Corker laments Trump’s ‘castration’ of U.S. secretary of state

Excerpt from a Washington Post piece based on an interview with U.S. Sen. Bob Corker:

(A)s Corker sees it, the biggest problem is that Trump is neutering his own chief diplomat, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and thereby inviting “binary” situations in which the United States will have to choose between war and a North Korea or Iran capable of threatening the United States with nuclear weapons.

“You cannot publicly castrate your own secretary of state without giving yourself that binary choice,” Corker told me in a phone interview Friday. “The tweets — yes, you raise tension in the region [and] it’s very irresponsible. But it’s the first part” — the “castration” of Tillerson — “that I am most exercised about.”

Tillerson gets low marks from many in Washington, both inside and outside the State Department, who think he has cooperated with Trump’s attempt to strip U.S. diplomacy of resources, authority and public profile. But as Corker sees it, Tillerson has been instrumental in opening a path away from confrontation with North Korea through quiet diplomacy with China.

“The greatest diplomatic activities we have are with China, and the most important, and they have come a long, long way,” Corker said. “Some of the things we are talking about are phenomenal.”

The problem, he suggested, is Trump’s tweets and other statements implying that there is no deal to be made with North Korea and that Tillerson “is wasting his time,” as one tweet put it. Such comments are causing the Chinese to back away from what has been an incipient willingness to bring serious pressure to bear on Pyongyang.

“When you jack the legs out from under your chief diplomat, you cause all that to fall apart,” Corker said. “Us working with [Beijing] effectively is the key to not getting to a binary choice. When you publicly castrate your secretary of state, you take that off the table.”

Corker has a somewhat analogous view of Trump’s actions on Iran, which explains why he is trying to answer the president’s demand for legislation placing new conditions on the nuclear deal. In tune with Trump, Corker is proposing that Congress amend a bill it passed in 2015 that provides for U.S. sanctions on Iran to be reimposed if Iran does not comply with the deal. Under the revision, the sanctions would “snap back” if Iran did not meet new conditions, such as allowing more intrusive international inspections and giving up a sunset clause that removes restrictions on some nuclear activities, including uranium enrichment, beginning eight years from now.

2 Responses to Corker laments Trump’s ‘castration’ of U.S. secretary of state

  • Avatar
    Penny Tucker says:

    Never before have I had respect for a TN republican–I hope he continues to tell the truth–something the GOP sorely lacks.

  • Avatar
    cjmcd says:

    How much longer do we have to listen to this useless windbag? He needs to resign his senate seat, but then integrity isn’t his middle name, is it.

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