Small Wars Journal

A Test for Tillerson, and for U.S. Strategy on ISIS

Tue, 03/21/2017 - 8:32pm

A Test for Tillerson, and for U.S. Strategy on ISIS by Gardiner Harris, New York Times

If President Trump has a secret plan to defeat the Islamic State, as he promised during the presidential campaign, then his international allies in that fight are hoping to get a glimpse of it on Wednesday.

And if Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson hopes to reverse a growing impression of his own inefficacy in government, he will have no better opportunity than this week.

Diplomats from around the world are set to gather at the State Department on Wednesday for the Trump administration’s first meeting of the global coalition to defeat the Islamic State. Although such meetings have occurred regularly for years, this is the first since December 2014 in which representatives from all 68 countries of the coalition are expected to attend.

“Nobody wants to miss this meeting,” said Julianne Smith, a former Defense Department official and deputy national security adviser to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. “They’re all thinking this would be the opportunity for the administration to let them in on any shift in U.S. policy or strategy.”

The conclave is the first major diplomatic event hosted by Mr. Tillerson. And like a debutante at a coming-out party, Mr. Tillerson will face intense scrutiny about his status from a crowd that is expert in gauging power.

At this point in his tenure at the State Department’s helm, Mr. Tillerson has yet to persuade anyone that he has much influence over Mr. Trump or the direction of American policy…

Read on.