Congratulations on Your New Job!

 

departmentseal2So, it’s Wednesday, November 9, 2016.

Perhaps you slept in, after staying up late to watch the results of the elections. The results are okay. They suggest shy grounds for hope among those of us who dearly love our country and pray it will retain those qualities that cause us to love it — or hope, at least, that it will continue to exist, because as you’ve probably noticed, things are getting awfully hairy out there, and we’re all kind of wondering.

The phone rings. You answer groggily, but you pull yourself together fast when you realize, to your surprise, that the voice on the other end of the phone is the president-elect’s. For a second, you’re baffled — is this a hoax? Why me? — but no, the voice quickly persuades you that it’s not a joke at all: He (or she) has been reading you on Ricochet, likes the cut of your jib, and feels you couldn’t possibly make a worse hash of our foreign policy than the last few we’ve had, so why not?

You accept. What else can you do. Your country needs you. (Don’t look at me that way. Somebody has do it.)

You’re now the United States Secretary of State.

So, Mr. or Madame Secretary, what will your first 100 days on the job look like? If it’s this bad today, I reckon it’ll be a lot worse by then. How do you plan to sort out this infernal mess?

 Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 16.07.33

 

Published in Foreign Policy, General, History, Military
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  1. MLH Inactive
    MLH
    @MLH

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:You’re now the United States Secretary of State.

    So, Mr. or Madame Ambassador, what will your first 100 days on the job look like? If it’s this bad today, I reckon it’ll be a lot worse by then. How do you plan to sort out this infernal mess?

    Which am I? Ambassador or Secretary of State? I’m confused. . .

    • #1
  2. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    1. Hire Claire Berlinski as Assistant Secretary of State

    2. Tell her to fix it.

    3. Watch as she gets brilliant plans from the Ricochetti and puts them into practice.

    4. Accept plaudits for the subsequent successful US diplomacy, all the while giving credit to my brilliant Assistant Secretary of State. (Oddly, everyone will think it was my doing. That was my experience when I headed a group of navigation analysts back in the day. Did not matter how much I credited my folks, my bosses believed it was me.)

    Seawriter

    • #2
  3. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    I thought this was going to be a post about Jon Gabriel.

    • #3
  4. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    And rightly so, because that was a mistake test. Congratulations, you passed! Now I’m even more confident the prez-elect picked the right woman.

    • #4
  5. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Look, I don’t know what I’d do right now.  But I guarantee on my first day I’ll know so much about what I’ll do that I’ll make your head spin.  And I’ll do it too.  I’ll do it so well.

    • #5
  6. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Announce the first ever All-Invitational International Peace Ice Cream Social – no problem is too great to not be solved by Butter Pecan ice cream in a waffle cone!

    But seriously folks:

    1) Clear out the deadwood by hiring a bunch of ex-Marine consulate guards to start wading through situation reports and firing anyone who represents the country they’re stationed in to the United States instead of the United States to the countries they’re stationed in.

    2) Work closely with SecDef to ensure the US Navy is seen as a part of any diplomatic maneuvers – nothing says listen to what I’m saying like a carrier group on maneuvers in international waters.

    3) Embrace Lavrovian America-first diplomatic initiatives.

    4) Put in place directives to make it clear that we take people at their word: if they say “Death to America!” we believe they mean it and will act accordingly.

    5) Forbid political favoritism in ambassadorial appointments. No plum jobs for donors.

    6) Appoint a deputy secretary for the DSS that reports directly to me so the people in charge of guarding state department personnel have a direct champion instead of going through a career bureaucrat afraid of guns.

    7) Start making calls to India and Eastern Europe to pull them more firmly in our sphere and pave the way for hurry-up missile defense deployments to counter Iranian, Chinese and Russian aggression in the region and start championing arming our allies instead of parcelling out money for “aid” programs.

    8) Start serious work on rapprochement with Vietnam (with help from Israel) to start pulling SE Asia together to counteract the Chinese in the South China Sea and encourage joint maneuvers with Taiwan and Japan.

    • #6
  7. David Knights Member
    David Knights
    @DavidKnights

    Really the SOS job is about as powerless as the VP.  No matter what you want to do, you’ll do what the President instructs you to.  When President Trump {shudder} instructs the SOS to go out and endorse the Russian actions in Syria, you’ll do it, or resign, or, in a flair for the dramatic, commit suicide in protest at a press conference.

    • #7
  8. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    Avoid being caught up in putting out brushfires, because it’s usually too late once the brush is aflame. Concentrate on institutional reform and strategic initiatives.

    Have all mission statements immediately reviewed by the crustiest curmudgeon I could find, and replaced with something sensible and patriotic.

    Announce a 10% across-the-board reduction in personnel. Anyone who can’t show how they make America safer, stronger and/or more prosperous gets redeployed. (I guess that’ll be 10% per year for a few years, then…)

    Make repairing fences with historic allies a priority (especially the Anglosphere).

    Make repairing fences with new/recent allies in Eastern Europe another priority.

    Start and lavishly fund a program of long-term international propaganda in support of the American Way: liberty, small-government, self-reliance, complete freedom of speech and popular gun-ownership.

    Re-orient multilateral diplomacy towards the destruction of international law and institutions, with the exception of diversionary talking-shops like the UN General Assembly.

    Provide briefings and backgrounders to alternative media, and seek to undermine traditional media wherever possible. Any staffer who suggests an appearance on Meet the Press or refers to an article in the NYT or WashPo to be ritually humiliated.

    • #8
  9. FightinInPhilly Coolidge
    FightinInPhilly
    @FightinInPhilly

    genferei:Avoid being caught up in putting out brushfires, because it’s usually too late once the brush is aflame. Concentrate on institutional reform and strategic initiatives.

    Have all mission statements immediately reviewed by the crustiest curmudgeon I could find, and replaced with something sensible and patriotic.

    Well said. Perhaps of equal importance, look for expertise at least two levels of seniority below current leadership for nearly all roles of importance. Anyone who has risen to the top over the past 10 years has exactly the wrong ideas and will fight you behind the scenes every step of the way.

    • #9
  10. Retail Lawyer Member
    Retail Lawyer
    @RetailLawyer

    Speak softly and carry a big stick.  Part of the speaking would include fair warning to adversaries that the window for stealing our lunch money had closed.  Then I would be ready to threaten to use, or use, the big stick to make sure the above is understood.

    Then I would determine how badly compromised our intelligence services are, and develop and execute a plan to repair them ASAP.

    • #10
  11. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Push Europeans & Asians to rearm; start learning what’s going on in Eastern Europe & what alliances can be fostered there. There is a possibility that the local oligarchies are not mindless & might be guided by their fears to security. There are lots of associations & people America needs to throw money at for things to stay about as peaceful as they have been lately.

    A SecState would have to completely redo public diplomacy–I believe we have talked about this a few times, so I will not bore you overmuch–let me leave it at saying that America needs to stop with the insane JFK talk about how necessity cannot stop America from helping friends & harming foes–America needs to show support & help for allies. America first of all needs to teach her allies that they are her allies. Better news about America & a better grasp of what goes on among her allies are not hard to get…

    The US should have better connections with the Vatican, given the great skill this new pope has for attracting attention to poverty & misery. There are probably things that could be done as a matter of public diplomacy there, too.

    I believe the peace process in Israel has got to stop. Let America recognize the Jews–move the embassy & whatever else is involved. & stop the UN from its usual harassment of Israel & providing cover for terrorism–America should make it clear that bombs in UN schools are no longer acceptable.

    • #11
  12. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    As part of the Executive Branch of the USA, I would have no choice but to defer to the will of the British Parliament. I mean,  that’s what the current guy said . . .

    The president made his decision to strike. He announced his decision to strike publicly. And the purpose of the strike was to get the chemical weapons out of Syria… Well, while we were in the process–

    Lo and behold unbeknownst to everybody on the Thursday before the weekend we were going to strike, David Cameron went to the parliament and lost the vote. How in the wake of Britain’s parliament deciding no in a democratic fashion . . .

