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Foggy Bottom thwarts America's security

By Carol Devine-Molin
web posted October 20, 2003

Whose side is the State Department on anyway? Why is it that many Americans perceive the State Department as hostile to US interests? Joel Mowbray's newly released tome, Dangerous Diplomacy, closely examines the State Department's entrenched culture and modus operandi for some surprising answers. And, what Mowbray reveals is a bureaucracy that is more than dysfunctional -- It clearly runs counter to the national security needs of our nation. The State Department, also known as Foggy Bottom, is not serving America well.

The opening chapter has the beleaguered Mowbray being detained and questioned by State Department apparatchiks ostensibly because he accessed a classified memo from a secret source. Fortunately, Mowbray's employer, National Review magazine, had their pubic relations office convince the State Department that their actions would "backfire", and the author was quickly released from custody. However, it was soon apparent that there was more underlying the wrath of Foggy Bottom bureaucrats. They were really miffed since Mowbray helped to expose the State Department's reckless Visa Express program in Saudi Arabia, and Ambassador Robert Jordan's request to shut down the program in opposition to the stance held by the State Department bureaucracy.

This Visa Express program was an abomination that permitted US entry of three September 11th terrorists without requiring interviews by officials. An applicant merely had to fill out an application with attending documentation, and the paperwork was funneled through a Saudi Arabian travel agent to State Department officials who promptly granted approval. The State Department spokesman for Consular Affairs had tried to promulgate the erroneous notion that twelve of the September 11th terrorists had been interviewed before entering the US, which of course was pure poppycock. In truth, Mowbray explains that "consular officers granted visas to 13 of these 15 Saudi and Emirati hijackers without an interview". In any event, the Visa Express program was finally closed down well after the terror attacks upon America had occurred, and only because Mowbray and others were able to expose the utter incompetence and wrong-headed approach of the State Department. It's frightening to contemplate that the State Department had intended to establish Visa Express type programs in other nations.

As Mowbray points out, ineptness is only one problem that plagues the State Department. The careerists adhere to the philosophy of "stability", even if it means bolstering rogue regimes that diligently support terror, perpetrate atrocious human rights violations and seek all kinds of catastrophic weaponry. In short, the State Department is bent on fostering "smooth relations" and "engagement" with other nations to the exclusion of most other issues. And its worldview of "moral relativism" and "moral equivalence" among nations makes it all the easier for Foggy Bottom to coddle up to any-and-all powers and massage the status quo. That's why the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and President Bush's current initiative to develop a new freedom dynamic in the Middle East are so distasteful to the State Department gang. Never mind that it was actually the status quo in the Middle East that led to the September 11th attacks. Foggy Bottom will never grasp the "big picture", nor will it really understand American values.

Moreover, these apparatchiks have lost sight of their real mission, which is to represent America's interests in the world, not those of other nations. As noted by Mowbray, the State Department possesses "a corrosive culture that puts the interests of other nations ahead of America's", no matter the nature of the these foreign governments. And that's why Foggy Bottom bureaucrats are prepared to readily accommodate tyrants and approve dual-use technologies that enhance their weaponry systems.

When the Reaganites took office in 1981, their instincts were absolutely dead-on when they urged the President to "gut" the State Department. Transforming any institution with an enduring culture is extremely problematic, if not impossible. In these circumstances, it's always better to start from scratch rather than implementing "incremental reform". However, realistically speaking, it's not going to happen in the foreseeable future. And that's unfortunate for America.

Carol Devine-Molin is a regular contributor to several online magazines.

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