There was a time in the not-so-distant past when President Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly was considered the sane one in Trump’s cabinet.
That was until he defended Trump’s attack on Rep. Frederica Wilson when the Florida congresswoman criticized Trump’s handling of the condolence call to Myeshia Johnson, widow of Sgt. LaDavid T. Johnson, one of four American soldiers killed in an October 4 ambush in Niger.
Some have even claimed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is the adult in the room keeping Trump from blowing up the world.
After all, he never denied calling Trump a “f***ing moron.”
But let’s not be too hasty.
This is the Trump administration we’re talking about.
According to a “dissent memo,” Rex Tillerson has violated the Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA), which prohibits aid and military assistance to nations conscripting soldiers under age 18.
The July 28 memo was submitted through the State Department’s “Dissent Channel,” where employees may lodge policy disagreements without retribution.
Responding to Tillerson’s decision in June to remove Afghanistan, Iraq, and Myanmar from the offending nations list, overruling career diplomats’ recommendations that cite evidence each country still utilizes child soldiers, the memo argues de-listing offending countries “is inconsistent with US law,” “compromises US credibility,” and “undermines the department’s work and harms children.”
“It has risked sending a message to the authorities in all three countries—and to the international community—that minimal efforts are enough. We as a government are not interested in upholding international norms, nor in holding countries accountable for ongoing abuses against children; we are willing to neglect the legal foundation and principles guiding our advocacy and diplomacy.”
Tillerson responded with a defense of the three nations, stating they were “making sincere — if as yet incomplete — efforts” to rectify child soldier use; whereas other offending nations–the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen–are “making little or no effort to correct their child soldier violations.”
Former President Barack Obama often issued waivers to Iraq and Myanmar, exempting them from the 2008 law’s restrictions.
Tillerson, though, did not offer a waiver.
Due to selective enforcement, dissenting officials warned the United States could weaken a “broad range of State Department reports and analyses.”
Image credit: msw.usc.edu