In the immortal words of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, “To every man there comes a time when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered a chance to do a great and mighty work; unique to him and fitted to his talents; what a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for the moment that could be his finest hour.”
These were the first words that popped into my mind last week when I heard about the unceremonious firing of foreign policy savant, Kiron Skinner.
Last year, she was “tapped on the shoulder” by President Trump to be director of policy planning within the Department of State. Basically, it’s an internal think tank within State that carries a lot of weight and influence.
Within foreign policy circles, Ms. Skinner is universally considered as one of the most brilliant strategic thinkers on the scene today and has been for many years.
Oh, did I tell you that she is also black, female, Spelman and Harvard graduate, and comes from legendary civil rights activists’ parents? To learn more about her background, you can read the recent writeup about her in Spellman’s alumni magazine.
Those who follow my writings know I have been very critical of my Republican Party when it comes to its lack of engagement with blacks.
But yet, in the area of foreign policy, the party has created huge opportunities for our community.
It was the Republican Party’s grooming of Ms. Skinner’s colleagues Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice that led to two successive black secretaries of State under President George W. Bush. Ms. Skinner is on track to follow in their footsteps.
So, what did Ms. Skinner do that justified her being unceremoniously perp-walked out of the State Department like some criminal?
Ms. Skinner was accused by “anonymous” sources of: Abusive management style, making homophobic remarks and accusing people of having affairs. Yep, you heard right.
I spoke with several high-level sources within State who were in a position to observe Ms. Skinner’s work. All denied vehemently that there is any truth to the allegations.
So, let’s dissect these heinous crimes Ms. Skinner is accused of committing.
Abusive management style. What the hell does this even mean? Please allow me to interpret for you.
It’s obvious that she ran up against some Never Trumpers and Deep Staters who are on a mission to stop every policy the president is initiating within the State Department.
Making homophobic remarks. If you refuse to aggressively promote homosexuality in our foreign policy, then you are homophobic. But besides that, this innuendo flies in the face of her own former colleagues before joining the State Department.
Respected openly-gay professors Scott A. Sandage and Carol Goldburg have heaped praise and support on Ms. Skinner.
“As one of the few out lesbians on our campus, I am not tone deaf to even subtle forms of discrimination such as micro-aggressions, and can categorically state that Kiron Skinner does not engage in such behaviors,” Ms. Goldburg said.
Accusing people of having affairs. How dare she. Death, to Kiron Skinner. How can anyone with an ounce of integrity accuse someone of one of the most horrific crimes known to mankind?
Her crimes were so awful, look at how some of the biggest names in foreign policy responded.
George P. Shultz, our 60th U.S. secretary of State, said, “Kiron is a first-class scholar who tackles important issues and applies a keen, analytic mind to the topic at hand with boundless intellectual energy. Beyond her scholarly capabilities, Kiron adheres steadfastly to the principles of honesty and integrity.”
Niall Ferguson, historian, biographer of Henry Kissinger and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, said, “I have never known [Kiron] to be anything but cool, calm and collected. She brought to the Policy Planning job an exceptional combination of strategic insight and technological expertise. And she was playing a leading role in key initiatives, particularly the administration’s reassessment of U.S. policy towards China.”
Victor Davis Hanson — Martin and Illie Anderson senior fellow, the Hoover Institution, Stanford University — said, “Dr. Skinner explains the recalibration of American foreign policy under the present administration with rare insight and analyses — a foreign policy scholar of the first rank.”
The Honorable J. Kenneth Blackwell, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, said, “Dr. Skinner’s knowledge of foreign policy and statecraft will be difficult to replace. I join former Secretaries of State George Shultz and Condoleezza Rice, among others, in welcoming her back into spheres of influence where she will be a high impact contributor.”
Based on these high-powered endorsements, how can anyone conclude anything other than Ms. Skinner’s dismissal was nothing more than an inside-the-Beltway hit job on a Trump loyalist.
What a tragedy if this moment finds the Trump administration unprepared or unqualified to continue to utilize Ms. Skinner’s prolific mind when it comes to foreign policy advice.
• Raynard Jackson is a Pulitzer Award-nominated columnist, and founder and chairman of Black Americans for a Better Future (BAFBF).