Most people, when reading the news that “senior State Department official” Josh Paul had resigned last month over U.S. weapons sales to Israel, likely thought, “Who is Josh Paul?”
And rightly so. Mr. Paul had worked at State for 11 years, most recently as director of congressional and public affairs in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs. He was hardly the “senior official” the media made him out to be.
Yet his quitting wasn’t just a LinkedIn post. It made The New York Times, CNN, NPR, HuffPost, Politico, ABC News and PBS. Why all the fuss over the departure of a minor functionary?
Mr. Paul made the headlines because the views expressed in his resignation letter align with those of the legacy media. It’s why The Washington Post printed his letter in full.
Would the Post have printed it if his letter decried the State Department’s attempts to export divisive race and gender ideology to sometimes resistant, and occasionally appalled, foreign countries, as criticized in this report?
Of course not.
State is the second-most left-leaning agency in the federal government. One way this can be seen is the subtle bias in personnel matters.
Amid myriad therapy sessions for staff recently was an “American Muslim and Arab American Support Group,” naming a specific religious and ethnic group. Contrast that with the “Support group for people impacted by antisemitism” that specified no ‘impacted’ group. Gee, now who could they be?
Another recent staff training session was dedicated to “Creating a more accessible department and world: a discussion with Harvard University, Walt Disney World, and Microsoft.”
Who’s the best to preach about accessibility? A university where 34 student groups blamed Israel for the massacre of its own people, an entertainment giant so “woke” it is destroying its share value, or a tech behemoth the government is suing under antitrust laws?
Then there are some staff at State who mistake their own beliefs for official U.S. policy. Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, recently claimed that “this Department of State is filled with passionate opponents of Israel.”
Proving his point, right after the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks, State’s Office of Palestinian Affairs urged “all sides to refrain from violence and retaliatory attacks.” Secretary Antony Blinken’s X account “encouraged [Turkey’s] advocacy for a cease-fire.” Yes, honest broker Turkey, whose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that “Hamas is not a terrorist organization, it is a liberation group.”
The mid-level staffers who wrote those social media posts were treating Hamas as a schoolyard miscreant who punches a kid in the nose when no one’s looking and then hides behind the teacher. They wanted the U.S. to be the teacher and stop Israel from destroying the terrorist group that murdered not only 1,400 Israelis, many of them geriatrics, women and children, but at least 33 Americans. The staffers got way out over their skis with positions contrary to those of their bosses and had to delete the posts.
Politico reported that unnamed State Department employees “have considered quitting over policy misalignment.” The Daily Caller wrote “State Dept Staffers Ready To ‘Mutiny’ Over Biden’s Support For Israel,” and HuffPost topped that with “There’s basically a mutiny brewing within State at all levels.”
In response, “the administration has held listening sessions and offered emotional support.” It appears some at the State Department don’t grasp that policy is not subject to a veto by rank-and-file staff, even when they “really care deeply about this,” as Mr. Paul does.
Though the scale of the dissent at State over support for Israel is exaggerated by the media, there is no doubt it exists. That’s not a bad thing. It is the job of public servants to provide their political bosses with their best analysis and opinion. Josh Paul resigned because he thinks selling weapons to Israel is wrong.
Others at State are likely skeptical about giving millions in aid to Palestinians in Gaza, a good chunk of which will be siphoned off by its Hamas rulers. We already know that they have used water pipes to make rockets, and that they have stolen diesel fuel to use in their underground “Gaza metro” military tunnel network.
Hashing out differences of opinion within agencies is healthy, as policymakers need a variety of perspectives to inform their decisions. But disagreement must end once a decision has been made at the top. At that point, public servants are required to keep their thoughts to themselves and get on with the job.
With alternating governments in power, it is inevitable that a federal worker is going to have to implement policies he doesn’t like. Today, that’s especially true for political or social conservatives.
In one way, Mr. Paul’s decision is admirable even if his position and effort to publicize it are not. He decided that he could not in good conscience support the policies of the administration. Instead of working against them internally, he did the right thing and resigned.
Anyone deliberately blocking or slow-walking implementation of policy decisions or wanting to gripe about it in public should seek a transfer of assignments or resign, as Mr. Paul did.
Otherwise, they should be disciplined or removed for misconduct. President Biden, and every president, requires a loyal executive branch.
This piece originally appeared in The Washington Times