Down­siz­ing State

Los Angeles Times - - OPINION - Earl Cole

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

New­port Beach

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

Up­land

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

Carpin­te­ria

Is it pos­si­ble that Steve Ban­non’s openly ex­pressed plan to “de­con­struct the gov­ern­ment” is ac­tu­ally in place and work­ing?

La Mesa, Calif.

Bren­dan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

SEC­RE­TARY of State Rex Tiller­son leaves a Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee hear­ing Aug. 2.

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