RANGER AGAINST WAR: Requiem for State <

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Requiem for State

The statue got me high
The monument of granite sent a beam into my eye

The statue made me die

--The Statue Got Me High,

They Might Be Giants


Peter Van Buren has given a poignant and informed requiem for the State Department at his site today
(State Department: America’s Increasingly Irrelevant Concierge). They could have been a contender.

Here is an excerpt, but please read the entire piece:

The Militarization of Foreign Policy

The most obvious sign of State’s irrelevance is the militarization of foreign policy. There really are more military band members than State Department Foreign Service Officers. The whole of the Foreign Service is smaller than the complement aboard one aircraft carrier. Despite the role that foreign affairs has always played in America’s drunken intercourse abroad, the State Department remains a very small part of the pageant. The Transportation Security Administration has about 58,000 employees; the State Department has about 22,000. The Department of Defense (DOD) has nearly 450,000 employees stationed overseas, with 2.5 million more in the US.

At the same time, Congress continues to hack away at State’s budget. The most recent round of bloodletting saw State lose some $8 billion while DOD gained another $5 billion. The found fiver at DOD will hardly be noticed in their overall budget of $671 billion. The $8 billion loss from State’s total of $47 billion will further cripple the organization. The pattern is familiar and has dogged State-DOD throughout the war of terror years. No more taxi vouchers and office supplies for you! What you do get for your money is the militarization of foreign policy.

As Stephen Glain wrote in his book, State vs. Defense: The Battle to Define America’s Empire, the combatant commands are already the putative epicenters for security, diplomatic, humanitarian and commercial affairs in their regions. Local leaders receive them as powerful heads of state, with motorcades, honor guards and ceremonial feats. Their radiance obscures everything in its midst, including the authority of US ambassadors.

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Blogger FDChief said...

Sadly, Lisa, I think what has largely done in the DoS isn't so much militarization as the invention of the radio.

I'm kidding, a little, but, really - what was important about State was that it's ambassadors WERE the U.S. in foreign parts. Communications were so slow that the ambassador had to be, effectively, the U.S. government in West Buttfuckistan. I recently read about the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, and the U.S. Ambassador to Japan pretty much WAS the U.S. incident commander for about a month or so - and this was in an era of telegraph and primitive radio comms.

Now the Executive can pretty much talk real-time with foreign allies, our intelligence agencies can forward real-time reports...there's just no real need for the sort of active State in-country reps we used to have. So I can't see this as anything but what happened to the people who made buggy whips.

BUT...State also used to provide damn good deep background on the world; look at the work they did on Iraq (work that was deliberately suppressed by the Bushies in order to make the Third Gulf War happen, of course). That sort of analysis was better than the CIA work because State was looking at the "big picture"; what would happen if Iraq became the 51st State.

Losing that capability would hurt us, and badly, IMO. THAT really would be a loss. Sadly, I'm not sure if there is any constituency out there to fight for it. Certainly not in the public.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at 6:29:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who needs diplomacy when you've got an ever expanding fleet of drones - and expanding kickbacks from the drone manufacturers?


Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 6:37:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Ghost Dansing said...

still a fool....

Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 6:34:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Both of your points are strong, and duly noted.

Though the expediencies of real-time commo are now a reality, we do still need that diplomatic presence and unique "big picture" view, IMHO.

Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 11:41:00 PM GMT-5  

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