Photo Credit: U.S. Department of State
A series of stories bubbled up over the prolonged holiday weekend, the juiciest being the news that Michael Flynn’s lawyers have sensitive the president’s lawyers that they can no longer attend in corner communications, which is taken to meant that Flynn is likely now auxiliary with the special warn in the Russia investigation. This is big news, if true. It could even be a watershed moment if, as suspected, Flynn will be compulsory to offer up a bigger Trump-operation fish than himself. The names “Kushner” and “Trump Jr.” are the only ones that come to mind. Stay tuned for some-more vehement conjecture by the finish of the year.
But the other big story that had social media humming over the 4 days was this shocking New York Times piece about the apparent dismantling of the Department of State under Rex Tillerson. This has been a repeated thesis in the domestic press for a while, but it seems to have reached vicious mass as some-more and some-more career diplomats are leaving or being squeezed out while the care is mostly absent.
First there’s the 30 percent due cut in the State Department bill which has even some Republican mercantile hawks nervous. Top diplomats, many of whom were primarily auspicious toward Tillerson on the faith that his business imagination would bring gifted government skills, are in startle at the miss of professionalism and honour for expertise. Both Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., along with Democratic members of the House Foreign Relations Committee recently sent letters to Tillerson about “the exodus of some-more than 100 comparison Foreign Service officers from the State Department given January” and what they described as “the conscious hollowing-out of the comparison tactful ranks.”
The State Department has traditionally had many holdovers from one administration to the other, as trust of unfamiliar policy and knowledge with other nations has generally been valued rarely in these positions. Of course, there are also domestic appointees and a normal grade of turnover when the presidency changes parties. This time is different. Only 10 of the top 44 domestic positions have been filled, and for many of the rest, no one has even been nominated.
The series of Latinos, African-Americans and women leaving the dialect are alarming, and there are many critical posts in hotspots around the world, including South Korea and the Middle East, that sojourn unfilled. Even worse, the next era of probable unfamiliar service employees doesn’t wish any partial of this. According to the Foreign Service Association, “the series of people holding its opening examination is on lane to dump by 50 percent this year.”
Meanwhile, Tillerson is making life ruin for those who remain. He forced out a series of career professionals for responding questions from UN envoy Nikki Haley, whom he considers a rival. And President Trump has demanded that Tillerson attend to the critical business of releasing every last one of Hillary Clinton’s emails, so he systematic the dialect to respond to some-more than 2,000 Freedom of Information Act requests, many of which came from worried operatives such as Judicial Watch. The Times reports that this has compulsory “midlevel employees and diplomats — including some just returning from high-level or formidable abroad assignments — to spend months behaving mind-numbing ecclesiastic functions beside delinquent interns.”
Finally, all of this is being finished in expectation of what Tillerson promises to be a sum reorder of the department, for which he has hired outward contractors. Considering that Tillerson is mostly untouched to the stream staff and is now formulation a major restructuring with no submit from anyone with imagination or experience, this should be utterly something. Most people in the know are awaiting a train-wreck of predictably Trumpian proportions.
If that isn’t enough, now we have the soap show philharmonic of Tillerson allegedly “snubbing” Ivanka Trump by not permitting anyone of status from the State Department to accompany her to India. Vanity Fair reported that an unnamed source said, “Rex doesn’t like the fact that he’s ostensible to be the nation’s top diplomat, and Jared and now Ivanka have stepped all over Rex Tillerson for a prolonged time.”
So, all the palm wringing over the weekend was understandable. This does seem to be a very forward march and nobody really understands what’s going by Tillerson’s mind. But this is actually zero new. Hostility toward the State Department has been a underline of worried politics given 1950 when Joseph McCarthy launched his career by pulling a piece of paper from his pocket, during an coming in Wheeling, West Virginia, that he claimed had the names of 205 Communists who had infiltrated the department. The whole judgment of U.S. “soft power” has been seen ever given as a questionable form of severe appeasement that indispensable to be reined in if not totally eradicated.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich always had a quite antagonistic opinion toward the State Department. As recently as 2003, he even took on Secretary Colin Powell, at a time when the Bush administration was roving high with 80 percent capitulation ratings. He claimed it was a bloated, out-of-date bureaucracy unsuited to the hurdles of the complicated world, which Gingrich believed were all about surreptitious crusade and high-tech terrain communications. He gave a speech in which he took on the layer of the neoconservative “Pax Americana” that was in practice at the time, with all the claim flowery paeans to American values. It was apparent he was dire for a big focus from the soothing energy of tact to the tough energy of “spreading democracy” down the tub of a gun. It was widely insincere that Gingrich was operative on interest of Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon at the time.
That’s what these worried critiques of the State Department always come down to. They consider “soft power” is weak. They trust in tough power, military power. In that regard, Donald Trump is a loyal blue Republican, low in his bones. It’s misleading either Rex Tillerson believes that too or is just another non-professional Trump nominee bungling fast into disaster. It doesn’t really matter what the motives are. The administration is branch the U.S. into a superpower but cunning or dignified authority. That creates us a risk to everyone, including ourselves.
Heather Digby Parton, also famous as “Digby,” is a contributing author to Salon. She was the leader of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.