Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson finally met with the State Department’s workforce to outline how President Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda applies to foreign policy. In his remarks, Tillerson focused on the core mission of national security. He insisted that American values still matter, but was clear that the U.S. is no longer in the business of promoting those values as universal aspirations. It’s a big loss for American influence in the world.
The United States and its new administration need to reengage with Latin America. Regional dynamics are favorable for it, giving President Trump the opportunity to reestablish relationships with the rest of the Western Hemisphere—and thus reaffirm the United States’ position as the region’s key partner. Regional primacy must remain a cornerstone of US Grand Strategy if President Trump truly wants to protect the country’s strategic interests and national security.
The Trump administration has proposed cuts in FY18 of 28 percent to the State Department, with much deeper cuts likely to the Bureau for Educational and Cultural Affairs, and a significant narrowing of the types of exchange programs our country supports. If enacted into law, these combined changes would greatly harm our nation’s public diplomacy efforts and, ultimately, our national security and economy.
The brief exchange between the president and his national security adviser highlights one of the early conundrums of Trump’s presidency and his foreign policy. In his first budget blueprint, released Thursday, and in speeches, Trump has preached “America First,” an approach that involves bolstering U.S. military might, strengthening the country’s borders and slashing foreign aid.
Social media is a great campaign tool. And it is a great way for government to connect with constituents. But without some serious discipline, the use of social media by government officials can be a threat to the nation. What we are seeing now is a learning curve at the White House that could yield disaster before it reaches maturity. That is a result none of us should aspire to.
Watch footage from our recent event with CSIS.
Advice for the new administration on public diplomacy and national security, drawing on past lessons.