Cigars in the Sand

Commentary, Notes and Pictures from my time in Iraq

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Location: Baghdad, Iraq

Farmer by genetics, Lawyer by training, currently "vacationing" in Iraq and advising the Iraqi government on border security issues. Before moving to Baghdad, I served in the White House as Deputy Counsel for the Homeland Security Council. I can be reached at opusxryanathotmaildotcom.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Foreign Affairs Navel Gazing

Foreign Affairs is a wonderful journal for those interested in world affairs. Unfortunately it occasionally drifts into navel gazing about the values of "diplomacy." (Full Disclosure- I was rejected as a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the org that publishes FA.) This is a typical example:

"The Bush strategy was tested in the Iraq war, of course, and found to be wanting. In retrospect, it seems that Washington badly underestimated the value of international support for its undertakings. But although diplomacy's stocks have risen in the past year, some in the administration remain unconvinced by Winston Churchill's dictum that it is better 'to jaw-jaw than to war-war.'

So far, then, the administration has been down on diplomacy and, in particular, on special envoys. It has ignored a powerful diplomatic instrument that has served the United States well in times of crisis. With the State Department under new management and the benefit of four years of experience, it is time for Washington to reconsider its use of special emissaries."

Huh? Does the author believe that if only Bush would have appointed a "special envoy" on Iraq that France, Germany and Russia would have joined the Coalition? All subsequent evidence points to the contrary (especially the list of recipients of Oil-for-Food largesse).

The author does nail the problem with special envoys: they are "organizational ad hockery". (Although he almost immediately attempts to minimize this concern.) The missions that "special envoys" are given are missions that someone else in the United States Government already has. Usually, it's a mission that quite a fw people already have. Adding yet another layer of bureaucracy and reporting channels does not simplify the US effort, it complicates it. The US State Department alone is a massive organization; isn't it the State Department's job to "do" diplomacy?