Synopses & Reviews
In the years since the attacks of September 11, 2001, journalists, commentators, and others have published accounts of the Bush Administration's war on terrorism. But no senior Pentagon official has offered an inside view of those years, or has challenged the prevailing narrative of that war—until now.
Douglas J. Feith, the head of the Pentagon's Policy organization, was a key member of Donald Rumsfeld's inner circle as the Administration weighed how to protect the nation from another 9/11. In War and Decision, he puts readers in the room with President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, General Tommy Franks, and other key players as the Administration devised its strategy and war plans. Drawing on thousands of previously undisclosed documents, notes, and other written sources, Feith details how the Administration launched a global effort to attack and disrupt terrorist networks; how it decided to overthrow the Saddam Hussein regime; how it came to impose an occupation on Iraq even though it had avoided one in Afghanistan; how some officials postponed or impeded important early steps that could have averted major problems in Iraq's post-Saddam period; and how the Administration's errors in war-related communications undermined the nation's credibility and put U.S. war efforts at risk.
Even close followers of reporting on the Iraq war will be surprised at the new information Feith provides—presented here with balance and rigorous attention to detail. Among other revelations, War and Decision demonstrates that the most far-reaching warning of danger in Iraq was produced not by State or by the CIA, but by the Pentagon. It reveals the actual story behind the allegations that the Pentagon wanted to "anoint" Ahmad Chalabi as ruler of Iraq, and what really happened when the Pentagon challenged the CIA's work on the Iraq-al Qaida relationship. It offers the first accurate account of Iraq postwar planning—a topic widely misreported to date. And it presents surprising new portraits of Rumsfeld, Rice, Powell, Richard Armitage, L. Paul Bremer, and others—revealing how differences among them shaped U.S. policy.
With its blend of vivid narrative, frank analysis, and elegant writing, War and Decision is like no other book on the Iraq war. It will interest those who have been troubled by conflicting accounts of the planning of the war, frustrated by the lack of firsthand insight into the decision-making process, or skeptical of conventional wisdom about Operation Iraqi Freedom and the global war on terrorism—efforts the author continues to support.
“Extraordinary. . . . I was unprepared for the thoroughness of the documentation, the sweeping nature of the narrative and the highly readable prose. It is the first attempt by a serious student of history to lay out the myriad, challenging choices confronting a president. . . . Splendid.” Frank J. Gaffney Jr., Washington Times
“If you want to read a serious book about the origins and consequences of the intervention in Iraq in 2003, you owe it to yourself to get hold of a copy of Douglas Feiths War and Decision.” Christopher Hitchens, Slate
“Indispensable. . . . The best account to date of how the administration debated, decided, organized and executed its military responses to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Much of what makes War and Decision so compelling is that it is, in effect, a revisionist history.” Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal
“Whats needed now? More memoirs, more data, more information, more testimony. More serious books, like Doug Feiths. More ‘this is what I saw and ‘this is what is true. Feed history.” Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal
“As Americans turned on the Iraq war, anti-war forces tried to portray the war as not only a mistake, but the result of a neoconservative coup. . . . In his new memoir, War and Decision, Mr. Feith does an admirable job in dispelling this hokum.” Eli Lake, New York Sun
“By far the most balanced, detailed, and lucid account of this story thats come out yet. . . . Feith makes the first intellectually serious attempt to explain how the government tried to answer that question [of settling post-9/11 defense strategy] in the years after 9/11.” & #8220;The Corner, & #8221; National Review Online
“One would have expected, as in the case of all the other Iraq exposés, that [Feith] would use the memoir genre to get even. Instead, he is selfcritical, even admits to occasional hubris, but, more importantly, also chronicles the contortions and reinventions of many post2003/4 critics of the war.” Victor Davis Hanson, National Review Online
“Meticulous. . . . A convincing refutation of unfair allegations about the author [and] a balanced analysis of policy debates about Iraq inside the administration. . . . Will be studied for years by journalists, historians and aspiring political appointees.” National Review
“Extraordinarily frank and persuasive. . . . [O]ur first in-depth look at the inside of the Bush administrations national security top leadership from one who was there. [Feith] has been criticized harshly and, I think, unfairly.” Michael Barone, U.S. News & World Report
Of all the players in the planning and evolution of the Bush Administration's war on terrorism, few were more integral--or more controversial--than Douglas Feith, the chief strategist on Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon policy team. Feith is the first inside player to reveal the inner workings of the Pentagon, at a time when history hung in the balance.
About the Author
Douglas J. Feith was appointed as the United States Under Secretary of Defense for Policy in 2001 and served in that capacity until the summer of 2005. Before that he had served as a Middle East specialist and as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Negotiations in the Reagan Administration. His articles have been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. Currently a Professor and Distinguished Practitioner in National Security Policy at Georgetown University, he is also a Belfer Center Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and a Distinguished Visiting Fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Feith lives with his family near Washington, D.C.