Why Keep State Department Special Envoys?

[ Originally published on this site as post ]

When news reports surfaced this week that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson intended to eliminate nine special envoys—including one devoted to climate change—the outcry in some circles was swift.

Elimination of this critical position is 1 more example of Trump admin ceding #climate & #cleanenergy leadership to China & Germany. (2/3)

— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) August 29, 2017

On the heels of reports of high-profile exits from Tillerson’s department,  low morale among career officials, and an almost-certainly-doomed proposal from Tillerson to slash the State budget by 30 percent, the fate of envoys looked like one more example of Tillerson’s “gutting State—and with it America’s ability to conduct diplomacy.

But it turns out America’s own diplomats have long been critical of special