u.s. department of state

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.

August 7, 2017
August 1, 2017

With the help of Global Ties U.S. and the San Antonio Council for International Visitors, the U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs is funding the Police Professionalization Exchange Program for Mexico — a program that will train 3,800 police officials from Mexico in U.S. law enforcement policies and police tactics. [...] Police officials from Mexico are undergoing training to learn the best U.S. law enforcement practices to take back home.

I believe that a final, negotiated FY 2018 budget request for the State Department should include continued funding – if not a gradual increase – of what has been a relatively small amount of money allocated every year to the soft power of “cultural diplomacy.” Roughly defined as the use of an exchange of ideas, traditions, and values to strengthen relations and encourage engagement, cultural diplomacy is perhaps most easily seen in the use of music, arts, and sports to build cross-cultural understanding.

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