Rex Tillerson wants to remind us that he is clueless:
Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday that the Trump administration’s proposal to slash the state department and foreign aid budget is partly based on an expectation it will be able to resolve some of the global conflicts [bold mine-DL] that have been absorbing costly diplomatic and humanitarian support.
Tillerson’s position makes no sense. Even if the U.S. were in a position to resolve some of the world’s ongoing conflicts, that would be an argument for funding the State Department at similar or even higher levels so that it would be able to help prevent future conflicts and manage existing ones. Diplomatic engagement doesn’t end when a conflict is brought to a conclusion. There would still be much for American diplomats to do in handling the aftermath of conflicts and forestalling the eruption of new ones even if every current conflict in the world were brought to an end tomorrow.
Tillerson’s statement is particularly obnoxious because it comes at a time when the U.S. is escalating all of its current wars while doing little or nothing to pursue diplomatic solutions to any of them. The sheer number of armed conflicts in which the U.S. is involved to one degree or another around the world suggests that this is the time to increase the resources available to our diplomats instead of taking them away. Steering clear of unnecessary and avoidable wars also requires diplomatic work that an understaffed and hemorrhaging State Department is ill-equipped to do. The Secretary of State is offering a pathetic excuse for gutting his own department that doesn’t hold up under the slightest scrutiny.
Richard Nephew summed up the reactions of many observers with this remark:
This truly may be the most ridiculous statement of this Administration and it has ample competition. https://t.co/2EnCoB3qUs
— Richard Nephew (@RichardMNephew) November 28, 2017