Friday, March 30, 2018

Trump, the State Department, and foreign policy


A retired "Diplomad" has some interesting thoughts about the State Department and US foreign relations in the Trump administration.  Here's an excerpt.

Even with "deep cuts" the budget for State/AID remains in the $40 billion ballpark, which is a pretty big ballpark. The U.S. Foreign Service consists of over 8,000 diplomats, another over 7,500 "specialists," e.g., support personnel, plus AID officers, and a smattering of people from other agencies, such as the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce. In addition, 11-12,000 Civil Service employees work for State, most but not all in Washington, DC. So State has some 28,000 or more full-time employees, plus contractors, interns, and so on. That's a well-staffed Army division. That's a lot of people. That's too many people.

I long have held that you could cut this workforce by about one-third in a flash, and nobody would notice--well, except for those getting cut, and their landlords and real estate agents. With a little planning you could cut the whole thing in half, and have a much more nimble and productive organization. I, therefore, was not aghast, or in shock with horror, because a few positions got left vacant under the Trump Administration, or when the budget proposals were not as grand as in the past. No great foreign policy calamity will befall the Republic because a few "professionals" get their noses out of joint, or some useless programs get cut back. Cut! And cut some more!

. . .

This President, perhaps more so than any other we've had, approaches foreign affairs with the cool detachment of an experienced businessman and negotiator concerned about the end result, not just the inputs. He asks, "Why? Why are we doing that when the USA doesn't benefit?" He is the exact opposite of the State Department belief in--irritating word--"deliverables." Prior to a top-level meeting with a senior foreigner, Department staff try to find a "deliverable," some sort of goody four leadership to hand the alien potentate as a sign of our willingness to give more in the future. This President has the opposite approach: "I know what they're getting from us, what do we get from them? What's their 'deliverable' to us?" Shocking. He has no problem questioning the way things are--something not, as noted above, a strong point at State, or for that matter, of the usual international elites who get easily shocked by things such as Brexit, labelling Mad Kim as "Rocketman," threatening tariffs, backing out of the destructive Paris Climate Accord, etc.

Trump's approach, with or without the involvement of State, seems to be working. NATO is in better shape than it has been in  years. There is a glimmer of hope of meaningful progress on the Korean peninsula. The Middle East is doing much better now that ISIS has been virtually annihilated. We are moving our Embassy to Jerusalem with barely a peep out of the Arab world. The Saudis and Israelis (as predicted by this humble blog some years ago) are getting together in their opposition to Iran. Iranian boats have stopped harassing our fleet (wonder why?) The Chinese seem to be backing down from their threat of a trade war. Russian influence is on the wane. We have good relations with many African nations in the fight against the jihadis. These and others out there are good signs. A lot of this can be reversed, of course, but, for now, the Trump Caravan moves on even as the assorted prog dogs grow hoarse from barking.

Not bad.

There's more at the link.  Recommended reading.

Contrast this perspective with the stridently anti-Trump commentary that's so prevalent in the news media (for example, see here for a negative perspective on his foreign policy and his attitude towards the State Department).  I'm not a "Trump apostle", but I think "the proof of the pudding is in the eating".  Based on the actual foreign policy results achieved so far, as the Diplomad observes - "Not bad."

Peter

4 comments:

C. S. P. Schofield said...

I've thought for a number of years hat the entire Department of State could be abolished, and its few legitimate functions turned over the the Marine Corps and that this could only result in a new improvement on the status quo.

Sam L. said...

Beats Obama all hollow.

Chas Clifton said...

How much of that State Department budget is actually CIA budget, which, I understand, is hidden in multiple places?

Wayne said...

Chas, that's a good question. According to the DOD website, the DOD spends 419 billion with a total employment, military and civilian, of about 1.3 billion. That works out roughly to 322,000 per employee. Of course, DOD spend lots of money on bullets, bombs, little crappy ships, aircraft carriers with catapults that don't work (USS Gerald Ford) and the F-35 Flying Turd. (Not saying they always spend it wisely.) Not to mention jet fuel, diesel, fuel oils for ships, and meals rejected by Ethiopians.

Foggy Bottom spends 40 billion with 28,000 employees. That's 1.4 MILLION per headcount. Just what the h*** are they spending it on? Surely Hildabeast couldn't drink that much Chardonnay!