Accuracy in Media

Rex Tillerson is the worst secretary of state in modern American history, according to a Slate article published this weekend.

Tillerson has not bungled the Middle East, negotiated a deal that put Iran on a path to acquire nuclear weapons, abandoned four Americans to die at Benghazi or meddled with the Brexit campaign in the U.K.

But Tillerson does not believe the State Department needs as many employees as it has. The department is overstaffed and underworked, according to Tillerson, and he set about redesigning the agency on a leaner, more efficient scale.

Tillerson was asked at an event last week to explain the sharp reductions in the State Department’s budget and the hollowing out of the diplomatic corps.

“The cuts are ‘reflective of an expectation that we’re going to have success … in getting these conflicts [around the world] resolved,’ and therefore won’t need to have so many officials dealing with them,” Fred Kaplan wrote in his Slate piece.

“That may rank as the silliest comment ever made by a Cabinet secretary,” Kaplan wrote.

Kaplan offered three reasons Tillerson’s plan to reduce employment at the State Department by 20 percent or more could not work.

Hope is not a strategy, Kaplan said. You can’t cut programs and personnel on the theory something will work until you know it works.

Second, “anyone who thinks that any Americans, much less those on Team Trump, are going to solve this world’s conflicts has no understanding of history or politics and thus no business being anywhere near the State Department, much less running the place.”

Een if the problems were solvable, it would take a fully stocked diplomatic corps to do it, and Trump and Tillerson have “eviscerated” it.

Kaplan then undermines his own argument. He takes Tillerson to task for his claim that the 31 percent budget cut the secretary requested is not all that dramatic because, in 2016, President Obama had boosted the budget to a “record high” of $55 billion, and Trump was merely returning funding levels to a more “sustainable” status quo.

He then says, “This is simply a lie,” and presents a graph that shows spending on the State Department has climbed steadily since 2001. If one cannot take a look at an organizational chart grown dramatically and chaotically in response to a particular crisis 16 years ago and not find at least a few efficiencies, one might not be looking closely enough.

He scoffed at Tillerson’s claim that he is not so much slashing and burning the department as redesigning it to be more efficient.

Trump has left vacant right at half of the 153 State Department positions that are nominated by a president. These are almost all policy-related jobs, Kaplan said, “including the undersecretaries for political affairs, intelligence and research, politico-military affairs, conflict and stabilization operations,” etc.

Tillerson said most of the posts are filled by acting assistants and undersecretaries, and that this is adequate during the redesign. But Kaplan said this is unacceptable because it’s not clear to foreign governments these interim appointees – often junior officers from prior administrations – actually speak for the president.

It is likely that, as Kaplan says, Trump not filling these spots means he does not take them seriously. When Vladimir Putin kicked out 755 American diplomats earlier this year, Trump thanked him for cutting the payroll. When a Fox news anchor asked Trump about the empty spots, he said, “I’m the only one who matters.”

Trump is right about this. Moreover, in modern White Houses, far more of the work formerly done by various undersecretaries of state is being done at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Kaplan is right that employees are leaving because they sit at their desks all day doing nothing. The administration has no choice. T he political direction of the department cannot emanate from the department itself because of the anti-Trump bias of many of the holdovers.

The State Department is not going to look the same when Tillerson gets done with it. The mainstream media assumes that’s a problem; it almost certainly is not. 




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Comments

  • TheGhostWriterTomes

    Government has become a high salary employment program for Democrats. Have to wonder what the results would be of a study which inventoried the political party identity shown in voter registration records, of government workers, after so many years of Democrat domination of the departments. The Mueller special council team is exemplary of a Democrat Party stacked political operation. This is Banana Republic b.s.

  • rac647

    They are starting the revisionist history a bit early don’t you think? I will bet he comes away from his time at the State Department as one of the top Secretaries of State ever to serve. The Statist/Socialist just cannot handle anyone that puts America first and refuses to kowtow to foreign governments that always approach the U.S. with their hands out saying gimme, gimme.

  • Wayne Allen

    the worst lying Secretary of State for all time has to be Lying Hillary or should I call her Killary Clinton. for lying to the families about the cause of the death of our people in Benghaiz and sell 20 % of our Uranium to Russia and accepting millions not only from Russia but also the Muslin countries the lying about her private server in her home and destroying many cell phones and also sayin she turned everything over, all lies. Tillerson will be a great Sec of State.

  • greatj

    I guess they forgot John Kerry and Hillary Clinton.

  • jaimelmanzano

    Foreign Service Reform

    I’ve long thought that the role of embassies, and even the layers of foreign service officers overseas were excessive. A Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) once opined to me that the embassy was largely a PR operation and it’s success could be gauged on the degree it, and Americans in general, established and maintained friendly relations with the natives. He was more right than wrong. Beyond PR, the function of the embassy and it’s staff is the care and feeding of U.S. nationals and commerce in-country, the administration of a visa program, and the gathering of intelligence.

