When President Donald Trump appointed former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as the next Secretary of State, Tillerson drew upon his experience at the head of a bureaucracy to support his claims that the State Department was a bloated mess in need of trimming. Since taking on the position, Tillerson has reduced the number of active diplomats working on behalf of the U.S. — to a dangerous degree, according to people like Senators John McCain and Jeanne Shaheen.
Under Tillerson's watch, applications for diplomatic positions have plummeted. The number of career ministers on staff has fallen from 33 to 19 and the number of minster counselors has gone from 431 to 369. Of the 44 positions that opened when Trump became President, 34 remain unfilled.
Though Tillerson's cuts have been felt throughout the department (he plans to lay off as many as 2,000 staffers), it would seem minorities working as representatives of the U.S. were the first to go, either by firing or resignation. Dana Shell Smith resigned her roles as ambassador to Qatar in June, and shortly thereafter told the New York Times:
These people either do not believe the U.S. should be a world leader, or they’re utterly incompetent.
I don’t feel targeted as an African-American. I feel targeted as a professional.
Tillerson is reportedly so gung-ho about shrinking his department that he's offered a $25,000 incentive to any diplomats willing to resign their posts and go home. Meanwhile, back in Washington, the secretary has centralized the policy-making process to a degree unprecedented in modern times. A leaked flow chart presented to Tillerson's State Department outlines the process of establishing U.S. foreign policy. New policies require passage through only one State Department entity: the 25-person committee known as the Policy Planning Committee. In previous administrations, this committee was used to examine long-term goals and predict the evolving shape of international politics. They worked alongside teams of diplomats based out of the relevant countries to collaboratively establish foreign policy.
As crises continue around the world, members of Congress are speaking out against Tillerson's cuts, saying they are "undermining America internally." The State Department's hiring freeze also drew letters of condemnation from the Democrats of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the aforementioned Senators John McCain and Jeanne Shaheen.
“Mr. Tillerson has frozen most hiring…hopes of pushing nearly 2,000 career diplomats and civil servants to leave by October 2018. Among those fired or sidelined were most of the top African-American and Latino diplomats, as well as many women.” https://t.co/xlC5wV1Kkf— Adam Khan (@Khanoisseur) November 25, 2017