The Real Damage Trump Is Doing to Global Democracy
Two recent stories out of Washington reinforced the impression that U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration will not promote democracy abroad.
First came word that those redrafting the State Department’s mission statement are cutting out any language about democracy as a foreign-policy goal. Second, it was revealed that the department’s leadership is dragging its feet about hosting the long-planned ministerial meeting of the Community of Democracies in Washington next month. The United States for two years has presided over this organization of countries committed to supporting democratization and was instrumental in its creation in 2000, but Washington appears to have lost interest since January.
These stories reinforce the narrative that the president would rather side with authoritarians of all stripes.Considering the news from the State Department, it is safe to say that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is aligned with Trump on this. (It will be interesting to see what the administration’s National Security Strategy will say on this topic when it is eventually released.)
A lot hangs on the administration’s requested budget cuts, in addition to its plan to fold the U.S. Agency for International Development into the State Department. Indications are that the U.S. Congress will defend foreign assistance spending, but this will likely still take a hit. The administration also might slow-roll the use of any mandated democracy spending. The revelation that the State Department’s leadership is not willing to spend $80 million allocated by Congress for countering Russian and other propaganda shows how this would happen.