Rex Tillerson’s Trials and Tribulations

President Trump’s meddling hand in the Mideast encouraged the Saudi-Qatari showdown and made Secretary of State Tillerson’s job all the more nettlesome, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

By Paul R. Pillar

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will stay in his job no more than two years, maximum. He is an honorable man who came to Washington with a patriotic sense of wanting to do something on behalf of his country. There is no reason to expect that he will be caught up in sleaze found elsewhere in the administration. His previous career demonstrated he has management and leadership ability, while giving him much experience in conducting business overseas. But the frustrations of his current position will be too much for him to bear for very long.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at his swearing-in ceremony on Feb. 1, 2017. (Screen shot from Whitehouse.gov)

Some of those frustrations emanate from the nature of the Trump presidency.  This administration simply has little place for diplomacy, notwithstanding how much the President likes to talk about making deals. The proposed meat-ax cuts to the State Department are one of the most obvious indications of that. Another indication is how the nation’s chief diplomat, the Secretary of State, often seems to be left outside the innermost circle of foreign policy decision-making.

A related source of frustration is a President working at cross-purposes with some of what Tillerson is trying to do. This is not unique to the business of the State Department, and the Secretary of State is hardly the only one of the President’s senior subordinates whom Trump has undercut. But probably the most salient example of such undercutting is how Trump’s steep tilt toward the Saudis has complicated Tillerson’s efforts at resolving the conflict between Qatar and its Gulf Arab rivals.

There is also the discomfort of a Secretary of State having to defend the indefensible, on matters such as climate change and trade. And Tillerson has to do so at a time when foreign trust in the United States to do the right thing in world affairs is at a nadir.

Other difficulties for Tillerson have more to do with the differences between his business experience and government, although some of these difficulties are exacerbated by tendencies of the Trump administration. As CEO of Exxon Mobil, Tillerson was fully in charge. He is not in charge now, and not just in the sense that he reports to the President. There are multiple political and policy interests that present complexities he did not have to confront as a business executive.

Although a corporate CEO does have to deal in a sense with multiple constituencies in the form of shareholders, customers, suppliers, and creditors, that array is standard in a way that can be described in a business textbook. The Washington policy environment is different from anything else, and it certainly cannot be simplified in terms of dollars and rates of return.

The Turnover Troubles

The quadrennial cycle of administrations coming and going is another Washington phenomenon that has made Tillerson’s job harder and does not correspond to anything in his business career. Tillerson has been criticized for seeming to give greater priority to developing a reorganization plan for the State Department than to filling vacant positions on the existing organization chart.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are welcomed with bouquets of flowers, May 20, 2017, on their arrival to King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

But this approach would be a normal and appropriate way for a new chief executive of a corporation to approach his task. Why appoint someone to a job that may soon be redefined or abolished? The difference is that Exxon Mobil never had to deal with its upper ranks being depopulated every four years. Tillerson’s filling of State Department vacancies has been greatly complicated by the heavy hand of a White House that applies political litmus tests and makes sure no never-Trumpers get a job. Tillerson has considered this White House role to be such an impediment that he uncharacteristically lost his composure by shouting at the White House personnel chief about the problem.

Then there are the many clashes of foreign interests that a Secretary of State must deal with, that will not go away, and that cannot simply be ignored. Unlike in the business world, where failure to strike a deal means turning to some other oilfield to exploit, such options are often not available in foreign policy.

Tillerson has just made his most salient personal foray yet into international problem-solving — shuttle diplomacy to try to resolve the dispute among the Gulf Arabs — and he is coming home empty-handed. At the end of his trip, Tillerson not only declared how “tired” he was but also made very explicit comments about how different such work was from being CEO of Exxon Mobil and how difficult it was in having to deal with “fragmented” decision-making in the U.S. Government. Meanwhile, the Gulf Arab dispute is still a problem for the administration’s foreign policy.

Earlier on the trip, Tillerson stopped in Turkey to accept a lifetime achievement award from the World Petroleum Council. In his remarks to the oil executives, Tillerson said, “I miss all of you. I miss you as colleagues, I miss you as partners, I miss you as competitors, I miss the healthy debates, the collaboration, the breakthroughs that were achieved.”

Against the backdrop of his current job — with the unhealthy debates, the highly imperfect collaboration, and the failures in achieving breakthroughs — those words were undoubtedly sincere and strongly felt.

Tillerson will not go back to being an oil executive, and his Washington experience will make him feel he deserves a retirement more than ever. He probably already is counting the days until he has spent just enough time in his current job to make a graceful withdrawal.

Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts. He is author most recently of Why America Misunderstands the World. (This article first appeared as a blog post at The National Interest’s Web site. Reprinted with author’s permission.)

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35 comments for “Rex Tillerson’s Trials and Tribulations

  1. Joe Tedesky
    July 16, 2017 at 1:45 am

    While Rex retires with a book deal, in our animated world we now live in, Donald Trump will make Nikki Haley the new Secretary of State. This arrangement could work, considering Nikki doesn’t give a damn what she says, because Donalds doing the say thing….they’re just talking! Cameras, lights, action!

    Didn’t you bring the plan? No didn’t you? Oh lookout, smile there’s the paparazzi!

  2. Cal
    July 16, 2017 at 2:47 am

    I agree, Tillerson wont keep tolerating the WH fools for much longer. And the little Jared rat in the wood pile needs to go.

    Tillerson and Mattis Cleaning Up Kushner’s Middle East Mess
    https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/tillerson-and-mattis-cleaning-up-kushners-middle-east-mess/

    excerpts…

    On March 25, 2011, a Qatar Air Force Mirage 2000-5, took off from Souda Air Base, in Crete, to help enforce a no-fly zone protecting rebels being attacked by Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi. Qatar was the first Persian Gulf nation to help the U.S. in the conflict.

    Qatari operations were more than symbolic. The Qatari military trained rebel units, shipped them weapons, accompanied their fighting units into battle, served as a link between rebel commanders and NATO, tutored their military commanders, integrated disparate rebel units into a unified force and led them in the final assault on Qaddafi’s compound in Tripoli.“We never had to hold their hand,” a retired senior U.S. military officer says. “They knew what they were doing.” Put simply, while the U.S. was leading from behind in Libya, the Qataris were walking point.

    The Qatar intervention has not been forgotten at the Pentagon and is one of the reasons why Defense Secretary James Mattis has worked so diligently to patch up the falling out between them and the coalition of Saudi-led countries (including the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt), that have isolated and blockaded the nation. In fact, Mattis was stunned by the Saudi move. “His first reaction was shock, but his second was disbelief,” a senior military officer says. “He thought the Saudis had picked an unnecessary fight, and just when the administration thought they’d gotten everyone in the Gulf on the same page in forming a common front against Iran.”

    But while Tillerson’s answer was meant to soothe concerns over the crisis, behind the scenes he and Mattis were scrambling to undo the damage caused by Saudi action. The two huddled in Sydney and decided that Tillerson would take the lead in trying to resolve the falling out. Which is why, three days after the Sydney press conference, Tillerson called on Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt to ease their anti-Qatar blockade and announced that the U.S. supported a Kuwaiti-led mediation effort.

    The problem for Tillerson was that his statement was contradicted by Donald Trump who, during a Rose Garden appearance on the same day, castigated Qatar, saying the emirate “has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level.”

    A close associate of the secretary of state says that Tillerson was not only “blind-sided by the Trump statement,” but “absolutely enraged that the White House and State Department weren’t on the same page.”

    Tillerson’s aides, I was told, were convinced that the true author of Trump’s statement was U.A.E. ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, a close friend of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner. “Rex put two-and-two together,” his close associate says, “and concluded that this absolutely vacuous kid was running a second foreign policy out of the White House family quarters. Otaiba weighed in with Jared and Jared weighed in with Trump. What a mess.” The Trump statement was nearly the last straw for Tillerson, this close associate explains: “Rex is just exhausted. He can’t get any of his appointments approved and is running around the world cleaning up after a president whose primary foreign policy adviser is a 36-year-old amateur.”

    While Trump’s June 9 statement signaled that the U.S. was tilting towards the Saudis and the UAE, Tillerson and Mattis have been tilting towards Qatar. And for good reason. “Every time we’ve asked the Qataris for something they’ve said ‘yes,’ which isn’t true for the Saudis,” the retired senior U.S. military officer with whom I spoke says. “It really started with the help the Qataris gave us in Libya, but it goes well beyond that. They’ve been absolutely first rate on ISIS. The Saudis, on the other hand, have been nothing but trouble – in Yemen, especially. Yemen has been a disaster, a stain. And now there’s this.”

    On the same day that Mattis was announcing the Qatar arms agreement, Tillerson told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that it would be a mistake to classify the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group, one of the primary reasons that the anti-Qatar coalition gave for isolating their Gulf neighbor. “There are elements of the Muslim Brotherhood that have become parts of government,” Tillerson said, naming Turkey and Bahrain as having brotherhood members in their parliaments. Those “elements,” Tillerson added, have renounced violence and terrorism. “So, in designating the Brotherhood in its totality as a terrorist organization . . . I think you can appreciate the complexities this enters into our relations with [governments in the region].”

