None other than Douglas Feith has a lengthy condemnation of international nuclear talks with Iran in the Wall Street Journal this morning, arguing with great certainty that President Obama is on the wrong track.
The Obama administration has wedded itself to a cooperative policy toward Iran. The White House rejects the coercive approach as not viable. But if Iran violates its deal with us, won’t our response have to be coercive? President Obama insists that his policy is the only realistic one. In doing so, he is showing either that he is naive and uninformed about the relevant history or that he no longer considers an Iranian nuclear weapon “unacceptable.”
The assessment is delivered with great confidence, as if it comes from a voice of genuine authority, just like Feith’s other condemnations of the Obama administration’s policies towards Iraq and Syria.
What some news consumers may not realize, however, is that Feith was a national laughingstock during his tenure in the Bush/Cheney administration, getting practically everything about U.S. policy in Iraq backwards. His discomfort with the international diplomacy should arguably inspire confidence among the American mainstream.
General Tommy Franks, the former Commander of the U.S. Central Command, once famously referred to Feith as “the dumbest f***ing guy on the planet.”
So why exactly does he keep popping up in the media as someone who knows what he’s talking about?
I’m reminded of a James Fallows piece from last summer.
We all make mistakes. But we are talking about people in public life – writers, politicians, academics – who got the biggest strategic call in many decades completely wrong. Wrong as a matter of analysis, wrong as a matter of planning, wrong as a matter of execution, wrong in conceiving American interests in the broadest sense.None of these people did that intentionally, and many of them have honestly reflected and learned. But we now live with (and many, many people have died because of) the consequences of their gross misjudgments a dozen years ago. In the circumstances, they might have the decency to shut the hell up on this particular topic for a while. They helped create the disaster Iraqis and others are now dealing with. They have earned the right not to be listened to.
And yet, as longtime readers may know, avoiding them has become hard to do. As Rachel noted on the show a while back, the very same people who were “disastrously wrong about what it would mean for the United States to toss a match into the tinderbox of the Middle East by toppling Saddam, all those guys who were so wrong, they either never went away in the first place or they have recently been dug back up over the last few weeks, simply for the purpose of arguing that we ought to invade Iraq again.”
Eight months later, these same people are outraged by the prospect of nuclear diplomacy with Iran, apparently hoping the talks will break down and we can move closer to a military confrontation.
Though these misguided voices appear to enjoy great prominence in American media, “they have earned the right not to be listened to.”