It has been just over a year since American diplomacy entered a dark age, but the time for mourning has passed. The Trump White House’s disdain for diplomacy persists, and that probably won’t change. The new national security adviser, John Bolton, is no fan of diplomacy or diplomats.
The best that the Foreign Service and those outside government in academia and at think tanks can do now is prepare wisely for the day after Mr. Trump leaves office to make sure that a renaissance follows the dark age.
Many career diplomats in Washington have little to do these days. Some are between assignments because of the administration’s failure to fill hundreds of State Department positions. Others have jobs but find themselves increasingly ignored or sidelined. The silver lining is, they now have time to turn inward and find solutions to their problems — both those created by Mr. Trump’s neglect and those that have long plagued the department.
There is even a precedent for this in American history. After the Civil War, Congress drastically slashed the United States Army’s budget. The service lost its sense of mission and morale suffered. So smart and farsighted officers began thinking and writing about how to initiate reforms and strengthen professionalism, to be ready when the dark period ended.