Thankfully, Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson’s foreign policy positions are more nuanced and thoughtful than those of some of the senators who grilled him on Wednesday, especially Florida’s Marco Rubio.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing featured a noteworthy clash between Tillerson and Rubio, particularly on foreign policy regarding Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, Cuba, and especially Russia.
For his part, Tillerson managed to parry Rubio’s hawkish positions by, according to Fox News, “explaining his more deliberative vision.”
When Tillerson refused to specifically label Russia’s president, someone he and the incoming administration will find it necessary to deal with productively going forward, as a “war criminal,” Rubio shot back, “I find it discouraging your ability to cite that, which I think is globally accepted.”
The former ExxonMobil CEO also refused to call Saudi Arabia a “human rights violator” or denounce Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte for actions committed by his government.
Tillerson also couldn’t confirm whether or not Putin had specifically murdered some of his political enemies.
The tense exchanges later prompted Tillerson to address Rubio’s concerns during the second questioning period by saying, “There seems to be some misunderstanding that I see the world through a different lens, and I do not. But I’m also clear-eyed and realistic about dealing with cultures.”
On Russia, Tillerson did take a somewhat harsher tone than others in the incoming administration, saying that Russia, indeed, poses “a danger” and that “Our NATO allies are right to be alarmed at a resurgent Russia.”
Of Russia’s seizure of Crimea, Tillerson said, “that was a taking of territory that was not theirs” and that the “absence of a very firm, forceful response to the taking of Crimea was judged by leadership in Russia as a weak response.”
Though stopping short of calling Russia an enemy of the United States, Tillerson did call the country an “unfriendly adversary.”
After the hearing, Rubio was noncommittal on whether or not he would vote for Tillerson, telling reporters, “This is a very important decision and I recognize the partisan split on the committee and what it means. I’m prepared to do what’s right.”
To put this in perspective, it’s a historical fact that both Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, both Democrats, worked with one of history’s most prolific mass murderers, Joseph Stalin, to advance what was, at the time, both country’s interests.
Of liberal acrimony toward dealing with Putin and Russia, conservative icon Pat Buchanan wrote in 2014:
Whatever we thought of the Soviet dictators who blockaded Berlin, enslaved Eastern Europe, put rockets in Cuba and armed Arabs to attack Israel, Ike, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush 1 all sought to engage Russia’s rulers.
Avoidance of a catastrophic war demanded engagement.
How then can we explain the clamor of today’s U.S. foreign policy elite to confront, isolate, and cripple Russia, and make of Putin a moral and political leper with whom honorable statesmen can never deal?
Those words are even more true today than they were then.
Some in the conservative camp who likely aren’t eager for a second cold war or the prospects of a hot one with a nuclear power questioned Rubio’s harsh stance toward Tillerson and Russia:
— Lou Dobbs (@LouDobbs) January 11, 2017
Sen. Rubio belittles the Tillerson hearing with questions that sound like they're from the Hard Left!
— Steve Forbes (@SteveForbesCEO) January 11, 2017
Already more okay with Rex Tillerson at Sec State than Hillary Clinton based just on his Rubio exchange. Because Rubio sounds like Clinton.
— Jack Hunter (@jackhunter74) January 11, 2017
Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of BizPac Review.
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