• R.I.P. Rex Tillerson

    March 19, 2018

    Tags: , , ,
    Posted in: Trump




    For those who decried Rex Tillerson’s 14 month tenure as Secretary of State, those who wanted a more aggressive advocate in foreign affairs, those who wanted more of the empty slots filled at Foggy Bottom, be careful what you wish for. Because you now have Mike Pompeo.

    Rex Tillerson will not, as some claim, be remembered as the worst Secretary of State in history. He made no significant blunders or gaffes, gave away nothing to the determinant of the United States. He just didn’t do much at all.

    Understanding Tillerson’s place in history requires understanding the State Department is an agency without primary agency. Under Cold War administrations it focused on arms control. During the Bush and early Obama years, State was sent off to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan. Hillary Clinton switched the organization over to “soft power” programs. John Kerry started on Syria as a signature aim but ended up focused singularly on the Iran nuclear deal. Tillerson never articulated any goals for his organization beyond some verbiage about structural reform that will never again see daylight. Tillerson will more accurately be remembered not as the worst of secretaries, but as the most pointless.

    Tillerson never understood the traditional way of engaging State’s bureaucracy is for a new secretary to fill key positions with political appointees, who will task the rank and file below them. Tillerson left too many slots vacant too long, and found himself without allies inside Foggy Bottom as his relationship with Trump failed to gel. Left on their own, his diplomats found ways to make trouble for him, including leaking dissent memos on the administration’s approach to child soldiers and Trump’s executive orders banning travelers from some Muslim countries. Alongside all that, the media offered Tillerson no rest, proclaiming in near-apocalyptic terms the end of diplomacy, the dismantling of the State Department, and announcing with dulled regularity the loss of U.S. standing in the world.

    It’s kind of amazing in a way Tillerson lasted as long as he did, though the end was the kind of inglorious mess all too common now in Washington. Tillerson was caught flat-footed with the announcement of an impending summit with North Korea, and his clumsy attempt to sound relevant commenting only handed the media another chance to claim chaos in the administration. Tillerson made his remarks in the midst of a humiliating apology tour of Africa, where he was tasked to be the punching bag for leaders on the periphery of U.S. foreign policy angry over the president calling their nations sh*tholes.

    Tillerson, his Africa trip caught short denying him even the chance to lay a wreath at the memorial to victims of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, took a final shot at Trump on his way out the door, getting ahead of the more neutral White House statement by saying the nerve agent used to poison a Russian spy and his daughter in the UK “clearly came from Russia” and the episode “certainly will trigger a response.”

    Good times.


    But as the old saying warns, be careful what you wish for. Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State will be no Rex Tillerson.

    Pompeo is a West point grad, a Tea Party pro-war conservative, a three-time Congressman from Kansas elected to the House of Representatives in 2010 with the support of Charles and David Koch. He is remembered for grilling of Hillary Clinton over Benghazi. As a member of the House intelligence committee, he supported the NSA’s bulk data collection program and opposed shutting Guantanamo. He defended the CIA alongside the Senate torture report, declaring “These men and women are not torturers, they are patriots.”

    Among Pompeo’s most significant foreign policy stances is his long-standing opposition to the 2015 agreement among the U.S., Iran, and European and Asian powers that lifted economic sanctions in exchange for Tehran accepting curbs on its nuclear program. “I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism,” Pompeo said during his CIA confirmation process. As head of the Department of State, which sees as one of its few Obama-era legacy successes that nuclear agreement, Pompeo will encounter diplomats who were displeased by the bland Tillerson repelled by him. Anybody expecting the rehabilitation of the State Department is in for a long wait. A toxic relationship with the rank and file? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

    But what his diplomats think of him may not matter to Pompeo. Unlike Tillerson, who as a stranger to Washington failed to understand the need to seed the bureaucracy with allies, Pompeo is likely to move quickly to insert people who mirror his ideological stances into the State Department. His ties with conservative organizations suggest he’ll have a pool of like-minded people to draw from, and his close relationship with Trump implies he won’t run into the resistance Tillerson often did in getting his choices blessed.

