Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave a major speech today. Laura Rozen reports:
Tillerson on State budget: proposed cuts reflective of expectation we are going to have success in resolving some of these conflicts.
— Laura Rozen (@lrozen) November 28, 2017
As a joke, this might not have been bad. But it wasn’t a joke:
Tillerson said the department’s budget in recent years had ballooned to some $55 billion and was filled with spending inefficiencies. He also said the State Department would need less money as global conflicts wind down. Although it’s not the first time Tillerson has made such a claim, critics note that he’s given no specifics about which conflicts he sees petering out. They warn that new conflicts could easily emerge from North Korea to Iran.
As for the budget ballooning to $55 billion, the bulk of that is humanitarian and military assistance, which is a whole different subject. For the State Department’s core duties, their budget looks like this:
Does Tillerson have a point? State Department outlays did increase substantially after 9/11, roughly doubling from $8 billion in the final Clinton budget to $15 billion in the final Bush budget. Was that too much? Should it be cut back now that our wars in the Middle East are kinda sorta winding down? Maybe. I’d sure like to hear someone actually make the case, though, rather than just tossing out a phony number and pretending that it’s justification enough.