Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Richard Perle's Stealth Attack on Saudi Arabia

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Richard Perle's Stealth Attack on Saudi Arabia

Article excerpt

Richard Curtiss is the executive editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

Former Pentagon official Richard Perle, a long-time supporter of Israel, reached new heights in his mission to distract the American public from dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian problem. Perle is chairman of the Defense Policy Board, an advisory panel to the Pentagon, which is often in the headlines.

Former French Ministry of Defense employee Laurent Murawiec, now a Rand Corporation analyst, gave a controversial briefing to the Defense Policy Board on July 10. Although the topic was expected to be Iraq's Saddam Hussain, there were big surprises in store.

Murawiec's briefing was, to put it mildly, inflammatory. Presented as it was to former senior officials and intellectuals who advise the Pentagon, it might have passed without notice. Perle, however, had ensured that would not happen, with his journalistic cohorts preparing the way for Murawiec's shocking statements.

Prior to the briefing, two articles making similar charges to Murawiec's already had appeared. One, in the July issue of Commentary, published by the American Jewish Committee, was entitled "Our Enemies, the Saudis," by Victor Davis Hanson.

The other article was printed in a July edition of the Weekly Standard, edited by William Kristol. The article, written by Simon Henderson, an adjunct scholar of the AIPAC-spinoff Washington Institute for Near East Policy, was entitled "The Coming Saudi Showdown."

Following the same policy line, Murawiec's briefing recommended that Saudi Arabia should be warned that its financial assets are at risk. "The Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain," he alleged, "from planners to financiers, from cadre to foot soldier, from ideologist to cheerleaders."

"Saudi Arabia supports our enemies and attacks our allies," Muraweic went on to say, adding that Saudi Arabia "is the kernel of evil, the prime mover, the most dangerous opponent" in the Middle East. The U.S. should demand that Saudi Arabia stop funding terrorism around the world, he said, and Saudi Arabia should stop making anti-Israel statements and "prosecute or isolate those involved in the terror chain, including in the Saudi intelligence services."

If the Saudis refuse to comply, Murawiec recommended, Saudi oil fields and overseas financial assets should be "targeted." Murawiec concluded his briefing by linking the necessity of regime change in Iraq with the need to alter Saudi behavior.

Having fired a verbal missile against both Saudi Arabia and Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussain, Chairman Richard Perle then seemed to try to remove the traces of his stealth attack on Saudi Arabia.

It turned out that Murawiec apparently had no previous experience in the Middle East. If he has any other credentials of note, Murawiec has not explained them. In short, after having served his purpose, Murawiec seems to have become a non-person.

The confusion between Perle's Defense Policy Board and the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, headed by retired Gen. Brent Scowcroft, apparently serves a purpose. The 15 members of the latter board have long credentials and have no overlap at all with Perle's Defense Policy Board

It is Perle's group that has been making headlines. Strangely, after the Murawiec briefing, only one member of the Perle-chaired board stood up to defend the long-term relationship between Saudi Arabia and the U. …

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