On September 4, I attended a talk at UNM by Michael Hammer, Ambassador-Designate to Chile and former Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, entitled “U.S. Foreign Policy and Why it Matters to You”. Hammer gave an overview of the main duties of the State Department and discussed its ‘strategic priorities’ in advancing U.S. interests abroad. He highlighted several U.S. programs, including economic partnerships such as free trade agreements, jobs diplomacy to advance the interests of American companies abroad, empowerment of women and girls, and digital diplomacy. He finished by telling the audience members why they might want to work for the State Department, citing the foreign language skills that its employees develop, the experience of living in new cultures, and the variety and change of moving to new posts every 2-3 years.
Throughout his talk, Hammer emphasized the State Department’s commitment to promoting U.S. interests abroad. All of the priorities that he mentioned were expressed in terms of protecting U.S. national security, creating jobs in the U.S., and forging ties with other nations in order to enhance shared interests.The rhetoric of self-interest was juxtaposed with the stated priorities of promoting ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’ in Latin America and around the world.