Like any new American Secretary of State Rex W Tillerson finds himself dealing with a number of foreign allies that in the past supported the United States and formulated their own foreign policy according to the general directions set by America’s President. This situation has changed with the new Administration as President #Donald Trump has as yet to reveal a precise foreign policy direction for the next four or eight years. In addition, changes in national politics in a number of countries will lead to new directions for American and international foreign policy that the new Head of the State Department will have to navigate.


Europe will continue to be a major playing field for American diplomacy and the changes to the continent’s leadership must be taken into consideration to ensure close cooperation with the United States.

The result and consequences of last June’s Brexit vote in Britain and this year’s national elections in France, Germany and probably even in Italy will mean that the European Union will be reviewing its policies in the near future. These changes will be in reaction to the election results, but also in response to the continent’s immigration crisis and the subsequent rise of populist groups in a number of countries as a result of the arrival of new immigrants, particularly from Moslem countries.

In addition, the role of NATO will need to be reviewed in the light of President Trump’s declarations on its effectiveness and naturally in relation to any changes of policies, both American and European, towards Russia. This job will now be more complicated for Secretary Tillerson as he will have to negotiate with the European Union and Great Britain separately.

Middle East, Asia and the Americas

Israel and Australia are long term allies of the United States. Although this is unlikely to change in the future, the recent strained phone call between Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and President Donald Trump, combined with yesterday’s statement about limiting new Israeli settlements mean that secretary tillerson will need to act that to ensure that relations with the two countries remain friendly and cooperative.

Both countries are important pieces in America’s diplomatic chess games in the Middle East and Asia and thus the United States cannot afford to allow these relationships to become strained.

Secretary Tillerson will also need to work with the major Moslem allies such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Jordan to resolve the problems with the refugees and to limit Russian influence in the Middle East. At the same time, America’s allies in Asia such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan will look to the United States for leadership in the light of the China’s military expansion and the constantly unstable behaviour of North Korea.

Finally America will need to take care of its own backyard and not only because of the currently strained relations with Mexico over the border wall which led to the cancellation of the White House visit by its President Enrique Peña Nieto.

Countries such as Brazil and Argentina can be valuable allies for the United States, but History has shown that they can easily become adversaries if the not treated correctly.

Allies are important to long term American strategies and therefore Secretary Tillerson must ensure that they are part of his own programmes and attention. The world is now in the midst of a particularly delicate and challenging phase of international tension and as the Leader of the Free World President Donald Trump and his Secretary of State must understand that their allies have attention even more than their adversaries.