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President Trump Lacks a Government

November 4, 2017

President Donald Trump did it again.

In a lengthy interview on Thursday, November 2nd, with Laura Ingraham on Fox News, the President states that the many vacancies at the State Department don’t need to be filled.

In other words, the President–alone–will manage the foreign relations of the United States.

Here’s a link to that interview.  His comments about the State Department begin at 14:55 into the interview.

There are many reasons to distrust the career bureaucrats at State. In addition to seeking their own best interests, they know more about their areas of expertise than anyone in national politics. And they believe that their opinions are superior to those of political appointees, often referred to as “the Christmas help,” who come and go with every Presidential Administration.

Unfortunately, President Trump feels that he doesn’t need to place his people–if he knew any who were competent to serve–at State. That decision will have long term consequences for American foreign policy because civilian employment seldom translates into knowledge of foreign policy.

The best way to learn about Russia, Iran, Islam or the People’s Republic of China–these four major adversaries of the United States–is to earn advanced degrees in “area studies” and serve in U.S. government positions in Eastern Europe, Asia, South Asia or the Middle East. Many Americans successfully pass the Foreign Service Exam and then become members of the bureaucracy at State.

However, American Presidents cannot rely on government bureaucrats, especially Foreign Service Officers and, therefore, must fill top management positions at State with knowledgeable persons who share the philosophy of the governing Party.

Some American businessmen who work in those parts of the world learn much about the foreign countries where they work. But employment in foreign countries is not the way to advance to the top levels in corporations. Companies compensate by sending younger employees for service abroad because they are expendable. And they will send senior executives to work abroad in order to axe their employment when the time if right. That “time” is when they’ve been away from corporate headquarters long enough to lose their power base. Though President Trump finds persons to appoint who have reached the highest levels of the U.S. military, that is a very dangerous game to play.

Where then, do American Presidents, especially the few conservative ones we’ve elected, find experienced, conservative, talent?

Unfortunately, Ronald Reagan did not grow conservative talent in international affairs. He was co-opted by James Baker and George H. W. Bush, who brought in Nixon Administration appointees to serve at State and the White House.  The one strength of foreign policy in that Administration was the President himself who proposed, and defended, a space-based system of ballistic missile defense. That strength and resolve bludgeoned the Soviet Union into defeat.

President Trump is much worse.

He refuses to nominate persons for top positions at State. A report issued by The Partnership for Public Progress on August 7, stated ” On the personnel front, President Trump lags well behind all of his recent predecessors both on the number of people nominated for critical leadership positions and those confirmed. As of August 7, Trump has nominated 277 people out of the more than 1,100 positions requiring Senate confirmation, and the Senate has confirmed just 124 of those nominees.”

A more recent survey of Ambassadorial appointments shows that the President has little interest in nominating American Ambassadors to serve in countries with which we have diplomatic ties and has retained many career Foreign Service Officers serving as Ambassadors who were appointed by President Barack Obama.

The reason we have a President who doesn’t know how the U.S. government works is because democracies tend to elevate to public office to the lowest common denominator. Members of the Congress are clearly very limited in knowledge and experience and most don’t even look good. Those that do–you know them by their blow-dry looks and plastic surgery–are mere clothes horses representing corporate interests.

The American people, despite the fact that many can trace their heritage to immigrants who didn’t speak English, are, after one generation, totally disconnected from the world outside the United States. Most politicians who represent them cannot make an intelligent statement about subjects greater than one mile from the coast of the United States. Yet, there are places to study foreign subjects. Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, and The School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, sometimes called the “Nitze School” after Paul Nitze, are good places to earn credentials for research and government service.

Fr. Edmund Walsh, who “made” Georgetown’s School of Foreign service died in 1956. He was knowledgeable about communism and while he was alive, Georgetown was the place to be if you wanted to be part of America’s response to communism in Russia and China. Sixty years after his death, Georgetown is just another Left-oriented research university, but a Walsh School degree still has value.

Paul Nitze was a brilliant strategist, and though the school that bears his name is like all other research universities–rudderless except for Leftist ideology,–a degree from the Nitze School, like the Walsh School, is a credential of some value.

President Donald Trump knows nothing about the world of international relations, nor of the conservative professionals who learned their skill at university and in government service. One of the few members of the GOP who does know this world is the quirky Dr. Newt Gingrich.

President Trump would be well advised to ask his opinion.

 

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