    While decisions on the Iran nuclear agreement hover in the near distance, Pompeo will find the impending summit among Trump, Kim Jong-un and South Korean president Moon Jae-in as item number one on his to-do list. Absent a bit of obligatory institutional defense of the CIA’s work on Russia, Pompeo has made a point of locking his public statements in line with Trump’s. Pompeo’s most recent comments on North Korea emphasize this: “We’ve gotten more than any previous administration — an agreement to not continue testing nuclear weapons and their missile program, the things that would put them capable of getting across the threshold… at the same time [Kim] has agreed to have a conversation about denuclearization.”

    Pompeo will however need to walk back earlier remarks hinting at regime change in North Korea. Security is Kim Jong-un’s primary goal for negotiations with the U.S., and a guarantee of his own position will be non-negotiable. Trump can expect no progress on denuclearization without deflecting Pompeo’s July 2017 statement the North Korean people “would love to see” Kim removed from power, and that he remained hopeful the U.S. would figure out a way to make that happen.


    But those are details. We already know what kind of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be. Given his firm stances on issues such as the Iranian nuclear deal, informed by a staunch political philosophy formed out of his Tea Party days, and backed up by his Washington experience and closeness to Trump, it is very unlikely Pompeo will be an inconsequential secretary in the Tillerson mold.

    The new worry is someone in a position that often served previous presidents by presenting dissenting opinions being filled by a man who will in lock-step amplify and support Trump’s own views. Don’t forget it was Pompeo who made the Sunday show rounds to defend the president’s response to the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville last August, even as other administration officials stayed silent. Critics who focused on a perceived lack of consistency in foreign policy hurting America’s global credibility will need to prepare for a policy machine that fully mirrors the intent of Donald Trump.




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    Copyright © 2017. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

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  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...

      1

      R.I.P America

      For such a smart guy- graduated first in his West Point class, one would wonder why would Pompeo want to preside over a toothless place like State? He is now the definition of Deep State as his new position is the formal consolidation of State and CIA. He can censor State Intelligence so no more embarrassing dissent reports make the news. He will represent both abroad, given new CIA chief spook Bloody Gina can’t risk getting arrested abroad for her tortured past. But Trumpie should worry because Koch-sucker Pompeo can’t serve two masters. Trumpie should also be worried because Pompeo is on record for supporting the death penalty for traitors.

      03/19/18 10:03 AM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...

      2

      “But what his diplomats think of him may not matter to Pompeo. Unlike Tillerson, who as a stranger to Washington failed to understand the need to seed the bureaucracy with allies, Pompeo is likely to move quickly to insert people who mirror his ideological stances into the State Department. His ties with conservative organizations suggest he’ll have a pool of like-minded people to draw from ..”

      Thanks to a broken hiring process, similar to what took place during Cheney admin. These guys can seed their loyalists way down into the system. And hasten out contracting work at the same time, costing the tax-payer billions of dollars. Remember poor IIP Bureau?

      03/19/18 7:22 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      3

      Pompeo and Trump are described as buddies. If so- all aspects of State will become highly politicized with a few leaving or retiring early. The majority of employees will be pleased that political ideology can now mix with regular work hours. They are Manichaean types drawn towards working for an empire which claims to be the greatest force for good in the world today.

      03/19/18 9:00 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      4

      Rex should be happy to leave the whacko clown posse show with his rep intact. With the FBI knocking on the White House door, Rex won’t go down with the Moron.

      Speaking of Waco, sure looks like someone wants to ignite a race war in Austin on the 25th anniversary of The Waco Massacre. If so, perhaps the FBI should be looking for a Timmy McVeigh wannabe in Waco.

