Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Impact of John Feeley's Resignation

Juan González, who has served in a number of diplomatic capacities for U.S. policy toward Latin America, has a piece in Americas Quarterly about the resignation of John Feeley, who said he could no longer work for the Trump administration. This particular resignation is creating waves. President Trump and Secretary of State Tillerson have thoroughly demoralized the State Department and are wrecking our Latin American diplomacy.

The big question now is how much of a chain reaction we see.

Others may also follow Feeley’s lead during the summer foreign service transition season. I’ve heard from more than a few gifted diplomats who – as patriots – cannot in good faith advance policies and views that so clearly undermine and hurt U.S. standing and interests abroad, some in locations the president of the United States considers “shit hole” countries. Combine the brain drain at senior levels with the drop in people taking the foreign service exam, and you start having a serious institutional problem that could take a generation to fix.

These diplomats facilitate U.S. soft power. I don't want the U.S. to act as an imperial power, but neither do I want it to be clueless about Latin America, and that's where we're heading. I want better policy, not no policy. Our policy toward Honduras shows both. As does Mexico policy. As does El Salvador policy. Colombia policy sometimes seems to move in that direction. We're moving in a direction that hurts both Latin America and the United States.


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