The last thing we need is a secretarial ‘suicide pact’

Jacob Kunz

In the past month, a question piqued the interest of news anchors and late night talk show hosts: Did Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State, call the President a “fucking moron”?

Tillerson, a UT civil engineering graduate, has been in the news since March, when he revealed in an interview he only took the secretary job after his wife told him to, and he recently took flak with the president undermining his negotiations with North Korea by tweeting that he’s “wasting his time” and challenging him to an IQ test. The most frightening of all, however, is the revelation of the affectionately-titled secretarial “suicide pact.”

This pact is a supposed agreement between Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to jointly resign if the president targets one of them, publicly or otherwise. At a time of heightened hostility in America’s foreign politics, a skeleton crew in the White House would be devastating.

North Korea has shown an increase in nuclear capability, claiming that they have the entirety of the U.S. mainland in its range and that the situation “has reached the touch-and-go point and a nuclear war may break out any moment.” Tillerson has made clear that he is in talks with North Korean officials, but his resignation, along with those of Mnuchin and Mattis, would be a major setback for U.S. foreign policy efforts in North Korea and the Middle East.

“I think Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis, and (White House Chief of Staff John Kelly) are those people that help separate our country from chaos,” said Republican Senator Bob Corker, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “I hope they stay because they are valuable to the national security of our nation.”

President Donald Trump, however, has shown different ideas about North Korea and nuclear proliferation, most notably in his threat to “totally destroy North Korea” at a UN speech in September. According to a report by those close to Trump, he also sees the success of arms-control treaties in reducing Cold War-era nuclear weaponry as a cause for alarm.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Tillerson and Mattis, they describe a goal of a denuclearization of North Korea through “strategic accountability.” Often, when Trump makes controversial moves in foreign and military policy, Mattis and Tillerson have acted as a voice of reason in the executive branch. 

Tillerson has responded to news of his tenuous appointment by saying that he hasn’t contemplated leaving office, but there are a number of incidents and interviews that indicate the opposite. If he was to go through with this pact, it would further contribute to an empty White House, caused by the high turnover rate and slow appointment of Trump administration officials.

The president may have been a reality show star, but executive administrations aren’t a season of “Big Brother,” where people slowly leave one by one until the last one remains. Because if it is, the series finale ends with nuclear fire.

Kunz is an English freshman from New Braunfels. Follow him on Twitter @KunzJacob.