Perle, Richard Norman

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PERLE, RICHARD NORMAN (1941– ), U.S. foreign policy thinker and entrepreneur. Born in New York City and raised in Los Angeles, Perle was educated at the University of Southern California (B.A., 1964), London School of Economics, and Princeton University (M.A., 1967). Perle went to Washington, d.c., in 1969 to work on a campaign in support of President Nixon's antiballistic missile program. After its success, he joined the staff of U.S. senator Henry M. Jackson from 1969 to 1980, specializing in foreign policy and arms control issues. Perle was largely responsible for Jackson's amendment watering down the salt i arms control treaty. He also drafted the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which tied Soviet trade status with the United States to the Soviet Union's willingness to allow Jewish emigration to Israel. While working for Jackson in the Senate, Perle was discovered by the fbi to have passed classified national security information to the Israeli embassy; he was "reprimanded" by Jackson but never prosecuted.

From 1981 to 1987 Perle was assistant secretary of defense for international security policy in the Reagan administration, where he was largely responsible for opposing arms control initiatives and weakening existing arms control treaties. Perle maintained close ties to the Likud Party in Israel and was a policy advisor to former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu. From 1987 to 2004 he was a member of the Defense Policy Board at the Pentagon, and was chairman from 2001 to 2003. He belongs to several right-wing think tanks/lobbying groups and he was a founder of the Project for the New American Century (pnac), and an author of its famous 2000 report calling for American world military and economic supremacy, whose recommendations have been the foundation of American foreign policy in the second Bush administration (many members of pnac were appointed to important positions in the government in 2001). Perle was a signatory of a letter sent to President Clinton in 1998 calling for a U.S. war against Iraq, and is regarded as a chief promoter of that war. He was among the strongest supporters in Washington of Ahmad Chalabi, the exiled Iraqi who was found to be the source of much of the false information used to promote public support for the war in 2002 and 2003. Perle has also advocated military attacks on Syria, Iran, and North Korea.

Perle's private business activities frequently prompted accusations of unethical behavior. In 2003 he was criticized because of his directorship of a firm that sells eavesdropping software and his involvement in a venture capital fund formed to invest in businesses "that are of value to homeland security and defense," for which he reportedly solicited Saudi investment, at the same time that he was advocating the Iraq war as a member of the Defense Policy Board. In 2004 Perle was implicated in the looting of Hollinger International, Inc., a media company that owned several large newspapers, of $400 million by its chairman, Conrad Black, and his deputy, David *Radler. Perle was a member of Hollinger's executive committee along with Black and Radler, and has been accused of "breach[ing] his fiduciary duties" while accepting $5.4 million in compensation and bonuses, and while the company made large investments at Perle's direction, most of which were lost.

[Drew Silver (2nd ed.)]