Monday, May 15, 2017

Tillerson: Trump’s Russia Policy Is Cooperation


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Trump/Lavrov in the White House image from

PRESS RELEASE, Executive Intelligence Review (EIR)

Tillerson: Trump’s Russia Policy Is Cooperation

May 14, 2017 (EIRNS)—NBC-News’ Chuck Todd interviewed U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on "Meet the Press" this morning, where Tillerson offered a rare, truthful explanation of diplomacy—in this case, respecting alleged "Russian influence" on the U.S. election, with which the major U.S. media have bombarded Trump with since his inauguration.

Transcript is from NBC News’ "Meet the Press":

CHUCK TODD: Yesterday, I sat down with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and I began by asking him whether he agrees with the president that the Russia story is fake news and a witch hunt.

SECRETARY REX TILLERSON: Well, Chuck, the president, I think, has made it clear that he feels it’s important that we re-engage with Russia. The relationship with Russia, as he has described, and I have described as well, is I think at an all-time low point since the end of the Cold War, with a very low level of trust. I think the world, and it’s in the interest of the American people, it’s in the interest of Russia, the rest of the world, that we do something to see if we cannot improve the relationship between the two greatest nuclear powers in the world. So the president, I think, is committed to at least make an effort in that regard, and he has certainly asked me to make an important effort as well.

CHUCK TODD: I understand that, but you look at what’s happened in these Western European nations, in France and the U.K., in Germany, Italy. Accusations of Russian interference in their democratic process. What message does it send to those countries that their number one ally, the United States, the president fired the man at the agency that was looking into the very problem they’re dealing with, Russian interference in the democracy?

SECRETARY REX TILLERSON: Well, Chuck, what I hear from the leaders of the other nations, Europe and more broadly—and the subject of Russia comes up in all of our conversations—is all the other nations want the U.S. and Russia to work towards improving our relationship as well, for all the reasons that I just mentioned. I think it’s largely viewed that it is not healthy for the world. It’s certainly not healthy for us, for the American people, our national security interest and otherwise, for this relationship to remain at this low level. Whether we can improve it or not remains to be seen. It’s going to take some time. It’s going to take a lot of hard work. But I think the president’s committed, rightly so, and I’m committed with him as well, to see if we cannot do something to put us on a better footing in our relationship with Russia.

CHUCK TODD: Can you get on a better footing with them if you don’t address this issue of the Russian interference? I mean your counterpart, the Russian foreign minister, Mr. Lavrov, said that you guys didn’t even talk about this issue of Russian interference in our election because, as he put it, President Trump himself says it’s fake news, so it’s not an issue. Why haven’t you brought it up with them?

SECRETARY REX TILLERSON: Well, Chuck, I think we have such a broad range of important issues that have to be addressed in the U.S.-Russia relationship. Obviously the interference in the election is one of those. I think it’s been well documented; it’s pretty well understood, the nature of that interference, here and elsewhere. And you know, these are not new tactics on the part of the Russian government, directed not only at us but at others. But again, I think we have to look at this relationship in its broadest contours, and there are many, many important areas which require our attention if we are to bring it back to a relationship that we believe is necessary for the security of the U.S....

CHUCK TODD: I want to give you a chance to respond to an op-ed that Senator John McCain wrote, where he invoked your name, sir. He said this. "In a recent address to State Department employees Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, ‘Conditioning our foreign policy too heavily on values creates obstacles to advance our national interests.’" McCain goes on to write, "With those words, Secretary Tillerson sent a message to oppressed people everywhere, ‘Don’t look to the United States for hope. Our values make us sympathetic to your plight, and when it’s convenient we might officially express that sympathy.’" Some pretty tough words from Senator McCain. What do you say in response?

SECRETARY REX TILLERSON: Well, first, I’d say if anyone has earned the right to express their views, Senator McCain has. And I have great respect for the senator. I think the point that I was making, Chuck, in that message to State Department employees is an important one to understand. And that’s that America’s values of freedom, of treatment of people, human dignity, freedom of expression throughout the world, those are our values. Those are enduring values. They are part of everything we do. And in fact, they serve as the guidepost and they serve as the boundaries as we develop our foreign policy approaches and our diplomatic efforts. But I make a distinction between values and policy. A policy has to be tailored to the individual situation. To the country. To its circumstances. To the broader issues that we are addressing in terms of advancing our national security interest; our national economic interest. And so policies have to be adaptable. They have to change. They have to adjust to conditions. But our values can never change. Our values can never be put in a position of having to be compromised. And so the values guide our policy, but if we put our values in the front of our policies and say, "This is our policy," we have no room to adapt to changing circumstances to achieve our ultimate objective. And I think if we are successful in achieving our ultimate diplomatic and national security objectives, we will create the conditions for the advancement of freedom in countries all over the world.  [JB emphasis]

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