clear
Friday December 15th, 2017 6:47PM

Trump's pick to be top diplomat breaks with him in key ways

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rex Tillerson's foreign policy doesn't sound a lot like Donald Trump's.

At his confirmation hearing Wednesday, the former Exxon Mobil CEO selected by Trump for secretary of state called Russia a "danger" and vowed to protect America's European allies. He rejected the idea of an immigration ban on Muslims. He treaded softly on the human rights records of key U.S. partners like Saudi Arabia.

In the words of Sen. Bob Corker, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's GOP chairman, Tillerson "demonstrated that he's very much in the mainstream of foreign policy thinking." But doing so forced the former Exxon Mobil CEO to break with a variety of the president-elect's most iconoclastic statements on diplomacy and international security.

Again and again, Tillerson hewed more closely to longstanding, bipartisan positions on America's role in the world, and who are its friends and foes.

That may help Tillerson win confirmation with senators who've expressed wariness about his extensive relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. But it could leave him implementing a Trump foreign policy that looks little like the vision he outlined Wednesday.

A look at where Tillerson's views didn't quite match those of his would-be boss:

RUSSIA

Tillerson adopted a tough tone toward Moscow, apparently attempting to rebut the perception that he's too close to Putin.

The Russian leader previously awarded Tillerson his country's "Order of Friendship" following Exxon's deals with Russia's oil industry. But on Wednesday, Tillerson called Putin's Russia a threat to the United States.

Whereas Trump as a candidate played down Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, arguing the population there was pro-Russian anyway, Tillerson said the annexation was illegal and amounted to "a taking of territory that was not theirs."

Whereas Trump's campaign team last summer softened language in the GOP platform calling for arming Ukraine, Tillerson said he would have recommended providing U.S. and allied defensive weapons, plus aerial surveillance, to the Ukrainians so they could protect their Russian border.

"The taking of Crimea was an act of force," Tillerson said, adding that when Russia flexes its muscles, the U.S. must mount "a proportional show of force to indicate to Russia there will be no more taking of territory."

The Kremlin said Thursday that Russia and the United States can overcome the current diplomatic strain based on mutual respect once Trump takes office.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters Thursday that "Moscow hopes that our presidents will get along well." He added that while Moscow and Washington can't agree on everything, they can normalize their strained ties if they show "mutual respect."

CAMPAIGN HACKING

Before Wednesday, Trump had spent weeks ridiculing the U.S. intelligence agencies' accusations that Russia hacked and leaked emails, spread "fake news" and took other actions to interfere with the U.S. election.

Tillerson wasted no time in accepting the findings.

And he went further than Trump, conceding that it's a "fair assumption" that the hacking couldn't have taken place without Putin's consent

Not Trump, who has repeatedly praised Putin's leadership.

While he said at a news conference Wednesday that "I think it was Russia," Trump sidestepped the question of Putin's responsibility. Instead, he argued: "If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what, folks? That's called an asset, not a liability."

THE MUSLIM BAN

During the campaign, Trump called for a temporary ban on Muslims immigrating to the U.S. The proposal then evolved into a plan to halt immigration from an unspecified group of countries linked to terrorism. Yet Trump later suggested he was reconsidering the Muslim ban.

"I do not support a blanket type rejection of any particular group of people," Tillerson said categorically in his hearings. He said the U.S. should "support those Muslim voices" that reject extremism and insisted Americans shouldn't be scared of Muslims.

RAPISTS AND CRIMINALS

Trump started his presidential bid by taking aim south of the border, accusing Mexico of sending "rapists" and criminals with drugs into the U.S.

Asked about those sentiments, Tillerson said he would "never characterize an entire population with any single term at all."

Mexico and other Latin American nations are anxious about Trump's campaign pledges to build a border wall and deport millions of immigrants illegally in the U.S.

Tillerson, by contrast, said he would engage closely with Mexico.

"Mexico is a longstanding neighbor and friend of this country," he said.

DEFENDING ALLIES

Trump sent chills through much of Europe when he suggested the U.S. might not defend its NATO allies if they came under attack, unless they'd contributed enough to the alliance's collective defense costs.

He later qualified his comments, while insisting the alliance's future is dependent on other members paying their fair share.

Tillerson offered an ironclad commitment to NATO's Article 5, which obligates the allies to treat an attack on one as an attack on all. If a NATO member is invaded, the oil man said, the U.S. would join other members in coming to its aid.

"The Article 5 commitment is inviolable, and the U.S. is going to stand behind that commitment," Tillerson said.

SAUDI ARABIA

Trump used Saudi Arabia's shoddy human rights record as a campaign cudgel against Hillary Clinton, pointedly asking why she wouldn't "give back the money" her family foundation accepted from the kingdom.

He called out Saudi Arabia and other Mideast countries for violence against gays and women, and other human rights violations.

Tillerson played it more conservatively with a country that lies at the heart of the American security strategy for the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia doesn't share American values, he said, but he said he would "need to have greater information" before declaring Saudi Arabia a human rights violator.

It was an answer that wasn't well received by all the senators present. But it was, to use a turn of phrase, diplomatic.

