Draining the swamp in the State Department

I cackled with glee while reading an article about how terrible, ghastly, horrible and disastrous are the efforts of Secretary of State Tillerson to reform the State Department.  To read some of the plaintive cries of woe, one would think he’s an ax murderer, chopping away at the trunk of American democracy.

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.

. . .

In the following months, Mr. Tillerson launched a reorganization that he has said will be the most important thing he will do, and he has hired two consulting companies to lead the effort. Since he decided before even arriving at the State Department to slash its budget by 31 percent, many in the department have always seen the reorganization as a smoke screen for drastic cuts.

Mr. Tillerson has frozen most hiring and recently offered a $25,000 buyout in hopes of pushing nearly 2,000 career diplomats and civil servants to leave by October 2018.

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 number of those with the department’s top two ranks of career ambassador and career minister — equivalent to four- and three-star generals — will have been cut in half by Dec. 1, from 39 to 19. And of the 431 minister-counselors, who have two-star-equivalent ranks, 369 remain and another 14 have indicated that they will leave soon — an 18 percent drop — according to an accounting provided by the American Foreign Service Association.

The political appointees who normally join the department after a change in administration have not made up for those departures. So far, just 10 of the top 44 political positions in the department have been filled, and for most of the vacancies, Mr. Tillerson has not nominated anyone.

. . .

And the department’s future effectiveness may also be threatened. As more senior officials depart, interest in joining the Foreign Service is dwindling. With fewer prospects for rewarding careers, the number of people taking its entrance exam is on track to drop by 50 percent this year, according to the Foreign Service Association.

“The message from the State Department right now is, ‘We don’t want you,’ and students are hearing that,” said James Goldgeier, former dean of the School of International Service at American University.

There’s more at the link.

Note that the criticisms are leveled at the policy of reducing staff and cutting away deadwood.  They’re couched in terms of the State Department becoming less effective because of the reduction in staff . . . but there is no evidence that it has actually become less effective.  The business of the US government is continuing unabated.  There appear to be no major crises of diplomatic confidence around the world that are the result of a missing ambassador here or a departing consul there.  One can argue that there’s no smoke without fire;  but when no flames become evident, even after months of complaints, is it not fair to suppose that the smoke is being manufactured by something else – perhaps partisan political hostility to the Trump administration in the ranks of the State Department?

The Conservative Treehouse points out:

The condescending DC elites cannot fathom why they are unable to stop Secretary of State Rex Tillerson from cutting the rust out of the enterprise and streamlining the mission.

No-one, repeat NO-ONE, could have pulled off what T-Rex is accomplishing except T-Rex himself; with the full support of President Trump, of course. The former leader of the worlds largest private business, Exxon-Mobil, is now systematically bringing efficiency and effectiveness to the worlds largest public institution, the State Dept.

. . .

Suffice to say, anyone who has followed politics for any substantive amount of time knows the inherent issue with an operational entity, The U.S. State Department. Their entire mission has been at the epicenter of UniParty globalist advocacy.  Heck, selling foreign policy is where the big bucks are made.  Tillerson is now an existential threat to their bank accounts.

If you go back to the larger State Dept. challenge, Secretary Tillerson is essentially in charge of a U.S. Department that is comprised almost exclusively of Kerry/Clinton/Obama/Bush/UniParty/GOPe big “G” Globalists.

These entities, together with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, see themselves as a complete and separate structure of U.S. government.  They also function as a complete and separate ideological structure of government.

When you accept the scope of the challenge, and recognize it is almost impossible to change the participants therein; and further accept these career embeds will work earnestly and diligently to undermine the structure of a Trump administration at every opportunity; perhaps only then can you truly value Tillerson’s skill-set as a leader who knows how to deliver results within MASSIVELY COMPLEX organizations.

Again, more at the link.

Larry Lambert, no stranger to State Department shenanigans, observes with glee:

The minions of the T-Rex start with two questions that are put to State Department drones:  “What is your specific and quantifiable value to the core mission of the United States Department of State; and how do we measure your effectiveness therein? Go ahead and write down your answer. Here’s a piece of paper and a cheap pen. I’ll wait.”

“HOW DARE YOU ASK (you cretin)!!!????” The question is offered in reply with a quivering lower lip.

The truth is that we spend billions/trillions on absolutely nothing, but it’s been a place for protected pets for a very long time, many with degrees from Harvard and the Ivy League. Some are Skull-and-Bones Yale people who had an implicit guarantee that they’d be set for life, would be paid a princely fee and wouldn’t have to do anything but sit on a committee that deals with interruptions in bird migration patterns or some such. T-Rex doesn’t care any more than a Jurassic tyrannosaurus rex would.

. . .

The lack of reasonable answers within the bureaucratic ranks is leading to massive downsizing.

More at the link.