    • #12
  13. jetstream Inactive
    jetstream
    @jetstream

    By the time there’s a new Prez-elect, Russia will be flush with cash paid as tribute by the Gulf countries -a surcharge on each barrel of oil because, gosh darn it, they all think Russia deserves the tribute. The challenge for our SoS will be identifying an angle so we get our cut of the cash.

    • #13
  14. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    “My first phone call would be to my good friend Bibi…”

    • #14
  15. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Call the President back and tell him (or her) to appoint John Bolton.  Failing that, hire Bolton as my #2 at State.

    Reform or withdraw from the UN.  This means major reform, with Russia and China losing their Perm 5 seats to Japan and Germany.

    • #15
  16. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Well my gut tells me that by the time I would be sworn into the job the Syria mess would be beyond hope. I expect that the Russians will move to grab as much as they can before the O lives office. Basically every bad guy in the world has a year left to do what ever they want.

    With respect to Syria I would propose the following actions.

    Gather our Arab allies and Turkey. Ask them what they want the future of Syria to be? I would be willing to give them a Sunni regime, that is beholden to them, that works to keep the Kurds under control. It doesn’t have to be terribly democratic and can certainly claim to be Islamic, so long as it gives room to the religious minorities to practice their faiths. Basically they can’t be allowed to be a worse democracy than what Turkey is.

    We then prupose the following approach to achieving this. We will throw in three battalions or so and special forces to go in and kill ISIS and Assads army along with the air force support. But the Arabs and Trukey have to provided the troops to hold and stabilize the country.

    The Europeans can get all the rebuilding Syria contracts, but they have to put up funds for the refugees. Arab countries that can’t contribute significant troops have to chip in more money into a Rebuild Syria pot.

    Continued…

    • #16
  17. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Total Arab/Turkish troops committed have to be at least 4 times as many as the US ground troops committed. Otherwise we won’t go in. So if they can’t put up they can shut up.

    The Arabs can take all the credit they want for liberating Syria. They can sell it to their people in whatever crazy Islamist way they want, but they also have to go around the world and sell it to Westerners as a great accomplishment of internationalism, democracy, multilateralism, or whatever kind of stupid things Liberals will be complaining about now that a Republican is running the war.

    I would also want the Arabs/Turks to keep Sunni retribution to a minimum. They can hang Assad and his whole family if they want but they can’t burn more than 10% of Churches or something like that. The Turks can also go after the Kurdish leadership, but have to keep collateral damage to a minimum no more that 20% extra dead people.

    Our troops leave after ISIS and Assad fall, but we will keep providing air support and maybe special operations support.

    I would also insist that whatever new regime the Arabs put in has to give us the say on whether the Russians get to keep their naval base on the Mediterranean.

    We can use that to negotiate with the Russians.

    • #17
  18. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    In Europe I would work to secretly funnel weapons to the Ukrainians. I would also publicly declare my intention to not only give them small arms, but also heavy arms.

    I would begin rebuilding missile defense in Eastern Europe.

    I would propose secretly pushing and promoting elements in Moldova and Romania that wish for reunification, while publicly promoting an ambiguous stance on it.

    I would move to make sure that any nation that makes trade deals with Russia also makes trade deals with us.

    I would move to exclude Russia from international bodies of prestige as much as possible. If we can’t kick the Russians out then we move against any nations friendly to them. Basically we should make it clear to the world that if you are friendly to Russia it will cost you. America will go out of its way to make your life hard whenever we can, just because you have good relationships with the Russians.

    Basically with respect to Russia we need to go back to a Cold War footing. We need to build up leverage on them, by challenging their interests, everywhere. Then when we sit down we actually have something to negotiate with. Instead of just empty sentiments.

    If Russia doesn’t want us to support Moldova Romanian unification they need to give us something. If they want us to stop harassing their friends they need to give us something. If they don’t want armed Ukraine, give us something.

    • #18
  19. She Member
    She
    @She

    First thing I’d do is install a tin can and a piece of string in my office, and make sure that anyone (especially my good friend Bibi) who I wanted to talk to was connected with the same thing on the other end.

    Then I’d hire a competent IT firm to make sure my private email server was secure, undetectable and unhackable.

