Daily Archives: March 15, 2018

Tillerson’s Firing

I think Tillerson is a good man, but I am not sorry to see him leave as Secretary of State.  He was better than Trump on foreign policy issues. He wanted to keep the Iran agreement; he wanted to negotiate with North Korea before Trump did; he was more concerned about climate change than Trump, even with his Exxon Mobil background; he was inclined to be tougher on Russian than Trump; he had a better feel for Middle East politics than Trump.  In general he favored a more traditional, conventional foreign policy than Trump.

On the other hand, administratively he almost wrecked the State Department.  He gutted the ranks of the Foreign Service. Partly Foreign Service officers left because they disagreed with Trump’s foreign policy, even as moderated by Tillerson; partly they left because of the mess he created trying to reform the State Department.  The Foreign Service is already one of the smallest organizations in the US Government. It may need reform, but Tillerson was on the way to destroying it with a meat cleaver. Maybe he had some bad experiences with American embassies when he was working for Exxon Mobil.  

The Foreign Service is probably a pretty liberal organization, but that’s not surprising since many of the officers are there, rather than in some high-paying private sector job, because they want to bring about world peace, just like most Miss America contestants.  Most, however, are willing to fight back rather than let a hostile country take advantage of us. They are willing to endure hardships and danger in poor or unstable countries around the world. They deserve better threatment than Tillerson gave them.

With Tillerson’s leaving, therre has been some talk that some of the senior officers may come back.  It’s possible, but I think may of them objected to Trump’s foreign policy as much as they did to Tillerson’s admiistrative reforms.  Plus, they will have moved on with their lives. I doubt that many will come back, especially since it looks like Pompeo’s foreign policy philosophy is closer to Trump’s than Tillerson’s was.  

Pompeo’s military experience may make him more sympathetic to the Foreign Service.  Secretary Colin Powell was very helpful and supportive of the Foreign Service, given his experience as a general.  I hope that is the case, that he emulates Powell’s attitudes toward these Stated Department officers.