By M.A. Student Josè Nunes

On February 2, 2023, Dr. Jakub Grygiel – a professor in the Politics Department of the Catholic University of America –  spoke via Zoom with the human rights cohort about the weaponization of the U.S State Department to advance a particular ideological agenda through American foreign policy. Previously, he served as a Senior Advisor in the Office of Policy Planning at the U.S. Department of State in 2017-18, Senior Fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, and on the faculty of SAIS-Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C. 

Dr. Grygiel expressed concerns over how the U.S State Department started to instrumentalize the language of human rights in order to promote a specific political agenda in the 1970’s. Instead of denouncing flagrant human rights violations taking place in the Soviet Union or China, they produced assessment reports criticizing Western countries and other American allies for not providing access to abortion and other reproductive rights. Dr. Grygiel pointed out that such so-called “rights” are not protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights nor the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; nevertheless, this position gained more prominence over time until it became the dominant one in the 1990’s.  

Part of the reason for the U.S State Department’s ideological shift was the gradual prevalence in its staff of people educated in the East and West coasts universities whose academic curriculum reflects a liberal worldview and mindset. This means that a substantial part of the country’s values and belief systems are underrepresented in the cadre of the U.S State Department and American foreign policy as a consequence.

Dr. Grygiel also stressed how the Woke ideologization of American foreign policy weakens America’s interests and opens space for the strengthening of Russia and China as global players. Being an expert on Russia, he sees American internal divisiveness as signaling weakness in the eyes of the Kremlin which may have played an important role in Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine. Likewise, China also takes advantage of a seemingly weak American foreign policy to strengthen its position in Asia and Latin America.