Rex Tillerson, former oil man with no diplomatic experience and current Secretary of State, has finally cobbled together some thoughts concerning American foreign policy and the job he has been hired to do.
Speaking to the handful of State Department employees that remain employed by the government on Wednesday, Tillerson outlined his vision for America’s foreign policy and how it will align with President Trump’s promise to “put America first.” According to the New York Times, Tillerson said that “things have gotten out of balance” in regards to how the United States has conducted itself with allies and emerging nations.
“We were promoting relations. We were promoting economic activity. We were promoting trade with a lot of these emerging economies, and we just kind of lost track of how we were doing,” Mr. Tillerson said. “And as a result, things got a little bit out of balance.”
Tillerson also touched on some sticky issues like what to do about North Korea and the United States’s plan to continue to lean heavily on China for support. He also provided little to no information about how the State Department would fill top leadership positions left vacant as the new administration took place; the Times reports that Tillerson “had yet to settle on even a basic organizational structure,” taking a page from his boss’s playbook, who seems to think that a government can and should be run like a business.
During this speech, which the Times says was delivered with confidence to “thunderous” applause, Tillerson also drew a line between American values and whether or not those values should drive our foreign policy, ABC News reports. The answer, for those wondering, is no, not really.
“Guiding all our foreign policy actions are our fundamental values — our values around freedom, human dignity, the way people are treated,” he said. “Those are our values. Those are not our policies...If we condition too heavily that others must adopt this value that we’ve come to after a long history of our own, it really creates obstacles to our ability to advance our national security interests, our economic interests.”
Over the weekend, President Trump took a “very friendly” phone call with President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and invited him for a visit to the White House., effectively inviting a man who has been waging a war on drugs in his country by murdering its citizens at the hands of the police and vigilante squads. Trump has also expressed interest in meeting with the head of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, whom he believes to be a “smart cookie.”
In Tillerson’s eyes “values” are eternal and never changing, but “policy” should be adaptable to the changing times. As the AP notes, “Tillerson’s remarks reinforced the notion that under Trump, the U.S. is willing to cut deals and cooperate closely with governments failing to improve their rights records.” This is the America first bullshit Trump promised! What a mess we’ve made.