Playing defense


Click on thumbnails for full view. When a top U.S. Defense official visited campus Wednesday, U of Cers arrived in droves to hear him speak. Douglas Feith, Undersecretary of Defense for policy, drew a crowd that nearly filled Palevsky Theater. Feith, a chief architect of U.S. policy in Iraq and Afghanistan, ranks third in the Department of Defense under Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, PhD’72.

President Bush, argued Feith, departed “radically and boldly” from previous policy when he decided to rely on armed forces, not only the FBI, in the war on terror. For Bush September 11 “meant that we’re at war.” The enemy—“a far-flung network of terrorist organizations and their state and nonstate supporters”—is a nontraditional one that, Feith said, the country is fighting in three principal ways: disrupting and attacking terrorist networks, protecting the homeland, and engaging in a “battle of ideas” to prevent terrorist ideologies from spreading. Aiming to “defeat terrorism as a threat to our way of life as a free and open society,” he said, the United States acknowledges that, realistically, it will never fully eliminate terror worldwide.

After Feith’s talk, organized by the University of Chicago Political Union and funded by the College Republicans, some audience members—noticeably all male despite the coed crowd, and mostly critical of the Bush administration—lined up to ask questions. They grilled him on weapons of mass destruction; the link, or lack thereof, between Iraq and Al Qaeda; and the Iraq war’s death toll. Feith refuted charges that the administration lied when claiming Iraq had WMDs, calling the assertion “at worst a failure, not a lie.”

Phoebe Maltz, ’05

Guys line up to grill Feith. Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith addresses the Max Palevsky crowd.

April 16, 2004