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Practical Politics

Politics of killing American diplomacy

David L. Horne, PH.D. | 8/10/2017, midnight

At last count, of the six permanent undersecretaries of state usually in place, or at least nominated, to help run the State Department (for political affairs; economic, energy, and agricultural affairs; arms control and international security; civilian security, democracy, and human rights; management; and public diplomacy and public Affairs.), only two are currently aboard—political affairs and public diplomacy. In fact, of the top 130 staff posts in the State Department which require U.S. Senate confirmation, only 44 have even been nominated by the Trump administration, and only 23 confirmed as of this week. This compares to 95 nominated and 48 confirmed at this same point in Mr. Obama’s administration, and 100 and 77 in the George W. Bush administration.

Veteran state department staffers have put the word out that the Trump administration, with Secretary Rex Tillerson’s support, seems to be ‘hollowing out’ the diplomatic wing of the U.S. government. You cannot negotiate without skilled negotiators, and you cannot practice diplomacy without skilled diplomats, so this is indeed very troubling.

If there is a path outside of a mutual bombing campaign between North Korea and the U.S., which is very much on the front burner these days, where are those professional diplomats to try and get to such a path?

This administration may indeed get us all vaporized for lack of not only a coherent strategy to avoid it, but for lack of personnel to even develop and implement one.

Where, oh where, is our diplomatic common sense when it is needed?

Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.

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