Feith, Douglas J.

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FEITH, DOUGLAS J. (1953– ), U.S. government adviser. Born and reared in Philadelphia, where his father, Dalck Feith, a Holocaust survivor, was a prominent businessman and philanthropist. Feith was educated at Harvard College (magna cum laude 1975) and Georgetown University Law Center (magna cum laude 1978). He began his public career in 1975, working as an intern on Senator Henry M. ("Scoop") Jackson's Subcommittee on Investigations. Feith then served in the Reagan Administration as a National Security Council Middle East specialist and as Richard Perle's deputy at the Pentagon. Throughout the 1990s, he advised Republican members of Congress on a range of national security matters, including the Gulf War, arms control, and Bosnia. Feith has written numerous newspaper and journal articles on national security issues such as terrorism, missile defenses, chemical weapons, U.S.-Soviet relations, and the Middle East

In July 2001 Feith was appointed by President George W. Bush as under secretary of defense for policy, effectively the third-ranking civilian position in the U.S. Department of Defense. Following the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Feith played an important role in developing U.S. government strategy for the war on terrorism, advising Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld on policy issues relating to Afghanistan, Iraq, and other aspects of the war. Feith was instrumental also in other defense initiatives, including realigning the U.S. global defense posture, adding new members to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and reforming nato's military and civilian structures, creating new U.S. defense ties in South Asia, launching of the Global Peace Operations Initiative to increase the capacity of various countries to send forces abroad to keep or enforce the peace and negotiating with Russia the Moscow Treaty on offensive nuclear weapons.

Like a number of Jewish intellectuals who grew up in liberal, pro-Franklin Delano Roosevelt homes, Feith came to identify himself with a group of "neo-conservatives" serving in or supporting the Reagan Administration who viewed the Cold War as a clash of basic philosophical principles, not just a great power contest. Feith also staked out contrarian views on such issues as the "oil weapon" (he thought its power exaggerated and the financial costs would be high for whatever state tried to use it), arms control treaties (he thought their benefits were illusory), and the Oslo peace process (he predicted it would fail as a result of Arafat's deficient statesman-ship and lack of commitment to peace). Those views generated controversy and helped make him a lightning rod laterfor critics of the Iraq War of 2003. While rejecting the label of Wilsonian idealism, Feith, along with Natan *Sharansky and Paul Wolfowitz, has helped elaborate the idea, which President George W. Bush has made central to U.S. foreign policy, that democratic institutions are the route to peace and prosperity and that peoples in the Middle East, as elsewhere, will choose freedom and democratic political institutions if given the chance.

Feith's community work included service as president of the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School.

[Mark Feldman (2nd ed.)]