A very simple bill to improve American diplomacy

The above link is to the text of H.R. 4921, the Strengthening Traditional American Diplomacy Act. The bill is very simple. It requires that 70% of ambassadorial appointments come from the Career Foreign Service, meaning that no more than 30% can be political or patronage.

I support the above act, particularly in light of two recent confirmations, one to Thailand and one to the United Arab Emirates, 2 posts that have never had patronage or political ambassadors, but only Career Foreign Service Officers. The two recently confirmed ambassadors to those posts are both patronage.

70/30 is in line with practice over the years.

Carter had the best record. Clinton also did very well.

Trump is on a destructive path. Not utilizing the Career Foreign Service nearly enough and sending patronage appointees to places where no patronage appointee has any business being.

The bill, if passed, would force Trump and all future President’s to hold to a 70/30 ratio, as most Presidents have approximately done over the years. If passed and if Trump won a second term, he would be obliged to appoint only Career Foreign Service Officer’s until his ratio was above 70/30.

This bill should pass. I am willing to accept patronage ambassadors to places like the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Bahamas, etc. They should not be going to places that requires an expert and the Career Foreign Service needs this protection to ensure that its members are being properly utilized.

I would also note that most advanced countries do not have patronage at all and draw 100% of their diplomats from a professional career service.

By President:

Gerald Ford
Ford’s numbers are somewhat skewed due to his serving only part of a term.
Career Appointments: 60/61.9%
Political Appointments: 37/38.2%

Jimmy Carter
Career Appointments: 149/73.76%
Political Appointments: 53/26.24%

Ronald Reagan
Career Appointments: 262 / 62.4%
Political Appointments: 158 / 37.6%

GHW Bush
Career Appointments: 147/68.69%
Political Appointments: 67/31.30%

Bill Clinton
Career Appointments: 300/71.94%
Political Appointments: 117/28.06%

GW Bush
Career Appointments: 317/68.2%
Political Appointments: 143/31.8%

Barack Obama
Career Appointments: 291/69.95%
Political Appointments: 125/30.05%

Donald Trump
Career Appointments: 94/58.4%
Political Appointments: 67/41.6%

2 Likes

About damn time something like this came down the pike! Should be expertise required for cabinet positions too.

Must protect those bureaucrats at all cost.

1 Like

So you don’t want people who actually know what their doing. Got it.

Which is worst? Those that don’t know what they’re doing? Or those that have their own agenda?

Pick your poison.

1 Like

Those that don’t know what they’re doing.

1 Like

If the “bureaucrats” in question were Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen or Marines, I think you would be full willing to “protect” those “bureaucrats” at all cost.

Career Foreign Service Officers serve their country and can potentially face just as much danger as a serviceman. We all full know that diplomats have died in the line of duty for the United States.

They are just as worthy of respect and protection as are uniformed service members.

These aren’t cushy jobs, not by a ******* long shot. FSO’s often serve in the worst places on this planet.

1 Like

EVERYONE has their own agenda.

I’d rather them have someone who knows what their doing with their own agenda vs. someone who doesn’t know what their doing with their own agenda.

We should just clone Donald Trump and have those clones work all government jobs.

Based on history since 1960, I would prefer a President to limit patronage appointments to the following representative list of posts: (Note that some countries might switch to Career FSO, while others might switch to patronage, but there would NEVER be more than 48 patronage Ambassadors on post at the same time.)

Andorra, Holy See, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino, United Kingdom, New Zealand, St. Lucia, Bahamas, Dominica, Samoa, St. Vincent/Grenadines, Switzerland, Antigua & Barbuda, Denmark, France, St. Kitts & Nevis, Czech Republic, Austria, Luxembourg, Barbados, Belgium, Sweden, Grenada, Norway, Italy, Netherlands, Mexico, Spain, Australia, Canada, Japan, Germany, Trinidad & Tobago, Hungary, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Finland, Belize, Morocco, Singapore, Malta, Nauru, Seychelles, Portugal, Argentina and Fiji.

In recent years, the following posts have generally either been filled by a person with specific education or technical qualifications or by a non-patronage political appointment: They are included along with patronage appointments in the broader category of non-career appointments. There are currently 13 such posts. I would change UN/Rome, OAS, African Union, UN/Vienna IAEA and ASEAN so that they will be filled by Career members of the Senior Foreign Service, a total of 5 posts. That would leave 8 political/technical posts.

ICAO (International Civil Aviation Authority) - Technical appointee
UN/Rome - Non patronage political appointee
OAS - Non patronage political appointee
United Nations - Non patronage political appointee
NATO - Technical appointee
African Union - Non patronage political appointee
UNESCO - Non patronage political appointee
UN/Vienna - IAEA - Non patronage political appointee
China - Non patronage political appointee
UN/Geneva - Non patronage political appointee
OECD - Technical appointee
European Union - Non patronage political appointee
ASEAN - Non patronage political appointee

There are 189 total posts around the world. By limiting patronage to 48 posts and political/technical to 8 posts, that would consequently reserve 133 posts for Career Foreign Service Officers.

133 out of 189 posts is 70.37% career.
56 out of 189 posts is 29.63% non-career.
The non career further breaks down to:
48 out of 189 posts is 25.40% patronage.
8 out of 189 posts is 4.23% political.

48 is more than enough plums to be able to hand out.

Career Foreign Service is the very epitome of bureaucratic cronyistic hubris.

Not at all.

The Career Foreign Service is one of the toughest outfits to get into. You must have a high level of education, native level competency in at least one foreign language and pass brutally competitive examinations. It may be harder to get into the United States Navy Seals, but that is about the ONLY organization that is harder to get into than the Career Foreign Service.

And once your in, it a brutally competitive UP or OUT system. If you don’t advance, you get booted out after a certain period of time.

New careerists start out in low level positions and gain valuable experience as they move from post to post and move up the ladder to progressively more responsible positions. And if you are the best of the best, you can make it into the Senior Foreign Service and finally get the chance to get appointed to an Ambassadorship. But even in the Senior Foreign Service, you face the possibility of being booted out early unless you make it to the rank of Career Minister. And regardless, retirement is mandatory at age 65.

The Career Foreign Service produces people who are keenly qualified to be senior diplomats. We should not be subverting the Foreign Service.

First impression is no.

This just takes away more authority from the elected officials and the people and hands it over to the non elected bureaucrats.
If the people are not happy with the way the bureaucrats are running the government, they need to have the ability to elect not only a new President but also indirectly a new set of people whom that President chooses to handle the details.

Some credit due, though. At least the bill recognizes that there can be an overhall of the establishment if both the Senate and House go along with the President.

Overall…no.

Someone who is very talented and capable of overturning the will of the people is worst case, for me.

1 Like

Does the highly talented ivy league Career Foreign Service or the elected President have authority, under the Constitution, to be in charge of implementing their own foreign policy?
If the goals of the President and Career Foreign Serivice are in disagreement, which has Constitutional authority?

The President directs foreign policy.

Neither the legislative proposal nor my own improvements changes that in any way.

As a matter of interest how many ambassador positions are unfilled at the moment?

Sounds like just the kind of system that would breed sychophants willing to progress the agenda of those at the top of the dogpile and not oppose it.

1 Like

If there are career bureaucrats who disagree with POTUS’ foreign policy, what would stop them slow-walking his policy changes, or ignoring them altogether?

Absolutely all.