I’m entirely supportive of Secretary Tillerson’s efforts.  When I raised my right hand and repeated the Federal oath of law enforcement office, prior to working as a prison chaplain, I took it very seriously.  It was, for me, literally a sacred oath.  I promised to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic”.  Since that time, I’ve used that oath as a yardstick against which to measure every branch, agency and official of the US government.  What is it/he/she/they doing to accomplish that purpose?  For the life of me, I can’t see what many of those State Department drones are doing to accomplish it.  Can you, dear reader?

I’ve had pushback from some liberal acquaintances.  They snort contemptuously that it’s not the job of other agencies to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic”.  They have other responsibilities.  My response is that there is no other reason for the Federal government to exist.  Everything it does should be either in support of, or in defense of, the constitution.  If it isn’t, why is it doing it?  Can anyone answer that?

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to take vicarious pleasure in seeing the State Department cut down to size.  I note with approval that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos appears to be doing the same thing in her department.  One hopes that other members of President Trump’s cabinet are doing likewise.  I can only think the country will be the better for it . . . and our tax dollars will go further.

Peter

13 comments

  1. Obviously, they did not understand Rex Tillerson's very first speech to his employees when he took over State. We oil field veterans understood very well that he intended to start cutting heads. The State Department is now experiencing what industry has been doing for decades.

  2. "If it isn't, why is it doing it? "

    Not only that, but by what authority is that department not supporting the Constitution of the US?

    If a department of the US government is not supporting the constitution, what is it doing?

  3. The War Department's function is to win wars. The State department's function is to win the peace and anyone who doesn't understand this needs to be working somewhere else. When certain world leaders have sudden changes of heart, political direction, or find an urge to retire, the unseen hand of the State department should be in there somewhere, gently nudging.

  4. I know someone who called me a Nazi for not voting for Clinton, she accepts the main stream media propaganda as "the" truth and she "knows" that the State Department is being gutted by Trump because he can do nothing right.

    "Facts" do not matter.

  5. I had serious doubts when Trump nominated Tillerson. It appears that those doubts were unfounded. Let us pray that our Secretary of State was busy sharpening his cutting tools over the Thanksgiving holiday and he soon returns to hacking off and stripping out the traitorous tentacles of the Deep State and further demoralizes the dead wood at the State Department. Here's hoping Mattis can do the same for Defense. If there's any other department in government that needs a fundamental housecleaning it's DoD.

  6. They're couched in terms of the State Department becoming less effective because of the reduction in staff . . . but there is no evidence that it has actually become less effective.

    Is there evidence the State Department is or has been effective? In decades?

    As for education, Betsy should trim back the department until the building is empty, order it razed, and then resign.

  7. Two observations:

    "To read some of the plaintive cries of woe, one would think he's an ax murderer, chopping away at the trunk of American democracy."

    “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”
    ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden, or Life in the Woods

    " “What is your specific and quantifiable value to the core mission of the United States Department of State; and how do we measure your effectiveness therein?…"

    https://youtu.be/NnJzct7h3Dk?t=113

  8. Every department of the Federal Government (really, every level of government) needs the same jaundiced eye turned on it. Tillerman's right, if you can't explain at the drop of the hat what you do, how it benefits the organization you work for, and how to measure your effectiveness, then you need to find employment elsewhere. Whether it's a government entity or in the private sector.

  9. Minor quibble, but "worlds largest public institution, the State Dept"?

    Pretty sure the Department of Defense dwarfs State by an order of magnitude.

  10. Dave, mebbe so. But cut Peter some slack as he's a transplanted furriner. 🙂

    I think it was Jerry Pournelle who told a story about NASA. When one director came in, he took a meat ax to the agency and one building was practically emptied. It made no difference to the throughput of the agency. When some one finally asked what all those people did, no one could say.

    Obviously, they didn't do anything except churn paper, if that. I know someone has to keep Mead in business, but why do we all have to pay for it.

    If there are people squealing about State being cut back, then Tillerson is on the right track. He could probably cut the manpower by 50% without hurting the department. I dare say, DOD could use the same sort of treatment. Cutting way back on the number of DOD civilians would be a very good idea. Navy service force ships run by civilians is a ridiculous thing. The PC and SJW trash could stand to be totally destroyed as well.

  11. I don't have a problem with this. If you really want to screw up an op, get the State Department in on it. My hope is, when the cutting is done, the only trees left standing are the ones who understand that they're there in Pisspotistan to advance America's interests, not Pisspotistan's… XD

  12. Having watched as DoD positions – both active duty personnel and civilian – got axed every couple or three years for the past couple decades, while all the other agencies grew seemingly exponentially, I am smiling about this. Most gubmint positions are for, and are filled by, drones; the rest seem to be for petty tyrants who dream up new ways to tell citizens what to do. The screeching is telling me Rex is doing exactly what needs to be done.

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