“Dumbest f***ing guy on the planet” is certainly a moniker that could get an awful lot of competition in the Bush Administration, but Gen. Tommy Franks (to be fair, himself a contender for the title) awarded it to none other than former Defense Department Undersecretary Douglas Feith; many in the military agreed with the assessment.
Feith, now wearing his reputation as an asshole proudly to Georgetown U.’s faculty, now brings us his own rollout show of revisionist history for his upcoming book “War and Decision”, announcing that he advocated for a “quick transition” in Iraq, and it was only that awful and stupid Paul Bremer who, you know, made things take so long (and go so badly).
Because, of course (this is from a photocopy of the famous napkin on which Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Feith first planned the Iraq war) Feith’s “concept” was relatively simple: (1) Shock and Awe, (2) Roll in to Bagdad (sic), (3) Capture Saddam and his sons Yooday and Kewzay (sic), (4) Knock Down statues, (5) Pick up flowers and cake (from the cakewalk) and give them to the kids, and (6) Have President show up for Photo-Op with New Iraqi President Chalabi.
It seems pretty clear that there was simply no room in this concept for a long occupation, or indeed, any occupation (or of course, an insurgency, or pretty much anything else even arguably reflecting reality). No matter… let’s see what Feith had to say in Tom Ricks’s article…
The decision to carry out “a lengthy occupation was, I believe, the single biggest mistake the United States made in Iraq,” said Douglas J. Feith, who as undersecretary of defense for policy was a key figure in the drive to war.
Feith, in a speech last night at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, provided his most extensive public remarks on the war and reconstruction efforts in Iraq. When he briefed President Bush on U.S. plans for post-invasion Iraq, he recalled, “The original concept was not that the CPA [Coalition Provisional Authority] would be around for many, many months.” But, he said, L. Paul Bremer, who ran the U.S. occupation authority in 2003 and 2004, decided that Feith’s plan “was not implementable” and instead embarked on a course that antagonized Iraqis and spurred an insurgency.
After describing his differences with Bremer, Feith said, “I don’t view this as an attack” on him, but rather an attempt to explain how reasonable officials advanced contrary views.
Sovereignty was formally transferred from the U.S. government to an interim Iraqi government in June 2004, ending the occupation after 14 months. But the war has continued on for more than three years, and about as many U.S. troops remain in Iraq now as there were during the invasion.
Feith, now a professor at Georgetown University, also pointed at Bremer for his handling of another key early move that has been controversial, the decision to ban members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party from public office. The approach was essentially correct, Feith said, but “some of the problems resulted from implementation, rather than the policy itself.”
Until now, Feith has not said much about the Iraq war, except to respond to what he sees as the inaccuracies of others. In a Wall Street Journal review in May of former CIA director George J. Tenet’s memoir, Feith charged, “He is willing to make up stories that suit his purposes.”
With his own memoir, “War and Decision,” scheduled to be published in March, Feith appears to be more willing to discuss the war in general.
The speech reunited Iraq hawks, with former Pentagon official Richard Perle introducing Feith, as former deputy defense secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz sat in the front. After Feith’s talk, Wolfowitz commented that he thought it was “pretty much on the mark.”
You can’t make this stuff up. I guess it’s official: irony is pretty much dead.