Saturday, February 27, 2021

Diplomats worry about US reputation abroad after Capitol siege

They fear the invasion may badly undermine their credibility to promote and defend democratic values in other countries.

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American diplomats serving abroad have condemned President Donald Trump’s incitement of the deadly assault on the Capitol and called for administration officials to support removing him from office, reports The Associated Press.

Career foreign service diplomats sent two cables to State Department leadership saying they fear last Wednesday’s invasion may badly undermine their credibility to promote and defend democratic values in other countries.

“Failing to publicly hold the president to account would further damage our democracy and our ability to effectively accomplish our foreign policy goals abroad,” they told their superiors.

The statements were an extraordinary protest against a sitting US president by American diplomats, who have long complained that the Trump administration has ignored and diminished their role and expertise.

The cables are unprecedented in their characterisation of the president as a danger to the country, and also reflect anger at the response to the riot by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a loyal Trump ally.

Pompeo has condemned the violence at the Capitol but has pointedly not addressed the role Trump played in encouraging his supporters to storm the building.

Neither has Pompeo addressed the aftermath or acknowledged that American diplomats overseas may now face new difficulties in promoting democracy.

“It is essential that the Department of State explicitly denounce President Trump’s role in this violent attack on the US government,” said the first of the two cables.

“Just as we routinely denounce foreign leaders who use violence and intimidation to interfere in peaceful democratic processes and override the will of their voters, the department’s public statements about this episode should also mention President Trump by name. It is critical that we communicate to the world that in our system, no one – not even the president – is above the law or immune from public criticism.”

It was not immediately clear how many diplomats signed the cables, both of which were viewed by The Associated Press.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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