I have received a number of responses to my remarks on the Gingrich talk, almost all of them against my position. Here is one of the longer and more comprehensive ones:
I don’t think Gingrich’s speech was the killer Gaffney does, but I do think it was important, and with some exceptions, right on the money. What you really find in that speech is a simple, but generally unacknowledged truth: diplomacy may be defined as "talk talk" that advances a country’s interest, but State’s diplomats-- especially on the Arab desk--long ago became spokesmen for the Arabs, something that is also true of the British Foreign Office. There are many reasons for this: diplomats deal with diplomats and by nature tend to come to like their counterparts; diplomats tend to be liberal (i.e., they believe in talk, talk, not war, war), and the Arab, especially the Palestinian cause is a liberal one while the Israeli cause is a conservative one; even simple self interest: there is only one Israeli ambassadorship to be had in the middle east while there are many Arab ones.
As for the politics of it, I have two observations to make: (1) this is a good time to remind everyone that State, like the U.N., has been dead wrong on this one (and many, many others as well), and Defense right. If State has its way, it will--again, just like the U.N.--
ensure only that the ills of the area are never addressed. As the kids say, State just "doesn’t get it," the "its" being that peace is a means, not an end (and the same is true of process, which diplomats (God save us from the French), also tend to confuse with being an end. Can you imagine State saying, as DOD did a couple of days ago when asked whether Iraq would be allowed to have any form of government it wants: "Hell no: no more damn clerics running the show!" (Well, kind of.) (2) Politically, Gingrich was the wrong man to deliver this speech. Bush 2 still holds Gingrich partly responsible for Bush 1’s single term presidency. My prediction is that this effort to weaken State, or even the Arab desk, will backfire. Add Powell’s popularity with the Pesident to his (the pres.) dislike of Gingrich, and what we may well end up with is a State strengthened by the speech. Good old State: like an economist (or the CIA), it never has to worry about being held accountable for its mistakes.