Rex Tillerson being removed as Secretary of State should come as no surprise. Rumors swirled for months that President Trump was unhappy with him as his top diplomat.
Today’s changes mark– Tillerson out, CIA Director Mike Pompeo in at Foggy Bottom, Gina Hapsel replacing Pompeo at CIA — the biggest changes to Trump’s administration since he took over.
Trump made it clear that he and Tillerson disagreed on the path to negotiations to dealing with Iran and North Korea’s drive to obtain a nuclear weapon. On nearly every major issue of global and transnational trade Trump and Tillerson disagreed.
About the only thing they did agree on was reforming Foggy Bottom; firing Obmaa holdovers last February which shook up the D.C. press core who lost a lot of access to the inner workings of State.
If for nothing else, we have that to thank Mr. Tillerson for. The complete condemnation of him by the D.C. press corps is proof that at some things he was truly effective.
See this hatchet job by Eliot Cohen in The Atlantic if you want to get an idea of what’s the chattering class thinks is going to happen now that Tillerson is out and Pompeo takes over.
Even implacable enemies of the administration should cheer the arrival of Mike Pompeo as secretary of state. He is a former Army officer, a successful politician, and a veteran of running a large bureaucracy—the CIA. This means that, unlike Tillerson, he is used to motivating career people whom he cannot either fire or incentivize with money. He is sometimes described as a Trump loyalist, but that is nonsense: No one is loyal to Trump—he is too indecent a human being to attract such normal personal attachments.
The administration is not divided into people who are loyal to Trump and those who are not. Rather, it is divided between those who know how to manipulate his vanity, his hatreds, his sensitivities, and those who do not.
It is this type of blind hatred for Trump and presumptuousness that blinds our media from rational analysis.
Tillerson’s job as an administrator was to fire the infamous Seventh Floor. After that the process of getting new appointments through Congress has been, in Tillerson’s words, “Excruciatingly slow.”
Regardless of the why, Congress slowing the process or a lack of people to nominate, the press has had a field day with Tillerson’s ‘hollowing out’ of State.
And Eliot Cohen thinks Pompeo is going to schmooze Trump into remaking the State Department in Obama’s image?
In fact, for over a year the talk among the ‘MAGA crowd’ has been why hasn’t Tillerson done more? Why hasn’t he gutted the U.S. Embassy in Hungary, a well-known nest of George Soros’ vipers.
In fact, quite the opposite:
Neither is the announcement last week that the U.S. State Department is preparing to spend $700,000 to work against the Orban’s re-election campaign news.
What is news is what this implies. The very public announcement by Charge d’Affaires David Kostelancik made about this. He did this in open opposition to Trump’s good relationship with Orban and put Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a bind.
It’s no secret that the U.S. Embassy in Budapest is still staffed with Obama Administration holdovers who continue in their posts because Congress refuses to confirm any of Trump’s or Tillerson’s appointments in this area.
Tillerson Too Conventional
I bring all this up to highlight the problems that everyone had with Tillerson as Secretary of State. And it proved over time that his conventional approach to the geopolitical chess board was not what Trump wanted in a Secretary of State.
He wanted Rex for the job to open up a dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin. I think Rex did that part of his job very well, helping Trump navigate the minefield Hillary and Obama left for the Trump Administration.
But, at the same time, he is also a very different negotiator than Trump. And those skills lost currency the longer Trump’s confrontational style to solving the seemingly intractable problems of denuclearizing North Korea and peace in the Middle East.
Rex is methodical explorer/driller. Trump is a wildcatter.
And when you begin to look at Tillerson’s time at State from the bigger picture, not the hyper-emotional one both sides of the political spectrum want, you see the following:
- The beginnings of rebuilding a sclerotic and counter-productive diplomatic corps, even if it means keeping many previously-important positions unfilled.
- Breaking the ice between Trump and Putin and acting as go-between, end-running the press, to assist Trump and Putin coordinate common foreign policy objectives.
- Destroying ISIS in Syria,
- Pressuring North Korea and Iran
- Letting Putin know the U.S. will not passively let him run the table
- Getting China to assist in dealing with North Korea
- Being the calmer voice in the Trump administration.
But, over time it was also revealed that Tillerson is not committed to Trump’s nationalist program. And, I think, that’s ultimately what his problem was. Trump’s remarks on Tillerson’s firing bear this out.
He and Rex didn’t see eye to eye because Trump is a different kind of man than Tillerson.
Tillerson’s word is his bond. Trump’s word is a tactic.
And that dichotomy cannot be the foundation for a strong working relationship.
Pompeo and Crazy Ivan
Pompeo is a guy I have a hard time getting a read on. His attitude towards the press, in particular Wikileaks, is abhorrent. But, he’s outspoken and confrontational. If Trump has truly won him over to his side and is loyal, then it’s possible this switch could work out for the best.
What do I mean by this?
Trump is, I feel, running a “Crazy Ivan” negotiating playbook. He lashes out, makes bold claims, upsets apple carts. By moving our embassy to Jerusalem (something Tillerson disagreed with) Trump took it off the table.
By threatening invasion of North Korea he, ultimately, got Kim to the table even if it was a bluff to save face with U.S. voters.
Foreign policy problems of the type Trump is tackling cannot be solved with a measured approach. That has been tried to no avail. In fact, conventional thinking has led to the current Gordian Knot of geopolitics we are embroiled in.
What I truly believe, however, is there was never any drive to solve these problems. As open wounds they are opportunities to exploit for future policy decisions.
Got a scandal that needs to be off the front page? Gin up a dispute with Iran or North Korea.
I think Tillerson was too caught up in that as well as believed too much of the globalist party line. In less than a week two of the biggest corporate mouthpieces in the Trump Administration are gone from Trump’s cabinet and inner circle.
Say what you want but the man is changing the game. And it speaks to his growing comfort in the role as President.
It may also be the best news we’ve had in a while.
The Deal of the Century
But, if Trump is going to negotiate a series of deals which eventually lead to peace in both Korea and the Middle East, he has to do so by looking like he wants the opposite.
I’ve been banging on for months that Trump has a plan for peace. And now that things have shifted to the point of getting Kim Jong-Un to the table it’s time to turn full-force onto Iran, and, by extension, Russia.
Putin won’t be intimidated by Trump here nor will he believe Trump’s “Crazy Ivan” routine. He may be in on the joke for all we know. And the announcement of his latest weapons systems are a likely catalyst of this change.
Notice how Putin and Trump are both looking like winners at home while the intelligence communities and media seethe?
For any of this to work, the people on the other side of the negotiating table– Hezbollah, Iran — have to believe he’s willing to do something unthinkable. Israel has to believe Putin will do whatever it takes to protect Syria.
For the past fifty years, no one has believed anything about U.S. foreign policy other than our desire for global control.
Anyone and everyone could and would be sacrificed for Exxon-Mobil and/or Goldman-Sachs.
That’s because the U.S. leadership didn’t want these problems solved. But Trump does.
They act as a means of control to justify more global control over the world economy and political system by fomenting fear.
And it looks to me that Trump has his Secretary of State to help project this image of strength. Tillerson wasn’t it. Only a united front from the Trump Administration will work here.
I think Tillerson was privy to the plan, but didn’t agree with it.
And that’s why he’s out of a job.
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