United States Department of State
executive department of the U.S. federal government
The United States Department of State (DOS), or State Department, is an executive department of the U.S. federal government responsible for the nation's foreign policy and international relations. Equivalent to the ministry of foreign affairs of other nations, its primary duties are advising the U.S. president, administering diplomatic missions, negotiating international treaties and agreements, and representing the U.S. at the United Nations.
- Our Mission: The U.S. Department of State leads America’s foreign policy through diplomacy, advocacy, and assistance by advancing the interests of the American people, their safety and economic prosperity.
- Our History: The U.S. Department of State has grown significantly over the years. The first Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, oversaw a small staff of one chief clerk, three other clerks, a translator, and a messenger. They maintained only two diplomatic posts, in London and Paris, as well as 10 consular posts. More than 230 years later, the Department’s workforce includes some 13,000 members of the Foreign Service, 11,000 Civil Service employees, and 45,000 locally employed staff at more than 270 diplomatic missions worldwide.
- We now work to fight terrorism, protect U.S. interests abroad, and implement foreign policy initiatives while building a more free, prosperous, and secure world.
- About the U.S. Department of State https://www.state.gov/about/
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- Maintaining a war machine that outspends the 12 or 13 next largest militaries in the world combined actually makes us less safe, as each new administration inherits the delusion that the United States' overwhelmingly destructive military power can, and therefore should, be used to confront any perceived challenge to U.S. interests anywhere in the world — even when there is clearly no military solution and when many of the underlying problems were caused by past misapplications of U.S. military power in the first place.
While the international challenges we face in this century require a genuine commitment to international cooperation and diplomacy, Congress allocates only $58 billion, less than 10 percent of the Pentagon budget, to the diplomatic corps of our government: the State Department.
Even worse, both Democratic and Republican administrations keep filling top diplomatic posts with officials indoctrinated and steeped in policies of war and coercion, with scant experience and meager skills in the peaceful diplomacy we so desperately need.
- This only perpetuates a failed foreign policy based on false choices between economic sanctions that UN officials have compared to medieval sieges, coups that destabilize countries and regions for decades, and wars and bombing campaigns that kill millions of people and leave cities in rubble, like Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. The end of the Cold War was a golden opportunity for the U.S. to reduce its forces and military budget... U.S. officials instead set out to exploit the post-Cold War "power dividend," a huge military imbalance in favor of the United States, by developing rationales for using military force more freely and widely around the world. During the transition to the new Clinton administration, Madeleine Albright famously asked Gen. Colin Powell, then chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, "What's the point of having this superb military you're always talking about if we can't use it?" In 1999, as secretary of state under Bill Clinton, Albright got her wish, running roughshod over the UN Charter with an illegal war to carve out an independent Kosovo from the ruins of Yugoslavia.
- Twenty-two years later, Kosovo is the third-poorest country in Europe (after Moldova and post-coup Ukraine) and its independence is still not recognized by 96 countries. Hashim Thaçi, Albright's hand-picked main ally in Kosovo and later its president, is awaiting trial in an international court at the Hague, charged with murdering at least 300 civilians under cover of NATO bombing in 1999 to extract and sell their internal organs on the international transplant market. Clinton and Albright's gruesome and set the precedent for more illegal U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and elsewhere, with equally devastating and horrific results.
- Today, as news reports indicated that the U.S. Department of State will – for the first time ever – designate a white supremacist group as a terrorist organization, experts from ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) and George Washington University’s Program on Extremism released a joint report on white supremacist terrorism, urging the government to take further steps to address this emerging threat.
The report notes that, for now, none of the 69 organizations designated by the U.S. Department of State as Foreign Terrorist Organizations are white supremacist organizations, despite the dramatic uptick in that threat. The State Department’s expected announcement could alter that status – a historic shift in policy and one that ADL has long supported and applauds.
- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo faced internal opposition to U.S. support for the war in Yemen from State Department staff, according to a recent report. The staffers had become concerned by the rising civilian death toll in the war being carried out by Persian Gulf monarchies, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — not only owing to bombings of densely populated areas, but also a humanitarian crisis exacerbated by the fighting, with up to 8.4 million people at risk of starvation.
Those concerns, however, were overruled after Pompeo discussed the matter with the State Department’s legislative affairs team. The legislative affairs staff, according to the Wall Street Journal, argued that restricting U.S. support would endanger billions of dollars in future weapons sales, including a massive sale of precision-guided munitions between Raytheon, a U.S. weapons manufacturer, and Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
- If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition, ultimately. So I think it’s a cost-benefit ratio. The more that we put into the State Department’s diplomacy, hopefully the less we have to put into a military budget as we deal with the outcome of an apparent American withdrawal from the international scene.
- Hillary Clinton has completed her four-year tenure as Secretary of State to the accolades of both Democratic and Republican Congressional champions of the budget-busting “military-industrial complex,” that President Eisenhower warned about in his farewell address. Behind the public relations sheen, the photo-opportunities with groups of poor people in the developing world, an ever more militarized State Department operated under Clinton’s leadership.
A militarized State Department is more than a repudiation of the Department’s basic charter of 1789, for the then-named Department of Foreign Affairs, which envisioned diplomacy as its mission. Secretary Clinton reveled in tough, belligerent talk and action on her many trips to more than a hundred countries. She would warn or threaten “consequences” on a regular basis...
As reported in the Wall Street Journal on December 10, 2011, “In place of the military, the State Department will assume a new role of unprecedented scale, overseeing a massive diplomatic mission through a network of fortified, self-sufficient installations.” To call this a diplomatic mission is a stretch. The State Department has hired thousands of private security contractors for armed details and transportation of personnel. Simply guarding the huge U.S. embassy in Iraq and its personnel costs more than $650 million a year – larger than the entire budget of the Occupational Health and Safety Agency (OSHA), which is responsible for reducing the yearly loss of about 58,000 lives in workplace-related traumas and sickness.
- Militarizing the State Department, by Ralph Nader, CounterPunch, February 8, 2013
- Another State Department undertaking is to improve the training and capability of Iraq’s police and armed forces. Countless active and retired Foreign Service officers believe expanded militarization of the State Department both sidelines them, their experience and knowledge, in favor of contractors and military people, and endangers them overseas
Blurring the distinction between the Pentagon and the State Department in words and deeds seriously compromises Americans engaged in development and diplomatic endeavors. When people in the developing countries see Americans working to advance public health or clean drinking water systems within their countries, they now wonder if these are front activities for spying or undercover penetrations. Violent actions, fueled by this suspicion, are already jeopardizing public health efforts on the border areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
- Militarizing the State Department, by Ralph Nader, CounterPunch, February 8, 2013
- We might add now that we do have an authoritative account of why the United States bombed Serbia in 1999. It comes from Strobe Talbott, now the director of the Brookings Institution, but in 1999 he was in charge of the State Department-Pentagon team that supervised the diplomacy in the affair. He wrote the introduction to a recent book by his Director of Communications, John Norris, which presents the position of the Clinton administration at the time of the bombing. Norris writes that "it was Yugoslavia's resistance to the broader trends of political and economic reform - not the plight of Kosovar Albanians - that best explains NATO's war". In brief, they were resisting absorption into the U.S. dominated international socioeconomic system. Talbott adds that thanks to John Norris, anyone interested in the war in Kosovo "will know … how events looked and felt at the time to those of us who were involved" in the war, actually directing it. This authoritative explanation will come as no surprise at all to students of international affairs who are more interested in fact than rhetoric. And it will also come as no surprise, to those familiar with intellectual life, that the attack continues to be hailed as a grand achievement of humanitarian intervention, despite massive Western documentation to the contrary, and now an explicit denial at the highest level; which will change nothing, it's not the way intellectual life works.
- Noam Chomsky, Talk at the Englert Theatre in Iowa, April 10, 2006