Business as usual at the State Department

Tony Blankley in the Washington Times summarizes the critique of the State Department delivered by his former boss, Newt Gingrich, in an address to the American Enterprise Institute. Here is Gingrich’s address, the opening sentences of which, in Blankley’s words, “surely sent a chill through a State Department looking for a spine [for it] to go down.” Gingrich catalogues the errors and miscalculations of the Department during the showdown with Iraq, and calls for Congressional hearings.
National Review Online is all over this story. Here is Frank Gaffney’s commentary. Gaffney believes that the former Speaker’s speech is one of the most important foreign policy addresses since Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech in 1946. And here is a column by Ramesh Ponnuru about Colin Powell, the State Department’s ambassador to the Bush administration. Ponnuru notes that “the one person escaping all blame for the administration’s diplomatic failures is its top diplomat” to whom “nothing sticks — except a bewildering adulation.” But, of course, the adulation is not all that bewildering. As Ponnuru notes, Powell is seen by the press as “the adult restraining the hotheads around Bush.” As long as he maintains that image, his diplomatic failures and inability to actually influence adminstration policy will not matter, and he will probably be able to ensure that the State Department can continue to conduct business as usual, no matter how cogently Gingrich and others attack it.

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