Rex Tillerson recently told the Journal Review, "“I didn’t want this job, I didn’t seek this job,” but he took it because "“my wife told me I’m supposed to do this.” He may be having second thoughts. Certainly others are. Jonathan Freedland writes that Tillerson's remarks could be read as:
a coded admission that he knows he is not qualified to be secretary of state, that he’s in way over his head – but we shouldn’t blame him, because it wasn’t his idea. On this reading, the secretary of state is, if anything, pointing an accusing finger at his boss: I know I’m rubbish at this, but it’s Trump’s fault for picking me.
Jonathan Malthorpe is more blunt. Tillerson, he writes, is "clueless:"
His priorities so far are to toady to the world’s autocrats (perhaps reflecting the instincts of his boss in the Oval Office), while maintaining Washington’s role as the leader of a 60-year alliance of democracies is well down his list of concerns.
Tillerson’s tour of Asia last week appears to have given China a diplomatic coup and unsettled Washington’s Asian allies. They already had good reason to be twitchy after Trump jettisoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a 12-nation trade and security agreement aimed at containing China’s regional power ambitions — and opined that Japan and South Korea should perhaps get their own nuclear weapons instead of relying on the U.S. for their defence.
And now it has been announced that Tillerson is going to skip a summit of the foreign ministers of the 28 members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) next month. He wants to be in the U.S. for a planned visit by Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
That Trump would appoint someone who is so clearly unqualified for the job is not surprising. After all, Trump is clearly unqualified to be president. But, when the blind appoint the blind to important positions, disaster waits in the wings:
Trump has just sent a budget proposal to Congress that envisages cutting the State Department’s funding by 30 per cent and slashing other soft-power agencies in a similar way while throwing money at Defense and other armed agencies. This proposed budget won’t survive the process of going through Congress in recognizable form. They never do. But the virgin document speaks volumes about Trump’s view of the world.
It's Trump's vision of the world that's the problem. And, clearly, Tillerson's State Department is not going to champion an alternative universe.