Secretary of State Rex Tillerson outlined a major reorganization of the State Department, eliminating a raft of special envoy posts established to reach out to Muslim communities, support anti-government fighters in Syria, and curb the environmental devastation wrought by global warming. In a letter to Bob Corker, the Chairman of the of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Tillerson cited concern about the proliferation of 70 special envoys positions in recent decades, including positions set up years ago to promote peace in Ireland and restore diplomatic relations with Burma.
Sir Martin Davidson analyzes why China's soft power ranking does not match the amount it spends.
At a time when Europe appears ever more self-absorbed and the U.S. questions many of the foundations of post-war prosperity which it created, China appears ever more self-assured in offering an alternative narrative. [...] Despite this massive investment, China’s soft power still languishes far behind that of its Western rivals in most comparative studies: 28th out of 30 in Portland’s 2016 report on soft power or 20th out of 25 according to Monocle.
Ben Cardin (Md.), ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has had enough with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s mismanagement. On Tuesday, he sent a blistering letter[.] [...] The notion that one can run a giant organization out of a senior staff office is something an oil executive might think up; in government, it’s a disaster. Cutting out thousands of professional diplomats deprives one of not only expertise but also bandwidth (try managing two or three major crises with only a couple of dozen key players).
Several times a week the State Department sends a greeting to a foreign country on the occasion of its national day. By tradition, the salutations have been written by low-level diplomats and routinely approved by their superiors. But not anymore. Now the messages go through Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson’s office, where his top assistants insist on vetting them, and where they often sit for weeks before coming back with extensive editing changes, according to several department officials.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is defending his efforts to redesign the State Department, but the process has left many of its 36,000 employees in Washington and around the world feeling anxious about their mission. Tillerson was welcomed warmly to the State Department six months ago. But some current and former ambassadors and foreign policy experts say they are worried about a number of indications that the Trump administration plans to lower the priority of promoting democracy and human rights in U.S. foreign policy.
By insisting on a pro-Kremlin agenda, and trying in vain to halt all inquiries into the Russian meddling in the election that brought him to power, Trump undermines his own political position, inviting further investigation of his financial dealings and opening the possibility of charges of obstruction of justice. Not a good time for policy, or those trying to communicate it.