Editor’s Note: In
an October 11, 2013 Foreign Policy op-ed
, Noah Shachtman and Colum Lynch report on the mounting foreign policy consequences of the U.S. government shutdown. Uncertain budgets have forced the U.S. Army War College to cancel high-level meetings with a delegation of Chinese generals, and as the shutdown continues, more foreign policy agencies will be compelled to furlough workers and delay important dialogues.
The U.S. government shutdown may finally be starting to wind down, if reports out of Capitol Hill and the White House are to be believed. But in the meantime, the cutoff of federal funds is hobbling American diplomatic efforts around the globe. A long-planned visit from a delegation of Chinese generals has been waived off. The State Department has been forced to postpone a scheduled review in Geneva of America’s human rights record. High-level diplomatic, trade, and military meetings have all been shelved.
Last week, the shutdown prompted President Barack Obama to cancel plans to attend last weekend’s summit of Asian leaders in Bali, Indonesia. The U.S. trade representative, meanwhile, announced that the United States would have to delay its participation in ongoing trade negotiations in Brussels; the office’s tiny, $4 million annual travel budget is now effectively zero. Turns out those major, public admissions were only the start.
Some of China’s most influential military thinkers and policymakers — including several general officers — were due to come to the United States next week for a series of long-arranged meetings at the U.S. Army War College, followed by private discussions at some of Washington’s more prominent think tanks. Led by the respected Maj. Gen. Yao Yunzhu of the Chinese Academy of Military Science, the delegation’s meetings were considered important at a time when Beijing and Washington are squaring off over issues from cybersecurity to the South China Sea.
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Rather than serving as a unifying diplomatic exercise to highlight Iran’s troubling regional activities, the [Warsaw] summit primarily highlighted America’s diplomatic isolation from its European allies.