30 December 2019   Leave a comment

William Burns has written an essay for Foreign Affairs, entitled “The Demolition of US Diplomacy” which looks at the serious harm the US State Department has suffered over the last three years. From his point of view the damage has been both immediate and long-term:

“Even before the Ukraine mess, the Trump administration had been waging a war on diplomacy for nearly three years. The White House regularly pushes historic cuts to diplomacy and development spending, which is already 19 times smaller than the defense budget. Career diplomats are sidelined, with only one of 28 assistant secretary-rank positions filled by a Foreign Service officer, and more ambassadorships going to political appointees in this administration than in any in recent history. One-fifth of ambassadorships remain unfilled, including critical posts.

“Not coincidentally, applications to join the Foreign Service have declined precipitously, with fewer people taking the entrance exam in 2019 than in more than two decades. The pace of resignations by career professionals is depressing, the pernicious practice of retaliation against individual officers just because they worked on controversial issues in the last administration is damning, and the silence from the department’s leadership is deafening.”

The same point of view is echoed by Steven Kashkett, a Foreign Service officer of 35 years in an op-ed published in USA Today. The hollowing out of the State Department only serves to enhance the influence of the Pentagon.

The situation in Australia is clearly desperate as every state in the country reached temperatures that exceeded 40 degrees C (104 F). Wildfires are occurring all over the continent, fires so intense that they are creating their own weather patterns. Umair Irfan describes the scope of the tragedy:

“The fires have already killed at least 10 people, torched more than 11.3 million acres, and destroyed more than 900 homes since September. The blazes made breathing the air in Sydney as bad as smoking 37 cigarettes and have killed 480 million animals, environmental officials told the Times in the United Kingdom, including nearly one-third of the koalas in one of Australia’s most populated koala habitats in an area 240 miles north of Sydney.”

Australia represents the process of climate change which is already occurring. But even in Australia many–including high government officials–continue to deny that climate change is happening.

Posted December 30, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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