Monday, June 26, 2017

You Could Call It Collusion

If the Russians are looking for Mr. Trump to deconstruct America, they must be pleased.

These excerpts are from the New York Times article Where Trump Zigs, Tillerson Zags, Putting Him at Odds With White House. As are these:
[A]s a behind-the-scenes mediator in the dispute between Qatar and Saudi Arabia [...] Mr. Tillerson [is] in exactly the place a secretary of state does not want to be: in public disagreement with the president who appointed him.


Some in the White House say that the discord in the Qatar dispute is part of a broader struggle over who is in charge of Middle East policy — Mr. Tillerson or Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a senior adviser — and that the secretary of state has a tin ear about the political realities of the Trump administration. Others say it is merely symptomatic of a dysfunctional State Department that, under Mr. Tillerson’s uncertain leadership, does not yet have in place the senior political appointees who make the wheels of diplomacy turn.

Whatever it is, it's not good.
And in Congress, where Mr. Tillerson once found members willing to give deference to his efforts to reorganize and shrink the State Department, there is now anger and defiance about the extent of those plans.

In a remarkable series of hearings this month, Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee and the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, declared Mr. Tillerson’s proposal for a 30 percent cut in the department’s budget a “waste of time” that he would not even review, and he expressed disbelief that the reorganization plan for the department would not be ready until the end of the year, at the earliest.


“I have a hard time thinking of one who has come in with little foreign policy experience and has less interest in surrounding himself with the people who know something about the regions and issues that he has to deal with,” [said Robert Kagan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution].
Have you seen our president, Mr. Kagan?
Mr. Tillerson [...] recently shut down the office of the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan — whose role had been diminished since Richard Holbrooke had the job during President Barack Obama’s first term — and has yet to appoint an assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, at a time when the Taliban’s return and Pakistan’s instability are major concerns.


Mr. Tillerson, a Texas native and an engineer by training, has remained publicly stoic, proceeding at his own pace, though colleagues from his Exxon days say they have seen little evidence he is finding much joy in the job.
Should there be?
To many in the department, Mr. Tillerson’s [May] speech [to them] was notable for what it did not include. Over the previous five presidencies, questions of how to use American influence to advance the rights of minorities around the world, to negotiate a new arms control deal or to set norms of behavior for nations that attack each other with cyberweapons had become the focus of American diplomacy. Not anymore.


“Let’s talk first about my view of how you translate ‘America First’ into our foreign policy,” he said, and then went on to describe an era in which American economic and security interests would be paramount.


And when Mr. Tillerson spoke of human rights, it was to caution that while the United States always treasures “freedom, human dignity, the way people are treated,” those values would often not be reflected in policies. Values, he warned, cannot be allowed to “create obstacles to our ability to advance our national security interests, our economic interests.”
His view of "how you translate 'America First'" doesn't include having a strong State Department, apparently.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

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