Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 23, 2017

Help Wanted - State Department Seeks Self-Consistent Secretary

European business deals with Iran are safe: Tillerson - AFP, October 20 2017

Washington (AFP) - The United States does not intend to disrupt European business deals with Iran, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in comments published Friday.
"The president's been pretty clear that it's not his intent to interfere with business deals that the Europeans may have under way with Iran," Tillerson told The Wall Street Journal.

"He's said it clearly: 'That's fine. You guys do what you want to do.'"

Tillerson Warns Europe Against Iran Investments - NYT, October 22 2017

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia —
Speaking during a visit to Saudi Arabia, Mr. Tillerson said, “Both of our countries believe that those who conduct business with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, any of their entities — European companies or other companies around the globe — really do so at great risk.” Mr. Tillerson appeared at a brief news conference in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, with the Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir.
Mr. Tillerson’s remarks were the administration’s most pointed warning to date ...

This not the way to get the European Union in line with U.S. policies. So what is going on here?

Trump in often inconsistent in what he says. That is his privilege. But it does not mean that the Secretary of State has to contradict himself each and every day. It is Tillerson's task to project a steady foreign policy. If there is none - for whatever reason - he must keep his comments vague. Contradictions like the above make him a joke.

'Rexxon' has experience in doing international businesses. He knows that consistency is one of the most important factors in getting things done. No one will make deals with a party that changes its mind every other day.

So why is Tillerson jumping around like this? He seeks to replace Ms. Jubeir as court jester in Riyadh? Or does he want to sabotage his own position?

One inevitably gets the impression that Tillerson wants out. That he wants to chuck his job rather sooner than later. That he longs for the inevitable day he will be fired.

Tillerson is a realist at heart. He is no fan of Netanyahoo. He despises the fake human rights blabber others use to hide their motives. The neo-conservatives would love to see him go. Josh Rogin lists their favorite candidates:

The most popular parlor game in Washington right now is speculating who will replace Rex Tillerson as President Trump’s next secretary of state ... two qualified and apparently willing candidates have emerged. ... The top two contenders, Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and CIA Director Mike Pompeo, ...

Haley is way too loud and incompetent. Pompeo is too narrow minded.

I wonder who the White House junta will prefer as new Secretary of State. One from its own stable? David Petraeus?

He would be another nail in the coffin of Trump's presidency.


Posted by b on October 23, 2017 at 13:28 UTC | Permalink


My understanding is that both Mattis and Dunford also favor continuing with the Iran agreement. It is also not yet clear that Congress will actually pass any serious new sanctions on Iran in the 60 days available to it.

As for Trump firing Tillerson, I doubt it. Tillerson might decide to quit on his own, and i would not blame him, but I don't think Trump will fire him. The last thing he wants is another brutal confirmation hearing in the Senate. Or to pick a traditional neocon to avoid one.

Trump at times my seem seem stupid, but he isn't.

Posted by: lysander | Oct 23 2017 14:07 utc | 1


My guess is that the only reason Mattis, McMaster, Dunford, and Kelly are supposedly in support of the Iran deal is because they know Trump is horrible at foreign policy and that war with Iran under Trump would be a bigger disaster than the other middle east escapades of the last decade. If any other republican, including Pence, was at the helm, they’d be all for de-certification and escalation. Trump is such a liability that they have been pushed towards realism, but are not committed deeply to its principles. Tillerson may actually be much more of a realist at heart, which, despite his bumbling, contradictions, and impotence, makes him better than pretty much any other possible Secretary of States that the Trump administration would offer up.

Posted by: G | Oct 23 2017 14:18 utc | 2

Tillerson says that dealing with Iran and with businesses in Iran is fine; dealing with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is not okay. I see nothing inconsistent or contradictory in that. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard owns and conducts business separately from the government as a whole, and it certainly is separate from Iranian businesses.

