Last week the US closed 19 embassies, mostly in the middle East and surrounding areas of northern Africa. They certainly had their reasons and no one, especially in the wake of Benghazi, is thinking this was a bad move. But now comes word from The Hill that 18 of the 19 closed embassies will be reopening -- 6 days later than first announced. Again, I'm sure there reasons were sound. And they must feel it's safe. All except in Sanaa, Yemen. That facility will remain closed.
Unless I'm missing something, the world didn't stop during those seven days the embassies were closed. As far as anyone can tell, it was business as usual. The local economies didn't overtly suffer nor did that of the United States.
So doesn't it make you wonder what if we never reopened those facilities? Think of all the manpower we could save? How much more security we could provide to other embassies and the billions we spend on these locations every year? I'm suggesting consolidation here.
My proposal isn't to shut down all the embassies. On the contrary. I would suggest we regionalize them. We don't need one in every country. It's nice but not necessary. Perhaps a few in Europe. A few in Asia. A few in the Middle East, South America, and also in Africa. Cut the number down by 75%. Depending on the exact number closed, that would save us well over $250 Billion a year in salaries and facilities, including security. That savings can be spread out to the newer, larger and more comprehensive facilities that we can build. As countries will be wanting us to locate in their country as opposed to a neighboring country, they will provide us with enough land and perhaps even give us some incentives to come to them. Our presence can boost a country's economy and standing worldwide. There is true incentive there. Let's be wanted and courted, not just expected.
By making these embassies regional, we can streamline processes, better serve our citizens traveling overseas and make it easier for the State Department to rapidly respond to issues without having to have as much jurisdictional interference or complications as they exist now.
A forced experiment was performed with the closing of these embassies. And a good lesson was learned. More is not more. Fewer places, more centralized, less redundancy and more responsive. Let an ambassador look over Luxembourg, Germany and the Netherlands. We don't need three outfits to do that. France, Spain and Portugal can share a facility. See how easy that is? It will enhance the value of good ambassadors, boost the importance of the staff, and make for a much more responsive State Department.
Something to consider as we prepare to reopen 18 embassies.