State Dept 'nervous' as Trump cleans house

President Trump attempts State Department overhaul to 'Americanize' cumbersome bureaucracy - reportedly making officials very nervous.

Mordechai Sones ,

"My way" - Trump diplomacy
"My way" - Trump diplomacy
Reuters

President Trump is seeking to fundamentally remodel the State Department in an unprecedented way, according to former officials from administrations of both political parties, reports The Hill.

The administration’s efforts, which include a proposed budget cut of nearly 30 percent, a hiring freeze, and a State Department office reshuffling have left scores of positions unfilled, reportedly demoralizing the staff that remain.

Past Republican presidents have also sought to cut the State Department down to size, and even current employees have acknowledged bureaucratic problems at Foggy Bottom.

But some former officials describe Trump’s efforts as something as yet unseen — a kind of bureaucratic war on the State Department that if successful would leave it fundamentally changed.

“My suspicion is that within the White House, particularly amongst the nationalist faction … that this seems to actually be a concerted effort to diminish the role of the State Department in U.S. foreign policy and hamper its abilities to pursue policies that would be considered overly globalist,” said Stewart Patrick, who served on the policy planning staff at the State Department in the George W. Bush administration.

“They also don’t see much use, frankly, in diplomacy,” said Patrick, now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The White House, which has sought to promote an “America First” policy at home and abroad, isn’t worried about being perceived as taking unprecedented steps at the State Department.

“The president was elected to shake up Washington, not continue business as usual,” a White House official said. “He’s promised to spend more at home and less abroad, and his budget reflects that.”

At the same time, they reject the suggestion that diplomacy has been abandoned.

“The president has used diplomacy with China to bring unprecedented pressure on North Korea and its nuclear program. The president has used diplomacy to get NATO members to contribute more to defense,” the official said. “The idea that diplomacy has taken a backseat just does not square with reality.”

"The State Department has long been compromised," said Pamela Geller, President of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), commenting on the shakeup. "State Department careerists work for the countries they are assigned to, not to America, and that’s the problem. The State Department is the problem. We need patriots and freedom lovers in statecraft, not Muslim Brotherhood lackeys."

Trump just completed a trip to Paris, where attended the Bastille Day parade. He held a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday.

The Trump administration’s efforts to remake the State Department include a March 13 executive order that set forth a branch-wide reorganization review that could result in a reshuffling or elimination of agencies and offices.

The administration is mulling a proposal that would relocate the State Department’s bureaus of Consular Affairs and Population, Refugees, and Migration to the Department of Homeland Security, according to CNN.

There is also the possibility of a merger between the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), an independent agency that receives guidance from the secretary of State.

Trump’s budget proposes steep cuts to foreign aid, which has sparked concerns among lawmakers.

“My one sense is that the knives are out for USAID in the White House,” said Gordon Adams, a senior White House official for national security and foreign policy budgets during the Clinton administration.



top