Tillerson Is Dismantling the State Department

Gardiner Harris writes for the New York Times that State Department personnel are being dismissed wholesale as Secretary of State Tillerson pursues “efficiency.”

In a letter to Mr. Tillerson last week, Democratic members of the House Foreign Relations Committee, citing what they said was “the exodus of more than 100 senior Foreign Service officers from the State Department since January,” expressed concern about “what appears to be the intentional hollowing-out of our senior diplomatic ranks.”

Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, sent a similar letter, telling Mr. Tillerson that “America’s diplomatic power is being weakened internally as complex global crises are growing externally.”

Some of this is petty stuff:

Mr. Tillerson, a former chief executive of Exxon Mobil, has made no secret of his belief that the State Department is a bloated bureaucracy and that he regards much of the day-to-day diplomacy that lower-level officials conduct as unproductive. Even before Mr. Tillerson was confirmed, his staff fired six of the State Department’s top career diplomats, including Patrick Kennedy, who had been appointed to his position by President George W. Bush. Kristie Kenney, the department’s counselor and one of just five career ambassadors, was summarily fired a few weeks later.

None were given any reason for their dismissals, although Mr. Kennedy and Ms. Kenney had been reprimanded by Trump transition officials for answering basic logistical questions from Nikki R. Haley, President Trump’s pick as United Nations ambassador. Mr. Tillerson is widely believed to dislike Ms. Haley, who has been seen as a possible successor if Mr. Tillerson steps down.

And this:

His small cadre of aides have fired some diplomats and gotten others to resign by refusing them the assignments they wanted or taking away their duties altogether. Among those fired or sidelined were most of the top African-American and Latino diplomats, as well as many women, difficult losses in a department that has long struggled with diversity.

The article says that the State Department is being stripped of expertise in many volatile areas of the world. Apparently our new foreign policy strategy is to stumble around blind.

So many top level diplomatics are being forced out that the damage to the State Department could take many years to fix. Tillerson’s objective seems to be to cut the State Department budget by a third and make it more “efficient,” because you know foreign policy is all about … efficiency? But junior staffers who don’t know that much about the world can be paid less, so that much is efficient.

16 thoughts on “Tillerson Is Dismantling the State Department

  1. I have heard that one of the reasons for our disastrous war in Vietnam was that McCarthy and his minions had stripped the State Department and other agencies of all experts in China and southeast Asia. The accusation was that they were insufficiently "loyal" regarding the triumph of Mao's communist party in China in 1949. So in the following decades, the US had almost no expert staff or diplomats who really understood the Chinese government, or who could analyze Vietnam from the Vietnamese perspective – like knowing the domino theory was bunk because the Vietnamese have spent a thousand years resisting Chinese domination.
    This new purge of the State Department makes no sense on any level. Even Tillertson doesn't seem to actually have a thoughtful point of view – the "efficiency" argument might make sense from an oil industry perspective, but is he really so limited in his outlook and education that he knows nothing of what constitutes a diplomatic reserve and how it differs from doing drilling deals with foreign countries?

  2. At a time when there is a lot of turmoil in the world – I'd give a list, but you readers out there know what's-what, who's-who, where's-where, and why's-why,  as well as I do –  the tRUMP international policy seems to consist of "See no evil.  Hear no evil.  Tweet a lot of evil – and STUPID!!!"

    OUT goes diplomacy.

    IN come tweets!

    Never mind the nose, this is 'cutting-out your eyes to spite your face.'

    When tRUMP said we'd get tired of all of that winning, I never thought the victories he was telling his base about, would be over logic, ration, good governance, etc…

    But mark my words:  It'll all be ok for tRUMP.

    When – not IF – the next major terrorist attack takes place here in America, he'll blame Obama and the Clintons

    And his base will believe him.

    I'd heard a few of them say that they'd believe tRUMP over Jesus.  And these are the "Christians!!!"



  3. II consider Tillerson to be Putin's choice for state, after all he was Putin's bff before Trump ever heard of him. There were a lot of  auditions for the job if you will remember during the transition. Funny how Tillerson was the pick.

    State has to be destroyed because Hillary once ran it. And since our position in the world is now removed from leadership  status to disorganized internally divided mess, who needs a state department.

    It is not necessary in a world where the deal is more important than principles, and personal gain is elevated over the needs of the nation. Like the EPA business has no use for it.  Diplomacy is an anachronism in a world where you just take what you want with military power and assume that persons are irrelevant to the world of oligarchal domination.  Trumpism is primate ( male) domination behavior writ large, all day every day. As Trump said " It was not the white house or the state dept, IT WAS ME" , all about him all the time. And besides, government is going to be more efficient, probably use robots soon.

  4. Now that we've got Jared and Ivanka who needs a State Dept. According to Ivanka's latest international Trump brand building exercise the State Dept is only serving as a backdrop anyway.

  5. aj  … Great comment!  So true. Trump is a classic case of the emperor has no clothes. He's so emotionally damaged and intellectually stunted that foreign governments can play him like a fiddle.

  6. Tillerson and Trump, are doing the ultimate bidding of two masters: the wealthy here in the US, and Putin.  Anyone who still thinks Putin doesn't have Trump by the balls, after the Israelis most recently said it, after our own intelligence agencies have all but said it, and after all that Trump and his kin have laid before our own lying eyes, is being either overly optimistic or willfully ignorant. 
    Tillerson may not be on board with the moronic, know-nothing side of Trumpism, but he, like the GOP in general, is with him on policy and everything else.

  7. grannyeagle .. In the Trump administration it's the size of your bank account that determines your qualifications for any cabinet position. To Trump's mind — money imparts wisdom, knowledge, and leadership abilities. It's the divine right of capitalism theory.

  8. "I still don't understand how a CEO of an oil company qualifies as Secretary of State."

    To qualify for a role in the Trump administration, you need not know anything about the portfolio you are being considered for.  There are only two qualifications that matter.  You are either wealthy or an unreconstructed far right lunatic.  To  be both is a catch.  Hating Obama puts you at the head of the pack.

  9. csm,

    And if you want to destroy the department you'll be named to  head, that's like gold-flecked icing on top of tRUMP's latest favorite chocolate cake!

  10. Since before WWI, the Department of State has been a cesspool of leftists, with inbreeding continuing from one administration to the next – democrat or republican. This is a natural cleansing of detritus and an opportunity to send these disloyal placeholders to lower level positions in academia. 

  11. John M. You ask "is he really so limited in his outlook and education that he knows nothing of what constitutes a diplomatic reserve and how it differs from doing drilling deals with foreign countries?"

    He is, and he does not know either of those things.

    But he does know one thing, and that is that the particular form of business management he favors is the ideal model for all forms of human behavior, now and for all time.

  12. "Apparently our new foreign policy strategy is to stumble around blind"

    Of course it is, Tillerson is Putin's man, he picked him for state not Trump. Tillerson's mission is to destroy the state department. Putin knows if he can castrate the state department our allies will be cut off, NATO will fade and Russia will emerge as a superpower once again. Russia is here and they are making a difference.

  13. Didn't Joe McCarthy clean up that State Department cesspool back in the 50's?  And aren't lefties and commies basically the same thing except being called a leftie is a more palatable term?

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