Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Bolton to be point man in administration's religious freedom efforts - Rick Moran

by Rick Moran

Bolton appears to be singularly qualified to take administration efforts to secure religious freedom to the next level

The Trump administration has done something no other administration - Republican or Democratic - has done; they have made religious freedom a priority in our national security strategy.

And the need has never been greater.

Now it appears that newly appointed national security adviser John Bolton will be taking the lead in fighting for the right of peoples around the world to worship how they wish without the threat of being killed or driven from their homes.

The Hill:
Last year two dozen senior human rights and foreign policy experts and religious leaders signed letters urging the White House to appoint such a coordinator. The group identified a qualified candidate who is an expert in this area, has worked closely with the government in crafting its new policy, and could perform the coordination function with distinction.
In fact, two decades ago, Congress acted in a bipartisan manner to create a position at the NSC in the same International Religious Freedom Act that established both the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom at the State Department and the creation of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), on which Bolton has served.
The commission and ambassadorship created by this legislation have been a credit to America’s foreign policy and its moral clarity. Indeed, the recent confirmation of Sam Brownback as Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom was a welcome and enormously important step for those persecuted for their faith, including the Christian and Yazidi victims of ISIS.
Still, the NSC position remains both crucial and unfilled — as it has for two decades.
As national security advisor, John Bolton should change that, and as a former USCIRF commissioner, he surely recognizes the importance of this action. In a presidency of firsts, the Trump administration could also be the first-ever to fill this position, setting an important precedent.
Those who survived the genocide at the hands of ISIS took heart at the news the U.S. would finally come to their aid in this administration. Those who continue to face religious persecution around the world are encouraged by the message of the national security strategy — that America takes seriously its commitment to religious freedom.
Bolton appears to be singularly qualified to take administration efforts to secure religious freedom to the next level. But as this article mentions, he will be battling skepticism and hostility from career state department officials whose primary goal is not to rock the boat.

It's one thing to formulate policy and announce it. It's quite another to get the state department bureaucracy to implement it. This is an age old battle between the White House and Foggy Bottom. State Department bureaucrats believe they run US foreign policy and that presidents and their advisers are transitory occupants. 

So the question is can Bolton, with his bulldog mentality, force meaningful policy changes that will actually do some good? I wouldn't bet against him. Of course, the bureaucrats will scream bloody murder and run to the press telling the media what a meanie Bolton is. But Bolton is one guy who doesn't care what the media thinks about him, which is why there is a real chance for substantive change.

Rick Moran


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