The State Department, under the direction of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, is currently planning to revise their mission statement. The newly proposed mission statement is very similar to the existing one. However, It removes all mention and promotion of democracy.
Josh Rogin, a columnist for the Washington Post who obtained an internal email that was sent on Friday (June 28), reported on Tuesday (July 1) that the Executive Steering Committee has decided to overhaul the State Department’s purpose, mission, and ambition statements. This effort is being taken in order to continue Tillerson’s plan to restructure the department, which began in mid-July.
In agreement with Rogin, the Hill also reported that Secretary Tillerson stood before State Department employees and spoke at length about the problems that arise when the U.S. makes a point to promote its core values, implying promotion of democracy “creates obstacles to our ability to advance our national security interests, our economic interests.”
These slight changes in wording may seem inconsequential, but former State Department leaders believe that the changes could be disastrous.
According to Tom Malinowski, the Barack Obama administration’s assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor, this change would undermine political ideals our country has held for centuries.
Malinowski continued to say that although this change seems harmless, it would conform the United State’s foreign policy to policies held by many of its political opponents, most notably Russia. He believes that Donald Trump’s policy of “America first” harms the country in ways the average citizen does not consider.
He insists that by removing the promotion of democracy from the State Department’s mission statement, the country will remove “all reference to universal values and the common good,” which “removes any reason for people outside the United States to support our foreign policy.”
Malinowski’s views are not exclusive to his side of the political spectrum. Officials on the right also have major concerns regarding the mission statement’s overhaul.
Elliott Abrams, the George W. Bush administration’s deputy national security adviser for global democracy strategy, believes that this change sends a clear message to America’s adversaries.
According to Abrams, who was a candidate for deputy secretary of state, the department’s mission statement is paramount because it displays the country’s priorities and its intentions toward governments and people abroad. He warns that by removing “justice” and “democracy” from its mission statement, the State Department is saying that it no longer desires to work toward a just and democratic world, a statement that “will be a great comfort to every dictator in the world.”
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