The Lost Art of American Diplomacy

Updated: Feb 2

Can the State Department Be Saved?


By: William J. Burns

At the end of the Cold War, the United States had unbridled power. George HW Bush chose to help build up emerging powers and rebuild Russia after its collapse. China, during this time was in the midst of internal cultural and political struggles.


William Burns suggests rightly that American Foreign Policy changed on September 11th, 2001. The shift in policy was a result of the terrorist attacks and George W. Bush decided to utilize Americas military might and crush our adversaries. This dramatic shift in soft and hard power has been exacerbated by the bipolar, and make foreign policy by tweet mentality, of the Trump Administration.


William J. Burns

"American diplomacy matters more than ever to American interests. The United States is no longer the only big kid on the geopolitical block, and no longer able get everything it wants on its own, or by force alone".

The end of unipolar dominance by the United States, has been occurring for the better part of a decade. We are living in a multipolar world and the safety and relative security we have seen for the last 20 years is steadily fading because of the nativist and isolationist views of Trump and his administrations policies. In the end, these policies make America less safe.


Can we save the State Department?

With the diminishment of American primacy, it will take decades, to fix the missed opportunities of American Influence. For nearly seventy years, America was "the shining light on a hill". No longer can America have the mantle of moral superiority. We lost that high ground during the second Iraq war when the Bush administration decided to torture prisoners and terrorists. The Trump administrations affinity with Authoritarian Dictators and their lack of transparency in foreign affairs has led many of Americas traditional allies to question weather America is still committed to democratic ideals and principals.


American Diplomacy should be the first step in dealing with allies and advisories. The problem with Trumpian Diplomacy is the lack of preparation that goes into meetings and Trumps lack of curiosity in a historical setting on how to deal with good and bad actors. Trump also lacks a firm grasp of soft and hard power. He also doesn't understand when its appropriate to use them and in what setting they are most effective. In the end, the next administration will have to clean up the mess of the Trump administration and salvage any chance of retaining any type of influence on the world stage.   

Wolfinger Educational Consultants LLC. 

© 2019 by Randal P Wolfinger

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