29 July 2020
Over the last three and a half years the Trump White House has steadily inflicted serious damage on the US Department of State. This has been achieved by savage cuts to its budget, leaving key senior posts vacant, appointing wholly unsuitable persons as chiefs of mission (including an ambassador to Iceland who demanded the right to carry a personal firearm), threatening reprisals to staff who failed to display fawning loyalty to the administration, creating an environment in which many talented and experienced staff decided to leave, and – most recently – firing the Department’s Inspector General for doing his job too well. This is not to mention conduct at home as well as policy abroad that has undermined the Foreign Service’s remit to support democratic practice, racial equality, human rights and the rule of law. The US Department of State is now a partly crippled and wholly demoralized institution. This situation has been described in telling detail by a report, ‘Diplomacy in Crisis: The Trump Administration’s Decimation of the State Department’, just released by Democratic Party members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It can be seen here, and is essential reading.