Posted by: Bill H | Oct 23 2017 14:24 utc | 3

How pathetic. The US is in denial about its Operation Iraqi Freedom which converted Iraq to an Iran ally.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Riyadh on Saturday to attend a landmark meeting between officials from Saudi Arabia and Iraq aimed at improving relations between the two countries and countering Iran’s growing regional influence.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 23 2017 14:37 utc | 4

theyre not replacing him with the Israeli stooge and disaster that is Nikki Haley. She was Trumps gift to Netenyahu at the UN because he needs Israeli lobbyist support at home unfortunately. But the people running the country are Kelly and Mattis and they are not ok with a costly war with Iran (thankfully). they're more pragmatic. Nikki as Secretary of State would have a hard time even getting anyone to sit down and negotiate with her. Look at how awful our relations are with Iran and Russia and yet both have sat down with Tillerson out of respect for the man (even knowing he has almost no sway with the President). that same courtesy isnt going to be given to a war mongering nutjob like Haely. Pompeo is a poor choice as well he comes across as too impatient and thin skinned for that job.

I agree the junta will look within its stable at one of its own. Would also be easier to get one of them approved by a very hostile Congress as well

Posted by: Danny801 | Oct 23 2017 14:38 utc | 5

thanks b... the usa position at this point on the world stage is in disarray... whether that is the result of trump, or trump is a byproduct of it all, i can't tell.. however, tillerson will be fed to the neo con lions like all others including trump at some point.. the neo con agenda must be fed!

Posted by: james | Oct 23 2017 15:18 utc | 6

The problem that plagues Tillerson is the same that plagued Kerry--Despite its being published, they cannot publicly acknowledge the actual Imperial Policy of the Outlaw US Empire, to attain Full Spectrum Dominance over the planet and its people which began under Clinton attempting to bring into reality GHW Bush's New World Order--the standing policy is illegal under both Domestic and International Law. So, there is no stated policy because it cannot be stated, leaving Tillerson and Kerry before him looking like uneducated fools. Rice, on the other hand, was effective since she had no qualms about that policy since she's one of its designers, which is why she's a War Criminal. There was never any debate over the current Imperial Policy formulation. Indeed, it merely brought together several disparate policy threads that had been in place since WW2's end. Of course, what plagues Tillerson in no way shackles other nations policy responses, although the public announcement of the Outlaw US Empire's policy doesn't occur as often as it ought to when a nation seeks to justify its policy, and when it occurs it's censored by the Empire's Propaganda System.

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 23 2017 16:42 utc | 7

i suppose Rex signed off on this, as well.

another nuance of US diplomacy.

Posted by: john | Oct 23 2017 16:44 utc | 8

I don't want my country Greece doing bussines with the islamic oppresive Iranian government.
We want out of this we suffered enough!

Posted by: NotIran | Oct 23 2017 17:13 utc | 9


Easy.. Grexit!

Posted by: Virgile | Oct 23 2017 18:29 utc | 10

Posted by: Daniel | Oct 23 2017 18:32 utc | 11

Actually b, BFD. It matters not who the latest "puppet jesters" are in D.C., policies are decided by the puppeteers, not the puppets. Thus it is today in the U$A..

Full on Oligarchy/Fascism. "It's just business"

Posted by: ben | Oct 23 2017 18:39 utc | 12

Yes the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is not the Iranian economy. This probably has more to do with Trump mumbling about listing the IRG as a terrorist organization.It was dumb of b to ignore this in his blog, although the gist of his bog on Tillerson is probably true.

Posted by: gepay | Oct 23 2017 19:14 utc | 13

I read that Tillerson needs to stay one year so as not to take a capital gains hit on the assets he divested upon taking the job.

Posted by: Bart in VA | Oct 23 2017 19:52 utc | 14

The US is clinically insane. But you can't kick them out of the party just yet. I think we're all waiting for them to fall on their own sword somehow. But they've lost the one thing that was going for them. Fear.

Posted by: jezabeel | Oct 23 2017 21:05 utc | 15

Rodham may not seem stupid either, but she and Trump are venal elitists and borderline psychopaths. Your choice last November was between ZioWarPigA and ZioWarPigB, Trump even joked about it afterward at a rally, how easily he conned everyone, and everyone kept cheering.
No Wall, (Open Border Legal Immigration); No Tax Cuts (making SS and MC means tested); No Infrastructure (runaway MIC War Pig spending); No Healthcare (cut $1.5T from MC runaway cost hikes); World Wars on Two Fronts and 183 Countries. Trump is one dumb MFr if he thinks the Emperor has clothes.

