Day By Day

Friday, January 20, 2006

A New Front Opens In the War on the Bureaucracy

The "War on Terror" gets all the attention, but no less significant is the ongoing "War on the Bureaucracy."

For decades now it has been apparent to anyone outside the Beltway that the "permanent government" in Washington was largely dysfunctional. Successive administrations, from Reagan on, have promised to do something about it.

Reagan promised to shrink the whole damn thing, but made little headway.

Poppy Bush, in the wake of the Gulf War, began a long-overdue reorganization of the Armed Forces, an effort that has continued ever since, accompanied by an endless barrage of criticism from retired military officers who liked things the way they had been before thank you very much.

Clinton, to his credit, expanded the reforms into the Justice department and to some extent into the social service bureaucracy and promised much, much more. [Remember the Gore Commission report? That's ok, nobody else does.] Of course we were treated at the time to an endless barrage of complaints from "former federal prosecuters" and such who said that Justice was being politicized and they liked thing the way they had been before thank you very much.

Dubya has accelerated the military reforms and undertaken a massive reform of the intelligence services [accompanied, of course, by an endless barrage of criticism from former intelligence officers who liked things the way they had been before thank you very much].

Now it is State's turn.

The WaPo reports:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday that she will shift hundreds of Foreign Service positions from Europe and Washington to difficult assignments in the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere as part of a broad restructuring of the diplomatic corps that she has dubbed "transformational diplomacy."

The State Department's culture of deployment and ideas about career advancement must alter now that the Cold War is over and the United States is battling transnational threats of terrorism, drug smuggling and disease, Rice said in a speech at Georgetown University. "The greatest threats now emerge more within states than between them," she said. "The fundamental character of regimes now matters more than the international distribution of power."

And of course, the chorus of complaints rises from the careerists:
As a first step, 100 jobs in Europe and Washington will be immediately shifted to expanded embassies in countries such as India, China and Lebanon. Many of these diplomats had been scheduled to rotate into coveted posts in European capitals this summer, and the sudden change in assignment has caused some distress, State Department officials said.
Read about it here.

"Some distress," I'll bet! Expect a deluge of leaks and critical articles and books written by "former State Department officials" to hit the bookstands and airwaves in the next few years. Bureaucrats can't stand it when politicians rock the boat and upset their career plans.

John Kennedy used to complain that he would issue orders and they would somehow get lost in the bureaucracy. Those days are now gone. For a long time the permanent government has looked with disdain upon the politicians, viewing administrations as mere transients to be ignored when possible, and tolerated when necessary. Now the politicians are at last beginning to take control of the vast federal apparatus. More power to them. In a democratic system it is the politicians and their representatives who must control the governmental process.

Go Condi, go Condi, go Condi..., and of course Go Dubya!!!


The natives are getting restless. WaPo reports:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice faced a barrage of pointed questions yesterday from employees at the U.S. Agency for International Development, who expressed concerns that an administration move to centralize the management of foreign assistance will weaken the agency and place short-term political goals ahead of long-term development aims.
Read it here.

No comments: