Douglas Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy from July 2001 until August 2005, was interviewed by several bloggers today, and Pamela Geller asked him a very serious, important, and pointed question:
Geller: To what extent did the Islamic doctrines of jihad and the requirement to subjugate infidels under the rule of Islamic law enter into your calculations for Iraq, and do you think the persecution of Christians had anything to do with those doctrines?
Feith: Well … uh, the jihadist ideology was obviously a major… issue, uh, in our analysis of the strategy for the war on terrorism. And one of the things the Pentagon took the lead on … was calling attention to the ideological component of the war on terror, and one of the things I deal with with in the book (which is a very sad story), was how it was Rumsfeld and General Myers and others at the Pentagon, who over and over again, right from the beginning, right after 9/11, were emphasizing the importance of an ideological effort, a strategic communications effort and a general strategy for countering ideological support for terrorism. And when the rest of the government wasn’t doing very much in that area, we created within my office, within the policy office at the Pentagon, the Office of Strategic Influence to do work in this area. And the Public Affairs people in the Pentagon and other people around the US government were very unhappy with the creation of this office, some of it was for turf reasons and some of it was for other reasons, but one of the consequences was somebody leaked – well, leaked, no – no, somebody lied – to The New York Times and gave a report saying that this Office of Strategic Influence was intending to lie to foreign journalists. And The New York Times ran a front page story saying that. It caused a big imbroglio that resulted in the shutting down of this office.
I don’t think the US government has recovered to this day from that fiasco, because every time anyone suggested creating an office to really deal with jihadist ideology in a systematic or strategic way at the Pentagon, people would say, oh, no, we are not going to have another Office of Strategic Influence problem. And that meant the Pentagon couldn’t do it, and the Pentagon was the place that kept recognizing the importance of the ideological struggle. The State Department, which was the logical place to do it, for its own institutional and cultural reasons wasn’t inclined to fight the battle that way, and they tended to think that all we needed was a public diplomacy campaign. Uh, and that’s why you got all these brochures that were famous about rebranding America and showing how America treats its Muslims very nicely and …which is a fine thing to do but it is far short of an ideological campaign against jihadist extremism. And so anyway, I would say that one of big deficiencies in our strategy on our war on terrorism remains a serious effort to counter Islamist ideology. …
You can say that again. But it doesn’t appear in the first place as if the Office of Strategic Influence was ever going to do what needed to be done: pose Western society and values as a positive alternative to Sharia.
He goes on. Read it all over at Atlas Shrugs, where there is also audio of the whole interview.