Posted by: Chipnik | Oct 23 2017 21:23 utc | 16

Tillerson's function was to ensure that the energy industry which had given agent orange huge support in his campaign, got an operative in a senior position in the trump regime. Tillerson a major player in the world of rapacious capitalism, in a way that orange could never be, disturbs the trumpeter because he makes trump feel so inconsequential.

Lets face it given a choice between access to energy or a golf course, most humans will always pick energy, so that appart from being considerably wealthier and more powerful than the idjit, it is highly likely Tillerson is also a helluva a lot smarter, more deceitful and even less empathetic. About the only edge old comb-over has is that tillerson is exceedingly short, something that the vain one doubtless exploits in any face to faces the two have.

Tillerson may want out because it is pretty clear his one position secretary of state even though traditionally a powerful one, has been marginalised by the seeming unity of the junta this is compounded by agent orange's inability to 'stay in his lane' the demarcations of cabinet responsibility mean nothing to the unstructured, reactive fool in the WH.
Even so I doubt tillerson will be in a hurry to pull the pin, even if that is because the energy capitalists are terrified at what a vengeful trump may do to their meticulously designed system for separating all humans from all the rewards of their endeavours. Tillerson will be under considerable pressure from his co-conspirators to hang in long enough that agent orange will be relieved to see the back of him, rather than him shoot through when the creep is so desperate.
From tillerson's point of view that probably feels like never, but all prezs get brief glimpses of glory if they hang in and despite trumps predilection for screwing himself before he cops the accolades, there will come a time when he does something that wins grudging admiration from the media barons.

In the meantime tillerson will spend as much time as possible with his old mates the thieves of Riyadh, without whom exxon mobil would just be a chain of decrepit 'service-stations'. Doubtless they are planning all sorts of scams and rorts, although it will be difficult for them to realise their latest greeds without support from the amerikan military. Africa, a sporadically and haphazardly developed continent likely features large in all resource thieves dreams.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Oct 23 2017 21:48 utc | 17

There's no fuel for war. Luckily DT has sufficient bluster that no one has dumped Ratheon beyond where the CB is still willing to buy.

Iran is a corporation to these people. The proverbial Pepsi to the Coke 'debate.' As military finances move towards pensions and away from new ground forces, the bluster will need to mind its believability. No one fears the twitter tiger.

Eventually, when those $6T losses come back on shore, the spending power drop will squeeze foreign entanglements too. It's always new market development that gets cut first.

Posted by: TSP | Oct 23 2017 22:14 utc | 18

I think Rex is the most grounded guy in the cabinet. I tend to think he will only eat so much shit before he bails.

He's had Trump tell him he's wasting his time with Korea on Twitter. He's had Trump undermine him on air, said he wished he was tougher. Tillerson has already called Trump a fucking moron out of pure exasperation. He has been at the helm of bigger outfits than Trump ever dreamed of, except the presidency. He can watch day by day the pure ineptness of his boss and must often wonder why he accepted the job.

So I think b is right about him waiting to get out. But I will miss his low-key gravitas. I think he and Lavrov could have seen eye to eye. I even think he might have made some headway with Kim if Trump wasn't so utterly unhinged. Imagine fucking with millions of lives as cavalierly as the Donald. Still has his fans though.

Posted by: peter | Oct 23 2017 22:16 utc | 19

Is the country of Iran an "entity" of the IRG? Or is the IRG an entity of Iran? In any case, it is off putting and can't be conducive to stability in the vaunted "markets" or anything else. Who the fock wants to engage in business with a country that the USA, lapdog UK and Israel have earmarked for surprise aerial shock'n ya'll?

Really dumb statements from the Tiller. A guy that supposedly understands markets.

Posted by: fast freddy | Oct 24 2017 0:20 utc | 20

B you call Halley "incompetent", but have you called Trump that?

