June 30, 2018
The US ambassador to Estonia has announced his resignation, citing Donald Trump’s disparagement of the European Union and Nato and adding to a steady trickle of career diplomats leaving in protest against the president’s policies.
US ambassador to Estonia resigns over Trump policies and provocations
Jim Melville, a 33-year diplomat who has been posted in Tallinn since 2015, was approaching retirement but announced his decision to leave early to friends in a private Facebook posting that was obtained by Foreign Policy. The post refers to Trump’s remarks that have surfaced in the past week.
Melville wrote: “A Foreign Service Officer’s DNA is programmed to support policy and we’re schooled right from the start, that if there ever comes a point where one can no longer do so, particularly if one is in a position of leadership, the honorable course is to resign. Having served under six presidents and 11 secretaries of state, I never really thought it would reach that point for me.
“For the President to say the EU was ‘set up to take advantage of the United States, to attack our piggy bank’, or that ‘Nato is as bad as Nafta’ is not only factually wrong, but proves to me that it’s time to go.”
The state department later confirmed that Melville would leave the foreign service on 29 July.
The resignation of a senior diplomat from a critical posting in eastern Europe comes at a time of rising apprehension among many US and European officials about Trump’s looming visit to Europe starting on 11 July. He will attend a Nato summit in Brussels then visit the UK, followed by a meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.
The greatest fear among allies is that the president will publicly lambast them over defence spending and call Nato into question, then make unplanned, unilateral concessions to Putin as he did to Kim Jong-un when he met the North Korean leader earlier this month.
In the Singapore summit with Kim, Trump offered to suspend joint military exercises with South Korea, pointing to their cost.
Jitters among Nato allies are likely to be heightened by a Washington Post report on Friday that the administration has ordered a review on the costs and effects of a large-scale withdrawal of US troops from Germany, against a backdrop of tensions with Angela Merkel.
European diplomats say Trump has become increasingly obsessed with Germany, complaining about its car exports to the US and plans to built the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Russia rather than buy more expensive LNG exports from the US. At the recent rancorous G7 summit in Quebec, Trump reportedly threw sweets down on the table in front of Merkel, saying: “Don’t say I never give you anything.”
Since Trump took office, there has been a steady outflow of diplomats and other state department employees, who have resigned in protest against his behaviour and policies.
The ambassador to Panama, John Feeley, resigned in December over Trump’s failure to criticise white supremacists. The same month, another well-regarded diplomat, Elizabeth Shackelford, left her job, blaming the administration’s abandonment of human rights as a priority and its general disdain for diplomacy.
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