The National Symphony Orchestra had just finished its first performance in Russia in nearly a quarter of a century. It arrived at a time when official relations between the United States and Russia are, to put it mildly, fraught. And it demonstrated that, at a time when political rhetoric is heated, music may be offering the real language of diplomacy, formalized and couched in centuries of tradition. Indeed, it wasn’t even clear whether people were clapping for what they had just heard or for what this visit represented.c
Most of his interactions are with an insular circle of political aides who are new to the State Department. Many career diplomats say they still have not met him, and some have been instructed not to speak to him directly — or even make eye contact. On his first three foreign trips, Tillerson skipped visits with State Department employees and their families, embassy stops that were standard morale-boosters under other secretaries of state.
After defeating Fascism in World War II, Washington channeled billions of dollars into the war-torn nations of Europe and Japan, helping transform them into economic success stories and vital democratic allies. That’s a lesson worth remembering as President Trump tries to slash the State Department and its foreign aid programs by about 30 percent in the proposed budget for the next fiscal year, while raising Pentagon spending by 10 percent.
This function of the press in no way comports with Tillerson’s experience at ExxonMobil. [...] Oil is not an especially popular product, and its production generates manifold controversies, yet just about everybody needs oil, at least for now, so well-run corporations in the industry can be as durable as public utilities, no matter what consumers think. Some time ago, ExxonMobil executives concluded that they were better off avoiding journalists to the extent that it was possible, and putting out what little they had to say on their own Web site.
Conventional news organizations follow a simple protocol in pursuing this week’s WikiLeaks dump of alleged CIA documents about tools to hack into computers, smartphones and the like. Just open up the documents, read them, consult with experts and perhaps write up an article or two. That process doesn’t proceed quite as smoothly at the Voice of America (VOA), the government-funded news outlet that launched in 1942 “to combat Nazi propaganda with accurate and unbiased news and information.”