Trump orders all ambassadors to leave posts despite not naming key replacements

President-elect Donald Trump has ordered all politically-appointed ambassadors to leave their posts by inauguration day, in a move that breaks with tradition and that an expert on U.S. diplomacy characterized as at least partly motivated by “spite and payback.”

To explain (because most of us are probably not familiar with protocol when it comes to ambassadorships), there are two types of ambassadors: “political” appointees, who are usually granted their positions because they have close ties to the president or are big donors, and career diplomats who often retain their posts. Politically-appointed diplomats nearly always leave their posts after the election of a new president, but seeing as how uprooting your family, taking children out of school, etc., can be a real hassle, usually they are given a little bit of leeway to get their affairs in order, either a few weeks or a couple months.

Not so under Trump, who says everyone’s got to be out by January 20. No exceptions.

“It feels like there’s an element just of spite and payback in it,” Derek Shearer, professor of diplomacy at Occidental College and a former United States ambassador to Finland, told the New York Times. “I don’t see a higher policy motive.”

“I don’t recollect there was ever a guillotine in January where it was just, ‘Everybody out of the pool immediately,’” said Ronald E. Neumann, the president of the American Academy of Diplomacy.

But there’s more to this than it just being a dick move. Remember, ambassadors, even politically-appointed ones, do actual diplomatic work, and yanking them out of their posts with little or no time to wrap up their business ain’t exactly ideal for our foreign relations. Even more importantly, Trump has yet to appoint replacement ambassadors for major world players, including Germany, Canada, and Britain. So basically we could be left with a situation where the country doesn’t have representation for several of our global embassies all because Trump wants to stick it to some of Obama’s friends.

Or maybe he’s just trying to make room for all those talent scouts he offered ambassadorships to if they can book Bruno Mars for the inauguration.

[NYT | Photo: Getty]