Home/Daniel Larison/Replacing Tillerson Doesn’t Fix Anything

Replacing Tillerson Doesn’t Fix Anything

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley. Credit: Flickr/Creative Commons/U.S. Mission Photo/Eric Bridiers

Speculation about Tillerson’s successor at the State Department continues, and Nikki Haley and Mike Pompeo are the two considered the most likely to be chosen. Josh Rogin comments:

But the Haley choice is risky for Haley. She already has amassed the foreign policy bona fides required for a future run for president. Her physical distance from the White House has allowed her to avoid internal conflicts and act independently. It’s not clear what she gains politically from moving up to secretary of state. Taking the job would be a huge gamble.

There may be political pitfalls for her in a promotion, but Haley would also be a poor choice on the merits. It was strange that she was selected to be U.N. ambassador, because she had no foreign policy experience or expertise to speak of (and still has very little of both), but promoting her to Secretary of State would be one of Trump’s more serious blunders. No one really disputes that Tillerson has failed in his first year, but there is no reason to think that Haley would be any more successful. She is much more ideological than Tillerson and more aligned with the party’s neoconservatives and hard-liners. She would encourage Trump in his worst instincts and agitate for more aggressive policies overall. The same is true of Pompeo, and his selection could have the horrifying knock-on effect of a Tom Cotton nomination to replace him at the CIA. If Tillerson critics can’t imagine how the administration could become even worse once he is gone, they haven’t been considering the consequences carefully enough.

The larger problem is that anyone willing to serve Trump in this position at this point is almost certainly ill-suited to and ill-prepared for the job. The competent and knowledgeable won’t serve Trump in this role, and those that are willing to serve aren’t qualified. Tillerson can’t be effective when he is constantly being undermined by the president, but no one who takes his place will be free of the problems created by Trump’s interference, personal vendettas, and random threats.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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