On Trump’s adventures in diplomatic vandalism

Sunday July 21 2019


By Harold Acemah

On July 10, British prime minister Theresa May announced in Parliament that the United Kingdom’s ambassador to the United States, Sir Kim Darroch, a seasoned career diplomat, had tendered his resignation after vicious, irresponsible and unjustified attacks on him by an arrogant, undiplomatic and shameless president Donald Trump, a man who leaves a lot to be desired. In my opinion, USA deserves a better leader.
Ms May paid glowing and well-deserved tribute to Darroch who was due to retire at the end of this year. A British government spokesman has assured the country that the diplomat enjoys the prime minister’s full support.
Trump’s despicable verbal assault on the British ambassador followed the leak of diplomatic correspondence from the British Embassy in Washington DC to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London. The leaked memos are frank and critical of the Trump administration. Ambassador Darroch’s confidential cables which were leaked appeared in the Mail on Sunday newspaper of London on July 7.
According to the exclusive story titled, “Our man in US says Trump is inept” Darroch accurately and courageously described US president Trump as “inept, insecure and incompetent” in a series of explosive memos addressed to prime minister May.
“Sir Kim Darroch, one of Britain’s top diplomats, used secret cables and briefing notes to impugn Trump’s character, warning London that the White House was ‘uniquely dysfunctional’ and that the president’s career could end in disgrace,” writes the Mail on Sunday.
In one of several secret memos, Sir Kim writes, “we don’t really believe this administration will become substantially more normal, less dysfunctional, less unpredictable, less faction driven, less diplomatically clumsy and inept.” Well, that sounds familiar.
Darroch warns that Trump could be indebted to what he calls the “dodgy Russians” which may explain the US president’s rather cosy relations with president Putin of Russia. Of interest to Uganda and Africa, he argues that Trump’s erratic economic policies could wreck the rules-based world trade system promoted by WTO and UNCTAD.
Finally, Darroch expresses fears that Trump’s scandal-ridden presidency could “crash and burn” and that “we could be at the beginning of a downward spiral that leads to disgrace and downfall”. In my opinion, the sooner Trump’s presidency crashes the better for America and the world.

Some lessons learnt
As a career diplomat, ambassador Darroch has lived up to the high standards and expectations consistent with a popular definition of a diplomat, “an honest person sent abroad to lie on behalf of his or her country”. The key words are “an honest person” who serves his or her country diligently and professionally, without fear or favour.
True to universally accepted norms and principles of the distinguished and noble profession of diplomacy, Darroch could not tell lies to London about the host country, namely USA, especially about a mediocre and racist president who is dragging a great country down the drain in broad daylight, despite his empty slogan to make America great again. I have no doubt whatsoever that history will absolve ambassador Darroch who has correctly accused Trump of practising “diplomatic vandalism”.
I shudder to imagine what Sir Kim and his colleagues at the FCO say and write, in confidence, about former and current African leaders, such as Omar Bashir and Yahya Jammeh, who make president Trump look like a bright star over Mt Kilimanjaro.
For a poor third world country like Uganda, where an irresponsible regime has deliberately and recklessly run down and decimated our country’ diplomatic service, the benefits and dividends which would normally accrue from frank and objective advice and analysis rendered by long-serving career diplomats are lacking.
A career diplomatic service enables a serious and responsible government to make correct and informed policy decisions on the basis of professional advice which political appointees cannot provide.
Against this background, I urge the parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs to demand and insist on approving career diplomats as Uganda’s ambassadors and high commissioners abroad in order to effectively advance and promote Uganda’s national interests.