TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -In an op-ed published in the New York Times, the US Secretary of State writes he is “proud” of US diplomacy and “encouraged” by the progress the Department has made under his leadership. But, should he in fact be that satisfied?
Rex Tillerson took full advantage of the opportunity, describing a world in which the US-led coalition single-handedly defeated Islamic State terrorists in Syria, how Iran destabilizes the middle East, and of course, expanding on the ever-present 'Russian threat' to western democracies.
Tillerson boasted that the Trump administration abandoned the “failed policy of strategic patience” towards North Korea, pursuing a “policy of pressure through diplomatic and economic sanctions” instead. The UN Security Council has indeed passed a number of resolutions over the last year aimed at curbing Pyongyang’s nuclear program and missile testing. Tillerson, however, neglected to mention the less diplomatic avenues traversed by the US to exert “pressure” on North Korea.
This month, US bombers conducted their largest drills to date over the Korean Peninsula while a flotilla of American warships remain anchored nearby. While slamming Pyongyang's missile and nuclear tests, Moscow cautioned that Washington’s sabre-rattling is one of the reasons Pyongyang is "provoked" into toughening its attitude to missile development. Russia and Beijing have consistently proposed a “double freeze” initiative, in which Pyongyang agrees to stop testing missiles in exchange for US putting the brakes on its military drills in the region. Washington has firmly brushed off the proposal.
And then onto Moscow. Tillerson reassured readers that the United States has “no illusions about the regime we are dealing with.” America's most senior diplomat claimed that Russia “invaded” Georgia in 2008 – despite a report on the so-called five day war commissioned by the Council of the European Union in 2009 stating otherwise, concluding that the war was started by a Georgian attack and not justifiable under international law.
Tillerson once again accused Russia of “undermining the sovereignty of Western nations by meddling in our election and others,”notwithstanding the fact that after nearly a year of investigations, not a single piece of concrete evidence which supports the claim has been presented to the public.
The US' own probe produced mostly rhetoric thus far. The head of the French government’s cyber security agency clearly stated that no Russian traces in the attack on President Emmanuel Macron’s election campaign have been found. And in Spain, no alleged Moscow-linked intrusion to support Catalan independence was detected by the country's national cyber intelligence agency. Neither has there been any evidence of Russian interference in the Germanfederal parliamentary elections.
“The Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS has accelerated operations and has recaptured virtually all of previously held Islamic State territory in Iraq and Syria,” Tillerson reckons. However, Russia’s foreign ministry said the US-led coalition should be better off bragging about its ‘accomplishments’ in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, instead of over exaggerating its own role in Syria while diminishing Moscow’s contribution.
Washington has long been brushing aside Damascus’ progress in liberating the country with the help of officially invited allies. At the same time, since the beginning of the conflict, the US has been supporting a wide range of fringe groups fighting the Syrian government, some of which are openly radical and even has remnants of IS, Al-Nusra Front and other terrorists among their ranks.
Still, Tillerson says, the US is ready to cooperate with Russia wherever “mutual interests intersect,” particularly within the framework of talks he hopes will “produce a Syria that is free of Bashar al-Assad and his family.”
Tillerson ends his creative writing piece by informing his readers the nuclear agreement with Iran is “flawed” and “no longer the focal point” of Washington’s policy towards Tehran. Despite Iran being in full compliance with the deal in the eyes of the International Atomic Energy Agency, US President Donald Trump has constantly threatened to scrap the universally hailed pact that was sealed in 2015 between Iran and the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany.