New technology should also enable less expensive ways of doing business. Just as the military must justify on its authorizations why its travel is necessary in an age of secure video teleconferences (SVTCs), so, too, should diplomats explain why they must conference together in neighboring countries. Interaction is useful, but it can occur by other means.
The State Department has important work to do; however, it and those in Congress providing oversight must extricate themselves from a culture that measures effectiveness with budgets. So if Democrats and Republicans truly value diplomacy, then it is time to solicit input from those on the ground who chafe under diplomatic security parameters, diplomatic veterans, and others in order to figure out how to address and overcome the constraints negatively impacting American diplomacy in order to make the State Department great again. Only one thing is certain: funding diplomats to remain behind embassy walls will not revive diplomacy or make it an effective tool for American power.
Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.