Chasing the Devil at Foggy Bottom
The Future of Religion in American Diplomacy
Understanding the role of religion in global politics is crucial for effective diplomacy.
Many American policy makers are squeamish about religion’s role in diplomacy. Nevertheless, religion plays a crucial and complex part in global affairs, such as in sustainable development, various human rights issues, and fomenting and mitigating conflict. Shaun A. Casey, the founding director of the US Department of State’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs, makes a compelling case for the necessity of understanding global religion in Chasing the Devil at Foggy Bottom.
In this fresh and provocative narrative, Casey writes frankly about his work integrating sophisticated, research-driven policy into the State Department under Secretary of State John Kerry. Their new strategy went beyond older paradigms that focused myopically on religious freedom or countering violent extremism. Such reductive approaches, Casey insists, cost thousands of lives and trillions of dollars in the US’s ill-fated invasion of Iraq in 2003. Witty and astute, Casey recounts his team’s challenges in DC politics as well as in the major global events of his tenure, including climate change, the rise of ISIL, and the refugee crisis.
On a global stage with higher stakes than ever, effective diplomacy is imperative. Yet in this critical moment, the United States’s reputation has faltered. Chasing the Devil at Foggy Bottom offers a path forward to better foreign policy.
Table of Contents
Foreword by John Kerry
2. The $7 Trillion Hedgehog
3. Male, Pale, and not Quite Yale
5. The Man in the White Hat
6. Through the Golden Door
8. Responding to the Universe
9. The Devil?
“What happens when a relatively unknown professor at Harvard Divinity School is invited by a US Secretary of State to establish and direct a well-resourced government Office of Religion and Global Affairs located in Washington, DC (in the oddly named Foggy Bottom district)? This extraordinary book gives a unique, first-hand answer.”
“Can we continue to ignore the geopolitical significance of religion? Shaun Casey clearly demonstrates the high cost of doing so. As a specialist in religious ethics and as the founding director of the US Department of State’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs, there is no one better suited than Casey to illustrate the role that religion has always played globally in public life, while also offering a vision on how to intelligently craft foreign policy that is religiously literate.”
—Aristotle Papanikolaou, Fordham University
“Shaun Casey has done the impossible: he brought a critical new element into our government bureaucracy, demonstrated its success, won at least some grudging acceptance, garnered appreciation from some would-be critics, and lived to write about it with panache.”
—Ruth Messinger, American Jewish World Service
“In her reflections on serving as Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright made the extraordinary recommendation that the US take religion seriously in its foreign policy. Her recommendation was not instantiated until Secretary John Kerry appointed Shaun Casey to build and lead the Department of Religion and Global Affairs in the State Department in 2013. This unabashedly candid and honest narrative is the story of the four years Casey led this office. It is a compelling argument for the need to take religion seriously in international and domestic diplomacy. It should be read by all who are interested in addressing the major issues confronting humans today.”
—Gregory E. Sterling, Yale Divinity School
“What should politicians and policy makers know about religion at home and abroad, and what is the cost of ignorance? These are the questions interrogated by Casey’s important book, which is part memoir and part record of an extraordinary experiment at the State Department under John Kerry’s leadership. As the first leader of the Religion and Global Affairs unit at State, Casey tells a compelling story of both the obstacles and the opportunities of bringing a more sophisticated approach to religion to bear on the great issues of the early twenty-first century. Alas, what was quickly built was even more quickly demolished, leaving the reader to ponder how high the cost needs to be before Washington’s political and bureaucratic elites recognize that religious literacy is not just an academic slogan, but a diplomatic necessity.”
—David N. Hempton, Harvard Divinity School
National Catholic Reporter
“Casey tells his tale with a good balance of anecdote and analysis, and a fine writing style. You won’t regret taking the time to read this volume.”