The Power of a strong State Department

May 13, 2017

President Trump clearly admires America’s military. He has put generals in charge of the Pentagon, the National Security Council and the Department of Homeland Security, and he has called for a big increase in military spending. He was quick to order missile strikes after chemical weapons were used in Syria, and he plans to send more troops to Afghanistan.

At the same time, Mr. Trump appears to have little regard for traditional diplomacy. He made Rex Tillerson, a foreign policy neophyte, his secretary of state. He has left key diplomatic posts unfilled and proposed slashing the State Department’s budget by some 30 percent. Mr. Tillerson, who also wants to shake up the department, has already suggested eliminating 2,300 jobs there. Morale has plummeted, so Mr. Tillerson gave an in-house speech on May 3 that sought to convince his employees that their work was still important. But a pep talk is unlikely to restore the State Department’s sense of diminished status.

America’s armed forces are undeniably impressive, but Mr. Trump’s veneration of military power and disregard for diplomacy is mistaken. Many of America’s greatest foreign policy successes were won at the negotiating table, not on the battlefield: Think of the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of the country in 1803, or the formation of NATO and the Bretton Woods economic institutions, equally farsighted acts that enhanced American influence. Similarly, the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty slowed the spread of nuclear weapons and made it easier to monitor states with nuclear ambitions…

Mr. Trump’s deference to the military, meanwhile, is hard to square with its track record. The United States had more than half a million troops in Vietnam at the peak of the war and still lost. The 1991 Persian Gulf war was a short-term triumph but did not yield a stable peace. The 2003 invasion of Iraq led to a costly quagmire, to enhanced Iranian influence and, eventually, to the creation of the Islamic State. The American military has been fighting in Afghanistan for nearly 16 years, and the Taliban today controls more territory than at any time since 2001. United States airstrikes helped drive Muammar el-Qaddafi from power in Libya in 2011, and the country is now a failed state…

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9 thoughts on “The Power of a strong State Department

  1. Diplomacy is too slow for Trump.

    Remember he has to Make America Great Again in a short 10 years, (minus 100 days or so)

    He of course forgot it took the United States more than 150 years to be Great.

    Heck, even Great Britain, (the only country in history that has “Great” to its name), took a few hundred years.

  2. Yes, NYT is correct. War begins when the jaws of diplomats, who do not play politics, stops working. In many countries of the Third World the politics of the left and right is gravitating toward the the third force -power. May be, just may be, this may become the new form of governance in the future. There are one or two examples of the success brought by this method right before our eyes but the imponderables are too many. In the meantime those who should not play politics should do what they have been employed or chosen to do and encourage those constitutional office holders to do their duty in accordance to the rule of law.

  3. USA is the most powerful nation on earth
    Its State Department foreign policy is flawed,if not the most flaw-est in the world.

    ..and that is not so ”great” about it !

  4. PS And for four years the Russian FM took the former secretary of state all around and round on the Syrian issue going nowhere but in the direction of Russia and what did the MSM say?

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