05.26b Gingrich on the Rogue State Department; Multilateralism vs. Unilateralism; Process vs. Substance. Newt Gingrich has a very good article, "Rogue State Department," Foreign Policy, p. 42 (July/August 2003). It's not on the web, but a related, inferior, speech of his is "Transforming the State Department". In the Foreign Policy article he writes:

In Washington today, two worldviews on U.S. foreign policy are colliding. One view emphasizes facts, values, and consequences. The other belives in process, politeness, and accommodation.

Consider, for instance, the following statement: Libya chairs the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. The values-and-fact-based advocates note immediately that Libya is a dictatorship with a history of terrorism, and they thus conclude that Libya cannot chair the commission with any moral standing or credibility. By contrast, the accommodation worldview contends that Libya won the vote in the United Nations and that contesting Libya's moral and legitimate claim to the chair would be impolite and a violation of due process.

I am convinced that U.S. President George W. Bush and a vast majority of the American people share the view that stresses facts, values, and consequences. The media and intellectual elites, the State Department (as an institution), and the Foreign Service (as a culture) clearly favor the process, politeness and accommodation position.

The article has various ideas, such as requiring officials to rotate outside of the State Department every so many years and to spend more time with foreigners and less with other State Department officials. He diagnoses problems better than he prescribes solutions, though. He mentions a 1979 article by Laurence Silberman in Foreign Affairs titled "Toward Presidential Control of the State Department" in which he says that career diplomats tend to consider the political appointees as rivals for senior positions and hence work against their success. I'm not sure what might be done about that, except to conspicuously punish saboteur-diplomats, something easy to do in a department which has positions in Chad that need to be filled.

Mr. Gingrich talks a lot about communication strategies-- i.e., propaganda, though he does not use so unpleasant a word. This made me realize something very important:

Suppose world public opinion is important (not obvious at all, but suppose it is). Suppose, too, that world public opinion is heavily opposed to a U.S. policy such as the rebuilding of Iraq. The common liberal response is that the U.S. should change its policy. That is wrong. The sensible response is to change world public opinion.

For this topic, we must take it as given that the particular U.S. foreign policy is correct, e.g., that we should rebuild Iraq. Otherwise, the topic is not really world public opinion: it is Iraq policy. World public opinion is an interesting topic only when those who argue it is important are arguing that we should abandon good policies because public opinion is more important. That is a legitimate point of view, because it may be that, for example, good Iraq policy is less important than having the support of German public opinion. A clearer example might be that although during World War II support for anti-communists in Russia was perhaps good policy, it would have offended Joseph Stalin, whose support we needed.

If it is truly public opinion that we are worried about,though, it is foolish to change the substance of good policies. Rather, we should advertise better. Suppose a company has a good product, which sells very well in America, but consumers in other countries think it is bad because of propaganda from businesses there. Should the company abandon the product? Maybe, but not before considering the possibility of countering the foreign propaganda with its own honest advertising.

Suppose we are spending $100 billion in Iraq because we think the benefit from so doing is $150 billion, aside from an adverse effect worth $70 billion on world public opinion. Rather than forfeit the $150 billion dollars benefit, we should spend, say, $2 billion to influence foreign opinion. Two billion is enough to massively affect it. Some of the money could be spent on ads, some on new TV and radio stations, and some on bribes. The benefit of this last should not be underrated (remember how much Saddam spent on this). Relatively small bribes to key journalists around the world could have very beneficial effects. Remember that my assumption here is that we are trying to support a good policy, and the only problem is communicating a truth. This is easier than communicating a lie. But it should be remembered that marketing is actually most important and useful for communicating truth. It is not worth spending a lot to market a shoddy product.

Going back a bit: perhaps I was too strong. There is a separate feature of world public opinion that is interesting: the possibility that it is unimportant in itself, but it is a good guide to good policy. It might not matter, for example, what the Icelanders think about Iraq, but if they are wiser than Americans, then we should use their opinions as a guide. This reasoning takes us in the opposite direction, though, in my opinion. I think European and Moslem leaders usually are wrong in their policy views. They are anti-democratic, corrupt, decadent, and care little for human rights. Thus, it is if we find them *agreeing* with us that we should deduce that our policy is wrong. [This page is http://mypage.iu.edu/~erasmuse/w/04.05.26b.htm]

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