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2003-04-23 - 1:39 p.m.

Neocons Sic Bulldog Gingrich on Powell

What happens when you don't play the game of the neocons? Or when you are the only high ranking official in an Administration that has served in the military? Or even when you go out on a limb for said Administration but your actions aren't good enough? The said Neocons and Administration calls out their bulldog: Newt Gingrich. Remember him? The Gingrich who stole Christmas? Oh come on, we all remember what a jerk this guy was back in the 90s. Remember when he was one of the forerunners to get Clinton impeached for lieing under oath for an affair, and yet, all along Gingrich was having an affair with a Capital Hill staffer? Remember his remarks about Mondale during the 2002 elections shortly after Paul Wellstone was murdered (and yes, I do mean murdered and some day this too will come to light)? Remember his disgraced fall from Speaker of the House?

Well if you do not remember any of those things, just do a search on good ole Newt and I am sure you will find all the heinous deeds of this Neocon. But in the meanwhile, the White House, along with Newt's good pal Rummy, have sicced this bulldog on Powell. Check out the following article:

A New War in Washington

By Jim Lobe, AlterNet
April 22, 2003

It's been barely a week since the U.S. took control of Baghdad, but the Pentagon is already embroiled in a new war, this time with the State Department.

The opening salvo was delivered Tuesday morning by the former Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives (1995-98) and member of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, Newt Gingrich, at the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

Gingrich, who is close to Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld, aimed the full fury of his rhetorical fire at the State Department, accusing it of actively subverting President George W. Bush's agenda in Iraq and beyond.

"The last seven months have involved six months of diplomatic failure and one month of military success," Gingrich charged, adding, "Now the State Department is back at work pursuing policies that will clearly throw away all the fruits of hard-won victory."

It was a stunning attack from someone so closely identified with Rumsfeld and the neo-conservative hawks around him. "I've never seen a wholesale attack on America's entire diplomatic establishment like this," said Charles Kupchan, a foreign-policy expert at Georgetown University. "This is fundamentally about ideology and the efforts of the neo-conservatives to institutionalize their victories over the moderate and liberal internationalists."

It also illustrates the degree to which relations between the State Department and the Pentagon hawks has moved to open warfare as both sides jostle for control of policy in Iraq and the broader Middle East. "I think it is designed to scare people into thinking that anyone who challenges the right wing is going to suffer for it. He wants to get these people who in his mind pervert presidential policy out on the street," said Richard Murphy, who served as assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs under Ronald Reagan and is currently a Middle East expert with the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations.

Kupchan also said it was unlikely that Gingrich, as a member of the Policy Board, would not have cleared his remarks with top officials. The fact that Gingrich's remarks were leaked to the Washington Post in advance is also highly significant. So is his choice of venue. The AEI where Gingrich is a Fellow is where Bush presented his most comprehensive proposal yet for democratizing Iraq and the Arab world nearly two months ago. It is also home to the former chairman of the Defense Policy Board, Richard Perle and several other neo-conservative analysts who have been the most outspoken about promoting "regime change" in the Middle East and U.S. military dominance in the world.

Gingrich was careful to insist that he was not faulting Secretary of State Colin Powell, whom he depicted as a prisoner of the Department and its Near East bureau. But he charged that the administration was split between two "worldviews": the State Department worldview as one of "process, politeness, and accommodation," and president's worldview was that of "facts, values and outcomes." Gingrich said that the Pentagon appeared far more faithful to the latter. When the State Department failed to persuade key allies, such as Turkey, South Korea, France and Germany to support Washington, it was the Pentagon who brought along Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, according to Gingrich, thus making it far easier to go to war. "The military delivered diplomatically and then the military delivered militarily in a stunning, four-week campaign," he declared.

But even now, he warned, those gains are jeopardized by the State Department in four critical areas. First, he called Powell's recently-announced visit to Damascus next month to meet with Syrian President Bashir Assad, a "terrorist-supporting, secret police-wielding dictator," as plainly "ludicrous." Second, Gingrich attacked the State Department's "invention" of the so-called "Quartet," made up of the U.N., Russia, the E.U. and the U.S., to manage Palestinian-Israeli peace talks as a "clear disaster for American diplomacy." Third, Gingrich assailed the diplomats sent to help oversee the occupation in Iraq as "representing the worst instincts" of the Near East Bureau, which was "to create a weak Iraqi government that will not threaten its Syrian, Iranian, Saudi and other dictatorial neighbors." Finally, he slammed the involvement of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in the reconstruction process, calling instead for its abolishment.

The State Department itself issued a low-key response to the Gingrich attack, insisting that it is loyally and effectively carrying out Bush's policy, including the Road Map for Israeli-Palestinian peace. But many onlookers agree that Gingrich's assertions are simply not true. "Gingrich and company should look at themselves in the mirror," Kupchan said. "If you ask who is it who has set most of the world against the United States, it's not the Department; it's the Pentagon and the neo-cons."

Gingrich's call for "bold dramatic change at the State Department" does, however, offer a preview of the ambitions of the neo-conservatives and their allies within the administration. "Calls for State Department reform are really a veiled way of trying to make permanent changes that would leave a certain ideological strain that could be called 'neo-imperial' in control not just of the Pentagon but of other parts of the government as well," Kupchan said.

Jim Lobe writes on international affairs for Inter Press Service, Oneworld.net, Foreign Policy in Focus and AlterNet.org.

