"Tillerson will inherit a diplomatic service and State Department that have been seriously de-professionalized, politicized, and demoralized," Freeman said on Tuesday.
The Exxon Mobil chief, Freeman added, will enter office amidst new uncertainties over relations with Iran, the Israel-Palestine issue and a significant enhancement of the Russian role in the Middle East.
Tillerson would also inherit an escalated military confrontation with China over the Taiwan issue, a rising threat from a nuclear-armed North Korea, and the steady distancing of US allies from America, Freeman pointed out.
"A secretary of state must have strategic vision and tactical inventiveness, management skills, the ability to listen and communicate effectively with people of different perspectives and backgrounds, and the capacity to translate complex issues into comprehensible language," Freeman stated.
Tillerson is a highly focused, competent practitioner of “the art of the international deal,” Freeman claimed, who prides himself on the value of his word and will insist that the United States honor its commitments.
Current Secretary of State John Kerry, Tillerson’s predecessor in office, delegated little and was seldom in Washington, where US foreign policy is made, Freeman recalled.
While Tillerson’s management skills are well proven, much will depend on the nature of his relationship with Trump, who has yet to signal how foreign policy decisions will be made and what role his secretary of state will have in making them.
Chas Freeman is a lifetime director of the Atlantic Council and served as US Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’affaires at the US embassies in Beijing and Bangkok. Freeman also held several senior level positions at the US Department of Defense.