Sometimes, it’s difficult to keep track of all the political news in a given week. When you’ve got Republicans running a child molester for the Senate, a tax bill up for debate (and then a vote) which will eviscerate our middle class and wreck the economy, not to mention whatever the Trump scandal of the day happens to be, it’s a lot to pay attention to.
One of the most important current issues that Americans should be outraged about is Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and his incompetent corporate-style purge of the State Department. Crazy thought here, but maybe the United States, and the world, is not well-served by relentlessly cutting down the biggest force for peace in the world.
A Facebook post by legendary journalist Dan Rather has called attention to this key issue in eloquence that can’t be rewritten, and is definitely a must-read for every aware American.
Here’s the full text in case you can’t see the embed:
‘I try to stay steady. I try to remain calm. But of all the things stuck in my craw these surreal days, the willful and deliberate decimation of the United States Department of State by President Trump and his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is a turn of events that is both bewildering and so obviously dangerous that it begs for reason in an age already plagued by a striking lack of reason.
‘This is an attack on the very health and security of the United States. It undermines our political, cultural, economic, and moral power around the globe. Yes our military forces are important and yes the aircraft carriers and fleets of tanks and airplanes are impressive. And yes the courage and dedication of our fighting men and women are impressive. But so too is the courage and dedication of our diplomatic corp who wield words and the power of persuasion to further our national interests, along with the aspirations of peace and justice. Their budget is but a fraction of our defense budget, but dollar for dollar they do more than almost anyone I can think of to make America what it has been, what it is, and what I believe we hope it to be.
‘There should be a bipartisan outcry against this undermining of American values. We have had strong diplomats from across the political spectrum. And as the world becomes ever-more complicated and difficult to navigate, we need leadership not empty rhetoric.
‘Make no mistake, our allies are watching with great unease. And our adversaries are salivating at our shortsightedness, and frankly, stupidity.’
Dan Rather is right. Dollar for dollar, our diplomatic corps is a much greater force for peace in the world than our military. Our diplomats promote our foreign policy agenda around the world. The current administration is destroying the Department of State for no reason other than a corporate desire to fire people.
Dozens of high-ranking staff have been pushed out of the department with no real policy goal. Tillerson is not communicating with State Department staff or leading the department. He’s just firing people because he thinks he should. Before ever stepping foot within or reviewing the department, he had decided to cut the budget by over 30 percent. For reference, the State Department’s budget is around $50 billion annually – or about 1/10 that of our military.
On top of that, many of those he’s pushing out are people of color and women. He’s redesigning the State Department in the image of Trump’s administration: Overwhelmingly white and male.
Here’s more from The New York Times:
‘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 Foreign Service officers from the State Department since January,” expressed concern about “what appears to be the intentional hollowing-out of our senior diplomatic ranks.”
‘Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, sent a similar letter, telling Mr. Tillerson that “America’s diplomatic power is being weakened internally as complex global crises are growing externally.”
‘Mr. Tillerson has frozen most hiring and recently offered a $25,000 buyout in hopes of pushing nearly 2,000 career diplomats and civil servants to leave by October 2018.
‘His small cadre of aides have fired some diplomats and gotten others to resign by refusing them the assignments they wanted or taking away their duties altogether. Among those fired or sidelined were most of the top African-American and Latino diplomats, as well as many women, difficult losses in a department that has long struggled with diversity.’
The Times also reports that Tillerson is purposefully leaving many top posts without nominations, meaning that as well as firing many diplomats and thinning the ranks of the department, he’s leaving it without leadership:
‘“Leadership matters,” said Nancy McEldowney, a former ambassador who retired in June after a 30-year career as a Foreign Service officer. “There’s a vacuum throughout the State Department, and the junior people now working in these top jobs lack the confidence and credibility that comes from a presidential nomination and Senate confirmation.”’
This is not a partisan issue, except insofar as Republicans refuse to criticize Donald Trump for partisan reasons. No other modern president has done this, Republican or Democrat. No Republican nominee had “gut the State Department” as a campaign promise. That’s because it’s nonsensical.
This isn’t your run-of-the-mill Republican “small government” ideology taken too far. This is deliberate, systematic sabotage of our nation’s ability to project diplomatic power around the globe. This is equivalent to firing all of the generals and most of the officer corps in the military, as well as a significant percentage of the grunts. And, given the current state of world affairs, we can take the analogy a step further: This is like firing all of the generals and most of the officer corps just as the United States goes to war. This will cripple our nation.
Now think: Who does that benefit?
This is far from the first time that Dan Rather has strongly criticized the Trump administration. Rather has kept up a steady stream of warnings for quite some time, both on social media and via interviews. Watch below:
Jimmy Fallon actually interviewed Dan Rather about his rise to Facebook fame, as well as Donald Trump, all the way back in February:
Featured image via Matthew Eisman/Getty Images