Richard Perle, the former chair of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board. (Courtesy of the American Enterprise Institute.)
The war hawks are holding their breath: If they can just get through this week—the tenth anniversary of when they lied us into invading Iraq—without answering any “unreasonable” questions, they’ll be home free. And much of the press, in a small reprise of the obsequiousness that allowed the war in the first place, is proving them right.
We can now add a couple of NPR hosts to the list of journalists reluctant to afflict the comfortable. Renee Montagne’s interview of Richard ("the Prince of Darkness”) Perle on Wednesday’s Morning Edition and Jacki Lyden’s talk with Stephen (“Yellowcake”) Hadley on Sunday’s All Things Considered were not terrible, exactly. They each asked questions that expressed skepticism about the war’s justification. But they also repeated the media’s failings in the run-up to the war, especially an unwillingness to contradict authorities on their “facts” while providing a platform for a pro-war spin-job.
To be fair, Montagne did ask Perle, former chair of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board and one of the war’s most rabid advocates, one direct question that elicited such a twisted answer it made blog headlines.
Montagne: Ten years later, nearly 5,000 American troops dead, thousands more with wounds, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead or wounded. When you think about this, was it worth it?
Perle: I’ve got to say, I think that is not a reasonable question. What we did at the time was done in the belief that it was necessary to protect this nation. You can’t, a decade later, go back and say, ‘Well, we shouldn’t have done that.’
But while Montagne did pose that most obvious of questions, she didn’t follow up by saying, for instance, “Why can’t you go back and say we shouldn’t have done that?” or “Come on, after ten years, that’s the most reasonable question anyone could ask you.” Instead, she used just enough of “that anguished NPR-voice” (as Mike Tomasky put it) to suggest that although she knows the war wasn’t worth it, she’s loathe to make her guest squirm.