    More crucially, particularly from Mattis’s point-of-view, the Saudi-Qatar feud not only shattered the anti-Iran coalition the administration cobbled together during the president’s trip to Riyadh, it redrew the geopolitical map of the Middle East. In the wake of the Saudi-Qatar falling out, Turkey pledged its support for Qatar (and deployed troops to a Qatari military base to guard Qatar’s sovereignty), while Iran took steps to help ease the Saudi-imposed blockade.

    “The Saudis and Emiratis have told us repeatedly that they want to weaken Iran, but they’ve actually empowered them,” a senior Pentagon consultant who works on the Middle East told me. The Saudi actions, this official went on to explain, have backfired. Instead of intimidating the Qataris, the Saudis have “thrown them into the arms of the Iranians.” The result is an uneasy, but emerging Turkish-Qatari-Iranian alliance backed by Russia. “This isn’t just some kind of Gulfie dust-up, where we can go out and hold everyone’s hands,” this Pentagon consultant says. “The Saudis have handed the Iranians a gift and we’re on the outside looking in.”

    • Joe Tedesky
      July 16, 2017 at 10:07 am

      Very informative posting Cal. There’s a lot to learn by our sharing, thanks. Joe

    • July 16, 2017 at 10:44 am

      Cal,… I can agree with your assessment and the gist of this article as far as Tillerson goes but I think he only looks good in relation to Kushner. There is still the issue of ganging up on Iran and doing the Saudis bidding in Yemen and elsewhere. I’m not sure Tillerson would act much differently if given a free hand and really don’t have much faith in anyone in this administration. The office of Secy. of State always seems to have been window dressing except when they were totally in sync with Deep State policy.

      • Cal
        July 16, 2017 at 7:06 pm

        ” There is still the issue of ganging up on Iran”……BobH

        Yea there is that . He seems to be going along with the group think on Iran. I haven’t researched him enough to know of he had any prior or has any ‘ideology’ on the ME.
        But his reaction to the Qatar situation indicates he has a understanding of the ME complexities/intrigue and a realistic approach.

    • July 16, 2017 at 12:22 pm

      Not to mention that the idea of the Qataris of uniting Sunnis and Shi’ites under one Muslim religion is a serious ideological blow to the business of war and the efforts towards monopolization of the religion by the Saudis! God, as we are all coming to know, is all about oil, gas and instruments of destruction for blood money; as well as the real estate ticket sales rights to the temple of pilgrimage..

    • Catcher in the Wild
      July 16, 2017 at 1:27 pm

      Wait a minute guys…in the midst of your war games…the US NEVER SHOULD HAVE INVADED IRAQ…with the support of the Qataris or not. Obama wisely declined leadership of yet another Humanitarian-Intervention-Regime-Change…until the 3 WARRIOR-WITCHES: HILLARY (flexing her muscles to prove she’d be the next (tougher) President) backed by SUSAN Rice (the Black Iron Princess) & SAMANTHA Power (Ms. Humanitarian Interventionist-in Chief) stormed into the Oval Office and strong–armed Barack to invade Libya…albeit while “leading-from-behind”. Then how can we ever forget the YouTube clip of LADY HILLARY MACBETH on hearing of the torture & murder of Qaddafi, laughing, clapping her hands & triumphantly proclaiming: “WE CAME, WE SAW, HE DIED!”.
      Thus The Empire rolls on…with its write hand, The New York Times, still scribbling the script even after their would-be Empress lost the election so they have to resort to clubs, carrots and Russophobia to either tar & impeach Trump or cheer him on when he does its bidding: such as lobbing 59 Tomahawk missiles into Syria…Seymour Hersh’s revelations re. the latest fake WMD (Syrian sarin gas attacks) suppressed & be-damned!
      So what’s next on the Imperial Humanitarian-Intervention-Regime-Change agenda? From the looks of yesterday’s nytimes digital edition’s extremely lonnnnnnnnng top-of-the-front-page war propaganda with its array of compelling, technicolor, emotionally-charged photos: it’s another Judaic-Christian Crusade to rid the Middle East of the center piece of the Frum-Bush “Axis of Evil”: IRAN…before pivoting to Asia to obliterate once and for all, the last tiny fortress of the Axis: North Korea…which, after watching what happened to Libya & Qaddafi, vowed never to nuclear-disarm. But since failing (so far) to remove the wrench-in-their Good Global Works: Trump…it seems, according to The Times’ agenda, that they must try “carrots” again. First, they arranged with Macron to spread the red carpet down the Champs Elysee & roll out all of the Royal Parisian Accoutrements then afterward as Donald & Melanie flew home on Airforce One, portray him as the jovial President of yore: tie removed, tongue amiably engaged in banter with the press plus The Editorial Board declaring that, meanwhile, despite the impression of his G-20 meeting with Putin, Trump has not relinquished an inch of its Chess Board or an ounce of Imperial Power to Putin.
      And not to be missed: news of the of the Empire’s right hand tactics to banish any leftist dissent against their next war: tarnishing Sanders by means of a federal lawsuit against his wife, Jane’s, Burlington College real estate dealings…instigated by none other than the Trump’s Vermont campaign chairman, Brady Toensing…whose mom, Victoria, once served as Reagan’s Attorney General…after her divorce from his dad, Trent of NH, where we knew the family in the 70’s when Brady was just an innocent kid, who, perhaps knew Robby Mook, when he was a kid here in the Dartmouth community where his daddy was a professor…and Behold! he grew up to be Hillary’s 2016 (deluded) Presidential Campaign Manager! Small world up here in our First-in-the-Nation-Presidential-Primary-State connected by Connecticut River bridges to our Green Vermont neighbor, which, despite its dominant Sanders-style Socialist reputation…also harbors Reactionary Republicans.

