The Atlantic

The Silence of Rex Tillerson

Sooner or later, someone needs to explain what Trump’s foreign policy is. But the secretary of state does not seem to understand his job.
Source: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

Updated on April 4 at 4:35 p.m. ET

One would not expect the secretary of defense routinely to inspect the sentries and walk point on patrols, but, in effect, that is what the secretary of state has to do. He is the chief executive of a department numbering in the tens of thousands, and a budget in the tens of billions; but he is also the country’s chief diplomat, charged with conducting negotiations and doing much of the detailed work of American foreign policy. Americans expect him as well to serve as the president’s senior constitutionally accountable adviser on such matters, and as the expositor of an administration’s foreign policy.

It is not unprecedented for a president to install a business executive

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic5 min readPsychology
Your Chemical Romance
The authors of the new book Love Drugs: The Chemical Future of Relationships really, really want readers to know they have not written a book promoting love potions—drugs that will hypnotize, brainwash, or otherwise ensnare people into being artifici
The Atlantic5 min readPolitics
Donald Trump Stumbles Into a Foreign-Policy Triumph
The president, however inadvertently, may be reminding the world of the reality of international relations.
The Atlantic3 min read
The Books Briefing: What’s White and Black and Read All Over?
In uncovering truths and disseminating information, journalists shape the way the public understands world events. Ida Tarbell went to great lengths to gather information on her subjects, and her immersive reporting for McClure’s magazine—which Steph