Dear Secretary Tillerson,
The United States co-founded the Community of Democracies 17 years ago through the Warsaw Declaration to provide a rallying point for fellow democracies, countries striving to achieve full democracy, and peoples worldwide who seek the freedom, accountability, and security liberal democracies provide. We therefore find your unwillingness to assertively support the Washington ministerial meeting of the Community of Democracies, scheduled to take place in just over a month, to contradict all that the United States is supposed to stand for in the world.
Sadly, the noncommittal posture with which you hold our closest liberal democratic friends in suspense is in keeping with President Trump’s self-proclaimed “unpredictability” – one campaign promise to which he has adhered in his term to date. This administration’s enthusiastic embrace of authoritarian leaders – and ire directed toward our closest and long-standing democratic friends, such as Germany and Australia – only encourages our adversaries, and weakens a global order that has served US interests well for decades. This hardly ensures American “security, prosperity, and interests,” as the Department’s new mission statement advocates.
In fewer than seven months, you have presided over the immolation of decades worth of American diplomatic capital, driving numerous highly qualified professionals from the Department. Worse yet, peoples the world over who had once turned in hope toward US leadership are now looking elsewhere. The removal of “just” and “democratic” from the Department’s mission statement underscores this retreat from American bedrock values. This approach actively corrodes core American principles at home and abroad, and creates a dangerous global vacuum into which geopolitical adversaries and other malign actors are already stepping.
We sincerely hope that you recognize the importance of the Community of Democracies, of the CoD ministerial meeting, and the opportunity presented by the US’s tenure as the President of this forum. It is critical for this administration – and the Department of State that you lead – to ensure the United States hosts with appropriate respect and commitment this gathering of America’s democratic counterparts and civic activists with whom we should show solidarity. Your failure to do would only demonstrate contempt for the values that have long undergirded American engagement with the world, gaining the US nothing.
Democratization Policy Council
Kurt Bassuener, Co-Founder and Senior Associate, Dundee, UK
Toby Vogel, Co-Founder and Senior Associate, Brussels, Belgium
Bodo Weber, Senior Associate and Berlin Office Director, Germany
Eric A. Witte, Co-Founder and Senior Associate, Brussels, Belgium