@JYSexton / Twitter jared yates sexton...
@JYSexton / Twitter

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has the perfect solution to the situation in Syria. With over ten million people displaced, four million refugees, and an ongoing war in which civilians are being bombed, burned, and gassed by a brutal autocratic regime, Tillerson has stepped up to say … let Russia decide.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres during a private State Department meeting last week that the fate of Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad now lies in the hands of Russia, and that the Trump administration’s priority is limited to defeating the Islamic State, according to three diplomatic sources familiar with the exchange.

Putin can decide how to handle his ally, Assad. While the US limits itself to making sure that the refugees Assad produces stay outside of our borders. It’s “leadership” of this caliber that is directing the United States to a new position on the world stage — irrelevancy.

The international survey by the Pew Research Center found that favorable ratings of the United States have decreased from 64 percent of people across all countries surveyed at the end of Barack Obama’s presidency to 49 percent this spring.

Donald Trump has always been offended by imagining that the world is laughing at the United States. He doesn’t have to imagine anymore. But they’re doing more than laughing. 

They’re moving on without us.

Whether it’s military leadership.

“The times in which [Germany] could fully rely on others are partly over. I have experienced this in the last few days,” Merkel said during the event. “We Europeans really have to take our destiny into our own hands.”

Or environmental leadership.

President Trump has managed to turn America First into America Isolated.

In pulling out of the Paris climate accord, Mr. Trump has created a vacuum of global leadership that presents ripe opportunities to allies and adversaries alike to reorder the world’s power structure. His decision is perhaps the greatest strategic gift to the Chinese, who are eager to fill the void that Washington is leaving around the world on everything from setting the rules of trade and environmental standards to financing the infrastructure projects that give Beijing vast influence.

Or economic leadership.

Trump’s pivot to economic nationalism and hostility toward multilateral trade deals create an opportunity for China — second only to the USA in economic output — to shine even brighter on the world stage, said Louis Kuijs, head of Asia Economics at Oxford Economics.

On leadership in human rights.

In President Donald Trump’s transactional worldview, human rights are annoying obstacles to making deals.

“If you condition our national security efforts on someone adopting our values,” Mr. Trump’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, alerted State Department employees last month, “we probably can’t achieve our national security goals.”

That pretty much told every unsavory regime that it could imprison, abuse and even murder opponents with impunity as long as they were useful to the United States. Mr. Trump’s open admiration for a parade of autocrats — from the Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte to Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin — has driven home that point, as has the president’s recent trip to the Middle East.

Donald Trump’s regime has pushed the world to a tipping point, and it’s tipping away from the United States. In a few short months, Trump has so eroded faith in America that the focus of world attention has shifted rapidly toward China and Europe as the centers for the decisions that shape global politics.

Meanwhile, America is becoming not just isolated, but a backwater. A place dedicated to focusing on old technology, old theories of the economy, and a mythology that equates ugliness with strength. Trump is making of America a cruel, bigoted, and above all, small, nation. One that mirrors i’s leaders—in lacking leadership.

Tillerson’s assurances to Guterres signaled the Trump administration’s increasing willingness to let Russia take the driver’s seat in Syria, throwing geopolitics to the wayside …

Russia gets the Middle East. China gets the rest. The United States gets … Trump.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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