Why Our Feith-Based Iraqi Policy Failed

Here we go again. Another architect of the Iraq war's disastrous aftermath has written a spine-tingling tell-all that basically reads as a had-you-listened-to-me-none-of-this-would've-happened fairy tale. Douglas Feith, a neo-con from the Henry "Scoop" Jackson School for War Mongering Idealists and former No. 3 man at the Pentagon, insists had we followed his plan, Iraq would be a thriving, oil-rich and IED-free democracy with Baghdad its shining city upon a hill. His plan? Install Ahmed Chalabi as leader and more or less get out of Dodge. The discredited former Iraqi exile would have calmed sectarian nerves and kept a civil war from erupting. Right on, Doug.

That someone with so warped a view of the Middle East could have held so high a post in the U.S. government is chilling. Here is a man who ran a clandestine office in the Defense Department with the Orwellian title "Office of Special Plans." Its mission was to stovepipe intelligence stemming from the CIA (which was supposed to be run by one Paul Wolfowitz but he kept on getting caught having extramarital affairs with staffers). Feith was especially keen on proving a link existed between Saddam and al-Qaeda while over-hyping Iraqi links with Niger on the sale of yellowcake uranium and a supposed meeting in Prague between Mohammad Atta and an Iraqi spook.

Feith also insists he did not sign off on the order to disband the Iraqi army on May 24 2003. That does not seem to square with what others, including Paul Bremer, have written. Bremer says the day before the decision was made, he "reviewed every word of the order" with Feith. But Feith told 60 Minutes last night that he "was not in on those conversations." Whoa, that seems implausible. The man tasked with building a postwar Iraq was kept out of the loop about disbanding the Iraqi army? That's like the Vatican adding another commandment without informing the pope.

It gets worse. Army Colonel Paul Hughes, who was part of a Pentagon "expeditionary" outfit called the ORHA, was tasked to draft a political-military plan for postwar Iraq. As George Packer wrote in The Assassins' Gate, "Feith stopped the idea cold." Probably because it smelled too similar to the State Department's prewar Future of Iraq Project. In his own ass-saving memoir, CIA head George Tenet calls Feith "a man eager to manipulate intelligence to push the country to war." What's incredible is that only in the field of foreign policy can someone have so disastrous a record and be showered with medals, endowed chairs at prestigious think tanks, and even a professorship at Georgetown University's esteemed Walsh School of Foreign Service. It boggles the mind.