State of the state department, diplomacy


The State Department was the first cabinet agency established after the adoption of the U.S. Constitution. The secretary of state is fourth in line to the presidency and the senior member of the cabinet.

President Donald Trump’s first secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, cut the agency’s budget by a third. A majority of both Republicans and Democrats in the Congress restored most of the funding. Current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is an advocate of diplomacy in a world where China is expanding its diplomacy and its diplomatic corps.

On Friday, March 8, Alexander Thompson, who earned his doctorate from the University of Chicago, will discuss the “State of the State Department and Diplomacy” as part of the Great Decisions Free Community Discussion Series on U.S. Foreign Policy. He is an associate professor of political science and a faculty associate of the Mershon Center for International Security Studies at Ohio State University.

Thompson has research and teaching interests in the area of international relations, with a particular emphasis on the politics of international organizations and law. His book, “Channels of Power: The UN Security Council and U.S. Statecraft in Iraq” (2009), explores why the United States sometimes channels its foreign policies through international organizations and other times acts alone. It won the International Studies Association’s Chadwick Alger Prize and the J. David Singer Book Award from ISA-Midwest.

Most of Thompson’s research addresses the question of how and why states design and create institutions at the international level. Recent and ongoing projects focus on the evolution of the global climate regime, the negotiation and ratification of international investment agreements, legalization in world trade, the politics of multilateral weapons inspections, the determinants of international organization performance, and the enforcement of international law.

He also writes and speaks on the question of unilateralism versus multilateralism in U.S. foreign policy.

His articles have appeared in various journals, including International Organization, International Studies Quarterly, the Journal of Conflict Resolution, the Journal of Legal Studies, the European Journal of International Relations, the Review of International Organizations, Climatic Change, International Theory, and the Policy Studies Journal.

All Great Decisions meetings begin at noon in the Fellowship Hall of the William Street United Methodist Church, 28 W. William St., Delaware. Attendees are welcome to bring a brown-bag lunch. Coffee and tea are provided. For more information, visit

Available for purchase is a booklet with articles about this year’s eight topics compiled by the Foreign Policy Association (FPA), which originated the nationwide Great Decisions program in 1954. Audience participants may compete a survey prepared by the FPA, to add their opinions to thousands of others across the nation. Survey results will be made available to Washington decision-makers.

The topic for the Friday, March 15, discussion is “Refugees and Global Migration,” featuring Nadia Kasvin, director and co-founder of US Together, a refugee resettlement agency.


Special to The Gazette

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