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Iraq war: a baffling defense of Bush policy from a former Pentagon insider

In an interview about the Iraq war, former Pentagon official Douglas Feith suggests Washington was fooled by Saddam Hussein's bluff about weapons he wanted foes to believe he had.

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In April 2003, I was embedded with the US Army’s 7th Cavalry in the western suburbs of Baghdad, sleeping on top of a Humvee. Seven years later I still wonder why we were there. So, I suspect, do many Americans.

What responsibility – what options – do generals have when they believe civilian leaders, the president, the vice president, and the secretary of Defense, are bent on a “wrongheaded” war?

I recently put that question to former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, who served from 2001 to 2005 and was a major architect of the war in Iraq.

“If it’s a debate over what’s the smart and right thing to do,” he said, “the president is the elected representative of the American people. Somebody has to make policy for the country, and the country decides by democratic means [that] it’s going to be the president.”

His implication seemed clear. Americans elected George W. Bush, and the public must live with the consequences of its former president’s decision. As I write this, the Associated Press is reporting that Iraqi gunman dressed as US and Iraqi Army soldiers raided Sunni Arab homes south of Baghdad and executed 24 people, including five women, then brutalized the bodies beyond recognition.

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