Friday, March 09, 2007

Failing his way to academic success at Georgetown

Pulling yourself up by the bootstraps of your own incompetence is a proven formula for success in Washington, and Timothy Noah reflects on a striking current example in Slate.
Like a vampire shielding himself from daylight, a government official publicly identified with a failed policy will do everything he can to avoid accepting responsibility. The vampire raises his cloak against the sun. The government official steers discussion away from the outcome and defends the process by which decisions got made. The current master is Douglas J. Feith.
Feith is the guy who ran the Pentagon's satellite kitchen for cooking intelligence (Office of Special Plans), the one that served up the half-baked lies used to sell the Iraq war. Tommy Franks famously called him "the fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth." Now he's "visiting professor and distinguished practitioner in national security policy" at Georgetown. Neat trick, if you can manage it.
Feith may or may not be evil, but the salient point is that he was wrong. Iraq and al-Qaida weren't collaborating against their common enemy, the United States. Like his hero, Winston Churchill, Feith sounded the klaxons when others were silent. But today Churchill is lionized not because he was a lonely voice, but because he was right. Churchill was right to believe that war against Hitler was necessary. Feith was wrong to believe that war against Saddam was necessary. That's his true crime, and it's left blood on his hands.

Feith successfully obscures this vulnerability again and again by arguing that he was following proper procedures for a serious-minded policy-maker.
Noah documents that track record that offers further proof, if any were needed, of the old saying that "military intelligence is an oxymoron" -- especially if it's been cherry-picked by the Office of Special Plans.

Feith's career might be summed up in this simple formula: Fucking Stupidest Guy + Oxymoron = Visiting Professor and Distinguished Practitioner.

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