Sunday, November 28, 2021

Summary of “The Dissent Channel: American Diplomacy in a Dishonest Age”

Book Summary from Fadji:

The Dissent Channel chronicles Elizabeth Shackleford's last few years in the Department of State, a career marked by her year-long tour in South Sudan. In Juba, she finds herself at the forefront of the US' diplomatic outreach with a country it had helped create, but whose government had turned increasingly authoritarian and been accused of gross human rights violations. The situation creates a conundrum for the diplomat who struggles to reconcile her day-to-day functions with values espoused by the department and the US government--values that pushed her to join DoS in the first place. Following the tough tour, Lizzy and a colleague decide to draft a dissent cable: an act that doesn't lead to any substantial policy debate regarding US engagement with Juba. 

In retrospect, she admits a certain level of naivete in thinking she was aware of all factors affecting her leadership's decision making processes and in also thinking she could bring about change from the inside.
The portion of the book dealing with her public resignation is disappointingly short. She makes it known, however, that what she perceived as the previous administration's lack of commitment to diplomacy and American values accelerated her exit from the department.

Her drive and idealism are to be admired, so is her unapologetic belief in the primacy of American values and ideals: causes that are worthy of being propagated by a professional diplomatic corps enjoying the full support of the US government and the American public. Lizzy would argue that American power and greatness lie in its values and ideals, as written and professed. She might add, however, that failing to abide by them calls into question our true intentions abroad, and especially in Africa.

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Summary of “The Dissent Channel: American Diplomacy in a Dishonest Age”

Book Summary from Fadji: The Dissent Channel   chronicles Elizabeth Shackleford's last few years in the Department of State, a career ma...

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