The State Department Should Quash, Not Coddle, Those Rebelling against the Administration’s Israel Policy

November 21, 2023 | Elliott Abrams
About the author: Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and is the chairman of the Tikvah Fund.

In the past few weeks, there have been several reports about memos and letters sent by government employees—at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), at the State Department, and at other agencies—criticizing the administration’s support for the Jewish state. These missives claimed to have specific numbers of “signatories,” but these individuals notably chose to remain anonymous. Elliott Abrams comments on how Secretary of State Antony Blinken, to whom two of these letters were directed, should respond. (Subscription required.)

The proper reaction would have been to squash the mutiny. Those who called for a ceasefire in week one were essentially saying Israel had no duty or right to protect itself after Hamas’s brutal attack on its civilians. Mr. Blinken should have told these government workers that he and the president reject their views as entirely wrong and contrary to U.S. national interests. Instead of encouraging the dissenters to offer more “feedback and ideas,” [as he did], he should be wondering if he can count on such people to offer any sound advice on foreign policy—or even to implement a policy that he sets.

Instead of coddling the staff with listening sessions, he should have reminded them who sets the policy—and even challenged those protesting to re-examine their hostile attitudes toward the Jewish state.

The problem of having staff members who think they know best and should determine policy is an old one. . . . Harry S. Truman noted that too many bureaucrats “look upon the elected officials as just temporary occupants.” Mr. Blinken should have had the rebellious staffers read Truman’s words: “The civil servant, the general or admiral, the foreign-service officer has no authority to make policy. They act only as servants of the government, and therefore they must remain in line with the government policy that is established by those who have been chosen by the people to set that policy.”

Read more on Wall Street Journal: