On Friday, Vanity Fair issued a press release highlighting excerpts of a piece in their January issue on “neoconservative” supporters of the war in Iraq who today, unsurprisingly, have some negative things to say about how the war is going and how the Bush administration has been handling it.
In the wake of the press release – which has gotten considerable play on the Internet – some of those “neoconservatives” highlighted in the article have responded to the excerpts and its misrepresentations, in some cases, of what they said. We collect some of those reactions — including from Eliot Cohen, David Frum, Frank Gaffney, Michael Ledeen, Richard Perle, and Michael Rubin — below.
Eliot A. Cohen
... I stand by what I said, however, which is no different from what I have said in other venues, including in articles in the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal as well a in a variety of print and television interviews over several years. Indeed, insofar as I have any personal regrets as I look back on my public statements about the war, it is for not having spoken up even more often and forcefully than I already have.
... My most fundamental views on the war in Iraq remain as they were in 2003: The war was right, victory is essential, and defeat would be calamitous. And that to my knowledge is the view of everybody quoted in the release and the piece: Adelman, Cohen, Ledeen, Perle, Pletka, Rubin, and all the others. ...
... Perhaps we should have known better, given Vanity Fair’s generally venal character. We were encouraged to overlook that sordid record, however, on the grounds that the author would be Rose — a journalist who had earned a reputation of late for fair and honest treatment of matters such as this. ... For the record, I remain convinced that the liberation of Iraq was a necessary and laudable measure to prevent a megalomaniac from handing off to terrorists weapons of mass destruction for the purpose of attacking us and our allies. Contrary to popular belief, the U.S. government has proof that Saddam Hussein had precisely such plans ready to implement.
My experience with Vanity Fair is even more extensive than David Frum ‘s, having been the subject of a 30,000 word screed that ends with the author’s bland confession “there is no evidence for any of this.” So I am not at all surprised to see the editors yank words from me, David, and others out of context and totally misdescribe what we think, do and feel. I do not feel “remorseful,” since I had and have no involvement with our Iraq policy. I opposed the military invasion of Iraq before it took place and I advocated — as I still do — support for political revolution in Iran as the logical and necessary first step in the war against the terror masters.
Readers of NRO know well how disappointed I have been with our failure to address Iran, which was, and remains, the central issue, and it has been particularly maddening to live through extended periods when our children were in battle zones where Iranian-supported terrorists were using Iranian-made weapons against Americans, Iraqis and Afghans. I have been expressing my discontent for more than three years. So much for a change of heart dictated by developments on the ground.
Vanity Fair has rushed to publish a few sound bites from a lengthy discussion with David Rose. Concerned that anything I might say could be used to influence the public debate on Iraq just prior to Tuesday’s election, I had been promised that my remarks would not be published before the election.
I should have known better than to trust the editors at Vanity Fair who lied to me and to others who spoke with Mr. Rose. Moreover, in condensing and characterizing my views for their own partisan political purposes, they have distorted my opinion about the situation in Iraq and what I believe to be in the best interest of our country.
I believe it would be a catastrophic mistake to leave Iraq, as some are demanding, before the Iraqis are able to defend their elected government. As I told Mr. Rose, the terrorist threat to our country, which is real, would be made much worse if we were to make an ignominious withdrawal from Iraq. ...
Have those interviewed changed their mind about the war? I have not, no matter how self-serving partisan pundits or lazy journalists want to spin it. I can’t speak for others. Again, despite the punditry out there, the so-called neocons are not Borg.
Now, for my own quote: I absolutely stand by what I said. Too many people in Washington treat foreign policy as a game. Many Washington-types who speak about Iraq care not about the U.S. servicemen or about the Iraqis, but rather focus on U.S. electoral politics. I am a Republican, but whether the Republicans or Democrats are in power, Washington’s word must mean something. ...
Now that you've read the excerpts, please go read the whole article at the link.