Irwin Steven Goldstein, President Donald Trump's selection for under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, is a communications and marketing executive with experience at large corporations as well as in government. Goldstein was confirmed by a Senate voice vote and in the middle of November and is expected to start working at the State Department on December 4.
The Foreign Service, our country’s irreplaceable asset for understanding and interacting with a complex and dangerous world, is facing perhaps its greatest crisis. President Trump’s draconian budget cuts for the State Department and his dismissive attitude toward our diplomats and diplomacy itself threaten to dismantle a great foreign service just when we need it most.
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.
One of the most eye-opening moments of my time as the deputy assistant secretary for digital strategy at the U.S. State Department occurred on a trip to the country of Georgia, aimed at helping the government build its digital capacity to better serve its population. Our message was the same advice we’d given to countless governments: Focus on Facebook. It was the dominant player. Elites tended to use Twitter. Google ads were worth it if you had the money. But for governments wanting to reach real people on a global scale, Facebook was the scalable, smart solution.