I’ve been observing Rex Tillerson’s fractured relationship with the Trump Administration ever since he was confirmed for the job. I always assumed it would all work out in the end and hoped that the President and Mr. Tillerson would patch things up. My assumption was based on the fact that he is well liked by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and President Trump has a lot of respect for his opinions. Unfortunately, my prediction was wrong and Rex Tillerson was fired yesterday as Secretary of State of the United States of America. It is rumored that he was fired in a very haphazard and disrespectful manner, eerily similar to the James Comey firing. If it is true that the President fired Tillerson over a tweet and didn’t even have the courtesy of having a proper discussion with him to formally inform him that he would be replaced and the reason for this personnel change, I lost some more respect for this President. An effective and inspirational leader doesn’t treat his subordinates and team members like doormats. You have to treat them with respect and courtesy. You have to take everyone’s views into account and exercise sound judgement to reach a decision. You cannot treat them like garbage and expect to be considered a good leader. President Trump’s weak and ineffective leadership at managing his own Administration is becoming an embarrassment for the country and the institution of the American Presidency.
I personally wouldn’t have had such a problem with this incident if Tillerson was laid off in a respectful and courteous manner and for the right reasons. President Trump seems to have fired his top diplomat because they had different views on certain issues of great importance with regards to foreign policy. Isn’t it good to have dissenting views so you are not consumed by your own bias in an ideological echo chamber? President Trump’s views on foreign policy, international trade, and America’s leadership role in the world are often flat out wrong, uninformed, and based on faulty assumptions. His populist, isolationist, and protectionist attitude is severely damaging America’s role as the undisputed global superpower that was already damaged by George W. Bush and Barack Obama. America needs to get back into its role of vigorous global leadership as the undisputed economic, military, diplomatic, cultural, and technological power in the world. For that to happen we need a whole of government and private sector response which will include competitive diplomacy, strong engagement and strengthening of military alliances, and the expansion of free trade and investment agreements with nations and blocs around the world. Tillerson seemed to be moving broadly towards those goals, albeit with limited success.
In my view, Tillerson had a lot of difficulty getting certain things done because he didn’t believe he had full buy in from the President. When you’re dealing with the Russians, the Chinese, Iranians, North Koreans, amongst a million other issues; you need Presidential support. He didn’t have it and that lead to his downfall. He was living a peaceful life with his family in Texas. Why did the President bring him out of retirement just to fire him in a year?
The President didn’t like Tillerson’s strategy because it valued the old school diplomatic process of talks, constant engagement, and the formulation of a coherent strategy for each region. This takes time, effort, and buy in from key stakeholders. This was too slow and cumbersome for Trump so he decided to replace Tillerson with someone who could perhaps work on his speed and they would be on the same wavelength. He chose Mike Pompeo, his CIA Director for the past year or so.
Pompeo has impeccable qualifications.
- Graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point
- Armor and Cavalry Officer, U.S. Army (Captain)
- Graduate of Harvard Law School
- Successful business career
- 3 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives
Mike Pompeo has become quite close with the President due to somewhat similar views and their friendship has developed from the Daily Intelligence Briefings that the President has everyday with the CIA Director and the Director of National Intelligence. I have no particular issue with Pompeo as Secretary of State except that it causes discontinuity in our foreign policy, he is known to have some Neo-Conservative views, and he may not dissent much with the President.
I am cautiously optimistic about the future, but I remain wary of the the constant staff turnovers at the White House. Mr. Tillerson, we appreciate your service and tenure as Secretary of State.
This is Saint Reagan signing off