Culture Clashes within State Dept.

Today’s Washington Post has an article, Administration Critics Chafe at State Dept. Shuffle  that refers nicely back to my post yesterday about the different cultures within State. The article shows an instance of genuine friction between career employees and political appointees, though it doesn’t really distinguish between Foreign Service Officers and General Service employees in the offices. It’s my experience with several of the sections within INR that they are staffed predominantly by GS employees.

There’s not enough information in the piece to decipher exactly what’s going on. One group, the career staff, believes it is being politically purged–legally and bureaucratically, but still purged. There are allegations that this is being done to get the office “on message,” but there’s no real support for that in the piece. Political appointees are cast as the heavies, though that’s not very well supported either.

My read is that this is a clash in which both sides are not very pleased with the other and are looking for excuses to explain their behaviors.

John Burgess
About John Burgess
John Burgess retired after 25 years as a US Foreign Service Officer, serving predominantly in the Middle East. He contributed 35 pieces to OTB between February 2006 and April 2014. He was the proprietor of the influential Crossroads Arabia until his death in February 2016.


  1. Anderson says:

    Well, yes, if you were to read this article in a vacuum with no knowledge of the last 5 years in America, it would be very difficult to infer what might be going on.

    Because there’s been no evidence of this White House putting politics first and policy nowhere.

  2. McGehee says:

    Policy “nowhere”, Anderson?

    Breathe, my pasty friend: breathe!