Many have taken issue with the Trump administration’s apparent willingness to throw caution-to-the-wind to fundamental American values, and rightfully so.
Former Secretary of State under George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, sat down for an interview with The Global POLITICO, when urged the Trump administration to use foreign policy to promote democracy and human rights. She told the publication:
‘Words do matter. I hope that we will say even more that the world is a dark place when the United States of America is not involved. It’s a dark place when we don’t stand up for those who just want to have the same basic values that we have.’
Donald Trump has long touted his “America First” agenda, which would normally be regarded as a positive thing, however, it prompts a weighted question: At what point does putting America first actually do more harm than good?
In case you’re feeling confused, let’s take a second to catch up on some background information.
Recently, President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have been working to translate their “America First” agenda into matters pertaining to foreign policy, according to reports from Reuters.
The problem with this rhetoric, however, is that Trump and Tillerson are seemingly fine with ignoring the basic values held by other countries if it means advancing U.S. economic and national security interests.
Speaking to the State Department last Wednesday, Tillerson suggested that the United States would take away the emphasis on human rights concerns when it comes to working with other countries, saying the U.S. needs to be more accepting of different value systems.
‘We really have to understand, in each country or each region of the world that we’re dealing with, what are our national security interests, what are our economic prosperity interests, and then, as we can advocate and advance our values, we should.’
As MarketWatch notes, Tillerson’s comments indicate a stark departure from key priorities that have remained intact during both the Bush and Obama administrations.
He continued, adding:
‘If we condition too heavily that others must adopt this value that we’ve come to over a long history of our own, it really creates obstacles to our ability to advance our national security interests, our economic interests.’
Rather than placing importance upon how countries treat their citizens, the Trump administration will look at the possibility of advancing national security and economic interests instead — essentially giving the go ahead to dictators to continue violating citizens’ basic human rights.
Even though Rice is a Republican, that doesn’t mean she agrees with the direction in which the Trump administration is apparently headed in their approach to foreign policy. In fact, the former secretary of state just released a new book called Democracy: Stories From the Long Road to Freedom, which The Washington Post called “a repudiation of Trump’s America First worldview.”
As The Global POLITICO explains: “Though written before Trump’s election upset, Rice’s 500-page love letter to democracy—and the role the U.S. should play in promoting it—reads now like an implicit rebuttal of her party’s leading man.” More specifically, the book is a rejection of Trump’s approach to foreign policy.
‘There’s simply no way to read the book and Rice’s comments about it as anything other than a rejection of Trump’s approach to international relations, an emerging doctrine summed up in a controversial recent speech by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as one that makes a sharp distinction between American “values” and its national interests.’
Rice, who recommended Tillerson to head the State Department, wouldn’t mention him by name in the interview, however it remains crystal clear just who she’s referring to. She went on to tell The Global POLITICO:
‘We just need to remember the history here. We need to remember that we took a risk that a democratic Germany was never going to invade its neighbors again and it didn’t. We took a risk that a democratic Japan was going to be a peaceful part of Asia, and it is. And so remembering that in the long run, we are always better served by countries that share our values is extremely important, even if one day you’re having to sit across from Muammar Qadafi, as I had to do as secretary of state.’
She concluded by saying:
‘We are safest, most secure, and most prosperous when our values and our interests are inextricably linked.’
Featured Image via Getty Images/Rob Kim.