Maddow did a segment last night on the destruction of the State Department. I know she drives some of y’all crazy with her long windup, but it’s worth watching. Skip to the six-minute mark to bypass the soup and seafood courses and dive right into the entree.
[Edited to remove video embed code because MSNBC interface fucking sucks — just click the link above to go to the shitty MSNBC site and watch the excellent content that deserves a better online home.]
Foreign Policy ran a piece earlier this week that also highlighted the alarm signals sent by senior diplomats, including current American Foreign Service Association President Barbara Stephenson:
“Our leadership ranks are being depleted at a dizzying speed,” Barbara Stephenson, a former U.S. ambassador to Panama and current president of the American Foreign Service Association, the union for foreign service officers, wrote in a letter for the December 2017 issue of the Foreign Service Journal.
Scores of senior diplomats, including 60 percent of career ambassadors, have left the department since the beginning of the year, when President Donald Trump took office, according to the letter. There are 74 top posts at State that remain vacant with no announced nominee…
Morale at the State Department is crumbling, as Foreign Policy reported in July, amid an ongoing effort by the Trump administration to sideline the traditional motor of U.S. diplomacy. At a meeting last week, White House national security advisor H.R. McMaster appeared to justify the assault on State Department staffing by saying that some officials there did not support the president’s agenda, according to Reuters.
In a Nov. 2 interview, Trump responded to a question about unfilled positions at the State Department by stating, “I’m the only one that matters.”
Yesterday, I noted that Trump is making a fool of himself on his Asia trip. As Maddow noted, during the campaign, Trump blustered about China “raping” the U.S. through imbalances, currency manipulation, etc. Yesterday, he could barely detach his lips from Xi Jinping’s buttocks. His bellicose campaign rhetoric was embarrassing, but Trump’s deference is humiliating.
Also, it turns out that being a serial liar and backstabber has diplomatic consequences. Trump is finding no takers in sideline efforts to forge bilateral trade agreements. And why would anyone want to make a deal with him? World leadership has shifted to other players.
But back to the question Stephenson asked and Maddow highlighted: It’s time to ask why the State Department is being gutted. Who benefits when the U.S. abdicates its role as a world leader? Why is the man who received an Order of Friendship medal from Vladimir Putin taking a sledgehammer to State?
Funny how all this incompetence just coincidentally benefits the world’s most powerful authoritarians, chiefly Putin. It looks less like a clown show and more like a flock of vulture capitalists stripping a distressed enterprise down for parts.