Opinion Longtime diplomat: Tillerson's public firing makes my head explode
Tillerson says several steps needed for U.S. talks with North Korea
Several steps will be necessary to agree the location and scope of talks between the United States and North Korea, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Monday. Tillerson has been involved in discussions within the U.S. administration on a possible meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un."There will be several steps necessary to agree on location, agree on the scope of those discussions. It's very early stages. We've not heard anything directly back from North Korea but we expect to hear something directly from them," he said during a visit to Nigeria's capital, Abuja.
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Trump ordered Tillerson to eat salad during dinner in China: report
President Trump ordered Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to eat a salad served to U.S. diplomats during a trip to China last year, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.The Chinese leaders had reportedly included Caesar salad on the menu for a dinner wi th Trump, Tillerson and other top U.S. officials in November. The event was held in China's Great Hall of the People during Trump's tour of Asia.Trump grew worried that the Chinese officials might be offended if the U.S. leaders didn't eat the salad, the Journal reported."Rex, eat the salad," Trump told his top diplomat, according to the newspaper.
Tuesday'sof Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, by presidential tweet no less, is a bizarre and veritable head-exploder.
Having worked for half a dozen secretaries of state, I thought I'd seen most everything when it came to bureaucratic intrigue and soap opera politics, particularly regarding relations between the White House and State Department. Well, welcome to Trumpland.
Here are my takeaways from Tuesday's announcement:
Unprecedented decision: If you needed further evidence that the Trump administration is the most idiosyncratic of any in the modern period, this decision should remove all doubt. The firing of a secretary of state on social media is both humiliating and without precedent. Two have resigned over principle -- William Jennings Bryan over Woodrow Wilson's policies toward the war in Europe and Cyrus Vance over Jimmy Carter's failed rescue mission of the Iranian hostages. And one, Alexander Haig, left because of rivalries within the Reagan administration. But none, since 1945, has been fired. And this is all the stranger given Tillerson's desire to stay.
Tillerson fails to thank Trump after firing
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson thanked the American people, his State Department staff and the nation's extensive network of diplomats in his farewell statement on Tuesday. One person he did not thank: President Donald Trump, the man who nominated him for the job but abruptly told the world of his ouster in a tweet on Tuesday morning.The only mention of Trump came at the top of the statement when Tillerson mentioned that the President had called him at "a little after noontime from Air Force One" to talk about his ouster.
Yet also inevitable: It is likely that Tillerson's days were numbered almost from the beginning. Trump considered any number of candidates, including Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and others, before settling on Tillerson. And Tillerson was never a major influencer of Trump's thinking, even once he had been appointed -- and perhaps it's because they differed on major policy issues from Iran to North Korea to Russia. It's no surprise that Trump blindsided Tillerson on the North Korean summit just last week. If anything, it was a reflection that Tillerson had already been completely marginalized by this administration.
But Tillerson didn't help himself. He was critical of Trump -- after the latter's response to violence last year in Charlottesville, Virginia, Tillerson, "The President speaks for himself," and several months later, reports surfaced that Tillerson had called Trump a " ." Tillerson also chose to focus on State Department reform, which created huge morale problems internally and painted him as more of a CEO than a committed foreign policy player. Worse yet, he made himself barely visible in the public conversation.
Trump's firing of Tillerson came after months of disagreements
It's by far the biggest Trump administration shakeup yet as a shaken Tillerson relinquished control of the State Department ."I received a call today from the president of the United States a little after noontime from Air Force One," Tillerson said.He had been warned in an early Saturday morning phone call from White House chief of staff John Kelly that his job was in jeopardy.Tillerson -- who had been traveling in Africa -- cut short his trip.Hours after landing in Washington, Tillerson learned Tuesday he'd been fired and would be replaced by Pompeo.Mr.
The reality is that with this President, Tillerson never had a chance. As early as last fall, reports circulated that Trump was considering replacing Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
Was a planned summit with North Korea the reason for the firing? What precipitated the decision to fire Tillerson is unclear. Trump has said they disagreed on key foreign policy issues. But it may well be -- and we can only speculate -- that the approaching summit on North Korea played a role. The summit will require coordination and seamless planning, not strong suits of this administration. And it would have required a point person to lead and to prepare the President.
There was no one in the administration well-positioned to play this role, and I'm certain that Trump cringed at the thought of having Tillerson -- someone he neither likes nor trusts -- assume such responsibility. But Pompeo kills both birds with one stone: He is a Trump loyalist and confidant and someone whose views on dealing with North Korea reflect Trump's harder line approach. It was Pompeo, after all, whoabout regime change in Pyongyang.
Gulf Arabs relish Tillerson firing; Iran weighs nuclear deal
<p>Reactions in the Middle East to the firing of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reflect the volatile divide between Iran, where many fear his departure heralds the demise of the 2015 nuclear deal, and Gulf Arab nations hoping for a more hawkish U.S. stance toward Tehran and Qatar.</p>Iran's daily Javad newspaper, believed to be close to the hard-line Revolutionary Guard, said Wednesday that replacing Tillerson with CIA director Mike Pompeo signaled the end of the nuclear deal.
Will Pompeo make a difference? That depends. The real issue is this: Will the President empower him publicly to be the sole repository of authority on foreign policy and to speak for the President? Trump certainly didn't do that with Tillerson. And will Pompeo be able to influence Trump in a way Tillerson could not? Clearly the two share similar views. But when they don't, will Pompeo speak forcefully in private or just enable Trump's worst impulses?
Clearly, Tillerson's firing is a cautionary tale. Pompeo likely won't cross Trump publicly. But perhaps their affinity for one another will allow Pompeo to make counter-arguments when they disagree.
If Pompeo doesn't challenge Trump at all, it may make the foreign policy trains run more smoothly, but it will do little to serve the national interest. The President will be denied what he needs most: someone whom he respects and who can offer him honest counsel and alternative solutions -- and most importantly, someone who will tell him when he's wrong.
Tillerson urges 'kindness' in farewell remarks at State .
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Thursday praised the work of the agency's employees and urged kindness in the face of what he called "a very mean-spirited town." Speaking to department personnel in what are likely to be his last remarks as the nation's chief diplomat, Tillerson emphasized values of respect and dignity, and called for employees to perform "one act of kindness" each day. "This can Speaking to department personnel in what are likely to be his last remarks as the nation's chief diplomat, Tillerson emphasized values of respect and dignity, and called for employees to perform "one act of kindness" each day.
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