US President-elect Donald Trump has called on all US ambassadors to hand in their resignations before he is sworn in on January 20, according to some diplomats. The envoys were notified of the incoming president’s decision through an abrupt State Department cable, which was issued on December 23 and called on all US missions in over 180 countries to return “without exception,” according to diplomats who saw it in person.
Trump’s move marked an unprecedented break from the tradition of extending the ambassadors’ stay for some time, giving them enough time to make the required arrangements. Previous administrations of both parties have usually given envoys enough time until at least the end of their children’s school year. Calling back all of President Barack Obama’s appointed envoys abroad risks leaving the US without proper representation in key countries like Britain, Germany and Canada for months.
Within two weeks of his inauguration, Trump has only named Zionist hardliner David Friedman as ambassador to Israel and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad as his ambassador to China. Some of the envoys are reportedly planning to appeal the decision with Trump’s designated Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. They think it is unfair that their personal lives have been disrupted while First-Lady-in-waiting Melania Trump is allowed to remain at Trump Tower until her son’s school is over.
The move is in line with Trump’s other unorthodox steps in destroying Obama’s legacy, specially his foreign policy. However, a senior member of the New York businessman’s transition team told the New York Times that there was no “ill will” in the decision. According to the American Foreign Service Association, a union representing diplomats, there are 188 US ambassadors worldwide.
Many of America’s key ambassadorships go to political appointees, i.e. senior members of the president’s party or the people who supported his campaign through major donations. In Obama’s case, such sinecures were granted to Jane Hartley, a Democratic fundraiser who served as ambassador to France, and former President John F. Kennedy’s daughter Caroline Kennedy, to Japan. For Israel, the outgoing president chose former Democratic congressional aide and adviser Daniel Shapiro.