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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Shallow State

Robbie Gramer. Dan De Luce,  and Colum Lynch write at Foreign Policy:
Current and former senior foreign service officers say the Trump administration is hollowing out and marginalizing the State Department, with a dismissive attitude to diplomacy and the civil servants who execute it. They say the diplomatic corps is facing an unprecedented crisis. When Tillerson has tried to defend his ailing department, he has gotten stonewalled and outmaneuvered by the White House.

“If you break the way the State Department actually functions, then you’re going to have chaos,” said one official who recently quit, speaking on condition of anonymity. “People aren’t going to make decisions — you haven’t empowered anyone to make decisions. People don’t trust anyone, so then it all has to run through you.”

Tillerson, the official said, “broke the damn process.”
Yet foreign embassies have also taken notice of the leadership vacuum. More than a dozen foreign diplomats told FP that they often do not know whom they should speak to in the administration to convey messages from their governments.

Some ambassadors found their phone calls to Tillerson’s front office never returned, while diplomats have sought to bypass the tottering State Department, instead delivering messages to the White House or Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, or daughter Ivanka.

One European diplomat said his “embassy has had limited contacts with the [State Department] leadership in general since Trump took office, because Tillerson does not seem very involved and because we don't feel State is where policy is really decided.”