Former Assistant Defense Secretary Richard Perle tells Newsmax it is “shocking” that President Barack Obama did not express more support for anti-government protesters in Iran.
He also says Obama’s approach to the Iranian nuclear weapons program isn’t going to work, but predicts that the “days are numbered” for the oppressive government in the Islamic Republic.
And he warns that, based on its pronouncements in Arabic, the Muslim Brotherhood could pose a “very serious program” in Egypt.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Perle addressed reports of infighting between the Obama White House and Hillary Clinton’s State Department over the response to unrest in Egypt, and was asked who was right.
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“At one time or another, the administration held every conceivable view in response to what was going on in Egypt,” he responds.
“At one point, they were for Mubarak. At another point, they were against Mubarak. They wanted him to stay for a while; they wanted him to leave immediately. There was such confusion it’s almost impossible to say who was right.”
Perle served in the Defense Department in the Ronald Reagan administration from 1981 to 1987 and was a key architect in Reagan’s strategy to end the Cold War. He also was chairman of the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee during the George W. Bush administration. Perle is now a member of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Board of Advisors and a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.
Recent unrest in the Arab world spread to Iran, and the government there responded with threats and violence, Perle notes.
“I’m afraid the Iranians are much more brutal, much more violent, and they seem to be getting away with it,” he says.
“But this has been a long time in the making. At this stage in the development of the modern world, and all the communications that go with it, it is almost impossible to keep the lid on the opposition. So we are going to see a great deal more of this in many places, including eventually Iran.”
At a recent news conference, President Obama expressed only lukewarm support for the Iranian protesters. Asked whether that is a dangerous game, Perle responds: “I believe it is. It was shocking that he didn’t identify with the protesters in Iran.
“Not only is it in the interests of millions of Iranians who want to free themselves from this awful regime, but it’s in the American interest. The Iranians are killing Americans at every opportunity in the places where we’re now fighting. They support terrorism around the world, and they’re headed toward nuclear weapons.
“Why the president didn’t express support for the opposition, I just don’t understand. Maybe that will change now.”
In any case, Perle says: “I believe we’re going to see regime change in Iran. When the Iranian government is compelled to bring hundreds of thousands of thugs into the streets to suppress the free expression on the part of the opponents of the regime, their days are numbered.
“They had to resort to brute force, and you can only do that so often. So eventually that regime is going to come tumbling down. I hope it’s sooner rather than later.”
Perle is critical of Obama’s approach to Iran’s nuclear weapons development program: “I think Obama believes wrongly that he can talk the Iranians out of their nuclear weapons program. He’s been trying to do that since he became president. The previous administration tried it too. It isn’t going to work.”
The Iranians “are bound and determined to acquire nuclear weapons,” Perle adds.
“They’re not going to give them up at the bargaining table, and until Obama understands that he will continue not only to tolerate forward movement in the Iranian program, but he will continue not to identify with the opponents of the regime out of fear that the regime will not negotiate with him, even though those negotiations will lead nowhere.”
Iran will succeed in acquiring nuclear weapons unless one of two events comes to pass, according to Perle: Israel uses forces to cripple the Iranian program, or regime change comes to the Islamic Republic.
“This regime will proceed to develop nuclear weapons. They will continue to con us at the bargaining table by pretending to negotiate from time to time,” he states.
“But they are bound and determined to get those weapons, and when they do it will be too late to realize how dangerous that is.”
Turning to Egypt, Perle observes that the fundamentalist Muslim brotherhood could pose a danger if it manages to take control of the government.
“The Muslim Brotherhood is potentially a very serious problem, since it is committed to the global expansion of an extreme approach to Islam, which is strict shariah law. And it will be very difficult if the Muslim Brotherhood comes to power.
“I know a lot of people take a different view now, but they’re not looking at what the Muslim Brotherhood has done from its inception and they’re not listening to what the Muslim Brotherhood is saying in Arabic. They’re listening to what’s being said in English and that’s a very different story.”
Asked about new disclosures about the Iraqi defector codenamed Curveball, whose false claim that Iraq had biological weapons was used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Perle said there was a lot of other information suggesting Iraq had WMDs and it’s possible to exaggerate Curveball’s importance.
But the CIA failed to interrogate the defector sufficiently to conclude that he was lying, Perle adds, saying that overall, U.S. intelligence agencies “simply got it wrong.”
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