If Tillerson leaves the State Department, will we go from bad to worse?


On November 30, 2017, the New York Times published the story that Trump White House is planning to expel Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State and replace him with Mike Pompeo, the current Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) . and former Republican member of the House of Representatives of the United States. (Pompeo, the Times story also suggested, would probably be succeeded in the CIA by Tom Cotton, Republican Senator from Arkansas.)

What should we do with this change, in terms of climate change policy, if it happens? [19659002] Looking back on some perspective

On January 3, 2017, two weeks before the opening day, I published an essay on this blog about "Trying to stay positive", in which I searched for remotely positive elements of the incoming Trump administration. I wrote:

"Surprisingly, the least worrisome development with respect to the anticipated climate change policy may be the nomination of Rex Tillerson to become the US Secretary of State. It would have been inconceivable two months ago for him to write this about the CEO of Exxon-Mobil taking control of the State Department (and therefore the international dimensions of the US climate change policy), but think of the other possible candidates, and unlike many of the other major nominated, Tillerson is at least an adult, and – in the past (before the election) – had led his company to reverse course and recognize the scientific reality of human-induced climate change (unlike the president-elect), supports the use of a carbon tax when and if the United States implements a significant national climate policy, and characterizes the Climate Agreement of Paris as "an important step forward on the part of world governments to face the serious risks of climate change"

It is fair to say that it is little more than a curse to praise him for characterizing this pending event as "the least worrisome development with respect to climate change policy", but the reality remains. Everything is relative. Of course, if Mr. Tillerson will maintain and persevere with his previously established views on climate change, it is questionable. And if he does, can he influence the policy of the Oval Office by competing with Scott Pruitt, Trump's election to head EPA, not to mention Rick Perry, Trump's bizarre choice to become Secretary of Energy? "

Registrar of Secretary Tillerson in the Department of State

Perhaps Mr. Tillerson should be credited with the fact that the State Department has at least remained involved in the negotiations on change climate change under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including by sending a delegation to the annual talks in Bonn, Germany (of which I recently returned), where negotiators from other Parties to the Paris Agreement told me I personally was surprised that they were for the constructive role that the US delegation continued to play (by putting flesh on the bones of the Paris Agreement.) However, such continued bureaucratic involvement can not compensate for the fact that the United States is disconnected. at political levels, which must be attributed, at least in part, to the ineffectiveness of Secretary Tillerson in tilting the president towards a The most sensible path on climate change policy. 19659002] It is beyond the scope of this blog (and my experience) to comment more broadly on the general leadership of Mr. Tillerson's State Department or on the many key areas of international relations outside the scope of climate policy. But, I will note that my colleague from Harvard Kennedy School (and former ambbadador), Nicholas Burns, along with another former ambbadador, Ryan Crocker, described a few days ago in a biting New York Times Op-Ed how the Foreign Service is being virtually dismantled. under Tillerson.

In another harsh Op-Ed of the New York Times, Antony Blinken recently evaluated "How Rex Tillerson did so much damage in such a short time". But, as Blinken points out, the great irony is that Tillerson has had "good judgment" about many of the critical international problems facing the administration. In addition to (apparently) asking the president to keep the United States in the Paris Agreement, Tillerson supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Obama's nuclear agreement with Iran, a calmer approach to North Korea, stand firm against aggression Russian (as in Ukraine), and calm the dispute between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which was instigated, in part, by Trump himself. But in all these matters, the sensible diplomatic council of Tillerson, though inexperienced, failed in his attempt to win the day.

Out with the bad, does the worst come?

Enter Mike Pompeo. What would his presence as Secretary of State mean, both in general terms, and in particular, for climate change policy?

In general terms, Pompeo is apparently intelligent (as is Tillerson), highly ideological (that Tillerson, a moderate, is not), and very partisan (which, again, Tillerson is not). This does not seem to be good news for the leadership of the US State Department. UU

On the other hand, it is expected that Pompeo will slow down, if not reverse, the emptying of the political leadership of the State Department and the Foreign Service official. The result of Antony Blinken is that with Pompeo at the helm, "we can expect a focus on hard-power solutions for every problem, … and an even more aggressive search." of & # 39; America first. & # 39; "While Tillerson apparently tried to control Mr. Trump's worst instincts," we can now see them completely unleashed. "My God, what a thought!"

The road ahead for global climate change policy

That's a pretty frightening prognosis across the board, but what about politics? of climate change, in particular? At least Mr. Pompeo shares Mr. Tillerson's personal understanding of the reality of the problem and the importance of addressing the threat?

Sorry, but the answer is no cause for hope. In the House of Representatives, before moving to the CIA, Congressman Pompeo was a consistent, long-term and vocal skeptic of the science of climate change, and an outspoken critic of the Obama administration's climate policies, which he characterized in 2015 as a "radical climate change agenda." Although he may have modified his views since his appointment as Director of the CIA, in his confirmation hearings last January, he stated that Obama's opinion e that climate change is a major problem for national security was "ignorant, dangerous, and absolutely incredible. "

The departure of Secretary Tillerson from the Department of State and the entry of Mr. Pompeo, if these take place, will constitute another sad chapter in the short history of the lamentable state of government under the presidency of Donald Trump. teaching at Harvard, until last year I had remained stubbornly non-partisan, but thirteen months after the election, I still find it hard to believe that we have chosen such an individual to be President of the United States.

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