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Thursday, November 09, 2017

Draining Foggy Bottom

President Trump's biggest changes in Washington are at its oldest institution, the Department of State, which is located in the Foggy Bottom section of D.C. Trump is thinning the ranks of career diplomats, which their union president protested.


From Ambassador Barbara Stephenson, the president of the American Foreign Service Association union:
There is no denying that our leadership ranks are being depleted at a dizzying speed, due in part to the decision to slash promotion numbers by more than half. The Foreign Service officer corps at State has lost 60 percent of its Career Ambassadors since January. Ranks of Career Ministers, our three-star equivalents, are down from 33 to 19. The ranks of our two-star Minister Counselors have fallen from 431 right after Labor Day to 369 today — and are still falling. 
These numbers are hard to square with the stated agenda of making State and the Foreign Service stronger. Were the U.S. military to face such a decapitation of its leadership ranks, I would expect a public outcry. Like the military, the Foreign Service recruits officers at entry level and grows them into seasoned leaders over decades. The talent being shown the door now is not only our top talent, but also talent that cannot be replicated overnight. The rapid loss of so many senior officers has a serious, immediate, and tangible effect on the capacity of the United States to shape world events.
Meanwhile, the self-imposed hiring freeze is taking its toll at the entry level. Intake into the Foreign Service at State will drop from 366 in 2016 to around 100 new entry-level officers joining A100 in 2018 (including 60 Pickering and Rangel Fellows).
She has a point. The foreign service officers do serve their nation, and for patriotic reasons. Certainly the battlefield death of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens is as big and as honorable a sacrifice as made by anyone in the military.

But American frustration with the State Department is one reason the American people elected Trump. American diplomacy under Obama led to North Korea and Iran nuking up (after we flew pallets of cash to Iran in the dead of night) and the embargo on Cuba ended without one concession from the dictatorial Castro Family.

We want change.

That the foreign service is unionized -- unlike the military -- gives pause.

For better or worse, the president sets policy. The career employees advise him.

President Trump and Secretary Rex Tillerson believe they can do a better job at State with fewer careerists. Given the disastrous results of more, it makes sense to try to do with less.

***

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19 comments:

  1. It isn't called Foggy Bottom without good reason. Unionization has entrenched and calcified many of our foreign service personnel past their usefulness and partisanship has enabled the deep State (TM) to thwart the will and policies of the executive. Draw down the numbers and decertify the union. Leave a janitor or two to keep the lights and heat on in our embassies and consulates, then recall every foreign service officer back to Washington, D.C. Give everyone a thorough written and oral examination and weed out anyone who is an overtly political partisan. Use psychological batteries to weed out those who try to hide their partisanship. Our national sovereignty overseas needs to be consistent no matter which political party is in office and carry out the policies of the President. We need to rebuild our foreign service into a professional organization outside of politics and loyalties split between the nation and the union. Well, that's my two cents worth, anyhow. - Elric

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    Replies
    1. The message from Trump is: "Give me a REASON to back off."

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  2. Wikipedia says there were 8000 foreign service officers in 2017. Just looking a the numbers in the quoted text above, that means almost 10% of the service were "flag" officer level. That's a rather high "old guy" to "new guy" ratio for an up or out organization.

    Services get top heavy. They always squeal when the ranks are adjusted because it means slower promotions. It sucks, but we are coming to the aging out of the Baby Boomers who have often clogged up the systems, especially since legislation in the '80s that raised mandatory retirement from services to 65 letting top positions ossify.

    A quick search did not turn up the FSO lineal list which would show ranks for all officers. Probably out there, but not easy to find.

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  3. Many Presidents just set up their own shadow State, rather than deal with the Foggy Bottoms.

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  4. The Department of State is infected with a toxic Ivy League group-think that has only increased over the past sixty years. There is a core of elitist one-world running dog lackeys of the Deep State LibCong that ignores, too often, Presidential policy. Purges and show trials would be entertaining for we Deplorables.

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  5. Offshore outsourcing can be an important aspect of downsizing. Nice of Russia to provide its services.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, the Steele "dossier" they helped wright is by and large fact free.

      Delete
    2. Poor Carter Page collaborated portions of the dossier just this week before The House committee, despite his best efforts. I'm guessing they're not reporting that yet on Faux News?

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    3. "Poor Carter Page collaborated portions of the dossier just this week before The House committee, despite his best efforts. "

      Nope. You lie.

      Delete
  6. Just fire the entire group and start over.

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  7. Don't forget that a lot of those there now are Obama appointees who have snuggled in and made themselves at home by moving to career paths in State.

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    Replies
    1. I wonder at the military analogy. Wasn't there essentially a purge of military flag-grade officers under Obama? Why, yes. Yes, there was.

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  8. Foggy Bottom has been a sinecure for hate-America careerists since the days of Alger Hiss. That was in the Thirties and Forties. State has been selling us out all that time, spending huge sums for no payback. It's true that not all were sellouts; but those who didn't sell out America didn't get to play at the top levels. These self-important punks are lucky not to be retiring to jail.

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  9. And then you read how foreign service officers won't put up the presidential and vice-presidential portraits overseas, and suddenly my sympathy for their plight is gone.

    -Mikey NTH

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  10. Cut till it really hurts, then cut some more. Hire as required.

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  11. I spent a lot of time overseas, so whenever Foggy Bottom's mentioned I can't help but think of "Yes, Minister," a wonderfully wry BBC production of the early '80s which remains relevant.

    It dealt with the conflict between elected officials and the bureaucracies that they are supposed to be in charge of; the bureaucracy usually won those contests, and this was portrayed in an extremely funny way.

    It's not so funny when you see the exact same thing happening here in your own country, with the country & its citizens being the losers!

    For my part, I hope President Trump manages to cut this diseased tree of bureaucrats down to its roots, and perhaps then we'll get more who want to help the country instead of selling it out!

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  12. Fire 'em all:

    --Thanks to Undersecretary of State Rose Gottemoeller, a left-wing peacenik and old Soviet apologist, Russian strongman Vladimir Putin is inching dangerously closer to first-strike capability.

    Gottemoeller, a longtime anti-nuke activist, is the architect of the disastrously one-sided 2010 U.S.-Russia New Start deal that slashes America's nuclear arsenal from 5,000 deployable warheads to just 1,550.

    In a major concession to Moscow, the deal also limits our development of missile defense interceptors.

    The administration won't even certify to Congress that Russia is complying with its end of the deal (the requirement was removed from the last budget deal). That's because it's not. And while we're gutting our nukes, Russia is upgrading its arsenal.--

    https://www.investors.com/gottemoeller-surrenders-americas-nuclear-deterrent-to-increasingly-aggressive-russia/

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  13. Not much to add to the good comments here. As for me, I would send home every damned last one of them and rebuild it to about 10% of its current size. the place is a bloated, left-wing, incompetent, counter-productive money rathole. Move the staff to smaller quarters and sell/lease the current bldg. and use it to pay down the debt.

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