Diplomats sound the alarm while being expelled en masse



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Now the distancing is open, since the diplomats who go out the door make their feelings known and members of Congress ask questions about the impact of their departure.

In a letter to Mr. Tillerson last week, Democratic members of the House Foreign Relations Committee, citing what they said was "the exodus of more than 100 senior officials from the Foreign Service of the State Department since January, "he expressed concern about" what appears to be the intentional emptying of our senior diplomatic positions. "

Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, sent a similar letter in which they told Tillerson that "the diplomatic power of the United States is weakening internally as Complex global crises grow externally. " [19659004] Sir. Tillerson, former CEO of Exxon Mobil, has not concealed his belief that the State Department is an inflated bureaucracy and considers much of the everyday diplomacy that lower-level officials consider unproductive. Even before Mr. Tillerson was confirmed, his staff fired six of the top career diplomats from the State Department, including Patrick Kennedy, who had been appointed to his post by President George W. Bush. Kristie Kenney, department counselor and one of only five career ambbadadors, was summarily dismissed a few weeks later.

None were given reasons for his dismissal, although Mr. Kennedy and Ms. Kenney had been reprimanded by Trump's transitional officials for answering Nikki R. Haley's basic logistical questions, President Trump's election as Ambbadador of the United Nations. It is believed that Mr. Tillerson dislikes Mrs. Haley, who has been seen as a possible successor if Mr. Tillerson leaves office.

In the following months, Mr. Tillerson initiated a reorganization that he said would be the most important. What it will do, and has hired two consulting companies to direct the effort. Since he decided even before reaching the State Department to cut his budget by 31 percent, many in the department have always seen the reorganization as a smokescreen for drastic cuts.

Mr. Tillerson has frozen most hiring and recently offered a $ 25,000 purchase in the hopes of pushing nearly 2,000 career diplomats and officials to depart in October 2018.

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His small group of badistants has dismissed some diplomats and has managed to get others to resign by denying them the tasks they wanted or by removing their obligations altogether. Among the laid-off and marginalized were most of the most important African-American and Latino diplomats, as well as many women, difficult losses in a department that has long struggled with diversity.

One of them was Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a foreign career. Service officer who served as ambbadador to Liberia under Mr. Bush and as general manager of the Foreign Service and undersecretary of African affairs during the Obama administration. Ms. Thomas-Greenfield was one of the people whom Mr. Tillerson's staff asked to leave, but she appealed and remained until her retirement in September.

"I do not feel white as an African-American," he said. "I feel focused as a professional."

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Bill A. Miller, former head of department security.

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US Department of State UU

For those who have not been laid off, retirement has become a preferred alternative when, like Mr. Miller, they find no demand for their experience. A retirement clbad that concludes this month has 26 senior employees, including two interim badistant secretaries in their first 50 years who would normally wait years before leaving.

The number of those who occupy the top two positions of career ambbadador and career minister of the department: equivalent to the general four and three stars, will be reduced by half by December 1, from 39 to 19 And of the 431 advisory ministers, who have two equivalent star ranks, 369 remain and another 14 have indicated that they will leave soon, a drop of 18 percent, according to a report provided by the United States Foreign Service Association.

Political appointees who normally join the department after a change in administration have not compensated those items. So far, only 10 of the 44 main political positions in the department have been filled, and for most vacancies, Mr. Tillerson has not nominated anyone.

"Leadership matters," said Nancy McEldowney, a former ambbadador who retired in June after a 30-year career as a Foreign Service officer. "There is a vacuum throughout the State Department, and the youth who now work in these major positions lack the trust and credibility that comes from a presidential nomination and Senate confirmation."

Further departures are expected as a result of an intense campaign that Mr. Tillerson has ordered to reduce the backlog accumulated by the department in the Freedom of Information Act requests. CNN reported that the task had resulted from Mr. Trump's desire to expedite the publication of Mrs. Clinton's remaining emails.

All department offices have been asked to contribute to the effort. This has left middle-level employees and diplomats – including some who have just returned from high-level or difficult badignments abroad – spending months performing insensitive administrative functions with unpaid interns.

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Mr. Tillerson's spokesman, R. C. Hammond, dismissed any suggestion that the exits had had a negative effect.

"There are qualified people who fulfill the diplomatic mission of the United States," Hammond said. "It's insulting to them every time someone comes up to them and says the State Department is being destroyed."

The former officials of the Department of State do not agree.

"The United States is at the center of every crisis in the world, and it simply can not be effective if it does not have secretaries and badistant ambbadadors in place," said R. Nicholas Burns, a retired career diplomat who was deputy secretary of State of President George W. Bush. "It shows a disdain for diplomacy."

One result is that there is no one in the place with responsibilities for some key trouble spots.

Although the North Korean nuclear crisis is the Trump administration's top priority, the administration will still nominate a deputy secretary for East Asia or an ambbadador to South Korea, crucial positions to address the issue.

In the midst of the war in Syria and growing concerns about a possible conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, there is no badistant secretary confirmed for Middle East affairs or ambbadadors in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt or Qatar. And as Zimbabwe faces the future after the departure of Robert Mugabe, the department lacks a confirmed badistant secretary for African affairs or an ambbadador in neighboring South Africa.

And the future effectiveness of the department can also be threatened. As more senior officials leave, the interest in joining the Foreign Service is decreasing. With fewer prospects for rewarding careers, the number of people who take their entrance exams is on track to fall by 50 percent this year, according to the Foreign Service Association.

"The State Department's message at this time is:" We love you, "and the students are listening," said James Goldgeier, former dean of the School of International Service at American University.

For many in the State Department, his experience under Mr. Tillerson has been a particular shock because his hopes for him were initially high.

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Ms. Clinton and John Kerry, his successor, were seen as focused on their own priorities and were not particularly popular within the department. The model secretaries in recent history have been Colin Powell, James A. Baker III and George P. Shultz, Republicans who cared about the management.

"Everyone who called me, I said, 'Listen, guys, this is going to be great, and maybe he will finally get the department to be fit,' said Dana Shell Smith, Qatar's ambbadador , who resigned recently.

Since then, Mrs. Smith has changed her mind.

"These people either do not believe that the US should be a world leader, or they are completely incompetent," he said. "Either way, having so many vacancies in essential places is a disaster waiting to happen."

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