Officially, members of the United State’s State Department are supposed to show a united front. Their job is to uphold the polices of the current administration, even if they don’t agree with them. That’s what happens publicly. Yet they have a tool in place to tell the administration just how frustrated they’ve become, and they’re using it.
Toward the end of the Vietnam War, when there was much political debate about foreign policy, a channel was created to allow for the internal expression of dissent. This method was intended to help advise, when needed. It is supposed to be an option that allows members to express concerns, without the fear of reprisal.
And now, after last week’s refugee and immigration ban, the channel has opened again. More than 1,000 State Department employees have signed a memo that call’s the Trump administration’s decision bad policy.
A New York Times article has detailed the creation of a new dissent memo, and the effort of many across the globe to add their signatures to it.
There are 7,600 Foreign Service officers and 11,000 civil servants that work for the State Department. 1,000 of them have already signed the memo. Many others reportedly haven’t, as they’re not sure exactly how to do it.
The memo draws on Mistakes from America’s past, and equates them to the moves we’re making currently. “The decision to restrict the freedom of Japanese-Americans in the United States and foreign nationals who wanted to travel to or settle in the United States during the 1940s has been a source of lasting shame for many in our country.”
The thesis statement of the memo is clear. The ban will “immediately’ sour relations with the countries affected and much of the Muslim world, which sees the ban as religiously motivated.” Trump’s policy, one that he claims will keep America safe, will actually increase tensions in the Middle East, add fuel to the radical Islamic fire, a put more American lives at risk.
The new administration isn’t too concerned with the dissent. The dissenting members of the State Department “should either get with the program or they can go,” press secretary Sean Spicer said during his daily briefing.
“At some point if they have a big problem with the policies that he’s instituting to keep the country safe, then that’s up to them to question whether or not they want to stay or not.”