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Rex Tillerson is ousting many of the State Department’s high-ranking women diplomats and diplomats of color.
On Friday, the New York Times revealed how Tillerson’s State Department is pushing out scores of career diplomats from the agency, offering them buyouts and early retirement in the hopes of getting them out the door.
“Among those fired or sidelined were most of the top African-American and Latino diplomats, as well as many women, difficult losses in a department that has long struggled with diversity,” reported the Times.
The drastic reduction in senior staff is part of Tillerson’s plan to slash the State Department's expenses by 31 percent. Former officials warn that Tillerson is worsening America’s image abroad and compromising the country’s foreign policy agenda.
“These people either do not believe the U.S. should be a world leader or they’re utterly incompetent,” former ambassador to Qatar Dana Shell Smith, who retired from the service in June, told the Times.
Tillerson has put a stop to most hiring at the State Department and hopes to push out some 2,000 career diplomats by this time next year, according to the Times.
Tillerson plans on doing so by arbitrarily denying posts and assignments to certain diplomats, as well as offering $25,000 contract buyouts for many of the agency’s senior staff. His aides have also simply fired many diplomats whose vision does not align with that of the Secretary of State.
Senior non-male and non-white diplomats have been among those targeted by Tillerson.
The State Department’s level of diversity has historically been low: In 2016, 5.4 percent of career diplomats were black, 6.9 percent were Asian, and 5.6 percent Hispanic, according to Foreign Policy.
The Obama administration made an effort to increase the number of diplomats of color in order to create a Foreign Service that “looked more like America.” But Tillerson’s plans are much different. Instead of recruiting a more diverse pool of talent, the State Department is in the process of substantially reducing its staff, all but ending the drive to diversify the agency.
For Linda Thomas-Greenfield, former ambassador to Liberia, is not so much about race but more so about the kind of diplomats the State Department is looking to keep.
“I don’t feel targeted as an African-American. I feel targeted as a professional,” she told the Times.
Both Democrats and Republicans have denounced the Trump administration’s handling of the State Department.
Earlier this month, Senator John McCain and Senator Jeanne Shaheen, along with House Democrats on the Foreign Affairs Committee, denounced Tillerson, saying that his efforts are “undermining America internally as complex global crises are growing externally,” as noted by The Hill.
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