Aug 01, 2017
In keeping with a recent trend of abandoning key tenets of its stated mission, State Department is rewriting its statement of purpose without any mention of promoting "justice" and "democracy."
According to internal State Department emails obtained by the Washington Post, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has ordered the department to redefine its stated mission. A draft that was circulated within the department on Friday read, "We promote the security, prosperity, and interests of the American people globally" and said the department will strive to "lead America's foreign policy through global advocacy, action and assistance to shape a safer, more prosperous world."
This contrasts with the department's mission statement from 2016, which defined its purpose as shaping and sustaining "a peaceful, prosperous, just, and democratic world and foster[ing] conditions for stability and progress for the benefit of the American people and people everywhere."
Some shrugged at the news, noting that the U.S. government has not always truly acted as a promoter of democracy on the world stage.
\u201cSurreal: Elliot Abrams of #Iraq and #contra fame laments that US no longer promotes "justice & democracy" https://t.co/0tniDhwpYD\u201d— Stephen Kinzer (@Stephen Kinzer) 1501601475
\u201cRubbish, the US 'democracy promotion' has always been so-called 'regime change' for US interests. No change. \ud83d\ude33 https://t.co/zVapCCgrs0\u201d— Paul Patrick (@Paul Patrick) 1501591229
But many Trump administration critics expressed alarm over the State Department's change in direction as it follows other signals of a shift away from concerns about worldwide justice. Last month, Tillerson proposed shuttering the Office of Global Criminal Justice, charged with helping to bring war criminals to justice. The department also eliminated its website dedicated to human rights issues, and in March Tillerson did not attend the department's meeting where it unveiled its annual report on human rights.
Former State officials were also alarmed at the change to the department's ambitions.
"It's a worldview similar to that of Putin, who also thinks that great powers should focus exclusively on self protection and enrichment, rather than promoting democracy," said Tom Malinowski, who served in the department under President Barack Obama. "By removing all reference to universal values and the common good it removes any reason for people outside the United States to support our foreign-policy."
Journalists and Trump administration critics responded to department's changes on Twitter.
\u201cwhen you put an oil executive in charge of American diplomacy, this is what happens https://t.co/E6hv86NfkF\u201d— Anne Applebaum (@Anne Applebaum) 1501590915
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