Douglas Feith's book, War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism, is coming out in paperback, with all proceeds going to charities that support veterans and their families. He conducted an interview with a few bloggers (myself, Red State, Powerline, Fausta et al). Here's a excerpt, and here's the audio - it's about an hour: Download DougFeithConferenceCall2.2.09
Geller: To what extent did the Islamic doctrines of jihad and the requirement to subjugate infidels under the rule of Islamic law enter into your calculations for Iraq, and do you think the persecution of Christians had anything to do with those doctrines?
Feith: Well ... uh, the jihadist ideology was obviously a major... issue, uh, in our analysis of the strategy for the war on terrorism. And one of the things the Pentagon took the lead on ... was calling attention to the ideological component of the war on terror, and one of the things I deal with with in the book (which is a very sad story), was how it was Rumsfeld and General Myers and others at the Pentagon, who over and over again, right from the beginning, right after 9/11, were emphasizing the importance of an ideological effort, a strategic communications effort and a general strategy for countering ideological support for terrorism. And when the rest of the government wasn't doing very much in that area, we created within my office, within the policy office at the Pentagon, the Office of Strategic Influence to do work in this area. And the Public Affairs people in the Pentagon and other people around the US government were very unhappy with the creation of this office, some of it was for turf reasons and some of it was for other reasons, but one of the consequences was somebody leaked - well, leaked, no - no, somebody lied - to The New York Times and gave a report saying that this Office of Strategic Influence was intending to lie to foreign journalists. And The New York Times ran a front page story saying that. It caused a big imbroglio that resulted in the shutting down of this office.
I don't think the US government has recovered to this day from that fiasco, because every time anyone suggested creating an office to really deal with jihadist ideology in a systematic or strategic way at the Pentagon, people would say, oh, no, we are not going to have another Office of Strategic Influence problem. And that meant the Pentagon couldn't do it, and the Pentagon was the place that kept recognizing the importance of the ideological struggle. The State Department, which was the logical place to do it, for its own institutional and cultural reasons wasn't inclined to fight the battle that way, and they tended to think that all we needed was a public diplomacy campaign. Uh, and that's why you got all these brochures that were famous about rebranding America and showing how America treats its Muslims very nicely and ...which is a fine thing to do but it is far short of an ideological campaign against jihadist extremism. And so anyway, I would say that one of big deficiencies in our strategy on our war on terrorism remains a serious effort to counter Islamist ideology.
Now your question was, how does that relate to Iraq, Iraq ... I mean, we did not view Saddam Hussein as, you know, as... pushing that ideology - the Baathist ideology was quite different, but what we were concerned about was that Saddam was the kind of guy who, for the other reasons, would likely be fighting us in the future as he had fought us in the past, and that he might, in a future fight with us, use his connections with various terrorist groups, some of whom were jihadist extremists, use them to hurt us. So we were concerned about that, but, uh, obviously the Saddam Hussein regime didn't have the same ideology as, for example, the Taliban regime had, which was much more in line with the jihadist ideology of Al Qaeda.
It's worse than I thought. State department brochures to fight the jihad. It took so little to derail any real understanding of the enemy that means us dead or subjugated.
I guess that was when we lost the war.
Rumsfeld got it. Right after 911 Rumsfeld got it. But we had already been infiltrated.
UPDATE: John Hawkin's has published RWN's Favorite Quotes From Douglas Feith's "War and Decision
Read the review and you will find out the answer to important questions like....
"Why did Saddam pretend to have WMD stockpiles when he really didn't" and "So, after we took Iraq, why did the reconstruction turn out to be so costly in blood and treasure?"
Also, find out which administration official I said Feith portrayed like so, " an arrogant, passive aggressive, disloyal bureaucrat who never said that he opposed going to war, but dragged his feet at every opportunity and fought policy battles through leaks to the press."