Thursday, March 09, 2017

"Democracy Is, Most Assuredly, Not a Business"

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Thomas Countryman was the Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation, a position he held after serving the United States for 35 years. In that role, he was "tasked with keeping WMDs from reaching terrorists, and restricting the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons." Below are the profound words Countryman said, last month, on the day of his forced retirement:
Our work is little understood by our fellow Americans, a fact that is sometimes exploited for political purpose. When I have the opportunity to speak to audiences across this amazing land, I explain “We do not have a Department of State – we do not have a foreign policy – because we love foreigners. We do it because we love Americans.”

We want Americans to sleep the sleep of the righteous, knowing that the smallest fraction of their tax dollar goes to ease poverty and reduce injustice. We want them to know that our consular officers are the first of many lines of defense against those who would come to the US with evil purpose. We want the families of America’s heroes – our servicemen – to know that their loved ones are not put into danger simply because of a failure to pursue non-military solutions.

Business made America great, as it always has been, and business leaders are among our most important partners. But let’s be clear, despite the similarities. A dog is not a cat. Baseball is not football. And diplomacy is not a business. Human rights are not a business. And democracy is, most assuredly, not a business.