Will Tillerson assert himself against Trump?

Statements by US secretary of state-designate Rex Tillerson have revealed that his views on relations with Russia, Nato membership and climate policy differ from those of president-elect Donald Trump. Some commentators hope Tillerson will get his way. For others, the new administration is facing its first crisis even before Trump takes office.

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Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Tillerson at least has a stance

Whether the comparatively moderate Tillerson will be able to prevail against Trump when the latter takes over as president is questionable, Tages-Anzeiger comments:

“During his hearing he said he was against an all-out ban on Muslim immigration and conceded that climate change exists and that action must be taken. He reaffirmed the importance of the alliance with Nato, saying that joint action was needed to tackle global problems. He sounded a lot more reliable as a dialogue partner than Trump, who fills concert halls with his 'America first' slogan. But above all Tillerson spoke clear words addressing Putin. He described Russia as a 'danger' and the annexation of Crimea as 'illegal'. It took Tillerson just a few minutes to make his stance vis-à-vis Putin clear. Trump lacks any kind of stance. The question remains whether Tillerson's pragmatism will be able to win out against a boss who prefers to use his smartphone to intervene in global events.”

Aamulehti (FI) /

The world may once again emerge unscathed

For Aamulehti the disagreements between Trump and Tillerson give cause for hope:

“Speaking about the Paris climate agreement Tillerson said that it would much better for the US to be at the table than to look on as a bystander. ... His statement that he backed commitments to Nato, for example in the Baltic, has met with relief in our corner of the world. ... But even if his statements have caused much relief uncertainty still prevails in this period of transition. Who has the final say? In whose hands does power lie? The most comforting view is that Trump will continue his reality TV clown show while his cabinet and advisors shape policy. In that case the world will suffer less harm at the start of this mandate than many people fear.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Dissent threatens to paralyse new US government

Trump urgently needs to confer with his cabinet, Der Standard concludes:

“Tillerson didn't come across as unreasonable, but he did seem hesitant. As if he wasn't quite sure when to say what he thought and when to stick to his boss's line. He's not the only example of this: the candidate for attorney general Jeff Sessions sees Trump's proposal to put all Muslims under surveillance as unconstitutional. The defence secretary-designate James Mattis considers the defence alliances derided by Trump to be indispensable. He and the future CIA boss Mike Pompeo disagree with the pro-Moscow views of security adviser Michael Flynn. It's good when there are diverging opinions within a government. But when that government displays clear signs of dissent even before it takes office without discussing this, there will soon be problems. Especially for Trump, who promised voters resolute action.”