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Published opinions and arguments by CFR fellows and experts.

Rex Tillerson Could Be a Good Secretary of State— But Not in a Trump Administration

Author: Max Boot
Los Angeles Times

Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson is by all accounts a shrewd, pragmatic, and successful dealmaker. In another administration, he might have made an excellent secretary of State. Serving a president with a strong moral grounding and certain fixed principles, he might have been successful in sanding off the rough edges and making the compromises necessary to get things done. But under Donald Trump, a man of few if any discernible principles beyond a desire for self-aggrandizement, he would be a dangerous choice because his role will be not just to implement policy but—more than most previous secretaries of State—to shape it.

See more in United States; Presidents and Chiefs of State; Organization of Government

Trump and China: 5 Views From Beijing

Author: Stephen Sestanovich
Wall Street Journal

When the Chinese Foreign Ministry expresses “serious concern” about things Donald Trump has said about Taiwan—and a party-controlled newspaper calls him “as ignorant as a child”—it’s clear that Beijing is alarmed. Yet after spending last week in China, I came away struck by the overall complacency of Chinese attitudes toward the president-elect, writes Stephen Sestanovich. 

See more in China; United States; Presidents and Chiefs of State

Will Republicans Cave to Trump on Kremlingate?

Author: Max Boot
USA Today

Election hacks and Russia-friendly nominees pose a historic choice of party or principle. The test for Republicans is how they will react given that Trump has publicly pondered the possibility of lifting all sanctions on Russia, has appointed as his national security adviser a retired general who had recently been seen dining with Putin and as his secretary of State an executive who had received an Order of Friendship from Putin.

See more in United States; Presidents and Chiefs of State; Organization of Government

Remembering America's Forgotten Wars

Author: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
cnn.com

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon questions whether America’s post-9/11 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will retake center stage with the potential appointment of a military leader to secretary of defense. According to Lemmon, “If confirmed, Mattis…would force Americans to confront these conflicts at a time when the United States has done a good job forgetting to feel like a country at war.”

See more in Afghanistan; Military Leadership; 9/11 Impact

David Petraeus Would Be a Great Secretary of State

Author: Max Boot
Foreign Policy

Max Boot argues that Petraeus would be a superbly qualified secretary of state—one who already has more diplomatic experience than most of those previously selected for this position. And far from giving a pro-war tilt to the new administration, Petraeus would be an important restraint on a president who has spoken far too freely of bombing various countries and of torturing terrorists.

See more in United States; Organization of Government; Diplomacy and Statecraft

NeverTrumpers Should Not Shun Trump

Author: Max Boot
USA Today

The president of the United States has vast power—nearly unlimited in the realm of foreign affairs. He can order U.S. troops into combat. He can bomb any country he wants. He can round up illegal immigrants. He can spy on millions of people. Soon all that power will be in the hands of Donald J. Trump, hardly the most sober and restrained individual ever to occupy the Oval Office. Checks and balances on a president's national security powers have never been more important, writes CFR's Max Boot.

See more in United States; Presidents and Chiefs of State; Organization of Government