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World of Faith and FreedomWhy International Religious Liberty Is Vital to American National Security$
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Thomas F. Farr

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195179958

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195179958.001.0001

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The Lion's Den at Foggy Bottom

The Lion's Den at Foggy Bottom

Act I: The Seiple Years (1998–2000)

(p.135) 5 The Lion's Den at Foggy Bottom
World of Faith and Freedom

Thomas F. Farr (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Robert Seiple, a Republican evangelical, was chosen by President William Clinton to lead his administration's religious freedom initiative. Initially the administration hoped that Seiple's appointment would forestall the IRF Act itself. When the Act was passed anyway, Seiple became the first IRF Ambassador at Large, a position established by the Act. Within the Department, however, the bureaucracy reverted to its default position of isolating the new initiative within the bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, itself out of the mainstream of foreign policy. Seiple fought for a permanent staff but ultimately acquiesced in functional and bureaucratic isolation, choosing instead to travel widely. His legacy lies in the dens of persecution abroad, and with his having won the “battle over China,”—i.e., convincing Secretary Madeleine Albright to designate China as a “country of particular concern” under the IRF Act. Seiple also began the “Islamic Roundtable” at State, a prescient idea whose time was yet to come.

Keywords:   Robert Seiple, Ambassador at Large, William Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, countries of particular concern, Islamic Roundtable

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