Monday, August 04, 2008

A dispassionate but devastating review of Feith's "War and Decision"

The review appears in the July issue of Army, the organ of the Association of the US Army (AUSA), which is a private, but closely-linked group to which many officers belong. The reviewer is Derek Leebaert, a military historian, who teaches at Georgetown U. Incidentally, while most officers will not say so on the record, in private conversations there is often deep contempt expressed toward some of the top military brass and civilians appointees (including Feith) for their failures in leadership and decisionmaking in Iraq (e.g., check out this bright retired officer). In discussions I have had, as recently as this summer, I have discerned serious concern about the health of the over-committed army. There is also widespread concern about the fate of Afghanistan (alluded to in the Leebaert review).

Here is most of the closing paragraph of the review.

"War and Decision obliges readers to consider what a “national security expert” and politically appointed “strategists” might actually be. Again the nation has encountered “the best and brightest,” the iconic term placed on the country’s national security decision makers of a generation ago, such as Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and National Security Adviser Mc-George Bundy, who had all the answers to all of the questions about Vietnam. In War and Decision, we have a true to life, though unintended, portrait of men and women also not knowing what they did not know, who appear to have been in the grip of that most dangerous of illusions—that they have no illusions at all."

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