Talk about a morale slump in high places.
The unexpected departure of a top ranked diplomat is shaking up an already unsteady diplomatic corps and raising questions about who will be next to leave.
News of John Feeley’s resignation’s Friday sent shock waves through the State Department where the ambassador of Panama was seen as a rising star and a potential future assistant secretary — and more than a dozen State staffers said it caused them to question their own commitment to an administration they feel is undercutting the department’s work and U.S. influence in the world.
It’s a sorry state of affairs:
The resignation comes as the State Department undergoes a massive personnel shift. State has been shedding diplomats rapidly; 60 percent of the State Departments’ top-ranking career diplomats have left and new applications to join the foreign service have fallen by half, according to recent data from the American Foreign Service Association, the professional organization of the U.S. diplomatic corps.
Colleagues said the feelings Feeley expressed in his resignation letter about not being able to work under President Donald Trump reflect sinking morale within a diplomatic corps that has lost confidence in the administration’s approach toward diplomacy.
The news hit the department particularly hard Friday, as many officials were also learning from published reports that Trump, in a White House meeting with congressional leaders, called El Salvador and African nations “shithole countries” and questioned why the U.S. admits immigrants from Haiti.
Feeley had actually sent his resignation letter at the end of December, well before this latest presidential controversy. But those who know him say the administration’s similar words and approach toward foreign partners played a role in his decision to leave.