Top U.S. diplomat blasts Trump administration for ‘decapitation’ of State Department leadership

Foreign Policy reports: Two former ambassadors have rebuked the White House in an increasingly vocal backlash against its efforts to sideline the State Department.

“Our leadership ranks are being depleted at a dizzying speed,” Barbara Stephenson, a former U.S. ambassador to Panama and current president of the American Foreign Service Association, the union for foreign service officers, wrote in a letter for the December 2017 issue of the Foreign Service Journal.

Scores of senior diplomats, including 60 percent of career ambassadors, have left the department since the beginning of the year, when President Donald Trump took office, according to the letter. There are 74 top posts at State that remain vacant with no announced nominee.

“Were the U.S. military to face such a decapitation of its leadership ranks, I would expect a public outcry,” Stephenson wrote.

It’s not just top leadership that is fleeing. New recruitment is falling dramatically as well, shrinking the pool for future talent. The number of applicants registering to take the Foreign Service Officer Test this year will be fewer than half the 17,000 who registered just two years ago, she wrote.

Stephenson wasn’t the only top diplomat with harsh words for the White House this week.

“Quite frankly, this administration is categorically destroying the Department of State and devaluing diplomacy as something important in this world,” said Wendy Sherman, former undersecretary of state for political affairs at the under President Barack Obama, speaking Nov. 6 at Foreign Policy‘s Diplomat of the Year event in Washington (Sherman was named this year as National Security Diplomat of the Year). [Continue reading…]

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