With a war in Ukraine and challenges to U.S. leadership around the world, there is no shortage of possibilities for skilled diplomats to pursue America’s interests abroad. So it is particularly disturbing that the Biden administration has just tossed merit out as a criteria for promotion within America’s diplomatic corps and replaced it with wokeness.
For decades, the State Department has chosen its diplomats through the Foreign Service Officer Test, a grueling gauntlet that begins with a challenging, objective, written exam. Now that is about to change in the name of wokeness and diversity bean-counting. The State Department has just announced that the assessment process will now judge the “whole candidate” instead, without requiring applicants to even pass the written exam. These “whole candidate” reviews have long been used to allow racial discrimination.
For ten years at the Hoover Institution, I worked closely with the late Secretary of State George Shultz, President Reagan’s foreign policy point man for the last six years of his administration. He told me many times about the importance that the professional staff played in accomplishing President Reagan’s foreign policy goals. While Shultz believed in a workforce that could govern over a diverse country, as the namesake for the George P. Shultz National Foreign Affairs Training Center, which is responsible for training our diplomats, he would be appalled that diversity has supplanted merit as a criteria for promotion within the diplomatic corps.
Why now? This is just the latest step taken by the racially obsessed Biden administration to ensure that the State Department is less “pale, male, and Yale” and more “diverse.” The diversity uber alles mantra of the woke State Department threatens America’s power and interests.
Diversity at Expense of Excellence
The first step in this process was the appointment of Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley as the State Department’s political commissar for diversity and inclusion. In this position, which reports directly to secretary of State, Abercrombie-Winstanley weighs in on everything from who gets high-profile assignments to how the department recruits new officers. With race, as opposed to excellence, the new mantra for the State Department, it is inevitable that we will choose ever-more-mediocre and incompetent diplomats who check the required diversity boxes.
Are you ready for our first transgender ambassador? You can be sure that it is in the works. No concern of course, that foreign countries might find us nominating someone with a mental illness as our chief interlocutor to them to be ridiculous and insulting. After all, diplomacy isn’t about the tough-minded pursuit of U.S. priorities anymore — it’s about virtue signaling.
One major change Abercrombie-Winstanley made was the determination of the qualifications to get officers promoted. The old precepts for promotion included “interpersonal skills,” a catch-all meant to weed out those who lacked the people skills so critical for a successful diplomatic career. The new precepts will instead evaluate how effectively an officer is advancing “diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.” How these characteristics are more important than interpersonal skills for effective diplomacy is, to put it charitably, unclear.
The Chinese negotiator sitting across from us is probably not worried about how well we have promoted transgender men or Hispanic lesbians in the State Department and more concerned about how effectively we can advocate for American interests.
What is the solution for this? As long as the Democrats hold the White House, our formal powers are limited. For now, perhaps a congressional hearing on these new department policies and how they were arrived at would be in order. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and these policies cannot withstand scrutiny.
Beyond that, the next Republican secretary of State should clean house, and that should start with our 2024 candidates for president making it clear where they stand. The position of “Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer” should be eliminated, and “diversity, inclusion and equity” should be ripped out root and branch from every federal department’s vocabulary.
Abercrombie-Winstanley and her ilk should be investigated for violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Any foreign service officer found to be integrally involved in the creation of this program should be demoted to the greatest extent legally permissible or separated from the service entirely. The diversity commissars need to understand that we mean business and will not tolerate them holding American interests hostage to their social engineering schemes.
Shultz famously had a globe in his office when he was secretary of State. When he met with a new ambassador, he would ask them to point to their country — a time during which the vast majority would rush to point to Indonesia, Chile, or France. Shultz stopped them cold and would point straight to the United States on the globe. “This is your country. And don’t you forget it.”
The diversity commissars at the State Department would do well to remember this. They serve America — not black America, white America, Asian America, or LGBTQ++ America. We should make sure that they don’t forget it.