And the rats start turning on each other

Richard Perle, who chaired a committee of Pentagon policy advisers early in the Bush administration, said had he seen at the start of the war in 2003 where it would go, he probably would not have advocated an invasion to depose Saddam Hussein. Perle was an assistant secretary of defense under President Reagan.

“I probably would have said, ‘Let’s consider other strategies for dealing with the thing that concerns us most, which is Saddam supplying weapons of mass destruction to terrorists,'” he told Vanity Fair magazine in its upcoming January issue.

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Other prominent conservatives criticized the administration’s conduct of the war in the article, including Kenneth Adelman, who also served on the Defense Policy Board that informally advised President Bush. Adelman said he was “crushed” by the performance of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

Adelman also said that neoconservatism, “the idea of using our power for moral good in the world,” has been discredited with the public. After Iraq, he told Vanity Fair, “it’s not going to sell.”

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Perle said “you have to hold the president responsible” because he didn’t recognize “disloyalty” by some in the administration. He said the White House’s National Security Council, then run by now-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, did not serve Bush properly.

A year before the war, Adelman predicted demolishing Saddam’s military power and liberating Iraq would be a “cakewalk.” But he told the magazine he was mistaken in his high opinion of Bush’s national security .

“They turned out to be among the most incompetent teams in the postwar era,” he said. “Not only did each of them, individually, have enormous flaws, but together they were deadly, dysfunctional.”

. Meanwhile in tomorrow’s New York Times Sunday Magazine, which doesn’t seem to be online yet, Ahmed Chalabi explains, “The real culprit in all of this is Wolfowitz … they chickened out. The Pentagon guys chickened out.”