Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s disdain for the laws and norms of the State Department has so far been like a well-managed chronic illness – a real problem, but nothing something we’re talking about every day. But his latest diplomatic disaster is too obvious to be ignored.
Twelve state department officials are accusing Tillerson of violating the Child Soldiers Prevention Act by removing Iraq, Afghanistan, and Myanmar from the official list of countries that use child soldiers.
This is a bad move for plenty of reasons. The first being that these countries definitely do use child soldiers, according to Human Rights Watch.
Keeping them off the official list of offenders does nothing to help solve the problem.
Another reason State Department officials worry about this is because taking those countries off the list makes it easier for the US to give them military aid, which is then only adding to the problem. You give the military more resources, they’re gonna use them to enlist more kids.
Finally, the move just totally denigrates the credibility of the State Department itself. Tillerson’s decision goes directly against the advice of multiple officials in the department, including the heads of the various bureaus in those regions, as well as in house lawyers and the human rights office.
If the Secretary himself is going to ignore the official advice of the department, it weakens their ability to use that official advice to actually get anything done.
But then again, this is right in line with Rex Tillerson’s “management style.” He says he’s “re-desigining” the department, but critics say he’s gutting it.
When asked earlier this month in an interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham whether he was worried about so many positions being vacant at the State Department – career officials and Obama appointees have resigned at an alarming rate – Trump didn’t seem to care, as this transcript indicates.
Ingraham: Are you worried that the State Department doesn’t have enough Donald Trump nominees in there to push your vision through?
Trump: So, we don’t need all the people that they want. You know, don’t forget, I’m a businessperson. I tell my people, ‘Where you don’t need to fill slots, don’t fill them.’ But we have some people that I’m not happy with their thinking process.”
Ingraham: But assistant secretary of state, you’re not getting rid of that position.
Trump: Let me tell you, the one that matters is me. I’m the only one that matters, because when it comes to it, that’s what the policy is going to be. You’ve seen that, you’ve seen it strongly.
“I’m the only the one that matters,” he said. Way to be a team player.