Breaking Establishment to Keep America Safe
The eventual Republican nominee should offer a clear alternative to President Obama's foreign policy. Accomplishing this means not only telling the truth about worsening foreign threats, it also means challenging the Washington foreign policy establishment and restoring broken tools of national power. Among the contenders, only Newt Gingrich has the temperament - and the battle scars - to be trusted to wage and win the struggles looming ahead.
Telling the truth about the threats we face differs fundamentally from Mr. Obama's approach. The president has said repeatedly that "the tide of war is receding." From the time he first said this in June to when he last repeated it in January, an Iranian plot to conduct assassinations in Washington was uncovered, the IAEA reported Iran's nuclear program was advancing, China conducted sea trials of its first aircraft carrier, Islamists made inroads across the Middle East and Egypt was lost to Islamists. As it turns out, our adversaries also influence the tide of war and have not undeclared their aggression. Mr. Obama's words unfortunately do not jibe with reality.
We also have an attorney general who refuses to say that terrorists who make war on us are combatants. Major Nidal Hasan shot 42 people at Fort Hood. He carried business cards with an abbreviation for "Soldier of Allah" and yelled "Allahu Akbar" as he opened fire. Yet our attorney general pointedly refused to say radical Islamism motivated the attack. An Obama administration document characterized the attack as "workplace violence." That is not telling the truth.
China wages cyber war on the United States and our allies every day of every week - with increasing effect. This, along with China's rapid military buildup and systematic counterfeiting of U.S. products, are far more critical than the currency manipulation claims Washington politicians and corporate chiefs use to shadowbox Beijing when they feel the urge. This week, we learned that Chinese hackers gained complete access to Nortel's networks for nearly a decade. Analysts have speculated this helped bankrupt the company. And yet also this week, our president again feted a Chinese leader at the White House without any apparent protest of the indefensible cyber war. That is not telling the truth.
Under Presidents Obama and Bush, our intelligence agency leaders have let down America. Our government was blindsided completely by revolutions across the Middle East this past year. Our director of national intelligence has failed to reverse a politicized and misleading intelligence assessment from 2007 that claimed Iran halted its nuclear weapons program. That assessment - Exhibit "A" in late Bush administration impotence in managing the national security bureaucracy - lives on as farce in the Obama administration. It is another example of dysfunctional Washington not telling the truth.
Furthermore, over a decade after 9/11, our Washington foreign policy establishment has failed at confronting the ideology of radical Islamism, forcing our military instead to contend indefinitely with the movement's terrorist vanguard. We remain bystanders as Islamists outflank reformers in political contests across the Middle East, creating the prospect of a region more hostile to America and our allies.
Therein lies the necessity of a GOP nominee who knows the traps Washington sets for Republican presidents - and who can be counted on to fight for radical reform.
Fixing the Pentagon requires more than just tough talk. We need to replace a broken procurement and personnel system erected by successive administrations and congresses that delivers far too little bang for our buck. We also need to shift the balance at the Pentagon away from lawyers and toward warriors - ending politically correct rules of engagement that endanger our troops. This will take a fight.
Fixing the State Department means more than just cheerleading the embedded bureaucracy there and seeking more funds, as has all too often been the case with recent secretaries of state. For decades, presidents of both parties have dealt with State's many deficiencies by taking important issues away from the department. But in today's world, marked by high-stakes political contests and violent episodes where we have no ground presence, we need functioning agencies that understand foreign political developments. This will take a fight.
We also need to reconfigure radically our intelligence instruments, recreating political warfare tools available to presidents in previous conflicts. That is the best way to advance America's security interests while avoiding military conflict. But effective intelligence operations and tools to influence foreign political outcomes are inimical to those like President Obama who are inclined to apologize for America. Fixing this entails a messy fight with an entrenched bureaucracy as well as the liberal elite.
These are fights worth having. But endorsing change is not the same as achieving it. We both saw first-hand in the Bush administration how the Washington establishment can foil Republican presidents who express conservative principles, but who prove unwilling to confront the establishment and the bureaucracy.
Pundits and Mr. Gingrich's opponents have not shied from pointing out his flaws and the lengthy parade of people who wish him ill. But it is worth considering that these are the scars you get if you actually take on the Washington establishment. That willingness to fight has been lacking in our capital and our party. We need it badly in order to prevail in the struggles our country must now face.