Saturday, May 06, 2017

First Rex Tillerson decided to fire thousands of diplomats, now he's going to find out what they do (mark Sumner) · Wednesday, May 03, 2017, 11:55 am

Rex Tillerson has already had a reunion with the friends that pinned a medal on him in Moscow. He skipped out on a less-genial meeting of NATO leaders, but he did have time to make threats against Syria, threats against North Korea, and spill a few aspects of delicate international negotiations to Fox News.

On Wednesday, he’s paying a rare visit to the land where he’s done the most to spread fear.

Morale is plunging among the U.S. diplomats and civil servants who work for the secretary of state. Many are aghast at President Donald Trump’s desire to dramatically slash the State Department’s budget and Tillerson’s apparent agreement. Some State staffers are eyeing the exits as malaise grips the department—and before expected organizational restructuring. And just about everyone is seeking clarity from the new administration about its foreign policy objectives.

Tillerson’s session on Wednesday will be only the second time he’s bothered to address his own department. He’s made no effort to meet with the larger staff, understand their positions, and determine the department’s needs. Because that decision was made in advance.

Stakeholders inside and outside State are particularly flummoxed that Tillerson is giving the speech, and planning to survey staffers, after he’s already decided to trim at least 2,300 positions. It’s a backward approach, they say.

This is one of those instances where getting called to the boss’s office is definitely not a good sign.


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