January 06, 2020 - Monday
U.S. Gets off on the Wrong Foote with Zambia
January 06, 2020
President Trump doesn't share a lot of Barack Obama's views -- especially when it comes to the mission of the State Department. After eight years, it was obvious that the 44th president was more interested in domineering than diplomacy. Even now, pockets of his cultural imperialism live on, deep inside the agency that Trump has tried desperately to clean up.
With 75,000 employees, it's taken almost Trump's full first term to work his way through the bureaucrats dedicated to keeping the last administration's legacy alive. Turns out, it's not easy to dismantle an army of international lobbyists for radical sexuality, abortion, and other extreme social policies. But thankfully, this White House is determined to keep trying. And before Christmas, they made it pretty clear that they aren't done yet.
After a tumultuous few months, the Trump team announced that it was recalling America's ambassador to Zambia, who was asked to leave after insulting the country's LGBT policies and judicial system. Calling the jailing of two men "horrifying," Daniel Foote upset Zambian leaders who think America's representative crossed a line when he called their beliefs "oppressive." Exactly what mandate Foote was operating under remains unclear.
In a statement, the U.S. announced that it was bringing Foote home, making it clear that while America "firmly opposes abuses against LGBT persons," it "remains committed to our partnership with the Zambian people." It's the Trump administration's desire, the spokesperson went on, to have an "open and frank relationship of mutual respect..."
The move was a shocking contrast to the last administration, which not only ignored -- but mocked -- their host country's beliefs in places like Latin America. In fact, Barack Obama's efforts to radicalize other nations was so offensive that citizens of other nations openly celebrated when Donald Trump was elected. Like dozens of other countries on the receiving end of the president's extreme social agenda, people in the Caribbean were under enormous pressure from the bullies at the State Department to abandon ship on their traditional Christian beliefs.
Sometimes that harassment came in the form of financial blackmail -- threatening foreign aid if the leaders didn't comply. Other times, it came in the form of publicly degrading locals' beliefs about the family. But no matter how it arrived, the result was always the same: outrage that the United States -- of all countries -- should be browbeating the world into submission on issues that are still fiercely controversial in most of the world.
In 2017, shortly after he took office, Donald Trump received a letter from hundreds of pastors and church leaders in the Caribbean urging him to chart a new course for U.S. relations -- one that doesn't include an obvious disrespect for other nations' values. It's time, the Evangelical Association of the Caribbean writes, for the White House to stop using the State Department to impose their LGBT agenda on other countries. "'Gay rights,'" they wrote, "are pre-empting human rights, such as freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and freedom of conscience. We implore you urgently to review this matter, to revoke relevant executive orders and policies, and to thus to restore to 'The City upon a Hill' the bright beam that once shone from it."
Three years in, that's exactly what this administration has done. Recalling Foote is the right move when he has broken trust with his hosts and can no longer effectively serve as our representative overseas. It should also serve as an indicator of how we will act elsewhere. America respects everyone, but it won't promote values that are inconsistent with what this president stands for.
Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.