Sunday, January 21, 2018

Cleaning Out Foggy Bottom

To her limitless chagrin senior diplomat Gina Aberchrombie-Winstanley discovered that the Rex Tillerson State Department was not going to use America’s diplomatic talent to advance the feminist cause. She was so upset that she quit her job and wrote about it in the New York Times.

One appreciates that people have a right to use whatever name they want, but when your hyphenated politically correct name exceeds twenty letters, it’s time for a rethink. By that action, the woman exposes herself as an ideological zealot.

It’s one thing to denounce the current Secretary for abandoning his department’s traditional role. The press does this all the time. It’s quite another to see what it is that he is giving up. If GAW is an example, we have to agree that Tillerson is moving in the right direction.

GAW was formerly the ambassador to Malta. Now she has quit. She explains:

Professionally, after more than 30 years in the Foreign Service, rising to serve as an ambassador, I found myself working for someone who appeared not to understand or value the importance of diplomacy as an effective means of reducing violence in the world.

I saw colleagues ignored and denied assignments that would utilize their expertise. I saw colleague after colleague resign or retire early. Then in August, my dream assignment in the Office of Global Women’s Issues was withdrawn less than a week before my start date, and I was told, “We don’t want leadership for that office.” The role remains unfilled.

Being a minority female GAW seems to believe that she has a right to the position she wants. And yet, she wants a job advancing the feminist cause because she believes that it reduces violence in the world. In itself, that counts as a firing offense.

So, she quit the State Department. And she is complaining that our new president and presumably the Secretary of State—whose name she does not mention—have compromised her values. She does not mention that the president was duly elected and that she herself is behind the curve:

The values I shared and stood for overseas — fighting for the underdog, a fair shake for everyone, community action, integrity and tolerance — still have my focus and support, but now here, in this country.

I do not want to sound simple minded, and I do not know as much as she does about diplomacy, but her job as an American diplomat was to represent American interests around the world. Could it be that foggy bottom was infested with people who put their ideological commitments ahead of their service to the United States of America.

And, of course, when it comes to the merits and her achievement, we do not know whether she was a diversity hire or whether she earned her way up the diplomatic ladder. If we compare GAW’s whining about feminism with the full-throated defense of American interests offered by U. N. Ambassador Nikki Haley… we are happy to see her gone.

Anyway, GAW quit her job and went home to Cleveland. But then, she found herself constantly arguing with a woman who was nearest and dearest to her—one suspects it was her sister or a BFF. Naturally, she blames it on Donald Trump. It never crosses her mind that her feud has something to do with her own behavior, her own inability to negotiate differences and her own zealotry:

At home, however, the president has seriously disrupted my personal life. I learned shortly before the election that the woman nearest and dearest to me in life is a Trump supporter. The situation is so divisive that I cannot name her here.

We are struck that a trained diplomat allowed a close personal relationship to descend into such rancor.

Anyway, GAW writes:

I was driven by two conflicting needs: One, to understand how someone who I knew to epitomize integrity, nation before self and commitment to public service could support this president. Two, to ensure she stayed informed so that she did not spend one single day feeling good about her choice. I opened all our conversations with that reminder as a joke — but I wasn’t kidding. So I showered her with negative articles and invited her to send me positive ones. And we talked.

We talked by phone, and sometimes in person. Once, early on, we almost got thrown out of one of my favorite restaurants during a live and loud debate. But neither of us wanted to sever the relationship. So while we took some not-always-gentle abuse from each other, we mostly talked by text and email, which allowed for pauses between heated exchanges and timely silences.

So, a senior American diplomat has allowed the personal to become politicized. She cannot tolerate a friend or close relative who does not think what she thinks, who makes it impossible for her to feel that she is living in an echo chamber. The interactions become hostile and antagonistic, barely bearable:

Over the course of the past year, we exchanged views every few days on the political happenings in this country. Truces were called for birthdays, holidays and joint vacations. Things were too tense to spend Thanksgiving together, and we weren’t in the same place for Christmas.

We didn’t just talk about politics. We kept talking about children, husbands, our brothers, my next professional step, books, favorite TV shows and movies. My husband shushed me from time to time, and her husband cautioned her about taking a trip with me, but we kept talking.

We have the advantage of shared experiences, love and familiarity, so there’s no room to demonize the “other.”

You read this and you have more faith in the managerial skills of Rex Tillerson.


trigger warning said...

A "diplomat" who cannot successfully manage a longstanding personal relationship? She's not qualified to occupy a customer-facing position at the DMV, much less represent US interests abroad.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jack Fisher said...

an ad for an Arab pet sitting service? WTF?

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I deleted the other ads from other posts... but forgot to delete this one.

Sam L. said...

But, dang it, Stuart, I NEED a petsitter, and don't know where to find one. Still, my dog already knows how to sit, and to sit up, so...maybe I don't really need one.

Never mind.