___

AP writers Matthew Lee and Bradley Klapper contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Presidential Election News
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Boldin abruptly retires 2 weeks after signing with Bills
Receiver Anquan Boldin abruptly announces his retirement to focus on his humanitarian work just under two weeks after signing with the Buffalo Bills
11:44PM ( 22 minutes ago )
The Latest: Trump expresses concern for warship crew
President Donald Trump is expressing concern for the crew of the USS John S. McCain, a Navy warship that collided with a tanker near Singapore
11:42PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Bell powers Pirates past Cards 6-3 in Little League Classic
Josh Bell homered and drove in four runs to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates over the St. Louis Cardinals 6-3 in the Little League Classic
11:31PM ( 34 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Prosecutors: Prof killed boyfriend as part of sexual fantasy
Prosecutors say fatal stabbing of hairstylist in Chicago was part of sexual fantasy hatched online between professor and university employee
9:57PM ( 2 hours ago )
Eclipse eve: Millions converge across US to see sun go dark
Millions of eclipse watchers are converging on a narrow corridor stretching from Oregon to South Carolina to watch the moon blot out the sun Monday
9:55PM ( 2 hours ago )
US warship collides with tanker near Singapore; 10 missing
A U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer collided with a tanker in waters east of Singapore and the Straits of Malacca, and at least 10 sailors are missing
9:33PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP National News
Trump will address path forward on Afghanistan
White House announces that President Donald Trump would address the nation's troops and the American people Monday night to update the path forward in Afghanistan and South Asia
4:35PM ( 7 hours ago )
US commander in Afghanistan launches special ops corps
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan signals the U.S. military expects its mission to continue
4:24PM ( 7 hours ago )
Comedian, civil rights activist Dick Gregory dies at 84
Dick Gregory, who broke racial barriers in the 1960s and used humor to spread messages of social justice and nutritional health, has died at 84. Gregory was one of the first black standup comedians to find success with white audiences
4:24PM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Spanish town struggles to square growth of extremist cell
Spanish town where alleged members of extremist cell accused of attacks grew up struggles to reconcile the violence with the boys and brothers it knew
4:56PM ( 7 hours ago )
Grace Mugabe gets diplomatic immunity, returns to Zimbabwe
Granted diplomatic immunity by South Africa, the wife of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe returned home from Johannesburg on Sunday despite calls that she be prosecuted for allegedly assaulting a young model at a luxury hotel there
10:50AM ( 13 hours ago )
Syria's Assad rejects security cooperation with the West
Syrian President Bashar Assad has blasted the West rejecting any security cooperation or reopening of embassies in Damascus before these countries cut relations with opposition groups
10:47AM ( 13 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
The Latest: Trump to address nation Monday on Afghanistan
Trump to reveal plan for war in Afghanistan in national address Monday night
7:53PM ( 4 hours ago )
Kasich urges Trump to end staff chaos and 'settle it down'
Ohio Gov. John Kasich says President Donald Trump needs to stop the staff chaos at the White House and "settle it down"
3:56PM ( 8 hours ago )
US military leaders await Trump decision on Afghan mission
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan signals the U.S. military expects its mission to continue
3:55PM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Venezuela congress defies push to take over its powers
Venezuela's congress is meeting in defiance of what opposition leaders consider an autocratic push by allies of President Nicolas Maduro to usurp the legislature's powers
2:06PM ( 1 day ago )
California lawmakers to tackle housing crisis, immigration
California lawmakers return Monday from a monthlong break with a busy agenda that includes tackling the state's housing crisis and deciding whether to make California a statewide sanctuary for people living illegally in the U.S
11:57AM ( 1 day ago )
The past is still present in a changing Virginia
How Virginia chooses to remember its past is a highly combustible issue, as shown by the deadly violence that erupted last weekend over plans to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee.
11:48AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Congress News
Trump dumps Bannon, who returns to conservative website
Trump pushes out strategist Steve Bannon, who returns to Breitbart News with goal of 'going to war' with Trump opponents
4:03PM ( 1 day ago )
Trump ousts Bannon, his influential, divisive strategist
White House chief strategist Steve Bannon pushed out of his White House post, returns to Breitbart News
9:12PM ( 2 days ago )
Kenya opposition files challenge against presidential vote
Lawyers representing the Kenyan opposition coalition National Super Alliance have filed a petition with the Supreme Court challenging President Uhuru Kenyatta's re-election, beating a midnight deadline
6:24PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Elections
NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn't happen this week
NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn't happen this week
12:35PM ( 2 days ago )
Republican leaders dance around Trump remarks
Republican leaders tiptoe around President Donald Trump's extraordinary remarks on white supremacists as the GOP grapples with an escalating political crisis
3:37AM ( 3 days ago )
Ousted chief justice makes runoff in Alabama Senate race
Ousted Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is trying to play usurper to deep-pocketed Republican forces after making a runoff with incumbent Sen. Luther Strange in the state's Senate primary
8:36PM ( 4 days ago )
General Presidential Election News
Boldin abruptly retires 2 weeks after signing with Bills
Receiver Anquan Boldin abruptly announces his retirement to focus on his humanitarian work just under two weeks after signing with the Buffalo Bills
11:44PM ( 23 minutes ago )
The Latest: Trump expresses concern for warship crew
President Donald Trump is expressing concern for the crew of the USS John S. McCain, a Navy warship that collided with a tanker near Singapore
11:42PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Bell powers Pirates past Cards 6-3 in Little League Classic
Josh Bell homered and drove in four runs to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates over the St. Louis Cardinals 6-3 in the Little League Classic
11:31PM ( 35 minutes ago )
Asian shares mixed ahead of Korean drills, banker meeting
Asian stocks are mixed as investors monitored joint military drills between U.S. and South Korean forces and awaited a key meeting of central bankers later this week
11:30PM ( 36 minutes ago )
The Latest: Senator tweets prayers for USS John S. McCain
U.S. Sen. John McCain says he is praying for the sailors aboard the USS John S. McCain after the warship collided with a tanker in Southeast Asian waters
11:07PM ( 59 minutes ago )