Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Demise of Diplomacy


Vijay Prashad, strategic-culture.org

image (not from article) from
Excerpt:
United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is the leading diplomat of the U.S. government. Tillerson, who was previously the head of Exxon, leads a department that nominally directs the country’s foreign policy. However, his tenure so far has been difficult. He serves a mercurial President, Donald Trump, who makes policy in the early hours of the morning on Twitter and zigzags on the basis of his “chemistry” with world leaders. Harsh words for someone today are transformed into kind words tomorrow. ...
[T]he movement of diplomacy from the civilians in the State Department to the generals in the military—had been experienced in the field by career diplomats. Cables from Islamabad (Pakistan), Cairo (Egypt) and Sana’a (Yemen) by ambassadors complained that visiting U.S. military officials were setting the policy with heads of governments and with foreign militaries, including arms sales and operations in the War on Terror. The ambassadors suggested that they had been converted into stenographers, who sat in meetings and took notes but were not privy to the intricacies of the policy. Even in arenas of diplomacy itself, the Pentagon’s overseas operations were far better funded and better organised. In Somalia, for instance, the State Department’s public diplomacy effort in 2008 received only $30,000 compared with the Pentagon’s public diplomacy budget of $600,000.
Adverse publicity for the Pentagon is immediately responded to by its massive public relations operation. The GAO found last year that the Pentagon spent more than $1 billion on public relations. Between 2006 and 2015, the Pentagon spent almost two-thirds of the total U.S. government spending on public relations. ...

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