Elizabeth Warren pitches plan to bolster State Department

Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Senator Elizabeth Warren. Brynn Anderson/Associated Press/Associated Press

Fresh off her first presidential debate appearance, Senator Elizabeth Warren on Friday showed no signs of letting up on her steady stream of detailed policy proposals as she pitched a revamp of the State Department that would double the size of the diplomatic corps.

“Too often, our underinvestment in diplomacy and development causes our leaders to default to military action, instead of treating it as a last resort,” Warren said in a post on the Medium website two days after she appeared in the first Democratic presidential debate in Miami. “Our foreign policy should not be run out of the Pentagon. Under a Warren administration, it won’t be.”


Warren said the Defense Department is 40 times the size of the State Department, with more workers employed at military grocery stores than as foreign service officers. She called for doubling the number of diplomats working in the foreign service with an eye toward more diverse recruitment, opening new offices in areas that do not have a US presence, and enhancing diplomats’ professional development with training programs.

Warren’s State Department plan came a month after she outlined a proposal to tighten ethics standards at the Pentagon, which she said had become part of a “revolving door” to the private defense industry, to the detriment of taxpayers.

The Cambridge Democrat also took aim at President Trump’s appointments to the nation’s top diplomatic posts. Though the practice of awarding plum ambassadorships to political allies with scant experience is nothing new, Warren argued the Trump administration has taken it to a new level, giving top posts to “rich buffoons.”

“In the Trump administration, $1 million buys you an appointment to the Bahamas — even if you’re not quite sure what that means,” Warren wrote. “Trump nominated a real estate lawyer accused of sexual harassment as ambassador to Romania. His South Africa nominee is a handbag designer.”


Warren said she would not dole out ambassadorships to wealthy donors, a pledge that dovetails with her decision early in her presidential campaign to swear off high-dollar donors altogether. She also called on her rivals in the Democratic primary field to join her in pledging to name only qualified ambassadors.

“We can create a bold and energetic diplomatic corps that looks more like the country it represents — and we can invest in diplomacy to make the world a little safer and a little more secure,” Warren wrote.

Christina Prignano can be reached at christina.prignano@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @cprignano.