    Then I’d throw away that stupid RESET button that’s still on the desk, the one which the previous Secretary of State (who, I understand, once served in Vietnam) used to ‘ding’ after every meeting he had with the Russian Foreign Secretary, because he thought what it said on it in Russian was “THAT WAS EASY.”

    Then I’d get to work.

    • #19
  20. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    Move as many jobs as possible out of DC and surrounds (and into conservative heartlands).

    Reverse the trend of US embassies and consulates becoming brutalist enclaves on the outskirts of cities.

    Appoint David Burge as spokesman. He can stay in Austin.

    • #20
  21. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Do I get my own server?

    • #21
  22. Fake John Galt Coolidge
    Fake John Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    First Day

    Launch nukes at Iran and North Korea till they glow.  Have a press conference where we state that peace talks with Iran and North Korea have now concluded.  Who wants to be next?

    Call DOD and let them know there are now new ROE for all our soldiers.  New rule is we win they lose.  No more of our folks dying because they are scared to do their job because of the OUR press  OUR lawyers and OUR politicians.  Let the dogs of war off the leash and take out ISIS or whatever name they are going under this week.

    Second Day

    Get arrested and summary executed by the powers that be.

    Later

    Have small statue raised to me for bringing peace in our time.

     

    • #22
  23. Marion Evans Inactive
    Marion Evans
    @MarionEvans

    Can’t tell you what I would do until you tell me which countries have been donating money to my slush fund… uh I mean foundation.

    • #23
  24. Tenacious D Inactive
    Tenacious D
    @TenaciousD

    The job will unavoidably involve burning political capital and making hard decisions so in the first hundred days, I’d focus on traditional US allies: make them feel appreciated, listen to their priorities and concerns. And what people have said above about getting Foggy Bottom back into order. Basically shoring up the foundations before fully diving into the challenges.

    • #24
  25. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    I would purge the State Department bureaucracy of all fifth columnists. May take a while, but it’ll be worth it.

    • #25
  26. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    I would rush out and get my own personal email sever.

    • #26
  27. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Claire,

    So let’s sum up. With Russian air power, Iranian ground troops, and Assad’s infrastructure & intelligence network there is absolutely no doubt that they will take over Syria. I think Ash Carter & Kerry can babble all they want but they will soon be eating their words (pretty nauseating thought). I keep asking where the American Sixth Fleet is. I want Israel’s Mediterranean flank covered. Soon we will be facing the same coalition threatening Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey. Normally, they would not have got this far. However, with President Camp Counselor anything is possible.

    As for diplomacy, I would recommend Eisenhower’s message to the North Koreans and Chinese in 1953. “Stop at the 38th parallel or I’ll Nuke you.”

    A great communicator that Eisenhower.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #27
  28. Bob Laing Member
    Bob Laing
    @

    Look, Obama gave Iran the bomb.  Everything else is small potatoes.

    Maybe Russia will clean up ISIS.  Maybe they’ll exert some influence over Iran and persuade them not to nuke the lone Jewish state on the planet.

    Considering what a mess we’ve made of the world, maybe it’s not such a bad idea to take a more passive approach to foreign policy.  After all, our active approach seems to have done more harm then good.

    • #28
  29. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Bob Laing:Look, Obama gave Iran the bomb. Everything else is small potatoes.

    Maybe Russia will clean up ISIS. Maybe they’ll exert some influence over Iran and persuade them not to nuke the lone Jewish state on the planet.

    Considering what a mess we’ve made of the world, maybe it’s not such a bad idea to take a more passive approach to foreign policy. After all, our active approach seems to have done more harm then good.

    Bob,

    Haven’t you just bought into every lie that the left has told about America. We aren’t responsible for any of these problems. We made an effort to help the region. I think we underestimated the scope of their inherent difficulties. That isn’t the same as having caused any of this.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #29
  30. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Bob Laing: Considering what a mess we’ve made of the world, maybe it’s not such a bad idea to take a more passive approach to foreign policy.  After all, our active approach seems to have done more harm then good.

    say what?

    • #30
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