The United States has a brain drain problem on its hands.
Shortly after President Donald Trump announced that he was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, the State Department’s top expert on nuclear proliferation resigned according to Foreign Policy.
Before announcing his departure, Richard Johnson, who served as acting assistant coordinator in the State’s Office of Iran Nuclear Implementation, sent a farewell email to colleagues.
He praised the deal that President Barack Obama helped implement in 2015, saying it was a success.
“I am proud to have played a small part in this work, particularly the extraordinary achievement of implementing the [deal] with Iran, which has clearly been successful in preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” he wrote.
Johnson isn’t the only high level official to leave. The department he led used to have seven full-time staffers. Now it has zero since Trump became president.
Johnson wasn’t planning on leaving government service until Trump made the decision.
“He’s exactly the kind of person we want to keep in government,” says Brian O’Toole, a former Treasury official who is now a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank.
“The demonization of the civil service is draining experts like Richard. That attitude needs to be reversed if we want to continue being a superpower — you can’t be powerful without good people in government.”
Jarrett Blanc, another person who worked on the Iran deal says that this is nothing more than trying to undo what President Obama has done.
“I am not going to speak for everybody, but I, and a lot of other people at that party, believe that Trump has withdrawn us from the deal based on nothing more than animus toward his predecessor.”
“I can’t say I know exactly why [Johnson] left, but if this is another example of the Trump administration being unable to keep talent, we should all be worried.” he says.