Posted by: jwco | Oct 24 2017 0:30 utc | 21

2018 will tell the tale on Trump. If Trump doesn't visibly deliver for his base in 2018, the base won't turn out for him in November and he will lose his majorities in Congress.

The other impact?

You will see Bannon 2020 become a real possibility.

Make no mistake, Bannon is trying to give Trump a secure majority (In the Senate) in 2018 to really enact his MAGA policies.

If Trump can't deliver with the likes of McCain, Flake, Corker, Heller and a bunch of red state Democrats gone, Trump will certainly be primaried by Bannon's economic nationalists - likely Bannon himself.

Posted by: Julian | Oct 24 2017 3:08 utc | 22

Hilarious catch on that b....
P.S. Tillerson got away with not divesting anything - he's still majority individual shareholder in Exxon, by a factor of three at least over any other direct holder:

Gosh why didn't the Democrats and the corporate media make a big stink over that? Cause they're owned by the same people as own ExxonMobil. . .

"All we wants a 51% share in your company, what's the big deal?" (To Putin, 2003)

See "The Private Empire of ExxonMobil", Steve Coll.

Posted by: nonsense factory | Oct 24 2017 4:26 utc | 23

There is nothing inconsistent about supporting your allies (Rouhani, Rafsanjani now deceased, of the Iranian oligarchy/deep state) against your political enemies (IRG, Ahmedinajad, Iranian nationalists), going back to before Iran-Contra became a 'thing.'

Israel knows this and the Russians are full partipants. The dialectics are manufactured for public consumption and to justify Transnational Zionist Elite criminality but just as in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and so on, all 'partners' work together to rape and pillage humanity in the name of their god Power.

Trump heralds the advent of a more cooperative era, to be sure, but since capitalism must eventually consume everything and everyone to remain functional, sooner or later they will be coming after you.

So enjoy the ride ye good Germans.

Posted by: C I eh? | Oct 24 2017 5:59 utc | 24

Another thing about the Tillerman-Trump axis, from the open thread:

Another reason our troops in Niger were left vulnerable is that Chump recently placed Chad on the Muslim travel ban list. The travel ban is one of General Kelly's dubious achievements. Chad’s troops had been a great military support to the US in this region, but they withdrew their troops (2000 soldiers) from Niger after Chump placed them on this list. Why are they on the list? Because Chad sued Exxon for back taxes and settled with them over the summer. This was an act of personal vendetta from Tillerson against Chad and it’s apparently killing our troops, nothing like an oligarchy of loosers to Make america Gilded again. Will Chump and his entire cabinet of liars and loosers be confronted on these facts by the Washington presstitutes ? Or will they be cowed by a camarilla of bars and stripes ?
Posted by: Augustin L | Oct 22, 2017 8:32:11 PM | 24

Posted by: nonsense factory | Oct 24 2017 8:00 utc | 25

As much as I appreciate b, I have to agree with Bill H @4.

Posted by: slirs | Oct 24 2017 10:43 utc | 26

slirs 27 and Bill H 4
I also agree. That was the first thing I noticed. The IRGC may find ways around any limits. All parties - sellers and buyers - usually do. I'm not a fan of Tillerson but he seems a bit more practical than the alternatives suggested and a welcome change from Hillary. A friend suggested the travel ban extended to Chad because Tillerson wanted revenge for Chad hitting Exxon-Mobil with fines for underpaying royalties.

Posted by: Curtis | Oct 24 2017 23:14 utc | 27

trump will hang tillerson out to dry regardless of the relevance of whatever he says...nothing the usa says on the world stage anyone trusts..

here is the latest from elijah j m The US’s Middle East foreign policy has boosted Iran in Iraq and Syria: time for the US to leave

Posted by: james | Oct 25 2017 1:20 utc | 28

How could Nikki Haley not be right for the job? Being loud and incompetent qualifies her in this administration, and her tweets are as eye widening as Trump's. So, my money is on Haley especially since she had been considered the first round, too. She allegedly just did not get the freedom she wanted but she may now. Mayhem ahead. On the other hand, could it get worse?

