National Press Club

NPC American Legion Post told U.S. diplomacy needs overhaul

September 19, 2013 | By Ken Dalecki |

Recent administrations have given the U.S. military "unachievable objectives" in trying to install democratic regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan," John Lenzowski, president and founder of the Institute of World Politics, told a luncheon meeting of the National Press Club's American Legion Post 20 on Sept. 18. He noted that both countries lack the basic social institutions needed to support a modern democracy.

The U.S. cannot defeat radical Islam militarily because it is a political problem that requires the kind of public diplomacy that has been lacking since the 1980s, Lenzowski said.

Lenzowski called for the establishment of a high-profile public-diplomacy agency specializing in combating anti-American propaganda with people-to-people exchanges, medical assistance, scholarships, the Peace Corps, assistance to pro-American groups and other efforts. He said such programs now suffer third-class status in the State Department.

The former member of the National Security Council under President Ronald Reagan said the public is right to oppose intervention in Syria because "there are no good options" and because there is no threat to U.S. national security. The Obama administration policies have "done enormous harm to weaken this country" militarily and diplomatically, he said.