      • Patricia Victour
        July 17, 2017 at 10:43 am

        Bravo!

  3. john wilson
    July 16, 2017 at 4:49 am

    The notion that Tillerson has some kind of innate ability is absurd. Any one who believed that Assad used chemical weapons a few months back, as Tillerson did, has no ability whatsoever. As Joe points out above, they are just talking heads.

    • Joe Tedesky
      July 16, 2017 at 10:13 am

      Loose cannons, the whole lot of them. Read the comment above Cal left us, and there you will see just how uncoordinated and egotistical these people at the top really are. Where’s the processes of chain of command. You are right John, Tillerson went along with the sarin gas attack story, and that makes him no better than the rest, he could have resigned and latter wrote a book. It’s call integrity John, and none of these leaders show any signs of having any of it.

  4. Realist
    July 16, 2017 at 4:50 am

    Tillerson’s appointment was the only cabinet appointment that Trump made that was non-political and a good fit of talent and experience to official role and duties of office. On some days I see him as the last line of defense between Trump and the bipartisan War Party that is out to figuratively give him the Gaddaffi or Saddam treatment. With Tillerson out of there, the barbarians are sure to breech the walls and throw the country into the turmoil of an ill-advised regime change, i.e., the soft coup finally goes hard. Because as Joe said up above, who might Donald choose in Tillerson’s place to placate the warmongering congress? Nikki Haley? Another general… maybe Patraeus? McCain? Anything’s possible with this guy. I would hope that Tillerson hangs on, if for no other reason than to serve as a buffer against such a travesty. Tillerson is smart enough and knowledgeable enough to know that Russia Gate is 100% bullshit, and certainly does not want a war with Russia complicating Exxon-Mobil’s contracts to extract Siberian oil. If Mike Pence, who could be a disaster greater than Trump or Hillary waiting to happen, wants to run for president in 2020, make him earn the opportunity by running in the primaries, not inheriting the office through the graces of a coup d’etat that follows when competent men like Tillerson are driven from public office.

    I keep hoping that Trump’s own party would ease up on the incessant sniping against him if only to ease East-West tensions and ratchet down the warmongering. The crazed Democrats alone could not be succeeding in roiling the waters the way they have been. I wish that McCain and Graham were the ones to leave the public scene because they have been the greatest catalysts of discord in the Republican congress. Without those fools, I get the impression that Trump could come to an accommodation with the GOP leadership and pursue the Russian foreign policy he ran on during the campaign. So, Wikileaks, get busy…

    • Joe Tedesky
      July 16, 2017 at 10:28 am

      I live with and around a ton of Trump haters. They get mad at me when I downplay this Russian nonsense, and I frustrate them when I ask them merely to produce some evidence of Russian wrong doing, and they can’t. Then they cry, but Trump is a disaster and a disgrace to his office. Okay then, so I propose what about a President Mike Pence? This naturally freaks them out even more so, since our family also has its share of gays, and atheists, so Pence is also not suitable for the office of the presidency. God forbid Pence experience a Spiro Agnew and we get stuck with Paul Ryan. Ugh! Double ugh!

      I’m afraid, at least in my eyes, we Americans would do better just putting up with the Donald, because what comes after him may possibly be worst…if that’s conceivable.

