The Foreign Service Journal - March 2018

20 MARCH 2018 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL TALKING POINTS The Trump Doctrine and the Mattis Manifesto P resident Donald Trump released his first “National Security Strategy” on Dec. 18, 2017. Breaking with tradition, he unveiled the document himself with a national address, hailing it as the “America First” foreign policy he had promised to deliver. In the letter prefacing the document, President Trump asserts that the United States “faces an extraordinarily dangerous world, filled with a wide range of threats that have intensified in recent years.” The document emphasizes the importance of economic strength, secure borders and a strong military in meeting these threats. Significantly, the NSS also under- lines the vital importance of a vigorous diplomatic capability. At the same time, the NSS dismisses climate change and demotes human rights and democracy promotion as national security concerns. Produced by White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and his team, the document drew a vigorous response ranging from praise to denun- ciation and dismissal. In an interesting exercise, the Brook- ings Institution’s Tarun Chhabra mapped the reactions of U.S. analysts, plotting assessments of the NSS overall against appraisals of the president’s impact on U.S. foreign policy, and drawing some preliminary observations from the result. Elsewhere, Brookings experts offered a line-by-line annotation, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace took a close look at what the NSS means for democracy promotion. In an expert brief for the Council on Foreign Relations, Max Boot called the new NSS “an eloquent summation of the United States’ role in the world and a principled exposition of what should be done to defend it.” But, he added, echoing many others, “much of it is at odds with what the presi- dent himself believes.” When it comes to the administration’s foreign policy, Colin Dueck argued in a Jan. 9 review of the NSS in The National Interest , a focus on “the signal, not the noise” is advisable. National security professional and former U.S. ambassador to NATO Rob- ert Hunter described the NSS as “not operational.” It contains neither decisions about foreign policy nor the budgetary appropriations to implement them, he noted. Similarly dismissing the document’s practical significance, the CFR’s Rebecca Lissner argued for a new approach to the NSS “so that it fulfills its intended pur- pose—instead of simply camouflaging a perennially ad hoc foreign policy.” Speaking at Johns Hopkins Univer- sity’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies a month after the NSS debuted, Defense Secretary JimMat- tis offered insight into the strategy. Announcing the completion of a new National Defense Strategy and warning “those who would threaten America’s experiment in democracy,” Mattis stated: “Work with our diplomats. You don’t want to fight the Department of Defense.” More Senior Officials Leave Their Posts T he most senior FSO in the State Department, Career Ambassador Thomas Shannon, serving as under secre- tary of State for political affairs, announced his retirement on Feb. 1 in a letter to colleagues. Amb. Shannon has been seen as a bridge between the career Foreign Service and the Secretary of State, so his announcement heightens current anxiet- ies about the depletion of the leadership ranks. Just a month prior, on Dec. 27, another distinguished high-level State official announced his resignation: John Fee- ley, then serving as U.S. ambassador to Panama. Amb. Feeley, a Latin America specialist, joined the Foreign Service in 1990 after serving in the Marine Corps as a helicopter pilot. His resignation letter, widely quoted in the press, stated: “I signed an oath to serve faithfully the president and his admin- istration in an apolitical fashion. …My instructors made it clear that if I believed I could not do that, I would be honor bound to resign. That time has come.” Of Amb. Feeley’s resignation, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Steve Goldstein said: “Everyone has a line that they will not cross. If the ambassador feels that he can no longer serve…then he has made the right decision for himself, and we respect that.” Other high-level officials were in the news as well. On Jan. 9, Reuters reported that Lawrence Bartlett, who was the head of refugee admissions in the State Depart- ment’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, was reassigned to the office that handles requests under the Freedomof Information Act (the FOIA office). As The Hill reported on Jan. 9, some fear that the reassignment is part of a broader effort to halt efforts to resettle refugees within the United States. Others believe it is part of an effort to “exile” or push out FS members who served under the Obama administration. On Jan. 27, both The Hill and CNN reported on a letter sent to the State Department Office of the Inspector General by Representatives Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) stating that “our staffs have beenmade aware of credible allegations that the State Department has required high-level career