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Tillerson Submits to the Gutting of the State Department

Tillerson is on board with the gutting of his own department [1]:

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.

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22 Comments To "Tillerson Submits to the Gutting of the State Department"

#1 Comment By Ken Hoop On March 16, 2017 @ 7:32 pm

I guess that the “fewer wars” promise is juxtaposed against the number of troops the US had fighting at their combined maximum in Iraq and Afghanistan and as long as that number is less, the assertion will hold.
It’s anyone’s guess whether this will prove viable of course.

#2 Comment By cdugga On March 16, 2017 @ 7:42 pm

If you are invested in weapons then you want the taxpayer to pay you more to make more of them. And the US taxpayer is just the best. If he don’t have the money, he can borrow it practically ad-infinitum. Is this some sort of mystery? Was I the only one that saw star wars, the raygun years and the beginning of deficits don’t matter? Ronald wanted peace, but my children are still paying for it. Diplomacy, negotiations and foreign aid is much more difficult to make a buck off of. What the don and the GOP are doing never has been any sort of mystery to me. The inexplicable thing is that they continue to do the same things, now in hyperdrive under the don, and still people seem not to see what is directly in front of their eyes. War, conflicts and even a domestic civil war makes money for the merchants of death. Get this, slaughtering dozens of 1st graders makes tons of money for them people too. And as we have seen, but seem to be unable to learn, is that once conflict is initiated it is easy to keep going. As soon as a department charged with negotiation, trade and peace starts to feel comfortable progressing towards global consensus, the weapons dealers and investors raise their demon head again. And as tillerson knows, the MIC and conflicts use more fossil fuels than almost any other human endeavor. ABC, 123. It aint a conspiracy if it is in plain sight. Preparing for war is a money maker. Did I hear 50 additional billion? I think I heard that at the same time congress said they do not want the taxpayer to invest in their own health, they want that money for more high tech targets for cheaply mass produced chinese missiles. The american people can be kept happy with cheaper more available little debbie, not health care. And if they are happy eating cake, why shouldn’t we be happy making more bread. Duh

#3 Comment By rayray On March 16, 2017 @ 9:16 pm

They don’t want the American taxpayer to help pay for their own health, build their own economy, build their own infrastructure, or preserve their own water or air or any resource. Unless any of these things happen to be a byproduct of the war economy.

It’s heartbreaking and it would take a president this genuinely ignorant, bigoted, and lacking in humanity to pull it off.

Not to mention an electorate equally all of the above, primed by cable news, and worried about those darn emails and building a beautiful wall…darn those emails!

#4 Comment By SF Bay On March 16, 2017 @ 9:22 pm

Tillerson does seem to be a mystery. He cares not for diplomacy as far as I can tell. He’s cancelled visits with foreign service families in Mexico and Japan. Why bother? What would he say? I’m here to under mind the State Dept. and we don’t really need you. You may well lose your jobs shortly.

He’s no different than the new head of the EPA who hates the EPA and is going to preside over it’s diminution and usefulness. Or Ben Carson as head of the dept even he says he doesn’t know how to run. Or Betsy Devos or Rick Perry.

Or our current president, who doesn’t know know or seem interested in anything have to do with the hard work of being President. That would cut into his FOX TV viewing time, and his golfing time. Or eating time.

#5 Comment By Victory over Eurasia On March 16, 2017 @ 9:59 pm

maybe the orange buffoon plans on consolidating all of our conflicts into just one war – USA vs the world. The would be consistent w the Tillerson directive

#6 Comment By PETE SMITH On March 16, 2017 @ 11:47 pm

Just one more example of the demise of US credibility. As pointed out, Rex is another in a long line of cabinet head appointees who has little interest or experience in public service.
Of course, I can appreciate his dilemma as he must try to represent an administration which stands for nothingness.

#7 Comment By Patricia Morgan On March 17, 2017 @ 1:03 am

Tillerson awaits instructions from Bannon on how to “destroy the state.” Then Tillerson will pick up his check, retire and start that little oil company he’s had his eye on in Russia, or maybe even Ukraine.

#8 Comment By Joe the Plutocrat On March 17, 2017 @ 1:28 am

Serious question. What role, if any does the State Department play in the immigration/refugee equation? I would imagine embassies are the “front lines” in terms of “vetting” (garden variety, as well as ‘extreme’). Instead of ‘doubling down’ in his travel ban (he actually admitted Muslim Ban v2.0 is merely a ‘watered down’ version of the first release????)

I keep saying this; this is what you get when you elect a game show host POTUS.

#9 Comment By Whine Merchant On March 17, 2017 @ 4:18 am

Foreign affairs is the one major area of government that the White House can direct with minimal congressional oversight or judicial interference, so naturally the Secretary of State will be turned into a minor factotum while President Bannon lurches from one hangover-induced debacle to the next. As cdugga points-out in these comments, investment in weapons is good business and can be horse traded with the Wall Street for Obamacare lite.

