Former U.S. Ambassador Curtis S. Chin on the proposed funding cuts to cross-cultural programs.
Beginning this week, the U.S. Department of State, in partnership with Global Ties U.S., will sponsor Diplomacy Begins Here Regional Summits, bringing together leaders in business, government, and the nonprofit world to further citizen diplomacy and forge new connections in local communities. The summits will take place across the United States, engaging Americans from diverse backgrounds on the innovations and impacts that stem from international relationships.
When President Trump nominated Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of ExxonMobil, to be his secretary of state, reactions were mixed. Some saw Tillerson as an accomplished businessman, savvy in world affairs, who was perhaps the only sane person well-positioned to lead a rapprochement with Vladimir Putin. Others saw him as a dangerous neophyte unaccustomed to the constant give-and-take of diplomacy. It turns out that he is neither. Under Tillerson’s watch, and indeed under his direct purview, the State Department’s core is being gutted.
Nauert, a former Fox News host, waited five weeks before taking to the lectern to meet the State Department press corps, which is filled with seasoned diplomatic reporters steeped in the nuances of international issues. She was well prepared, firm but not combative and began by praising the diplomatic corps and the media for doing their jobs in service to the United States and the ideals America represents. The press corps, in turn, treated her with respect without pulling punches, a clear effort to set the relationship on the right foot and give her time to adjust to the new spotlight.
Core practices of open government are eroding in the Trump Administration, with new limitations on the ability of the press to effectively question officials on U.S. foreign policy. The problem is starkly illustrated by comparing the press briefing schedules of the State Department for May 2016 and May 2017. In May 2016, the State Department held a press briefing nearly every weekday of the month, with only two exceptions. One of them was Memorial Day. In May 2017, by contrast, there was not a single State Department press briefing. The last briefing was on April 27.
As President Trump strains alliances and relationships around the world, some of the nation’s top career diplomats are breaking publicly with him, in what amounts to a quiet revolt by a cadre of public servants known for their professional discretion. On Monday, the chargé d’affaires at the American Embassy in Beijing, David H. Rank, announced his resignation after telling his staff he could not defend the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.
The No. 2 diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing resigned Monday, telling staff his conscience would not permit him to formally notify the Chinese that the United States is withdrawing from the Paris climate accord. David H. Rank, a career Foreign Service officer of 27 years, had been acting ambassador until former Iowa governor Terry Branstad (R) was confirmed as the new ambassador last month. Rank held a town meeting with embassy employees to explain he had offered his resignation and it had been accepted.