Everybody's favorite shadowy arms dealer is back in the news! It is the premise of this occasional series that Adnan Khashoggi is connected to every shocking world event since 1960. In previous items, Chatterbox has linked Khashoggi to Sept. 11, Iran-Contra, the Marc Rich pardon, Wedtech, BCCI, the Marcos Philippine kleptocracy, the Synfuels fiasco, the breakup of the Beatles, and Charlie Chaplin's serial seductions of teenage girls. (For details, see the "Six Degrees" archive, below.) Chatterbox does not mean to suggest that Khashoggi has committed any crimes. But it does seem to be the case that if you make Khashoggi's acquaintance, the odds are that you're not a nice person.
The latest individual to cross Khashoggi's path is America's leading Iraq hawk, Richard Perle. In the March 17 issue of TheNew Yorker, Seymour Hersh suggests that Perle is cashing in on his position as chairman of the Defense Policy Board, an influential group of nongovernment advisers to the Pentagon. (Perle denied the charge, said on CNN that Hersh was "the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist," and, though previously reluctant to cede U.S. policymaking to foreign governments, is preparing to sue Hersh for libel in Great Britain, where plaintiffs enjoy a much lighter burden of proof than in the United States.)
Hersh's argument hinges on a lunch Perle had in Marseilles two months ago with … Adnan Khashoggi. According to Hersh, Perle was seeking Saudi investment in Trireme Partners L.P., a company specializing in homeland security and defense where Perle is a managing partner. Perle maintains that the lunch was never intended to be about Trireme, and, in fact, that the lunch ended up being an occasion for Khashoggi's friend Saleh al-Zuhair, a Saudi industrialist, to argue with Perle about the pending Iraq war. But Khashoggi says Perle's reason for arranging the lunch was monetary:
As Khashoggi saw it, Trireme's business potential depended on a war in Iraq taking place. "If there is no war," he told me, "why is there a need for security? If there is a war, of course, billions of dollars will have to be spent." He commented, "You Americans blind yourself with your high integrity and your democratic morality against peddling influence, but they were peddling influence."
Chatterbox presumes Hersh's lawyer will call Khashoggi as a witness.
Khashoggi was also linked recently to Barry "Dame Edna" Humphries, whose recent disparagement of Spanish literature in his Vanity Fair column caused a minor ruckus. Humphries' son attempted suicide in December, apparently because he was distraught about his breakup with Khashoggi's fetching daughter, Octavia.