8/11/2005

Cheney's Man Slated to Replace Feith - by Tom Barry and Tanya I. Garcia

A career diplomat and foreign policy operative, Eric S. Edelman has just replaced the controversial Douglas Feith at the Pentagon as the new undersecretary of defense for policy, having been appointed by President Bush during a congressional recess. Many observers had wrongly assumed that Edelman would become Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's top deputy. Instead Rice named former U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick as Deputy Secretary of State.

Inside and outside the administration, Feith's announcement in late January 2005 that he would resign when a replacement was found was greeted with widespread relief. Feith's role in establishing the Office of Special Plans within the Pentagon, his connections to officials being investigated for passing intelligence to Israel, and his role in drafting the new national security directive on Iran have created unwanted attention to the Pentagon's policy division. Although the administration wanted Feith out of the Pentagon, there were no signs that his departure signaled any change in policy direction. To the contrary, Feith's replacement by Edelman underscored that the administration was continuing with the foreign policy agenda set forward by the neoconservative camp.

As a career Foreign Service officer, Edelman has been less outspoken than his predecessor and, unlike Feith, not directly connected with many of the neoconservative organizations, such as the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs and Center for Security Policy, with which Feith was associated. However, Edelman will bring with him to the top DOD post his own political baggage and radical ideological views...

All but chased out of Turkey as a "persona non grata," Edelman is being promoted to undersecretary of defense for policy. Like many other top officials of the Bush administration's foreign policy team, Edelman began his government career in the Reagan administration. While completing his doctorate in history at Yale University, Edelman joined the U.S. Middle East Delegation to the West Bank/Gaza Autonomy Talks. He then became a special assistant to Secretary of State George Shultz. In 1990 Edelman moved from the State Department to the Pentagon, where he officially served as assistant deputy undersecretary of defense for Soviet and East European affairs.

Edelman served under Defense Secretary, now Vice President, Cheney during the administration of the president's father. At that time he worked as part of a team headed by Paul Wolfowitz that was charged with formulating a Defense Policy Guidance that would serve as the post-Cold War framework for U.S. military strategy. Others working on the draft grand strategy were Zalmay Khalilzad and I. Lewis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff. According to Nicholas Lehman, writing in the New Yorker, this team picked by Cheney was "generally speaking, a cohesive group of conservatives who regard themselves as bigger-thinking, tougher-minded, and intellectually bolder than most other people in Washington." In the draft Defense Policy Guidance, Wolfowitz and team laid out a policy agenda for U.S. military power that stipulated that the U.S. should wage preventive war to maintain unchallenged U.S. military supremacy.

During the Clinton administration, Edelman moved back to the State Department. As ambassador-at-large and special adviser to the secretary of state on the Newly Independent States, Edelman oversaw defense, security, and space issues.

Vice President Cheney brought Edelman back under his wing as principal deputy assistant for national security affairs. As an assistant to Cheney, he was part of the foreign policy network that hurriedly established the "intelligence" rationales for the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Edelman, who is close to such leading neocons as Michael Ledeen and Richard Perle, worked closely in the vice president's office with Scooter Libby in establishing a policy network of hawks and neocons that was based at the Pentagon and Cheney's office but extended through key figures into State, the various intelligence agencies, and the National Security Council.

Replacing Douglas Feith with Edelman allows the radicals running U.S. foreign policy to leave behind the controversies building around Feith and get a relatively clean start with a new undersecretary of defense for planning.

Cheney's Man Slated to Replace Feith - by Tom Barry and Tanya I. Garcia

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