      If life for Rex Tillerson is that unbearable for his working under a Trump dynasty, then he should do a Paul O’Neill and quit to go write a book describing just how bad this White House is. I think that that kind of whistleblower is needed, and in many ways this type of character is profoundly patriotic.

    • Cal
      July 17, 2017 at 1:41 am

      Realist

      July 16, 2017 at 4:50 am
      >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

      I agree with your assessment.
      Tillerson might not be perfect but he’s a damn sight better than Kerry and Hillary, neither knew anything about the ME.
      Being the CEO of Exxon he has to know the ME in depth and not every CEO is a Dick Cheney.

      These might offer some insight on Tillerson

      Sec. Tillerson addresses State Dept employees. May 3, 2017. State Department Briefing.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPefYxnfcK0

      McCain furious that Tillerson said Assad need not be removed and the Syrians would choose their own leader
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-iIOwvvB04

      If psycho McCain hates him and Chas Freeman likes him he cant be all bad….

      US Senator John McCain: “I know ISIS intimately, I’ve met them and I talk to them all the time.”
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kB2lh6N0m4w

  5. Zachary Smith
    July 16, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    He is an honorable man who came to Washington with a patriotic sense of wanting to do something on behalf of his country.

    A CEO of Exxon an “honorable man”? I very much doubt it. My viewpoint is more aligned with this one from the site “In These Times”.

    Rex Tillerson has carefully constructed a public veneer for Exxon Mobil as a law-abiding, spit and polish, model corporate citizen. The storyline goes that because it is so big and has so much money, Exxon Mobil can afford to do everything just right.

    h**p://inthesetimes.com/features/rex_tillerson_exxon_trump_secretary_of_state.html

    I’d guess that Tillerson is doing to the US State Department the same thing Trump’s Appointees are doing to the rest of the government – destroying it so as to make future adventures by Big Corporations like Exxon less likely to have any opposition on the “government” flank.

    h**p://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/Op-Ed/2017/07/16/Rex-Tillerson-wrecking-ball/stories/201707160123

  6. mike k
    July 16, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    There are two things that the super wealthy at the top of the pyramid lack: intelligence and compassion. To impute either of those deeply important qualities to them is to be profoundly deluded. The wisdom at the top needed to steer us successfully through these difficult times is no more present now than it has ever been throughout our long history, going back to the Pharaohs and before. Power does not bestow these estimable gifts, as Plato recognized long ago.

    Tillerson is no more a good secretary of state because he is a businessman, than a blacksmith is a good physician because he can hammer iron onto shape. Really, the qualities and deeds required to elbow one’s way to the higher levels of the ugly pyramid of power that mars our societal landscape, pretty much guarantee that those who make it to that level are unqualified to govern the vast number that they have gained power over. It’s the scum who rise to the top.

    • Mild-ly Facetious
      July 16, 2017 at 1:48 pm

      Op-Ed What would Lincoln think of Trump?

      Sidney Blumenthal
      (concluding segment)

      Trump’s sense of history is as limited as his self-control.

      … Then Lincoln pointed to an even greater menace than rampaging mobs, “a probable case, highly dangerous.” He warned against the emergence of a man driven to power by a fierce desire for “celebrity and fame” who “thirsts and burns for distinction.” This demagogue “scorns to tread in the footsteps of any predecessor, however illustrious,” and believing that “nothing left to be done in the way of building up, he would set boldly to the task of pulling down.”

      There is a contemporary figure who resembles that fame-hungry demagogue, one who tears down institutions and incites the mobocratic spirit, subverting the right to free expression and, with it, our national freedom. These Lincolnian terms describe our reality-TV-star-turned-president, who called the “FAKE NEWS media” the “enemy of the American people,” and tweeted an altered video that showed him body-slamming a man with the CNN logo in place of his head.

      But Trump would no more understand Lincoln’s forewarning than he will accept responsibility for his incitement. Trump’s sense of history is as limited as his self-control.

      If we can deduce how Lincoln would perceive Trump, we can also surmise how he would advise Americans to handle him. This is what he said about the possible rise of an American demagogue: “And when such a one does, it will require the people to be united with each other, attached to the government and laws, and generally intelligent, to successfully frustrate his designs.”

      Sidney Blumenthal is the author of “Wrestling With His Angel, The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln, Volume II, 1849-1856.” “A Self-Made Man, The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln, Volume I, 1809-1849,” describes Lincoln’s Lyceum Address.
      http://www.latimes.com

      • Cal
        July 16, 2017 at 7:30 pm

        Lincoln wasn’t all he is cracked up to be . He wasnt without his hypocrisies either. In one way he wasnt much different than Trump in the sense that he was swayed and led around by the northern industrialist —a pocket of the elite of those times — who were eager to curtail southern cotton exports to Europe and redirect the bulk at lower cost to themselves. $$ has always been $$$…..even back then.
        To say that Lincoln initiated the Civil War ‘strictly’ because of slavery or to ‘ hold the union’ together ls a incomplete story of Lincoln…..a bit of legacy lipstick.

