Can America function with fewer than 33 assistant secretaries of state?

 

The New York Times is again making hay of the fact that President Trump has not nominated any assistant secretaries of state, and Trump has been giving mixed signals on whether he thinks they are even necessary.

It turns out there are six undersecretaries of state and 22 assistant secretaries of state who report to them.  If you factor in those with equivalent ranks, there are actually more like 33 assistant secretaries of state, each making an average of $155,000 a year, plus benefits!

Seven of the assistant secretaries cover different regions of the world, which makes some sense.  You can't have all ambassadors reporting directly to the secretary of state.

Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs

Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs

Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs

Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs

Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs

But after these posts, it makes less and less sense.  Let's go over the rest of the list.

Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research

The State Department has an intelligence branch?  I have never heard of it.  Well, except maybe this guy (paragraph eight).

Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs

Why does a congressional liaison need to have the rank of assistant secretary?

Assistant Secretary of State for Administration

Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs

Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security

The assistant secretary of state for administration deals with administering what?  The consulates, I'll bet!  Why, then, do we need another secretary for consular affairs?  And since diplomatic security is so integral to consulates, why can't this all be wrapped into one job, rather than three?

Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs

This post I sort of understand, if an American business has a dispute with a foreign government.

Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs

There are no governments in the sea to interact with.  If we have an ocean border dispute with a country – say, Canada – that can be handled by the Canadian desk.

Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs

Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs

Assistant Secretary of State for International Information Programs

What sort of "educational" programs does the State Department run?  Have you ever heard of the State Department educating anyone?  The rest sounds like the same thing: public affairs.  Is Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, an assistant secretary?  No.  He's just a spokesman.  This job should exist, but not at the rank of assistant secretary.

Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs

Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation

Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance

Political military affairs are important, such as negotiating base rights and troops accessing countries.  But "International Security" and "Arms Control" sound like similar topics and should be folded into one job.

Assistant Secretary of State for Conflict and Stabilization Operations

I have no idea what this group does.  I went to their official webpage, and I still have no idea.

The Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO) advances the Department of State's understanding of violent conflict through analysis and planning; monitoring, evaluation, and learning; and targeted, in-country efforts that help the U.S. government anticipate, prevent, and respond to conflict and promote long-term stability.

Until someone can explain what this is, this job should be terminated.

Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

The State Department has not created any democracies.  Nor has it improved human rights.  Nor should it be involved in labor.

Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs

The State Department hasn't been involved in narcotics interdiction in years.  The Treasury Department has been doing the heavy lifting declaring who the drug dealers are.

Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration

I think we've had enough refugees and migration for a while, don't you?

The following roles also possess a rank equivalent to assistant secretary:

Chief of Protocol of the United States

We need a protocol officer.  But not at the rank of assistant secretary.

Coordinator for Counterterrorism

The State Department has little to do with counterterrorism.

Executive Secretary of the Department of State

A necessary job, but not an assistant secretary.

Inspector General of the Department of State

A necessary job, but not an assistant secretary.

Legal Adviser of the Department of State

A necessary job, but not an assistant secretary.

Director General of the Foreign Service

A necessary job, but not an assistant secretary.

Director of Policy Planning

A necessary job, but not an assistant secretary.

United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues

I haven't heard of the ambassador-at-large doing a single thing for oppressed Muslim women.  I don't care how large the ambassador-at-large is; his job should be terminated.

United States Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues

This position rarely has much to do.

United States Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

This position doesn't seem to do much.

United States Global AIDS Coordinator

AIDS doesn't need coordination.  It spreads on its own.

By my count, maybe – just maybe – there is a need for ten assistant secretaries.  The other positions can be terminated without anyone noticing or else their jobs transferred to lower-ranking officials.  That barely scratches the surface, of course, of all the lower-ranking jobs that can be easily eliminated.

Ed Straker is the senior writer at NewsMachete.com.

 

The New York Times is again making hay of the fact that President Trump has not nominated any assistant secretaries of state, and Trump has been giving mixed signals on whether he thinks they are even necessary.

It turns out there are six undersecretaries of state and 22 assistant secretaries of state who report to them.  If you factor in those with equivalent ranks, there are actually more like 33 assistant secretaries of state, each making an average of $155,000 a year, plus benefits!

Seven of the assistant secretaries cover different regions of the world, which makes some sense.  You can't have all ambassadors reporting directly to the secretary of state.

Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs

Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs

Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs

Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs

Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs

But after these posts, it makes less and less sense.  Let's go over the rest of the list.

Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research

The State Department has an intelligence branch?  I have never heard of it.  Well, except maybe this guy (paragraph eight).

Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs

Why does a congressional liaison need to have the rank of assistant secretary?

Assistant Secretary of State for Administration

Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs

Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security

The assistant secretary of state for administration deals with administering what?  The consulates, I'll bet!  Why, then, do we need another secretary for consular affairs?  And since diplomatic security is so integral to consulates, why can't this all be wrapped into one job, rather than three?

Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs

This post I sort of understand, if an American business has a dispute with a foreign government.

Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs

There are no governments in the sea to interact with.  If we have an ocean border dispute with a country – say, Canada – that can be handled by the Canadian desk.

Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs

Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs

Assistant Secretary of State for International Information Programs

What sort of "educational" programs does the State Department run?  Have you ever heard of the State Department educating anyone?  The rest sounds like the same thing: public affairs.  Is Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, an assistant secretary?  No.  He's just a spokesman.  This job should exist, but not at the rank of assistant secretary.

Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs

Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation

Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance

Political military affairs are important, such as negotiating base rights and troops accessing countries.  But "International Security" and "Arms Control" sound like similar topics and should be folded into one job.

Assistant Secretary of State for Conflict and Stabilization Operations

I have no idea what this group does.  I went to their official webpage, and I still have no idea.

The Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO) advances the Department of State's understanding of violent conflict through analysis and planning; monitoring, evaluation, and learning; and targeted, in-country efforts that help the U.S. government anticipate, prevent, and respond to conflict and promote long-term stability.

Until someone can explain what this is, this job should be terminated.

Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

The State Department has not created any democracies.  Nor has it improved human rights.  Nor should it be involved in labor.

Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs

The State Department hasn't been involved in narcotics interdiction in years.  The Treasury Department has been doing the heavy lifting declaring who the drug dealers are.

Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration

I think we've had enough refugees and migration for a while, don't you?

The following roles also possess a rank equivalent to assistant secretary:

Chief of Protocol of the United States

We need a protocol officer.  But not at the rank of assistant secretary.

Coordinator for Counterterrorism

The State Department has little to do with counterterrorism.

Executive Secretary of the Department of State

A necessary job, but not an assistant secretary.

Inspector General of the Department of State

A necessary job, but not an assistant secretary.

Legal Adviser of the Department of State

A necessary job, but not an assistant secretary.

Director General of the Foreign Service

A necessary job, but not an assistant secretary.

Director of Policy Planning

A necessary job, but not an assistant secretary.

United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues

I haven't heard of the ambassador-at-large doing a single thing for oppressed Muslim women.  I don't care how large the ambassador-at-large is; his job should be terminated.

United States Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues

This position rarely has much to do.

United States Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

This position doesn't seem to do much.

United States Global AIDS Coordinator

AIDS doesn't need coordination.  It spreads on its own.

By my count, maybe – just maybe – there is a need for ten assistant secretaries.  The other positions can be terminated without anyone noticing or else their jobs transferred to lower-ranking officials.  That barely scratches the surface, of course, of all the lower-ranking jobs that can be easily eliminated.

Ed Straker is the senior writer at NewsMachete.com.

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