In perhaps Newt's most withering observation, he explained that it was lucky 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 pre-war performance, he methodically dissected their post-war mistakes (brief time for which they have had), starting with Secretary Colin 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 post-war 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 E.U. 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 Defense. 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.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.