this administration has managed to make between extremist ravers like the authors and "realists" like Colin Powell, and the way this strengthens the hand of both sides in exerting power abroad. That unholy union is the central attraction in our world today, and this book and others like it are just sideshows.

Rahul Mahajan is publisher of Empire Notes. His latest book, “Full Spectrum Dominance: U.S. Power in Iraq and Beyond,” covers U.S. policy on Iraq, deceptions about weapons of mass destruction, the plans of the neoconservatives, and the face of the new Bush imperial policies. He can be reached at


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