With Tillerson Out, New Challenges Emerge for the State Department

14.03.2018

Many at Foggy Bottom were unhappy with Tillerson’s style of leadership and innovation. However, only a few rejoiced at Pompeo’s appointment, because this can lead to further degradation of the State Department.

On March 13, 2018, Donald Trump sacked US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, nominating former CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace him. This personnel reshuffle threatens the State Department with a loss of autonomy in decision-making and may negatively affect the American foreign policy, says Valdai Club expert Maxim Suchkov.

Rex Tillerson’s resignation was expected last year, after a well-known incident between him and US President Donald Trump, when the secretary of state allegedly called the president “a moron.” However, there were also more serious differences between them on the most significant issues of the American foreign policy – from North Korea and the Iranian deal to the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the crisis around Qatar, Maxim Suchkov, editor of Al-Monitor said in an interview with valdaiclub.com.

“Under such conditions, Tillerson’s replacement by someone who had long been trained for the position was only a matter of time,” Suchkov said.

Pompeo can be described as a “loyal executive.” In the current conditions he is more convenient for Trump as a subordinate, but his appointment may negatively affect the overall governance of the US foreign policy and quality of the decisions.

“Trump voluntarily refused to ‘filter’ the radicalism and emotionality of his decisions. According to him, he has a closer personal contact with Pompeo, which means that the State Department is likely to lose some of its autonomy in decision-making and become a purely administrative tool. Many at Foggy Bottom were unhappy with Tillerson’s style of leadership and innovation. However, only a few rejoiced at Pompeo’s appointment, because this can lead to further degradation of the State Department,” Suchkov said, adding that in any case it will take time to understand if these fears are justified.

The expert believes that the Trump team reshuffle will continue. “There are rumors that the White House chef of staff John Kelly may be dismissed, which would cause a temporary crisis in the administration,” Suchkov said.

The reality is that a year into the Trump presidency, the Department of State is experiencing enormous personnel problems.

“This affects the decision making quality, contributes to the strengthening of the military departments and, consequently, increases the power component of the American policy. This does not add up to predictability and security in international relations,” Maxim Suchkov concluded.


Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

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