u.s. department of state
For an American reader, I.I.P.’s body of work offers a fascinating look not only at what our government wants to tell the world but also at what it wants to believe about itself. The obvious conflicts of interest that accompanied Donald Trump into office are in one sense the least of I.I.P.’s problems; the larger question is what a propaganda unit is supposed to do when the pronouncements of its head of state are so often at odds with the national vision it tries to sell to the world.
The State Department on Monday removed from its website an article about the history and lavish furnishings of President Trump’s privately owned Florida resort club Mar-a-Lago, following questions about whether the federal government improperly promoted Trump’s moneymaking enterprises. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) pointed to the travelogue-style blog piece Monday, asking in a Twitter message why the State Department would spend “taxpayer $$ promoting the president’s private country club.”
Most of his interactions are with an insular circle of political aides who are new to the State Department. Many career diplomats say they still have not met him, and some have been instructed not to speak to him directly — or even make eye contact. On his first three foreign trips, Tillerson skipped visits with State Department employees and their families, embassy stops that were standard morale-boosters under other secretaries of state.
This week began with reports that President Donald Trump’s budget proposal will drastically slash the State Department’s funding, and last week ended with White House adviser and former Breitbart head Stephen Bannon telling the attendees of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference that what he and the new president were after was a “deconstruction of the administrative state.” At the State Department, which employs nearly 70,000 people around the world, that deconstruction is already well underway.