Tillerson is on board with the gutting of his own department:
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, speaking March 16 in Japan in one of his first press availabilities since becoming America’s top diplomat, offered support for a Trump administration proposal to slash the State Department’s budget by almost 30%.
The White House proposal to cut the core State Department and US Agency for International Development (USAID) budget from $36.7 billion in 2017 to $25.6 billion in fiscal year 2018 reflects the Trump administration’s expectation that the United States will be involved in fewer military conflicts overseas and that other countries will be contributing more for foreign assistance, Tillerson said.
It is very unusual that a Cabinet member would be so willing to defend a budget proposal that starves his department of resources, but the more striking thing about this defense is that the arguments Tillerson uses make no sense. Whether the U.S. is involved in “fewer military conflicts” or not, that shouldn’t have much to do with the size of the State Department’s budget. If the U.S. is going to be involved in fewer conflicts, that is an argument for reducing the current military budget and increasing funding for the parts of the government responsible for foreign policy.
Of course, no one knows where Tillerson is getting this idea that the U.S. will be involved in fewer conflicts from, since U.S. deployments to Syria are increasing, there is serious consideration of sending more American forces to Afghanistan, and there has been a dramatic increase in drone strikes and raids in Yemen in the last two months. U.S. support for the Saudi-led war on Yemen is likely to increase, deepening our involvement there as well. Trump has not indicated any desire to reduce U.S. involvement in any of its current wars, and there is no reason to think that those wars are going to be brought to a close anytime soon. Tillerson is making excuses for a budget that is guaranteed to undermine U.S. foreign policy if it is approved, and he isn’t using even slightly persuasive excuses to do it.
Trump’s budget proposal reflects his and his administration’s disdain for diplomacy and the people that practice it, and unfortunately Tillerson appears to have no desire to make the case for the department that he now heads.