Posted by: Blanaid | Oct 25 2017 10:30 utc | 29

one thing I never saw b report, and haven't seen mentioned in this thread is that all our allies had walked away from the Iran sanctions before the new deal. Namely, S Korea, Japan, India, China, and Europe (France and Germany) had all ignored the sanctions and informed us in the open press that they were gonna trade for Iranian oil. So, the Iran deal is the best deal imaginable; they didn't need to make a deal, and were being extra cooperative to enter into the new framework. If we kill the deal, our allies will all ignore us and resume trading with Iran on their own terms. We can unilaterally sanction them, but that will only hurt us.

Posted by: scottindallas | Oct 25 2017 14:01 utc | 30

Like lysander, I doubt Tillerson would quit on his own. Tillerson actually in a way represents the slightly more ‘sensible’ biz man (within this mad context) ….

The Trump admin. and Trump himself are behaving more like Corporate / Business influential ppl with some status (owner, CEO, Director, Main Strategist, etc.) than officials or officers of a Wilsonian Nation-State. It is the reign of personalia, of bilateral personal trust (always dodgy), of persuasion of small groups, of unmeasured threats and demands, often empty, grandstanding in tit-for-tat schemes, of short-term calculations, rapidly shifting alliances, etc. (One might argue it has always been so, in that case, Trump has made it visible in a new way, which is one of the things parts of the PTB object to. Obama was masterful at covering it up…)

Posted by: Noirette | Oct 25 2017 15:19 utc | 31

.... is that all our allies had walked away from the Iran sanctions before the new deal. Namely, S Korea, Japan, India, China, and Europe (France and Germany) .. scott at 31.

Yes, and that is why Obama-Kerry undertook it. No, because countries (i only know about Europe but Japan and India certainly similar) were somewhat timid in their real, on the ground, actions re. Iran, and all feared banking/finance sanctions/shut-out. -- Still the case btw. That is also why the negotiations took so long. (Besides Kerry breaking his leg and various ppl having a good time swerving about, Lavrov, it is said, enjoyed himself.) An elaborate charade was acted out, ostensibly about centrifuges (the IAE can deal with that smartly, no prob) and all that nukulear jazz, when in fact, a new power-distribution, in which the US would no longer prevent trade with Iran and could benefit itself (without war) was hacked out.

Trump seems to follow the line on trade - to France and Germany e.g. “Keep Making Money” (1), that is, he seems to distinguish bewteen ‘healthy’ trade and ‘suspicious’ behavior in other areas. This is BS and he knows it for sure. Imho he is making a lot of deceptive noises that have little consequences. He is blowing smoke.

Posted by: Noirette | Oct 25 2017 15:27 utc | 32

I'll get to the point in a moment, but I dunno if moa-ites are aware that there still be isolated pockets of non-conformity in the BBC's grotesque monolith.
e.g BBC Scotland appears to be such, I learned this the other day when I watched a 3 part doco "Handmade on the Silk Road". I initially watched this with considerable scepticism, especially when it said it was set in a Uigar community. I prepared for a piece on how Chinese Imperialism was finally being revealed as transperant hypocrisy by the 'new silk road project' I imagined this would be interspersed with regular exhortations about how Uigar were being regarded as terrorists etc.
The doco was the opposite carefully and artfully documenting an artisan family at work weaving amazing silk fabrics by hand as Uigar craftsmen had done for over a thousand years.
Worth a watch if you come across it either live to air or downloadable on a yarr site.
Anyway I mention this because after a similar take on an Uzbek wood carver who received commissions from all over the world for his ornately carved pillars and panels, the final doco was about a potter located in Yazd, Iran. Just like the other two this bloke did really good work, aimed primarily at servicing his community, but unlike the other two artisans he was really struggling financially, since as he said, recent changes to imports had allowed a huge amount of foreign mass produced ceramic crap into Iran & this was driving him outta business. When a local needs to replace a water pitcher and the choice is between one of this guy's hand painted pitchers decorated with the birds which have always featured in his family's work, or a much lower priced piece of mass produced tat decorated in whatever colours & designs global market research has determined is 'in demand' that year, the craftsman loses out every time.
Of course none of that is new just about everywhere has been destroyed by rampant global capitalism the point is that those who global capital have sought to punish, were in fact rewarded heh heh heh.

