Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Nuñez: Tillerson has what it takes to guide State through needed reforms

Joseph R. Nuñez,

Tillerson image from article
Rex Tillerson will serve well as next Secretary of State. Confirmed Wednesday, the State Department needs his leadership and management experience, something he developed during his long and distinguished ExxonMobil career. Though Tillerson faces no small number of institutional and international challenges, he also arrives at a time that presents many opportunities. ...

Tillerson comes to State at a time when the world is becoming more dangerous. During Senate confirmation hearings, he wisely advocated pushing back against bad actors in the international state system who do not respect sovereignty, whether borders or civilian security. This requires skilful and timely state-to-state diplomacy, regional cooperation and international coordination.

Complicating the challenge is that non-state actors, such as radical Islamic revolutionary movements, must be better countered through new public diplomacy approaches to counter their radical appeal. This is in addition to assisting Defense with programs to train and equip allies and friends in the fight against the Islamic State, al-Qaeda and others.

Tillerson will also do well to follow through on points he made about equity and engagement. Advocating broadly for American business - energy, machinery, agriculture, technology, etc. - is a diplomatic priority shared with the Department of Commerce. Business should not be penalized when other international companies are granted grandfather clause exceptions in their deals with states that violate democratic norms. We have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot. ...
Col. (Ret.) Núñez, PhD, commanded a battalion in the 10th Mountain Division (LI) and served as a professor at the U.S. Military Academy (West Point) and Army War College. He spent five years in Iraq, most of it with the Department of State as a senior adviser.

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