President Trump should start listening to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson or fire him.
That doesn't mean Trump should do whatever Tillerson suggests, but Trump's present approach towards his foreign policy chief is pointless. With the two men sniping at each other, the secretary of state's office has become a joke. Trump doesn't appear to care what Tillerson thinks about global politics, and then openly mocks his diplomatic endeavors. This renders absurd Trump's campaign pledge to hire the best people and then unleash them to get the nation's work done. By appointing a cabinet secretary that he uses as a whipping horse, Trump suggests that his only counsel comes from the mirror. This is not a good thing.
Consider Trump's response to Tillerson's comment, last week, that the U.S. and North Korea governments are in contact with one another.
I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 1, 2017
That tweet makes Tillerson look weak and irrelevant, and weakens the credibility of American diplomats across the world. And that matters, because foreign governments look to America's 14,000 foreign service officers to help them understand what Washington is thinking and planning. Of course, if those U.S. diplomats are utterly separated from the president's intentions, they are worse than useless. Worse, because foreign governments may simply decide to believe the opposite of what a U.S. diplomat tells them! And in international affairs, consistency of message is crucial in attracting foreign partners to a shared cause.
Unfortunately, at present, the U.S. offers only a totally convoluted message.
As I see it, the president has two ways he can resolve this crisis. Either he can rebuild his partnership with Tillerson, or he can fire Tillerson and appoint someone he'll listen to and work with.
One thing is for sure: He can't keep doing what he's doing.