        • Zachary Smith
          July 16, 2017 at 8:56 pm

          …Lincoln initiated the Civil War…

          Dear God!

          • Cal
            July 16, 2017 at 9:32 pm

            @ Smith

            Unless you have dug into all the documents of that era you don’t know the full history.

          • Zachary Smith
            July 16, 2017 at 11:37 pm

            Now I understand. Secret documents are the key to True Understanding.

            Perhaps I got a hint of those once – I saw a post about how the Yankees at Ft. Sumter started the Civil War by attacking the peace-loving Confederates with cannon fire. Not a widely known fact, that.

          • Cal
            July 17, 2017 at 2:58 am

            Zachary Smith

            July 16, 2017 at 11:37 pm

            Now I understand. Secret documents are the key to True Understanding
            <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

            Allow me to help you.

            I think you miss some things regarding Fort Sumpter. True, the Union troops were attacked but South Carolina had already seceeded from the Union in December 1860 before Lincoln took office. The South Carolina legislature passed the “Ordinance of Secession,” which declared that “the Union now subsisting between South Carolina and other states, under the name of the United States of America, is hereby dissolved. South Carolina send word that under 'States Rights' the Union Forces should be removed from the State as it was no longer a part of the Union. Lincoln later replied he intended to hold the property and places belonging to the government"—including Fort Sumter,

            Thus the war over "States Righs" began..

            As for Lincoln having the Union fight against Slavery—that is the fairly tale version of Lincoln

            First Inaugural Address of Abraham Lincoln

            http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/lincoln1.asp Library of Congress
            https://www.loc.gov/teachers/newsevents/events/lincoln/pdf/avalonFirst.pdf

            '' I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.
            Those who nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge that I had made this and many similar declarations and had never recanted them; and more than this, they placed in the platform for my acceptance, and as a law to themselves and to me, the clear and emphatic resolution which I now read:
            Resolved, That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States, and especially the right of each State to order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to that balance of power on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend; and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes.''

            Now if you want an education on the Civil War I suggest Shelby Foote —- and btw thoses 'secret documents'' ? ….. they arent secret , they are in the Library of Congress.

            The Civil War: A Narrative (The Civil War #1-3)
            by Shelby Foote
            http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44234.The_Civil_War

            reviews

            ''This, then, is narrative history—a kind of history that goes back to an older literary tradition…. The writing is superb…one of the historical and literary achievements of our time." —The Washington Post Book World

            "Mr. Foote has an acute sense of the relative importance of events and a novelist's skill in directing the reader's attention to the men and the episodes that will influence the course of the whole war, without omitting items which are of momentary interest. His organization of facts could hardly be bettered." —Atlantic

            An unparalleled achievement, an American Iliad, a unique work uniting the scholarship of the historian and the high readability of the first-class novelist." —Walker Percy

          • Zachary Smith
            July 17, 2017 at 3:17 pm

            Back when I thought Ken Burns was a reliable film-maker, I was conned by the appearance of Shelby Foote in the Civil War series. (ditto by the endless readings of Mary Chestnut – whose diary I later learned was edited to the point of becoming fiction before being published many years after the war)

            When I started some independent research of my own, I dumped the Burns series as well as everything I owned by Foote. Example from an interview:

            INTERVIEWER
            Had you been alive during the Civil War, would you have fought for the Confederates?

            FOOTE
            No doubt about it. What’s more, I would fight for the Confederacy today if the circumstances were similar. There’s a great deal of misunderstanding about the Confederacy, the Confederate flag, slavery, the whole thing. The political correctness of today is no way to look at the middle of the nineteenth century. The Confederates fought for some substantially good things. States rights is not just a theoretical excuse for oppressing people. You have to understand that the raggedy Confederate soldier who owned no slaves and probably couldn’t even read the Constitution, let alone understand it, when he was captured by Union soldiers and asked, What are you fighting for? replied, I’m fighting because you’re down here. So I certainly would have fought to keep people from invading my native state. There’s another good reason for fighting for the Confederacy. Life would have been intolerable if you hadn’t. The women of the South just would not allow somebody to stay home and sulk while the war was going on. It didn’t take conscription to grab him. The women made him go.