Well, people are saying…

#10 Comment By a spencer On March 17, 2017 @ 4:40 am

Every headline regarding this regime should take the opportunity to use the word “submits”.

#11 Comment By Balconesfault On March 17, 2017 @ 5:46 am

Perhaps Tillerson views an effective State Department foreign service as an impediment for large multi-nationals to work out their own best deals with foreign governments?

#12 Comment By Uncle Billy On March 17, 2017 @ 8:39 am

Our greatest threats are terrorism and cyber-attacks. Building more aircraft carriers will not counter those threats. Throwing money at the Pentagon will not make us any safer.

Cutting the budget for the State Department will make diplomacy more difficult and more difficult to get other countries to fight their own battles. Perhaps Trump wants American troops on the ground in every nation on the planet?

#13 Comment By cary thomson On March 17, 2017 @ 10:22 am

Is the US is going to reduce its involvement in foreign conflicts then why dies President Trump need to vastly increase the military’s budget?

#14 Comment By Joe F On March 17, 2017 @ 12:59 pm

Tillerson seems to be an arrogant neophyte, who has major disdain for transparency. He fits the mold of what Bannon wants for cabinet heads and while it remains quiet now, this whole administration could be in for a real shock when a crisis comes there way. People thought they were voting for Trump, but Steve Bannon is our executive officer right now and has full reign of both foreign and domestic policy. Trump is an ignorant and empty vessel who is not currently making any contributions to governing, other than tweets and signatures

#15 Comment By Mark Thomason On March 17, 2017 @ 1:01 pm

It depends on what is being cut from the State Dept budget.

Hillary in particular had expanded the State Dept into things previously done as covert action by the CIA. Kerry continued that. Both Syria and Libya featured that heavily, and it completely dominates events in Ukraine. It may also be in play in Yemen and Somalia, but there is not much detailed news of them yet.

The Sec of State might well support cutting back the expansion of the State Dept into non-diplomatic activities.

#16 Comment By Weldon On March 17, 2017 @ 1:20 pm

“What role, if any does the State Department play in the immigration/refugee equation?”

State is who vets all visas, so they are a big player. The consular division (which is who does the visa work) is actually a revenue source for the department (visa applications are expensive) so I wouldn’t expect any cuts to it as part of a cost-saving move (and in fact some officers from other divisions might be shifted over to process more visas).

#17 Comment By Michelle On March 17, 2017 @ 1:47 pm

I was thinking Tillerson was one of President Tweet’s less scary appointees. I was wrong. The guy doesn’t seem to know what he’s doing and, even worse, doesn’t seem to care.

#18 Comment By collin On March 17, 2017 @ 2:22 pm

I am sure the budget is the problem but I am concerned what the hell Tillerson is actually doing?

1) Does anybody have any idea if our two top diplomats have conversations with Trump directly? How are Tillerson or Haley going to lead foreign negotiations when those leaders can’t trust the SOS statements?
2) What are the strategies? It appears Nikki Haley is making statement on Russia the rest of the world can ignore.
3) Given Trump seems to over react to poor meetings with foreign leaders (He won’t shake hands Merkel?) where is diplomacy going?

#19 Comment By Jon K On March 17, 2017 @ 2:38 pm

Mark Thomason says:
March 17, 2017 at 1:01 pm
Hillary in particular had expanded the State Dept into things previously done as covert action by the CIA.

What are you talking about? I kind of doubt it.

#20 Comment By sherparick1 On March 17, 2017 @ 3:12 pm

This comment of course was made one day after he stated that the military option is on the table in regard to North Korea and that patience is exhausted. [2]

Let’s see Trump has us joining the bombing in Yemen and a 1,000 troops on the ground in Syria. Plus all the wars and activities that Obama was sill involved in when he left. Actually, the prospects of more war appear to be the best growth industry going forward.

Tillerson may be a cracker jack oil engineer and executive, but I bet you can put all he knows about war and conflict resolution in the smallest pocket of his golf bag.

#21 Comment By Joe the Plutocrat On March 17, 2017 @ 5:39 pm

@Weldon, Thanks. @ Mark Thomason – Unless you have access to some (highly) classified information, you might want to re-word your comment. The “relationship” between the State Department and Langley has been “unique” since, I suspect the CIA came to be. You might want to Google William Buckley, or the phrase official or diplomatic cover.

#22 Comment By SF Bay On March 18, 2017 @ 1:05 am

Apparently Secretary of Stating is hard work, at least for Tillerson. Per the Korea Herald, Tillerson cut his meetings short and skipped the meal because of “fatigue”. Kind of ironic actually.