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Quote of the Day: Tillerson Was Not Really a Friend of Russia as Many Have Claimed; He’s More of a Pragmatist

2018-03-15

“Russia today poses a danger, but it is not unpredictable in advancing its own interests,” Tillerson told senators. “We need an open and frank dialogue with Russia regarding its ambitions, so that we know how to chart our own course.”

This comes from an article in Bloomberg View from March 13, 2018, entitled, “Tillerson Refused to do Another Russia Deal” which explains that, although Tillerson did do a deal with Russia before the rupture in US-Russia relations over Ukraine (a business deal worth $500 billion between Exxon and Rosneft, the Russian state oil company) he gave a “clear condemnation” of Russia’s actions in the Crimea and their support of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad when he was under consideration for the Secretary of State post.  He also blamed Russia for the chemical attacks in Syria, hardly a friendly position.  Tillerson knew how to negotiate with Putin to advance his business position, but he was not planning on being ensnared in the Trump-Russia collusion scandal by appearing to be weak on Russian issues.  His last act as Secretary of State was to blame Russia for the poisoning of a Russian refugee in Britain; Trump’s statement on the incident was supportive of Britain but otherwise wishy-washy.  It’s not likely that Pompeo will be any more accommodating to Putin, but he will be a Trump loyalist in every other respect– unlikely to put the brakes on when Trump’s policies take a sudden turn for the bizarre.  What’s more, as a former military man, he has completed Trump’s encirclement with military advisors and secretaries.  There is no question that Trump will be closely advised by men with military mind-sets, and we already know how easily influenced he is by his sycophants.

We also know that Pompeo will be good for the morale of the remaining State Department employees, as he is likely to do more effective at working with the department (see the article in the New Yorker we previously cited about Pompeo being a super-hawk at State.)  Unfortunately, State’s problems have more to do with a lack of policy rather than personality issues.  Former UN ambassador John Bolton (an extreme conservative) may be under consideration to replace McMasters as National Security Advisor; in this case, even military doesn’t satisfy Trump (supposedly he is tired of the general’s long-winded lectures.)  This administration is likely to lurch, unpredictably, further and further to the right.

(photo courtesy of pixabay.com)

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