Jewish World Review April 25, 2003 / 23 Nisan, 5763

Tony Blankley

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Winning the war, losing the peace | After the action comes the after-action reports - what the Pentagon calls lessons learned, what the State Department calls business as usual (BAU). But at State, BAU is likely to become CYA if my old boss, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, has anything to say about it. And he has a lot to say. This week, at the American Enterprise Institute, Newt delivered a major speech entitled "Transforming the State Department," in which the opening sentences surely sent a chill through the State Department looking for a spine to go down. "The last seven months have involved six months of diplomatic failure and one month of military success. The first days after the military victory indicate the pattern of diplomatic failure is beginning once again and threatens to undo the effects of military victory."

The high point of American diplomacy was on September 12, 2002, when President Bush laid down the law to the United Nations. Then, Newt observed, "the State Department took the President's strong position and negotiated a resolution that shifted from verification to inspection [because, in part] under internal State Department politics, verification would have put the policy in the hands of people who disagreed with the department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs' propensity for appeasing dictators and propping up corrupt regimes."

State's next mistake was to accept Hans Blix as chief inspector, even though they had been warned that "he was clearly opposed to war and was determined to buy time and find excuses for Saddam. [They] then accepted Blix's refusal to hire back any of the experienced inspectors thus further drawing out the process. The process was turned from verifying Iraqi compliance, which put the burden of proof on Saddam, to pursuing United Nations inspections in which case the burden was on the United States."

Newt went on to explain in detail how the State Department's public diplomacy - i.e. communicating to the world - utterly failed, characterizing that effort harshly but fairly as "a pathetic public campaign of hand wringing and desperation." Moving on to the matter of the State Department's private diplomacy, he noted their calamitous failure to gain Turkish basing rights. During that prewar period I was personally told by a number of foreign diplomats and a major Russian player, in the words of the Russian: "They don't know how to make an offer and close a deal."

In perhaps Newt's most withering observation, he explained that it was lucky that the Defense Department and Central Command successfully negotiated for basing rights with the Gulf states: "Had Centcom and DoD been as ineffective at diplomacy as the State Department (which is supposedly in charge of diplomacy) Kuwait would not have been available, the Saudi air base would not have been available, and the Jordanian passage of special forces would not have been available. The military delivered diplomatically and then the military delivered militarily in a stunning four week campaign."

Having demolished State's prewar performance, he methodically dissected their postwar mistakes (brief time for which they have had), starting with Secretary Powell's ill-considered decision to go to Damascus. "This is a time for America to demand changes in Damascus before a visit is even considered. The visit should be a reward for public change, not an appeal to a weak, economically depressed dictatorship." Newt went on to observe that State is sending all the wrong people to postwar Iraq. They "represent the worst instincts of the Bureau of Near Eastern affairs[who] were promoted in a culture of propping up dictators, coddling the corrupt and ignoring the secret police."

Next on Newt's list of State Department inanities is their invention of the quartet of Russia, the European Union, the United Nations and the United States to oversee Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. "After the bitter lessons of the last five months, it is unimaginable that the U.S. would voluntarily accept a system in which the U.N., the EU, and Russia could routinely out vote President Bush's position by three to one."

Fourth on Newt's list is State's decision to send people from its Agency for International Development to Iraq to "help" with reconstruction. Newt noted that they have similar responsibilities in Afghanistan and: "As of two weeks ago, not one mile of road has been paved." An AID official was quoted in The Washington Post explaining, "Afghans need to understand the lengthy bureaucratic processes of AID and not become impatient." Newt correctly observed: "That is exactly why the State Department should be transformed, but AID should be abolished."

Then Newt called for the president to start the transformation process at State, just as he has done at the Pentagon and with his newly created Department of Homeland Security. To that end, he called for extensive congressional hearings (as was done for the Pentagon years ago, resulting in the Goldwater-Nichols reform bill - the beginning of Defense transformation). It will be a brawl, but one the country desperately needs. Winning the wars and losing the peace has got to stop.

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Tony Blankley is editorial page editor of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

04/16/03: Our own domestic Senate Republican Guard better be prepared for a grinding
04/03/03: At this human moment we need to act like humans, not just calculating analysts
04/02/03: If we could only draft Jennings' eyebrow to the cause, we wouldn't need the 4th Armored Division?
03/26/03: This war is showing the world who we really are
03/19/03: Time for America to laugh at itself
03/13/03: They're coming out of the woodwork: Russert, Buchanan and Moran
03/05/03: Franc-tireur
02/26/03: World history is shifting under our feet --- even our most experienced statesmen are, effectively, inexperienced
02/19/03: The shame! We've mischaracterized the French 02/12/03: Schroeder and Chirac will be disproportionately undercutting their interests
02/05/03: We need to rise above our temporary anger and seek to preserve our bonds with our European cousins
01/29/03: Who is President Bush's stupidest opponent: Saddam Hussein or Tom Daschle?
01/22/03: We call them our European cousins --- but I demand a DNA test
01/16/03: Dems bare partisan teeth
01/02/03: Before the cheering must come the struggle
12/27/02: Long ago and far away
12/18/02: Be glad that Gore's gone?
12/11/02: What fun! A titanic, once-in-a-century partisan battle royal is in the offing
12/04/02: Kerry atwitter
11/27/02: The unThankful list
11/20/02: First the scare, then the yawn
11/13/02: It's going to be a long two years for Lefty Pelosi and the Frisco Dems
11/06/02: Technology: A pollster's worst enemy --- thank goodness!
10/31/02: Watch this election's Wheel of Fate
10/23/02: The Ari and Colin Show: Politics has never been, well, more vaudeville-like
10/09/02: Bush beats drums of realism
10/02/02: Needed: A political chromatograph to detect any true statements in the public domain
09/25/02: Buchanan's new mag
09/18/02: There are many forms of peace
09/11/02: The imperial period of our history starts
09/04/02: Memo to Powell: In periods of upheaval, the refusal to act gives aid to those bent on destruction
08/30/02: Logging old growth is a sham issue

© 2002, Creators Syndicate