By: Evan Cooper

What is the kernel of the issue?

President Biden has outlined an ambitious foreign policy agenda, pledging to “elevate diplomacy as the premier tool of our global engagement.” Unfortunately, budget cuts and staff departures during the Trump administration have left the State Department unable to carry out Biden’s charge.

Why is the issue important?

There are significant global crises, namely COVID-19 and the economic recession, that may lead to conflict and increased international competition. Diplomacy is a crucial tool for addressing these issues but has atrophied as an element of US power.   

What is the recommendation?

President Biden should seek increased funding and hiring for the State Department, and he also should push for structural change by ending the practice of appointing political donors as ambassadors and commit to elevating experienced diplomats to key roles. Ending this practice would both ensure that experienced diplomats are leading America’s foreign engagement and advance President Biden’s campaign pledge to fight the corrupting influence of money in US politics.