And you don’t need an employee-wide survey to understand why.
- By Sharon WeinbergerSharon Weinberger is the executive editor for news at Foreign Policy. Previously, she was the national security editor at The Intercept, where she directed the publication's defense and intelligence coverage. Her most recent book, published in March 2017, is The Imagineers of War: The Untold Story of DARPA, the Pentagon Agency That Changed the World (Knopf, 2017). She was a Radcliffe Institute Fellow at Harvard in 2015-2016, a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT in 2008-2009, and she is currently a non-resident global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She has also been an International Reporting Project Fellow at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, an Alicia Patterson Fellow, a Carnegie Fellow at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, a Nation Institute Investigative Fellow, and a Carnegie Newhouse Legal Reporting Fellow. She received her B.A. from Johns Hopkins University, and holds an M.A. from the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and an M.A. in Russian and East European Studies from Yale University. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Nature, Discover, BBC.com, Slate, Wired, the Washington Post, Foreign Policy, and the Financial Times, among other publications. She was previously a senior editor at Aviation Week and a co-founding writer and editor for Wired's national security blog, Danger Room.
On this week’s first episode of The E.R., FP’s executive editor for news Sharon Weinberger is joined by State Department alums Tom Countryman, Jon Finer, and Kori Schake, and FP’s Robbie Gramer and Dan De Luce to discuss the current situation at the State Department. As Robbie, Dan, and Colum Lynch outline in their feature “How the Trump Administration Broke the State Department,” dozens of career civil and foreign service officers describe a department in disarray as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson surrounds himself with an expanding cadre of loyalists.
Department employees report low morale as they struggle with a broken internal chain of command, and a White House that seems hell-bent on undermining relationships with longtime allies.
Are these complaints anything new or a rehashing of common diplomat gripes? The panel agrees that tensions between career employees and political appointees are common, but have we ever seen anything quite like this? Should we worry more about employee satisfaction or the potential long-term impacts to American standing abroad?
Thomas M. Countryman is a career diplomat who most recently served as acting under secretary for arms control and international security until January 2017. He previously served as principal deputy assistant secretary for political-military affairs, deputy assistant secretary for european affairs, and as the foreign policy advisor to the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. Follow him on Twitter: @TMCountryman.
Jon Finer was the chief of staff to Secretary of State John Kerry and director of policy planning at the State Department. He also spent four years in the Obama White House serving as a senior advisor in the offices of the national security advisor and the Middle East advisor. He was previously a reporter for the Washington Post where he covered conflicts in Iraq, Lebanon, Georgia, and Gaza.
Kori Schake is columnist at FP and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution where she focuses on military history. She is the author of the forthcoming book, Safe Passage: The Transition from British to American Hegemony, which will be released in November. Follow her on Twitter: @KoriSchake.
Sharon Weinberger is FP’s executive editor for news. She is the author of The Imagineers of War: The Untold Story of DARPA, the Pentagon Agency That Changed the World. Follow her on Twitter: @weinbergersa.
Tune in, now three times a week, to FP’s The E.R.