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Newt: A Real Peace Process Requires Fundamental Reform of the State Department


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Changing course from a strategy of hoping for peace by appeasing terrorists to one of securing the peace by defeating terrorists will require fundamental reform of the State Department and a profound shift in the culture of the Foreign Service.

The State Department has long been a barrier to a clear, decisive foreign policy, especially with regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The State Department's opposition to doing anything to save Jews during the Holocaust infuriated President Roosevelt and led him in 1944 to take war refugee activities away from the State Department and place it in a new board led by the Secretaries of the Treasury, War, and the Navy.

President Truman, who first recognized Israel and supported her independence, did so against the deep opposition of the State Department, which publicly undermined him at every turn.

President Ronald Reagan often found the State Department equally hostile to his efforts to defeat the Soviet Union.

The "evil empire" speech was literally disguised as a domestic political speech to get it past the diplomats who were horrified at morally unambiguous, clear language about our enemy.

Similarly, the phrase "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" was taken out of the Berlin Wall speech twice by State Department editors and had to be reinstated personally by President Reagan.

For the nearly 20 years of the current phony peace process, the vestiges of the State Department's historic opposition to the creation of Israel and its revulsion to moral clarity about the difference between terrorism and civilization have weakened both the United States and Israel.

This State Department inability to tell the truth about terrorism or to be honest about the publicly stated goals of our enemies has been a crippling liability in trying to find a path to real peace.

The quickest way to change this culture is to inject new blood into the system. The overly slow and bureaucratic security clearance system must be fixed to raise the level of applicants to the Foreign Service. The promotion system of the State Department, which like in many bureaucracies, is known to favor mediocrity and discourage creative thinking, also requires fundamental reform.

Change on this scale will be bitterly fought by the old guard at State and their media allies. It will require a knowledgeable and strong Secretary of State and a deeply committed team around him.

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