And if that doesn't ruffle your feathers, check out this other article as well:

Hawks Rip Into Mideast Plan

By Edwin Chen, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Emboldened by the U.S. military victory in Iraq, neoconservatives and their allies in Congress are mounting a preemptive campaign against the U.S. plan to implement a so-called road map for settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As Secretary of State Colin L. Powell laid the groundwork for a planned trip to the Middle East in early May, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich increasingly identified as a neoconservative spokesman unleashed a blistering attack Tuesday on the State Department and, by implication, on Powell. He characterized the latest Mideast peace plan as "a deliberate and systematic effort to undermine the president's policies."

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) also has inveighed against the road map, calling it "a confluence of deluded thinking between European elites, elements within the State Department bureaucracy and a significant segment of the American intellectual community."

In a March 12 speech at the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, DeLay, referring to the road map, said: "The Israelis don't need to change course. They don't need to travel the path of weakness as defined by the neo-appeasers."

A strongly pro-Israel letter expressing similar sentiments is being circulated during the congressional recess among lawmakers of both parties and had gained 262 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon, according to congressional aides. Its authors say they intend to send the letter to Bush.

Gingrich made his remarks at the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank that has provided much of the ideological underpinnings of the Bush administration.

The former speaker, a senior fellow at the institute, said that after "six months of diplomatic failure and one month of military success," the State Department is "back at work pursuing policies that will clearly throw away all the fruits of hard-won victory" in the region.

Gingrich urged the administration to "take on transforming the State Department as its next urgent mission." The U.S., he said, "cannot lead the world with a broken instrument of diplomacy."

The White House later rejected Gingrich's advice, strongly defending both the department and Powell. Spokesman Ari Fleischer said they simply "carry out the president's directions, and they do so very ably and professionally."

The dispute is about more than the hope of pro-Israel forces that they can block any attempt by the White House to pressure Israel into making concessions to the Palestinians.

It also reflects a bruising debate within the administration intensified by the quick military victory in Iraq about how muscular U.S. foreign policy should be and the extent to which the United Nations and other international organizations should influence or constrain U.S. actions around the world.

The debate is focused at the moment on the Middle East, where neoconservatives see the quick U.S. victory in Iraq opening up the potential for remaking the region. But it is also raging over other trouble spots, including North Korea.

During the run-up to the Iraq war, President Bush announced his intention of unveiling the Middle East road map once Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority's prime minister-designate, forms his Cabinet and its members take office.

Bush made that commitment, at least in part, as a concession to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, his strongest ally on the war, who was concerned that Washington's failure to aggressively pursue an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord was enraging the Arab world.

As outlined in media reports, the plan details a series of reciprocal steps that Israel and the Palestinians would take leading up to the creation of a Palestinian state by 2005.

Neoconservatives take issue with the fact that it is a collaborative effort with the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.

Calling that arrangement a State Department "invention," Gingrich described it Tuesday as "a deliberate and systematic effort to undermine the president's policies procedurally by ensuring that they will consistently be watered down and distorted by the other three members."

Underlying such antagonism is the belief among many administration hawks, especially in the Pentagon, that Russia, France and Germany stymied U.S. efforts to obtain U.N. support for forcefully disarming Iraq.

"For us to invite them into a quartet is an absolute defeat before the process even begins," Gingrich said.

As a part of the new peace initiative, the Bush administration intends to press Israel to ease its crackdown in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

During an April 14 meeting at the White House, both Powell and Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security advisor, delivered that news to Dov Weisglass, an aide to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who had brought to the White House Sharon's many reservations about the plan.

In an effort to present a united front, Rice included other senior administration officials whom Israel considers more sympathetic, among them Elliott Abrams, a top National Security Council advisor on the Middle East; I. Lewis Libby, chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney; and Douglas J. Feith, who is undersecretary of Defense for policy.

But Rice reportedly told Weisglass that the administration would make no changes to the road map before it was unveiled.

In his comments at the American Enterprise Institute, Gingrich spoke of Bush and the State Department representing what Gingrich called "two worldviews in conflict about foreign policy."

The State Department, Gingrich said, "is a worldview of process, politeness and accommodation," while Bush's world view is one of "facts, values and outcomes."

Gingrich also denounced Powell's plan to stop in Syria on his Middle East trip. Both Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld have accused Syria of providing military supplies to Iraq and harboring senior Iraqi officials who fled Baghdad.

"This is a time for America to demand changes in Damascus before a visit is even considered," Gingrich said. "The visit should be a reward for public change not an appeal to a weak, economically depressed dictatorship."

On Sunday, Bush told reporters during a visit to Ft. Hood, Texas, that Syria was "beginning to get the [U.S.] message."

At the White House, Fleischer defended the administration's now-softened approach toward Damascus.

"The United States has diplomatic relations with Syria, and we intend to use those diplomatic relations to good purposes, to further America's goals in the region," Fleischer said.

At the State Department, a senior official suggested that a desire for the limelight was behind Gingrich's harsh remarks.

"I'm sure he wants to reorganize us as effectively as he reorganized the Congress," the official said, referring to the GOP "revolution" that Gingrich ushered in, which petered out several election cycles later amid a sea of political acrimony.

Danielle Pletka, a vice president at the American Enterprise Institute, said the U.S. foreign policy establishment could benefit from constructive criticism.

But she disagreed with Gingrich's charge that the State Department and Powell are departing from White House thinking.

"I am not a believer in the idea that somehow the State Department hijacked the president's brain," Pletka said.

Times staff writer Sonni Efron contributed to this report.

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