A promising young diplomat’s account of her assignment in South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation on the brink of civil war, and an explanation of the ways US foreign policy has utterly failed in its diplomacy and accountability around the world.
In 2017, the State Department lost 60% of its career ambassadors. Hiring has been cut and the budget slashed. The idealistic women and men who chose to enter government service are leaving in record numbers, jeopardizing operations both domestically and internationally, and eroding the U.S. standing on the world stage.
In The Dissent Channel, former State Department official Lizzy Shackelford shows this erosion first-hand through her experience within the precarious rise and devastating fall of the world’s newest country, South Sudan. Shackleford’s excitement about the possibility of encouraging democracy from the ground up quickly turns to questioning, then to shock at the under-resourced American embassy in the capitol and at the miscommunication and willful ignorance perpetuated within the State Department itself. She argues that the decline in diplomacy didn’t begin with the current administration, and illustrates the damaging effects of an American foreign policy approach that gives short shrift to the values of democracy, accountability, and human rights that we have long feigned to promote in our overseas engagements.
Policy and politics come alive through Shackleford’s sense of storytelling and suspense, as she weaves extraordinary tales of life as a young female diplomat with a wry sense of humor and a skeptic’s thirst for understanding. And in navigating both American bureaucracy and the fraught history and present of South Sudan, she conveys an urgent message about the evolving (and devolving) state of U.S. foreign policy.