Former top Bush official: State Dept being ‘weakened’ under Trump

Former top Bush official: State Dept being ‘weakened’ under Trump
© Greg Nash

A former senior State Department official is warning that the State Department is being "weakened" under President TrumpDonald TrumpMyPillow CEO to pull ads from Fox News Haaland, Native American leaders press for Indigenous land protections Simone Biles, Vince Lombardi and the courage to walk away MORE, The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

Nicholas Burns, a George W. Bush-era State Department official, argued in an interview with the paper that "State and the Foreign Service are being weakened and often sidelined," despite the Trump administration's need for a strong agency to carry out the president's foreign policy agenda. 

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Burns, who served under both Republican and Democratic administrations, said the president's foreign policy strategy has left the U.S. with less power on the global stage.

Trump's "policy of the last 12 months is a radical departure from every president since World War II," Burns told the newspaper.

"Trump is weak on NATO, Russia, trade, climate, diplomacy. The U.S. is declining as a global leader," he added.

Burns's remarks echo those of many top officials who warn the State Department is weakening under the leadership of Trump and Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump House passes legislation to elevate cybersecurity at the State Department Biden's is not a leaky ship of state — not yet MORE, who have yet to fill key posts including ambassadors and assistant secretaries, who are responsible for regional policy.

In an op-ed last week, former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice gave a stinging rebuke of Tillerson for starving "the State Department of resources, talent and relevance." 

Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain to produce 'Don't Sweat the Small Stuff' Lifetime movie starring Heather Locklear An August ultimatum: No recess until redistricting reform is done Meghan McCain on Pelosi, McCarthy fight: 'I think they're all bad' MORE (R-Ariz.) and Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenEquilibrium/ Sustainability — Presented by NextEra Energy — Clean power repurposes dirty power CIA watchdog to review handling of 'Havana syndrome' cases Frustration builds as infrastructure talks drag MORE (D-N.H.) sent a letter to Tillerson in November to express concern about the adverse consequences a "weakened" State Department could have as more crises begin to unfold abroad.  

“America’s diplomatic power is being weakened internally as complex, global crises are growing externally," the bipartisan duo wrote. 

"These decisions ultimately will not only degrade the United States’ leadership role in the world, but will also impact our constituents who have come to rely on the Foreign Service to ... lead our diplomatic efforts to address a myriad of international challenges, including emerging nuclear crises, the threat of war and outbreaks of global pandemics,” they continued.