How to Bring American Diplomacy Back From the Brink

How to Bring American Diplomacy Back From the Brink

A New Administration Must Build a Bigger, Better State Department

The need for U.S. leadership has never been clearer. A once-in-a-century pandemic, an accelerating climate crisis, widening economic inequality, and rising authoritarianism all demand urgent multilateral cooperation. Yet under President Donald Trump, the United States is missing in action and its infrastructure of diplomacy is crumbling. 

Trump has not only abdicated the United States’ global leadership role but waged war on his own State Department. His administration has repeatedly proposed draconian budget cuts to diplomacy and development assistance, attacked career diplomats and civil servants, and pushed many of the most experienced officials out the door. As a result, the State Department is increasingly run by unqualified donors and political sycophants.

Replacing the expertise and experience of retired career diplomats is hard enough in the best of times. But after four years of the Trump administration, the situation is particularly dire. The barrage of attacks from the president and his appointees has torpedoed morale and thinned the ranks of seasoned foreign policy professionals. Applications to join the U.S. Foreign Service have plummeted since Trump took office, starving the State Department of new talent.