13 February 2020   Leave a comment

Marie Yovanovich, the former US Ambassador to Ukraine, received the Trainor Award from Georgetown University. The award is given annually to “an outstanding American or foreigner for distinction in the conduct of diplomacy.” Her speech, an excerpt from which is below, gave a frank and sober analysis of the difficulties facing the US State Department in the Trump Administration. The full speech is on You Tube and can be accessed here. She is a disciplined and thoughtful analyst and her words resonate strongly with those of us who wish that the US would pursue its interests in line with a vision of a more just and more peaceful world: “At a certain point, it is harder to do the wrong thing than the right thing”. President Trump’s proposed federal budget also weakens the State Department. The New York Times reports: “Funding for the State Department and international aid programs would be cut by $3.7 billion, or nearly 8 percent, from current spending levels. It would dramatically reduce or eliminate aid to international organizations, including the United Nations. The hollowing out of the State Department is mirrored by the dramatic changes to the National Security Council staff which has lost almost 70 people, many of whom have been replaced by political appointees. National Security Adviser, Robert O’Brien, has managed that change and MSN reports:

“O’Brien had dismissed or transferred about 70 people, or about one-third of those employed by or temporarily assigned to the NSC, according to senior administration officials.

“O’Brien told a Washington think tank Tuesday that his efforts to trim the staff would conclude this week, and aides said the final cuts would involve only a few more employees. O’Brien denied that his downsizing of the NSC was an effort to dismantle what Trump has called the ‘deep state.’

“O’Brien said his primary aim isn’t to remove career government employees and other professionals in favor of Trump loyalists. But he conceded that the realignment has increased the proportion of politically appointed staffers.”

In the absence of a strong diplomatic corps, the military options begin to take on a much larger role. That type of default policy option is dangerous and short-sighted.

Posted February 14, 2020 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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