April 22, 2003
Gingrich calls for State Department revamp, AID closure
By Brian Friel
The State Department should be reorganized and the U.S. Agency for International Development should be abolished because of diplomatic failures this year, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Tuesday.
Gingrich called on President Bush to convene a commission on making the State Department less bureaucratic and timid and urged Congress to conduct hearings on revamping the department.
"Without bold, dramatic change at the State Department, the United States will soon find itself on the defensive
everywhere except militarily," Gingrich said at an American Enterprise Institute briefing
<http://www.aei.org/news/newsID.16992,filter./news_detail.asp> in Washington.
Gingrich contrasted the performance of the Pentagon, with its success in Iraq, to the performance of the diplomatic
agencies, which he said put the United States on a weak footing internationally.
"One world view is process, politeness and accommodation. The other world view is a world view of facts, values and outcomes," Gingrich said. "The State Department as an institution and the Foreign Service as a culture clearly represent the former."
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer defended the performance of the State Department and Secretary of State Colin Powell, saying that the process the department followed on Iraq this year was Bush’s process. "The fact of the matter is the State Department and Secretary Powell did an excellent job at ushering through that process," Fleischer said. "There were others who complicated the process in the Security Council. That in no way is reflective of the State Department or what the president thinks about the State Department or Secretary Powell’s superb efforts."
Gingrich said AID and State had failed to pave any roads in Afghanistan because the agencies had kept the Army Corps of Engineers from working on such projects. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said roads could not be paved in Afghanistan during winter and that road projects are on schedule, with a highway connecting Kabul and Kandahar nearing completion.
Gingrich also questioned the State Department’s efforts in Turkey, the United Nations and in Iraq, saying the department is undermining Bush’s foreign policy.
Boucher said the department carries out the president’s policies. "I’m kind of left scratching my head, which I will do, for television," Boucher said. "I don’t know what’s being criticized here. The State Department is here to carry out the president’s policy and in every one of the instances that are being cited we’re doing that effectively, we’re doing that loyally, we’re doing that diligently and we’re doing that with a fair amount of creativity and accomplishment."
An assessment by current and former diplomats issued last week found that Powell had improved the management and morale </dailyfed/0403/041003b1.htm> of the State Department in his two years on the job. But the Foreign Affairs Council also called for a revitalization of the Foreign Service through the creation of a set of values for the service, including risk-taking, talent management and team play.
Foreign Service Officers' Response to Gingrich's Criticisms.
April 23, 2003
Mr. Newt Gingrich, Fellow
American Enterprise Institute
1150 17th Street, N.W.
Washington D.C. 20036
Dear Mr. Gingrich:
The American Foreign Service Association represents the 10,000 active duty
members of the U.S. Foreign Service. Over the years, a total of 215 of our
colleagues have died in the service of their country.
You have essentially accused these employees of treason; of betraying the
trust their government has placed in them; of betraying the oath they took.
In your speech to the American Enterprise Institute on April 22, 2003, you
enumerated supposed instances of these employees' betrayal, saying they
threaten to undermine the President's policies and have led to the collapse
of the Department of State as an effective instrument.
- You claimed that the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs has a propensity to
appease and prop up corrupt dictators.
- You charged that those working in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs
prefer a weak Iraqi government that would not threaten neighboring dictators.
- You claimed that State Department employees have undertaken a deliberate
and systematic effort to undermine the President's policies in the Middle East.
- You charged State Department employees with deliberately working to throw
away the fruits of victory in Iraq.
Sir, these are serious charges indeed. If you have proof you should run,
not walk, to the office of the nearest U.S. attorney.
However, you do not have proof. Your charges are spurious. As such, they
will be consigned to the dust bin of history where they belong, along with
that paper Senator Joseph R. McCarthy held up in a speech in Wheeling, West
Virginia on February 9, 1950, claiming to "have in my hand a list" of
traitors in the State Department.
John K. Naland
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