One of the architects of the Iraq war, the unrepentant neo-con, Richard Perle, reflects upon the past five years of failure in a short piece in the NYT today. He remains completely in character: he was right and everyone else was wrong on the war. He names names: Condoleezza Rice was wrong, Colin Powell was wrong, George Tenet was wrong; L. Paul Bremer was simply inept. If only they had all listened to him and put Chalabi (who goes unnamed but who else could he mean?) in power, everything would have worked out..... Can he truly believe this?
Mencius tells us that when something goes wrong we first must look inside ourselves. Perle clearly does not understand this. Like so many politicians, he tries vainly to defend his "honor," all the while deepening his dishonor. Why can't he, and Bush and so many of the hawks, just recognize their mistakes? That is what honorable leaders do, according to Mencius:
...in ancient times, when the noble-minded made mistakes, they knew how to change. These days, when the noble-minded make mistakes, they persevere to the bitter end. In ancient times, mistakes of the noble-minded were like eclipses of the sun and moon: there for all the people to see. And when a mistake was made right, the people all looked up in awe. But these days, the noble-minded just persevere to the bitter end, and they they invent all kinds of explanations. (4.9)
Perle is not stupid. He must, at some level, know that his inventions are transparently false. Maybe that's why he always seems so sour...
And, remember, as we get deeper into the presidential campaign and Iraq re-emerges as an election issue: Bush lost the war.