The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Colin Powell was right.

The former Republican secretary of state late last year warned that Donald Trump’s callous, shortsighted foreign policy agenda, where diplomats were ignored and countries often insulted via Twitter, was gutting the U.S. State Department.

According to a new McClatchy report, “60 percent of the State Departments’ top-ranking career diplomats have left and new applications to join the foreign service have fallen by half.”

This comes in the wake of Trump’s vulgar, racist comments about not wanting black immigrants arriving in the U.S. from “shithole” countries, like ones in Africa.

With Trump vowing to slash the State Department’s budget, while simultaneously undercutting Secretary of States Rex Tillerson, more and more staffers and diplomats are heading for the door.

“Others have wrestled with staying, feeling unsure whether they’re protecting U.S. influence or contributing to its erosion,” McClatchy reports. “Many diplomats had never contemplated leaving State, always intending instead to make U.S. diplomacy their life’s work and long-term career track.”

That career track often begins by joining the Foreign Service, which is seen as the backbone of the U.S. diplomatic corps. But under Trump, applications have plummeted.

He’s having the exact opposite effect that President Barack Obama did. Applications spiked to a new high in June 2009, soon after Obama was inaugurated. And between 2009 and 2012, the Obama administration expanded the number of Foreign Service employees by 21 percent.

Why the stampede away from Trump by diplomats and would-be diplomats?

Last August, Trump thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for expelling American diplomats from his country because it would save the U.S. “a lot of money,” a comment that stunned State Department employees. (Trump later claimed he was being sarcastic.)

During a Fox News interview in November, Trump said that he was not concerned about the huge number of unfilled jobs in the State Department because, in his view, “I’m the only one that matters.”

And then there was the “shithole” fiasco, after which in at least one African country, the U.S. ambassador was summoned by the host government and asked if Trump considered that country to be among the “shithole” ones he denigrated during an Oval Office meeting.

“It’s one thing for us to go in and slam our hands on the table and say this is what we want,” one U.S. official told McClatchy. “It’s another to denigrate them and make it crystal clear this is what our leadership thinks about them in the vulgarest of terms.”

By all indications, Trump wants the State Department gutted. As of now, he’s succeeding.

 

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

By Jenna Zucker and Gabriella Borter

BUFFALO, N.Y. (Reuters) -A white teenager who killed 10 people in a racist attack at a western New York grocery store in a Black neighborhood had been taken into custody last year and given a mental health evaluation after making a threat at his high school, authorities said.

Keep reading... Show less

The privilege of beholding the corals of Belize, the second largest reef system on earth, is a complete marvel that can never be taken for granted. The school of nine squid in perfect alignment that stared at us like transparent sentinels ,the green barracuda that floated as if in suspended animation, looking for prey. Those moments of utter awe were soul transformative not only for a child, but also for parents nurturing a young human to the ultimate reason to exist on this earth, to care for life.

Over the next few years, a battle was waged between environmentalists and those who saw dollars in the form of oil extraction in the reef. Thankfully on December 1, 2015, right after the Cop21 Paris Climate Accord, Belize made the tremendous decision to ban drilling outright -- and is working hard to restore coral. The same cannot be said for many other fragile parts of the world particularly the warming Arctic, where Russia has a near stranglehold of more than half the Arctic Ocean.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}