It looks like the Augean Stables
at the State Department are, at long, long last, being cleaned out . . . but you'd never know it from the mainstream media. For example, here's how CBS News reported it
Much of [the] seventh-floor staff, who work for the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources and the Counselor offices, were told today that their services were no longer needed.
These staffers in particular are often the conduit between the secretary’s office to the country bureaus, where the regional expertise is centered. Inside the State Department, some officials fear that this is a politically-minded purge that cuts out much-needed expertise from the policy-making, rather than simply reorganizing the bureaucracy.
There are clear signals being sent that many key foreign policy portfolios will be controlled directly by the White House, rather than through the professional diplomats.
. . .
... State Department officials ... hope that Mr. Tillerson - who had a long career as Exxon Mobil’s CEO - will bring his worldly experience and management to a building that has been demoralized by the Trump administration’s antipathy toward multilateralism and cavalier approach to diplomacy.
. . .
While positions are often reshuffled during transitions and those perceived as politically-oriented are moved aside, the departures leave the positions vacant at a time of global instability.
. . .
“It is irresponsible to let qualified, nonpartisan, experienced people go before you have any idea of their replacement. You can’t do foreign policy by sitting in the White House, just out of your back pocket,” explains Tom Countryman, Former Assistant Secretary for Non-Proliferation who was let go earlier this month. Countryman worries that the White House is displaying an intent [to] not rely on the State Department for foreign policy in that no one will be in place to challenge the edicts drawn up in the Oval Office.
There's more at the link
Wow, just look at all the negativity! This is clearly a disaster for US foreign relations . . . or is it? Let's pick a few comments and respond to them.
"... some officials fear that this is a politically-minded purge that cuts out much-needed expertise from the policy-making ...".
It's certainly a purge - and it's long overdue! It was senior State Department officials who referred to themselves as a 'shadow government', when, in fact, they are (constitutionally and legally) nothing of the sort. I've heard many military officers refer to the State Department in (to put it as politely as possible) disparaging terms. Their view may be summed up as, "We went there to win, they went there to make sure the other side won". I've heard that perspective on Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Iran nuclear deal, and a lot more. I daresay some of my readers have more direct experience in that regard. As for 'expertise', that's debatable. I've worked in many countries in Africa where I've had contact with representatives from US embassies, consulates and other official bodies. I can't say I've been particularly impressed by their expertise about those countries or regions . . . in fact, I often got the impression they believed all that was necessary was to improve hygiene, bring in US-style democracy, and promote abortions!
"... many key foreign policy portfolios will be controlled directly by the White House, rather than through the professional diplomats."
How is this a problem? The professional diplomats have screwed up rather spectacularly in the past (they've also had some successes, admittedly). Who's to say that the White House, using its own carefully selected team, can't do as well? I don't see any reason. The current Secretary of State
has no diplomatic background whatsoever, but a great deal of international business experience. Does that mean he'll be less effective in that role than a 'professional diplomat' would? (The same question might be asked about the previous Secretary of State
"... the Trump administration’s antipathy toward multilateralism and cavalier approach to diplomacy."
Blinkered perspective, anyone? Who says
the current Administration has a 'cavalier approach to diplomacy'? That's an accusation, not a news report! Anti-Trump bias at work again . . .
"... the departures leave the positions vacant at a time of global instability."
Ooh! Panic stations!
Except . . . what difference would it make if those positions weren't
vacant? Would it make the globe any less unstable? No? Then why is it a problem?
Instability is a fact of life in diplomacy. Some countries, and some people, handle it better than others. Based on the State Department's track record, I venture to guess that it's not among them, whether or not all its bureaucratic positions are filled.
As for Mr. Countryman
's comments, he was appointed to his Cabinet-level position by President Obama
. As a political appointee, of course
he'd be let go, and replaced by someone chosen by the current Administration, just as is normal whenever
the Presidency changes hands. He might even be expected
to resent losing his job and the status it provided, and he might possibly be expected to express that resentment through the content and tone of his comments about the Administration that removed him. However, you don't see CBS News telling us any of that, do you? Furthermore, Mr. Countryman was appointed to his position precisely in order to ensure
that 'edicts drawn up in the Oval Office' (by President Obama) were implemented in and by the State Department. If that was in order for the previous President, why isn't it in order for the current President to do likewise?
This is yet another example of the relentless drumbeat of criticism directed by the 'establishment' (which includes most of the news media) against President Trump. When you deconstruct most of the negative articles like this, it's amazing how much bias and subjective vitriol emerges.
I suggest that reports in the mainstream media about anything
to do with the current Administration should be regarded as unreliable until proven otherwise.