    Take PR. Most of good relations is beyond the control of embassies. U.S. corporations have more PR cache than those bright bodies moving about in the beehive of sovereignty overseas. While personal friendships with the natives are useful, this value is not dependent on living in-country. A public relations operation staffed by a cadre of natives can do well, if not better than itinerant foreign service officers on two to four year tours struggling to speak the language in the hope that they can become culturally attuned. Corporations are moving in that direction more and more. The need for “good feelings’ administered by a foreign service can actually be handled through periodic visits of staff from Washington, especially when coupled with material benefits – loans, trade agreements, technical assistance, or an invitation to a visit with the president.

    OK, an occasional big event locally to waive the flag, or hand out goodies to natives, generally or selectively, is useful. I like scholarships. One reduction in the foreign service could cover the costs of ten tuition grants….with, potentially, a lifelong advocate of American interests.

    It doesn’t take much to extend this model to the care and feeding of Americans having difficulties with local authorities and institutions. A good native lawyer, well connected to the power structure of a foreign country, would probably – no, would – be a major improvement over the machinations of an American consul. That also applies to the administration of the visa section. Natives already do most of the work there anyway under American supervision. The distrust, however, structurally evident in this existing management model with American overseers, is wounding and destructive of “friendly relations.” Better an efficient and customer-oriented visa service than the policing of requests by management governed by ineffective and thoughtless procedures dictated by inane laws and regulations established in Washington..

    Then there is intelligence gathering. One wonders how reporters like Tom Friedman, who parachute in for a week or two, leave with all the interstices of a country’s status laid out in a 500 word op-ed piece. Of course, he might go to the embassy for a briefing…….come on!!! No, he goes to a bar or office, or home of someone of influence that he has met wherever…in college, at a conference, through a friend. Bingo! The “insight” is born.

    OK, there is some “intelligence” that can “only” come from U.S.agents in deep cover, or working the soil 24/7. I suppose that falls under the category of a “blind squirrel occasionally finding a nut” but I take the point. Guess what? That guy, or gal, isn’t a foreign service officer. Probably the better “agents” are native. What they need is anonymity, a “drop” mechanism, and a secure Swiss bank account.

    So, what do we do with the embassy, that paranoiac monstrosity layered by physical security barriers and cordons of Marines? Give it back to the natives. That probably makes more sense then our giving Panama the Canal. Hell, if they make a big enough stink, the natives can have title to Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and Jerusalem. In exchange, we might cherry pick all their English-speaking skilled and educated workforce to the degree that our land and economy can use them. We’ll call them “Americans”, once removed.

    Chick

  • Alberta Ed

    Anyone from private industry would be appalled at civil ‘service’ bloat.

  • siquijorisland

    this from the authors of mindless foolishness

  • AltVoice

    Tillerson is another outsider that the establishment loves to hate and get rid of. If the plan is to deliberately unfill many of the spots in the State Dept., I am all for it because there are simply too many bureaucrats who get in just because they happen to know someone or have been a generous donor, and given the $20 trillion debt this nation faces, it is time for some very serious austerity. Let’s start with ridding of the many positions created in the past several administrations.

  • ataulfus magnus

    Tillerson is the BEST!

  • ataulfus magnus

    WE shall outlaw demoshit”party”!

  • ataulfus magnus

    kerryshit and hillarious idiot!

  • David Ziegler

    Ridiculous drivel. Throwing red meat to pinkos.

  • samo war
  • TED

    Hard to tell if Tillerson is the worst Secretary of State ever … or if he’s a really capable person stuck working for the worst President of the U.S. ever!

    I’d guess that Tillerson is much better than he appears … and that Trump is much worse than the majority of the population thinks!

  • larry

    government from top to bottom has become a giant waste basket for overpaid, under-worked and in comprehensively protected incompetents, guaranteed a paycheck for life, courtesy of you and your family doing without so these union morons can retire on virtually full salary… teachers may well be the most egregious, failing at their jobs to educate our kids while demanding more and more money and liberties to turn our kids into moronic puppets, parroting their FASCIST anti-america, anti-sovereignty and anti-capitalism bullshit… DISBAND THE nea NOW

  • Realist

    “Slate: Tillerson is the Worst Secretary of State in Modern History”

    Just like we said with then candidate Trump – Having the right enemies speaks volumes. Slate is most definitely “the enemy camp”.

  • vladdy

    Slate: Meet Hillary Rodham Clinton.

  • vladdy

    Agree about the NEA, for sure, but remember there ARE conservative/traditionalist teachers…and boy, do they have it tough! They’re always at risk of being harassed to the point of resigning…if administrators want to get rid of a better paid (like $55,000, wow), experienced teacher so they can hire one right out of college who’s all PC and malleable, they have ways to make it happen.

  • vladdy

    The majority of the population knows less than one commenter? Are we being put into the basket of Deplorables again, heh?