- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 24, 2003

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has placed the vital issue of effective foreign policy management at the front of Washington discussion this week. It is a debate that is decades overdue, and that has never been more critical to our national security and in an age of terrorism our personal safety. In this section we have published the text of his speech Tuesday to the American Enterprise Institute because, given the former speaker's controversial political career, there are only too many people in town eager to distort his words and substitute ad hominem attacks for objective analysis.
While we do not agree with every article in his indictment of the State Department (the unpopularity of our Iraq policy in Europe and Turkey should not be placed exclusively at State's doorstep), both the broad thrust and most of the details of the critique are virtually unassailable. Is there even a single objective policy analyst in Washington who is still willing to defend the Agency for International Development's effectiveness? Knowledgeable people around the world have long recognized the Arabist slant of the State Department. The State Department should be slanted neither to Zionism nor to Arabism, but should be straight and true to American interests.
Understanding the reason for the Arabist slant as an example of the many problems facing State will lead most people to Speaker Gingrich's proposed remedy: congressional hearings, leading to a reorganizing and transforming of the State Department. While the Arabist slant may in small part be an inheritance from the British Foreign Office's traditional prejudice, it is driven primarily by internal State Department bureaucracy career paths. At any one time there is only one American ambassador to Israel, but there are many to Arab countries. Most ambassadors tend to go a little native developing knowledge of and friendships and sympathies for their host countries. Over time, scores of former ambassadors to Arab countries return to dominate the State Department, compared to the few former ambassadors returning from Israel. Thus, this problem is caused by structural, bureaucratic dysfunctions not merely ideology or ill-will.
Any large organization facing new challenges in a constantly changing world tends to need re-forming from time to time. Our military was reorganized in 1947 and, as Mr. Gingrich pointed out, started its second round of transformation with the Goldwater-Nichols bill in 1986. The Pentagon's existing structure is currently facing a necessary, but withering, challenge from Mr. Rumsfeld. Similarly, our antiquated and inadequate homeland security agencies recently faced congressional hearings and reorganization. The FBI has also been subject to deep congressional scrutiny in the interest of reformation and increased effectiveness. Putting aside whether one agrees with each and every point in Mr. Gingrich's critique of the State Department, we believe it is vital that Congress and the administration work together promptly to reform and transform our country's most venerable department.

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