When I first heard that Richard Perle were to step down as chairman of the Pentagon’s defence policy board I wondered whether it is an indication that the ongoing war – including reports about understaffed and underequipped US forces – had given the military in the Pentagon enough clout to force Perle, one of the neoconservative civilian bullies, out after it was reported that he was not only advising the Pentagon (for free) but also a bankrupt U.S. telecommunications company, Global Crossings (for a lot of money).
According to the NYTimes, 600,000 US Dollars of Perle’s overall 725,000 Dollar consulting contract depended on the Pentagon’s agreement to the sale of 61,5% of Global Crossing to a joint venture formed by Hutchison Whampoa, controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Kashing, and Singapore Technologies Telemedia, a phone company controlled by the government of Singapore. Clearly, the NYTimes was rather modest to ask Perle to
„… choose between the gain and the office…“ –
However, let’s not forget that, until now, the Richard Perles of this world did not care too much about possible shifts in public opinion following reports about apparent conflicts of interests – just look at my post from last Friday, written just before the Perle story broke.
So whatever the inside story of Perle’s resignation is – according to Spiegel Online [link in German] Perle himself claims to be a victim of a media campaign – it does indicate that „the boys“ weren’t willing to publicly back him up given the current „Oh-My-God-These-Iraqis-Actually-Do-Have-
Some-Guns-Left“ public opinion .
But however important this this may seem on the surface, the small print indiactes something else. Perle is not actually giving back his security pass to the Pentagon, according to the NYTimes –
„Rumsfeld accepted the resignation and said Perle would remain a member of the Defense Policy Board, a bipartisan group that advises him on a wide variety of policy issues. Its 30 members are largely former government officials, retired military officers and former members of Congress.“
So the only differences to last week will very likely be a U.S. public reassured that U.S. media does still at least somewhat control the executive, and that Perle will keep a lower public profile than in recent months. But then again, getting out of the limelight might very well be to „The Prince of Darkness’s“ liking.