National Security Council spokesman John Kirby has been making curious pronouncements from the White House podium lately.
“LGBTQ+ rights are . . . a core part of our foreign policy,” Kirby said last week.
What does that mean, exactly?
Cross-sex hormones and gender surgery for your kids or you get no foreign aid?
That will win hearts and minds across the globe.
A couple of days later, Kirby warned that the US will “have to take a look” at imposing economic sanctions on predominately Christian Uganda if an anti-LGBTQ identity law is enacted that was just passed by its parliament.
This would be “really unfortunate,” Kirby admitted, since most US aid to Uganda is for health care, especially for AIDS.
Meanwhile, Samantha Power is creeping around socially conservative Hungary, stirring up trouble with intersex activists over a law banning gender studies and the portrayal of LGBTQ content to minors.
It’s one thing to dangle the rainbow flag outside our embassies in Kabul and the Holy See.
It’s quite another to impose American social mores on traditionally Christian or Islamic countries.
You know this kind of woke imperialism in our names won’t end well for anyone.
In Ecuador this year, for instance, the State Department has been funding “drag theater performances” which it calls a “public diplomacy program . . . to promote diversity and inclusion.”
The grant summary says the objective is to support “US foreign policy goals and objectives, advance national interests, and enhance national security.”
It’s not clear just how our national security is enhanced by exporting Drag Queen Story Hour to a predominately Christian country when it’s already a divisive issue at home.
In Hungary, Power also boasted during her trip last month that the agency she leads, USAID, is spending taxpayer money to “help independent media thrive and reach new audiences.”
You can bet that that “independent media” will go only one way — against the conservative prime minister Viktor Orbán, whom President Biden has called a totalitarian “thug,” despite the fact that Orbán won his fourth consecutive election last year with the most votes in Hungarian history.
Hungary is a parliamentary republic, a member of NATO and the EU, has a robust free press and a constitution that explicitly protects human rights.
Hungarians just aren’t big fans of American wokeism or gender ideology.
For that thoughtcrime, Biden decided to poke them in the eye last year with a provocative appointment as Hungarian ambassador: David Pressman, a gay human rights lawyer from the Boies Schiller Flexner law firm who helped lead the Obama administration’s international LGBT rights strategy, which our president has now weaponized.
The New York Times described his arrival like this: “A US Ambassador Finds Himself on Hostile Ground . . . Pressman arrived in Hungary with his husband and two children to take up a new job in September as the United States’ ambassador to Europe’s self-declared citadel of traditional Christian values and friend of the Kremlin.”
Politico praised Pressman for “his willingness to call out — and even troll” the Orbán government.
For example, in October, his embassy Twitter account posted a video quiz containing anonymous quotes and asking you to guess “Who said it?”
Was it a senior Hungarian government figure or Vladimir Putin?
None of the quotes were from Putin, the implication being that Orban’s government is just as much the enemy.
It is neither diplomatic nor prudent to needlessly alienate a pro-US ally, especially at a time of global peril.
The foreign-policy implications of trying to force countries to embrace the Biden administration’s extreme liberal social agenda could be “catastrophic” warned John Ratcliffe, the former director of national intelligence, last year.
But “proselytizing for woke ideology,” as Ratcliffe put it, is what Biden is determined to do.
Within two weeks of becoming president, the president signed an executive order directing all “diplomacy and foreign assistance [to] promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons everywhere [and combat] intolerance.”
However laudable our tolerance for minority rights might be, this wasn’t just a feel-good affirmation of American values.
It was a threat: any foreign government that creates a “climate of intolerance,” however that is defined by ultra-liberal State Department officials, will be punished with “the full range of diplomatic and assistance tools and, as appropriate, financial sanctions, visa restrictions, and other actions.”
It may be hard for self-engrossed denizens of The Swamp to understand, but wokery is unpopular in a lot of foreign societies, including across much of Africa, China, Russia, south-east Asia and the Middle East.
They regard gender ideology and the LGBT agenda as cultural imperialism that undermines their religious and family values — and who are we to tell them otherwise?
When you add the backroom climate schemes of John Kerry, Biden’s globe-trotting climate tzar, America’s bully-boy tactics become ever more self-defeating.
Former secretary of state Mike Pompeo told Fox News on Sunday that “Kerry is running a lot of foreign policy” so that climate change has trumped American security when it comes to the Chinese communist party.
Doing no good
Far from protecting our national security, a foreign policy that prioritizes such boutique concerns is likely to have the perverse effect of creating a backlash against the very values it wants to spread.
For instance, trying to impose gender quotas on Afghanistan’s government and military didn’t turn out too well, writes Christopher Mott in a paper for the non-partisan Institute for Peace & Diplomacy think tank last year titled titled “Woke Imperium.”
The policy “caused difficulties with Afghan recruits and cost the United States at least $110 million before the inclusionary aspect of the program was dropped.”
At the very moment that Afghanistan was falling to the Taliban in 2021, the US Embassy in Kabul was celebrating Pride Month by flying the rainbow flag. The symbolism of the vanquished rainbow imperium was inescapable.
Mott says diplomacy has been forgotten “in the rush to make foreign policy into an extension of domestic culture wars.”
“Attempts to remake foreign cultures according to the mores of the 21st-century American (and, to a lesser extent, European) haute bourgeoisie cosmopolitanism” are a form of “cultural eugenics,” he said.
“The new wokeist coming of the empire [requires] total cultural submission — which could, in time, further radicalize the countries in the Global South against” us,” he said.
All we are doing with this empty virtue signaling is stirring up antipathy to the US in parts of the world where China already is making inroads.
China doesn’t care about the sexual mores of the countries it is co-opting. Neither should we.
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