            Shelby Foote would have engaged in Treason For Slavery! The old bastard was a smooth-talking neo-confederate and I’ve no use for that type at all. Selling humans and their children like livestock was just “misunderstood”.

            h**ps://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/06/the-convenient-suspension-of-disbelief/240318/

            More:

            h**ps://otoolefan.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/dunce-for-the-confederacy-the-lost-cause-of-shelby-foote/

          • Cal
            July 17, 2017 at 9:10 pm

            @ Smith

            ” Shelby Foote would have engaged in Treason For Slavery! >>>>>

            Evidently you have a problem understanding what you read and quote:

            Foote said…..”States rights is not just a theoretical excuse for oppressing people” ….meaning ‘that’ is what he would fight for….iow, the ‘government’ invading and warring against the ‘ rights of states that had left the Union.

            You also ignored Lincoln’s own words about his having no intention of interfering in slavery.

            I find it amusing that so many like you are willing to condemn the ‘myths’ of the USA history but when some myth that you have a personal prejudice about is exposed you are incapable of objectivity.

          • Curious
            July 18, 2017 at 12:56 am

            At least Lincoln didn’t have to kowtow to Israel and that was a very good dynamic. Now we don’t know if our bought and paid for politicians are following the Yinon Plan, or the conservative ugly Likud party, or our war colleges who redrew the Middle East many times over and keep training war theories instead of infrastructure theories.
            We can’t fix our streets but we sure as hell can spend billions on an unsolivible problem in the ME. Russia has been reported as having more fuel than Saudi Arabia at this time.
            So, let’s guess…. the handshake between Rumsfeld and Saddam was a bargain until the US changed their colors, as always. Rumsfeld was as phony as he always has been. The Shah of Iran didn’t work out so well. NATO is at Russia’s border and today there are more NATO groups surrounding Russia than German troupes in WW2. There is no way this can end well.
            It’s a good thing we have a Platonic ‘philosopher-king’ in the White House to smooth out the distentions (sarcasm)
            I search and reach for any success the US has had in the ME and my conclusion is they are just good at sucking up to the country willing to produce the most petrol. And, of course, our DoD Is the largest user and waster of fuel on the planet. How can a pre-CEO even begin to solve this issue? There is no way. Until the DoD stops being the largest consumer on the planet we will continue these wars of aggression. many people don’t know how to stop the wars of aggression for gas because they still think the military is there to “protect” them, and they won’t even approach any compromise if they feel a lack of protection.

    • Skip Scott
      July 19, 2017 at 8:04 am

      Mike k-

      You have reminded me of my theory of the three P’s. Politicians, policemen, and priests. These three professions attract exactly the wrong type of people for the job. If you want to be one, it’s a sure sign that you shouldn’t.

  7. Mild-ly Facetious
    July 16, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    The [long and winding) MAGA formula for (their Ryan-dian) success.

    GOP bills erase protections for sick Americans.
    State fills void left by U.S. on gun violence research (as it over funds an operation for the salvation and redemption of opioid addicts)
    A war on the census that victimizes Californians
    http://www.latimes.com

  8. Cal
    July 17, 2017 at 4:47 am

    Wonder how Tillerson will handle Netanyahu,,,,,,we will soon see I imagine.

    Netanyahu presents Israel’s Demands on Syria

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.801612

    PARIS – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters after his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday that Israel opposes the cease-fire agreement in southern Syria that the United States and Russia reached because it perpetuates the Iranian presence in the country.

    The prime minister noted that in his meeting with Macron, he made it clear to the French president that Israel was totally opposed to the cease-fire plan

    \Officials also say that during the US-Russia negotiations which led to the deal, Netanyahu presented the two sides with a “list of demands,” mostly insisting that Shi’ite forces couldn’t be allowed in southern Syria at all, and that Iran could not be allowed to “consolidate” its position in Syria. They also said Russian troops couldn’t be allowed to police the safe zones closest to the Israeli border.

    Ultimately it appears that none of these demands were met, with neither the US nor Russia apparently willing to center the terms of their deal on a ceasefire in one nation’s wars on demands from another nation that insists it is not involved in that war.

    That Netanyahu felt the need to go public with his displeasure points to this being a particular sore spot, and Israeli officials say he also brought the matter up to both US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

    • Mild-ly Facetious
      July 17, 2017 at 9:38 am

      … Then Lincoln pointed to an even greater menace than rampaging mobs, “a probable case, highly dangerous.” He warned against the emergence of a man driven to power by a fierce desire for “celebrity and fame” who “thirsts and burns for distinction.” This demagogue “scorns to tread in the footsteps of any predecessor, however illustrious,” and believing that “nothing left to be done in the way of building up, he would set boldly to the task of pulling down.”