We have discussed this before especially around the englander designed sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe or the amerikan sanctions that were pushed on pre-1990 Romania after Nicolae Ceausescu whose crime wasn't the oppression of his people - after all 'everyone' did that - it was that in the 1980's after rapidly comprehending the loss of sovereignty which his acceptance of World bank 'assistance' entailed, Ceausescu exhorted Romanians to work their arses off to pay the loans back, then he refused all further offers of assistance. Romania slipped away before the hook's barb haxd been set.

The ZANU-PF administration of Zimbabwe reached a similar conclusion about 'development aid' and when in a fit of spite to get the darkies in line, the scumbag Tony Blair ceased UK's payment of the reparations agreed to as part of Lancaster House settlement which abolished whitefella only rule, Zimbabwe began repossessing the lands the english had stolen after they invaded.

As unjust, arbitrary & oppressive as sanctions are, we tend to forget that their imposition can protect a sovereign state from further imperial encroachment and economic pillage.

The Iranian potter who lost his livelihood as soon as it became permissible for Iran to trade with the outside world, probably believes a self sufficient nation with the protection from invasion that only the force de frappe provides is infinitely preferable to a submissive Iran that is just another node of colourless, neoliberal globalist mundanity.

In his own ignorant way Agent Orange masy be granting Iran freedom from that, altho Iran's metropolitan bourgosie are unlikely to agree.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Oct 26 2017 0:40 utc | 33

@ Debsisdead # 34 about international trade.

I define it a bit different but we agree on the basics. Let me explain in gross terms

Silk Road paradigm
Countries and regions do what they have done historically or what makes sense given their natural and human resources....trying to continually evolve win/win arrangements.

Private Finance/Capitalism paradigm
Countries race each other to the bottom to supply cheap labor/natural resources and products represent not the best of breed but the cheapest....while ignoring the needs of their citizens.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Oct 26 2017 2:14 utc | 34

Deabisdead is partially correct, IMHO. Partially, because artisanal products are luxury items, and even middle class that can afford them would more often than not get something cheap that is as functional. Moreover, the cheap stuff comes on the silk route, i.e. from China.

However, it can also be produced locally. Once Netanyahu used the info from the intelligence unit of his office to declare that Iranians lack basic freedoms, they cannot even wear jeans. But quick search showed me that there are many manufacturers of jeans in Iran, presumably for domestic market. Ironically, "Silk road" may be a scheme to demolish domestic producers of low/middle tech stuff in smaller countries that lack Chinese economies of scale.

The issue of global currencies is different. Large transactions are electronic, through payment systems, and dollar transactions have to be cleared through Federal Reserve that can enforce whatever sanctions USG may conceive -- and there is a lot. The only global alternative seems to be Euro, but EU has a very patchy record of resisting those sanctions. There is old alternative, bilateral clearing accounts, but they require to balance the trade for every pair of countries, plus there are other difficulties. China has quite stable prices, and in principle, Chinese central bank can resist pressure from USA to follow their sanctions, but so far, Chinese record on that is patchy as well. My guess is that China uses their variable cooperation with USA as a lever to prevent protectionist measures like those that Trump promised.

Ironically, American workers who could use somewhat less free trade are getting the short stick from the imperial ambitions of the elite. Trump had some promises, but suddenly he got utterly preoccupied with "dangers" from North Korea and Iran, and realistically, the only stuff that USA truly can do is to hinder their trade, and that requires cooperation from China, and Chinese have jolly good time scratching their heads, "understanding" and "raising concerns", "cooperating" a bit more or a bit less etc. Other BRIC's are more or less the same.

The end result is that "American financial hegemony" persists, but with no benefits to the bulk of American population. While 19-th century British imperialism was actually lifting the incomes of the working class, the current edition seems to be a purely parasitical enterprise.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Oct 29 2017 17:14 utc | 35

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