George Packer, author of The Assassin's Gate, says Feith paints an accurate portrait of a Bush administration that just couldn't agree and was paralyzed on key decisions for post-war planning in Iraq.
But Packer says he doesn't think the tactical changes that Feith suggests — if they had settled on a security plan, for instance, or if Iraqis had been put in charge sooner — would have made a fundamental difference in the war.
"There had to be some kind of occupation," Packer says. "There was no way security was going to be provided in Iraq by so-called externals and their followers. ... Someone had to take on the militias that immediately filled the vacuum that we left, and that had to be the U.S. Army. There was no way around it."
"The Iraq war was always a long shot," Packer says. "But it was made immeasurably longer by its principal architects in Washington, including Douglas Feith, who ignored expert advice, reserved most of their effort for fighting each other in ideological battles and regarded the Iraqi people as an afterthought."