The Iraq War’s No-Fault Guy
Douglas Feith is not to blame for the bungled case for invading Iraq, or for the catastrophically incompetent postwar planning:
Mistakes were made. But not by him. Doug Feith, the No. 3 man at the Pentagon before, during and after the invasion of Iraq, has come in for his share of blame for the failures there — in large part because he led the Pentagon policy shop that badly misstated the case for war and bungled the planning for the aftermath. Gen. Tommy Franks called him “the dumbest [bad word] guy on the planet.” George Tenet of the CIA called his work on Iraq “total crap.” And Jay Garner, once the American administrator in Iraq, deduced that Feith is “incredibly dangerous” and, “He’s a smart guy whose electrons aren’t connected.”
Now Feith, whatever the state of his electrons, is showing just how dangerous he can be. He’s written a book designed to settle the score with his many opponents in the administration, and in a book-launch event last night at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, he pointed his finger every which way but inward.
He argued that former secretary of state Colin Powell and his deputy, Richard Armitage, were the ones who failed to challenge the logic of going to war — not him. He suggested that Powell, Armitage, Franks, former Iraq viceroy Jerry Bremer and even Feith’s old boss, Donald Rumsfeld, should be blamed for the postwar chaos in Iraq — not him. He blamed then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice for the way she operated (“fundamental differences were essentially papered over rather than resolved”). He accused the CIA of “improper” and unprofessional behavior. And he implicitly blamed President Bush for not cracking down on insubordinate behavior at the State Department.
Well, Feith is a lucky guy, because as of yesterday, he has a whole new crowd of people he can blame for his own inadequacies — Georgetown University has declined to renew Feith’s contract. Feith’s appointment in the first place created a lot of controversy, and apparently Robert Gallucci, the dean of GU’s School of Foreign Service, did not want to upset the faculty, students, and staff even more by allowing Feith to stay:
Word from campus is that both students and faculty had pretty much had it with the arch war criminal walking around campus although I also heard that he is such a goofy, pathetic guy that some students felt sorry for him. One told me, “he’s like the nerdiest loser I ever saw. He cannot have done the things he’s accused of. He’s too obtuse.”
I told her to read Arendt’s “The Banality of Evil.”
At Firedoglake, looseheadprop thinks that Georgetown’s decision not to extend Feith’s teaching appointment might make it easier to persuade UC, Berkeley that retaining war criminals on their law school faculty is, perhaps, not the way to go:
You may recall that the Dean of Boalt Hall defended his decision to keep Yoo on because he felt that his actions away from campus should not be counted against him. According to that WaPo quote, Feith’s on-campus performance has been fine, yet his presence on that campus sends the wrong message that the university condones what he has done off campus and so he will be present no longer.
There is an important distinction in the academic world, Feith did not have tenure, nor was he even in a tenure track position. Yoo had tenure before he left Boalt Hall to go work for the government. Their big mistake was allowing him to take a leave of absence rather than resigning outright to go to DOJ. In this way he was able to preserve his tenure status.
Nonetheless, the rationale used by Georgetown is important because it changes the analysis of Yoo’s continued presence at Boalt Hall and increases the pressure on the school administration to disassociate the school from Yoo’s war crimes.