The Foreign Service Journal - March 2017
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MARCH 2017



I have thus concluded that defending the Constitution and performing the duties of my

office in an executive branch under Mr. Trump are incompatible. An honest adherence to

my oath dictates that I withhold support from such a man and from the administration he

will head. For me this is not a career choice, not something I would desire under normal

circumstances. It is among the most difficult and painful decisions of my life. Nonetheless, it

is a moral and ethical necessity in the face of someone I judge to be so clearly inimical to the

values I have sworn to protect.

Some may counter that the threat posed by Mr. Trump calls for people of conscience to

remain in the department, to blunt his excesses, to resist his agenda. This may be a legitimate

course for others, but I fear I lack the capacity for such a compromise. Tyranny encroaches

when met with silence, and the graveyard of failed democracies is littered with the epitaphs of

those who believed collaboration could moderate the evil of authoritarianism. Knowing these

lessons, I cannot allow tacit accommodation of Mr. Trump’s administration to make me com-

plicit in his assault on our republic.

It is my fervent hope I will be proven wrong, that Mr. Trump will govern wisely, lawfully

and with respect for the Constitution—all of it, and not simply the parts convenient to his

purposes. Unless and until he does, however, my place is with those who will oppose him, not

those charged to carry out his policies. My oath, my honor and my conscience demand noth-

ing less of me, even if my heart wishes it could be otherwise.

Traveling the world with the Foreign Service, I have been blessed with the opportunity to

reflect on how the fragile nation bequeathed by our founders has grown to become a beacon of

hope and progress, a bulwark against despotism. I am convinced it is the decency of our citi-

zens, and their willingness to put our ideals ahead of their wants, that has made this country

both great and fundamentally good. On the battlefields of Bunker Hill and Bastogne, in the jail

cells of Occoquan, on Pettus Bridge and Christopher Street, ordinary citizens have written our

extraordinary story through sacrifice and an unwavering faith in our constitutional principles.

The survival of our grand experiment in democracy once again depends on such acts of

courage. And so I close with a citizen’s request to my friends and colleagues who remain in

the department: Remember and keep always before you the belief in our shared values which

inspired you to serve the American people. Whenever you can, rise above the all-consuming

daily bureaucratic scrum so that its rigors do not distract from an incremental acceptance of

the morally unacceptable. Should the decisive moment come, hear and heed the call of con-


Through whatever trials lie ahead, I pray providence will preserve the people and the Con-

stitution of the United States.



Timothy J. Lunardi