Is Foreign Policy For Sale?

We still know only a few details about the Clinton Foundation's relationship with the State Department under Hillary Clinton's stewardship. But it smells funny.

It has long been the case that rich and powerful people gain swift access to those in power. And they often are rewarded with contracts, jobs and other benefits that should otherwise be granted only on the basis of what is best of for the United States.

But we should remember that this is a long-term problem. When we occupied Iraq in 2003. A Republican think tank/lobbying group was able to send dozens of its conservative interns and aides to the State Department with letters recommending they be hired to plum jobs in Baghdad.

Young conservatives fresh out of college were sent to take over senior advisory roles in Iraq ministries solely o the basis of their commitment to free market capitalism. More senior people, also got top jobs running an effort aimed at recreating Iraq in America's image.

For example, one U.S. social worker with an anti-abortion aid group was sent to oversee the Iraqi national network that distributed pharmaceuticals in local clinics and major hospitals. Since centralized system this smacked of socialism, the crusading executive canceled all contracts to import and distribute medicine. From then on, Iraqis would have to do it like we do in America -- pay up for the drugs in private pharmacies or do without.

What is even more disturbing is that the State Department and US Agency for International Development (USAID) had already crafted a well thought out plan to set up humanitarian and political systems to improve Iraqi lives.

That plan, to be led by US Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, was never allowed to be implemented. Instead, The Bush administration appointed Paul Bremer to be a sort of counsel ruling Iraq by decree.

One of USAID's most senior experts in international public health, Frederick Burkle, who should have been advisor to the Iraqi public health service, was simply dismissed. Bremer went on to fire most of the Iraqi army officers, leaving them without income and without any love for the U.S and its experiment in democracy.

How did the Heritage Foundation have the authority to send untested and inexperienced conservatives into the volatile cauldron of the Middle East, without any previous experience in overseas development?

I am sometimes told that senior officials in the administration of Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld were not even aware that Iraqi society is divided along the volatile fissure line separating Sunni and Shia Islam.

But I digress. Iraq seems to most Americans like water under the bridge, taking place more than a decade ago. The fact is, it is still burning brightly in our minds and front pages of our newspapers. For the ISIS that bomb ad shoots us in Europe and America was born from the stupid decision to allow Heritage to appoint the children's crusade of the 21st century.

I am told that just because foreign policy was outsourced to a private foundation in the past does not justify it happening again under Clinton.

And beyond Clinton and Heritage we see many US advisors and officials passing through the revolving doors of foundations such as Brookings, Carnegie, Wilson and Washington Institute for Middle East Policy.

Serious experts should not necessarily be barred from holding public office because they work for a think tank or write op-ed articles in the papers.

The key is perhaps is to be transparent and to have the cool head to listen to various views and then decide on what to do based on your own reading of the personalities, issues and situation at the moment.