David McKean moderating a US election debate in Luxembourg between Democrats Abroad and Republicans Overseas in October 2016.
Photo: Maison Moderne
McKean criticises Tillerson’s running of state department
While Luxembourg awaits the senate conformation of its new ambassador from the United States, Randy Evans, the last US ambassador to Luxembourg, David McKean, has heavily criticised secretary of state Rex Tillerson.
In an opinion piece published on politico.com, David McKean calls Rex Tillerson’s 10 months in office as secretary of state “bizarre and disappointing”. The former ambassador says that the secretary of state has focused on what he calls “mundane tasks” rather than diplomacy, while “facing an exploding array of crises around the world.”
McKean claims that morale at the state department is low. “Experienced and talented diplomats are fleeing; top posts have inexplicably gone unfilled; and those left behind are demoralized and adrift.”
A former director of the office of policy planning, McKean cites his own experience at the state department and says that consultation of various bureaus inside the department and embassies abroad often proved invaluable in developing policies and strategy. “Sidelining experts has led to some embarrassing mistakes,” McKean says of Tillerson’s apparent “evisceration of the foreign service.”
Listing a series of diplomatic embarrassments such as an initial decision, later reversed, to skip his very first NATO summit in April, or backing out of a meeting with the chair of the African Union, whom he had invited to Washington, McKean says Tillerson has also “downgraded human rights as a cornerstone of American diplomacy.”
McKean concludes by saying that the secretary of state needs to start listening to his diplomats, lay out his vision of international relations and articulate actual policies. In short, “Tillerson needs to stop playing management consultant and be the secretary of state.”