      There is a contemporary figure who resembles that fame-hungry demagogue, one who tears down institutions and incites the mobocratic spirit, subverting the right to free expression and, with it, our national freedom. These Lincolnian terms describe our reality-TV-star-turned-president, who called the “FAKE NEWS media” the “enemy of the American people,” and tweeted an altered video that showed him body-slamming a man with the CNN logo in place of his head.

      But Trump would no more understand Lincoln’s forewarning than he will accept responsibility for his incitement.

      Trump’s sense of history is as limited as his self-control.

      >> This last line is particularly apropos as it relates to your initial reply, Cal. <<

      • Zachary Smith
        July 18, 2017 at 1:16 am

        I’m about as much a Lincoln fan as anybody, but you’ve got to remember at the time of the 1838 Lyceum speech he was a 28-year-old still full of childish ideas. Example from that address:

        How then shall we perform it?–At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it?– Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never!–All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

        Hyper-patriotic nonsense in that part, and the rest isn’t really clearly thought out. Young Lincoln knew evil when he saw it, but hadn’t yet figured out how the social order was managed in that era.

        h**p://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/lyceum.htm

  9. Patricia Victour
    July 17, 2017 at 10:37 am

    How much of this disconnect is on Trump himself and how much is the Deep State directing from the shadows? Hard to tell, but I don’t rule that out and haven’t since the inauguration. I know Trump shoots from the lip and knows squat about how to run a government, but is he really that clueless all around – Russia our friend/Russia the enemy; get rid of NATO/no, don’t. And that’s just for starters. I’d also like to know, as CEO of Exxon, when did Tillerson know that his company knew that burning fossil fuels was causing climate change, and if he’s such a good guy, why didn’t he personally admit it and do something about it? Or he did and I missed it?

  10. Mild-ly Facetious
    July 17, 2017 at 10:53 am

    Trump’s alt-right Poland speech: Time to call his white nationalist rhetoric what it is.
    http://www.salon.com/2017/07/08/trumps-alt-right-poland-speech-time-to-call-his-white-nationalist-rhetoric-what-it-is/

    — Is there an hint of racial superiority in this rant calling for isolation of “Civilized Nations”?

    Is Slave Labor a Liberty bestowed upon Southern plantation owners?

    Do the “Civilized” nations of the world (AKA “Western Civilization”) have an Inherent Right to Dominate and extort the natural resources of so-called “Developing Countries” (AKA Third World nations)?

    Your historical ‘corrections’, Cal, are front loaded with an injudicious bias that completely misses/abrogates all points made by Mr. Blumenthal.
    His key line is this; “But Trump would no more understand Lincoln’s forewarning than he will accept responsibility for his incitement.”

    • Mild-ly Facetious
      July 17, 2017 at 11:12 am

      Blumenthal wrote; There is a contemporary figure who resembles that fame-hungry demagogue, one who tears down institutions and incites the Mobocratic Spirit,

      Mobocrat One who favors a form of government in which the unintelligent populace rules without restraint.
      ***

      mobocrat One of the mobocracy or turbulent, mob; a leader of the mob; a demagogue.
      ***
      Mobocrat a demagogue

      “Were they an ignorant rabble, with no higher motives than the gratification of a mobocratic spirit?”
      Harper’s New Monthly Magazine Vol. IV, No. 19, Dec 1851″

    • Cal
      July 18, 2017 at 12:43 am

      ”Your historical ‘corrections’, Cal, are front loaded with an injudicious bias that completely misses/abrogates all points made by Mr. Blumenthal.
      His key line is this; “But Trump would no more understand Lincoln’s forewarning than he will accept responsibility for his incitement.”<<<<<<

      I didn't know that historical facts could be loaded with bias…lol
      Anyway I wasn't responding to Blumenthal 's point about Trump.
      I was doing some myth busting and also thinking (to myself) how the flocking turkeys always pull out some founder to either quote approvingly or to condemn as evil–depending on what their agenda is in some piece.

  11. John Dhoe
    July 17, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    Once a CIA, always CIA. Don’t trust Paul Pillar.

    You can’t call the head of a major corporation like Exxon “honorable” simply because they have done such horrible and demonstrably dishonorable things. It’s not personally about Tillerson, which is why I left out his name.

    Notice this piece is about bad guy Trump and the corrupt system who’s agenda Trump is carrying out.

    https://therulingclassobserver.com/2017/07/15/the-ruling-class-circulatory-system/

  12. Brad
    July 18, 2017 at 5:52 am

    Honorable men don’t lie.

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