Re: “Secretary of the shrunken State Department,” Aug. 6
There is cause for alarm when the secretary of State slashes diplomatic positions while the administration calls for huge increases to the Pentagon budget.
Diplomats perform the vital tasks of cementing alliances, negotiating agreements and representing the U.S. around the world.
Their work helps to protect us from the economic, social and human costs of war as well as maintaining our country’s position as a trustworthy participant in world affairs.
The U.S. has been at war continuously for longer than many recent college graduates have been alive, and it is clear that military action alone will not bring us peace.
Perhaps, instead of bloating the Pentagon budget while we ignore its lack of accountability, we should give our diplomatic staff the support they need to work effectively and responsibly on behalf of us all. Betty Guthrie Irvine
As a retired foreign service officer with 31 years of experience both in Washington and abroad, I share the concerns of many about the intention of President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to slash the budgets of the foreign affairs agencies.
But since my retirement from active duty, I have been appalled at the staggering number of special coordinators, ambassadors at large and other non-line operators appointed over the past 20 years.
The American Foreign Service Assn. lists 50-plus special positions and offices, some of which, I admit, address critical issues such as cybercrime, Iran nuclear nonproliferation and sanctions policy.
But what is the State Department doing in such fields as criminal justice, global engagement center (what’s that?), global youth issues and international religious freedom?
If these issues are so important to an administration, find a home for them. Don’t just tack them onto State and hope for the best.
All these special positions and the bloated number of private contractors on State’s payroll seem legitimate objects for the budget ax. Timothy Deal
Somehow you equate having a higher number of people and departments with better performance.
True, Tillerson is new to government, but do you really think someone who managed a worldwide company with 74,000 employees has no clue about efficiency versus waste?
Are you really suggesting Tillerson is not professional enough to handle the department?
Let me suggest an unbiased article on Tillerson’s performance at Exxon Mobil and management processes.
How many heads of government or key country departments has he met with, negotiated with?
It would be fairer game to point to the president for awkwardness in foreign affairs. Surely you can find named sources there. Blair Tuckerman
The irony was hard to miss. Two top-of-the-frontpage articles: China’s growing success in Africa and our shrinking State Department and USAID.
I grew up in Liberia, West Africa, in the era of JFK and the Peace Corps. Then the U.S. was revered as an economic and political role model.
I am still in contact with a friend living in a small village there and trying to start a farm and grow palm nuts and pineapples.
I asked him recently if the road near his village was paved yet. (The country has one main road; it was built after World War II by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.) He said no, but the Chinese were working on it, so it would be soon.
As to his agricultural projects, the only help available is from NGOs (non-governmental agencies).
Turning inward will not make us great again. It will consign us to international irrelevance. Paul Stull
Is it possible that Steve Bannon’s openly expressed plan to “deconstruct the government” is actually in place and working?
La Mesa, Calif.
SECRETARY of State Rex Tillerson leaves a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing Aug. 2.