      03/19/18 9:10 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      5

      Mcveigh, a Gulf War veteran, sought revenge against the federal government for the 1993 Waco siege, which ended in the deaths of 86 people—many of whom were children—exactly two years before the bombing,

      03/19/18 9:34 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      6

      The explosive device which may have used a tripwire shows the bombmaker’s expertise and training, according to Stratfor.
      “The device’s success, despite significantly different design, further suggests that the bombmaker behind these attacks is an accomplished one, and has likely to have received some training, perhaps as a military or police explosive ordnance disposal technician,” Stratfor said.

      03/19/18 9:36 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      7

      And his antigovernment Facebook profile must be a dead giveaway too.

      03/20/18 8:00 AM | Comment Link

    • Joe said...

      8

      While I agree with PVB’s analysis from a logical perspective, I think he overlooks how emotion factored into this too. Tillerson was loathed at the State Department not because of his policies (which were indeed nonexistent,) but because he didn’t pay “due respect” to “America’s diplomatic elite.” On the other hand, while Pompeo’s policies will almost certainly be contrary to what many at Foggy Bottom want or believe, he’ll be savvy enough to say the right things to pump up everyone’s ego – and also smart enough to find and crush anyone who crosses him like a bug. So “America’s diplomatic elite” will fall into line, quietly grumbling as the wait out the time left in this administration – and the time left before they can collect their pensions.

      One last thing about Tillerson – while he didn’t accomplish anything diplomatically at the State Department, he did at least oversee a major changing of the guard within the ranks of that agency’s senior apparatchiks (i.e. the departure of Pat Kennedy and his cronies.) So perhaps his tenure wasn’t completely pointless after all.

      03/21/18 12:00 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      9

      Tillerson did not comprehend how low Trumpie regarded State, and therefore Rex himself. Had to laugh that Rex was sent to Africa when Trumpie was getting ready to ditch him. Trumpie must be a big fan of ” DAVE.”

      03/21/18 1:48 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      10

      Joe said: It is a given that Republican conservatives seek employment at State including DS. They’ve been kept under control with a Democratic administration. Under Trump they are liberated to bring their personal ideologies which are totally obsolete in my opinion into the work force.

      03/21/18 8:28 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      11

      RIP Suckerberg

      Now that FACEBOOK has been caught in the Violation of Privacy of 50,000,000 people, when willFacebook, for its part, suspend Suckerberg and the rest of FACEBOOK management for the violation of the company’s terms of service?

      Suckerberg: You know, dumb fucks.

      03/21/18 11:01 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      12

      Zuckerburg is a creep. He and Jared Kushner look like they were separated at birth. But I’m at more at risk of being harmed by a home schooled (by his mother no less!!) evangelical doofus who probably got his first taste of porn (all of it debasing women told to act as if they enjoy being debased)in a hotel pay per view and flipped out.

      03/22/18 11:01 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      13

      Suckerberg plays US for suckers as Trumpie does: they are only in it for the money. Trumpie sucks up to Putin as long as he can make a killing post- presidense. Trumpie is US. He’s a depraved, cowardly, above-the-law bully, just like the country we’ve allowed the rich and powerful to become.

      The Rich don’t mean well. The rich are capable of destroying America. Putin couldn’t imagine we’d let them do it so fast.

      03/22/18 5:04 PM | Comment Link

    • chucknobombs said...

      14

      BDS stop the war with IRAN. Got War? Got Boltens plans? Save Nov. 10 -12 for DC. 1600 Penn.Ave.. The USA will bomb by then for sure.Iraq/Iran (Little Steve) Wage Peace.

      03/23/18 12:18 PM | Comment Link

    • chucknobombs said...

      15

      Have a nice day! Time Out…

      03/23/18 12:20 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      16

      I would add that Obama seems to have been “in it” (the White House) only for the money like Trump.

      03/24/18 11:32 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      17

      JP,

      Follow the money. There is only one party: the Wall Street War Party.

      03/24/18 2:08 PM | Comment Link

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