The United States of America is the world’s superpower and new secretary of State Rex W Tillerson will be required to deal with countries that seek to oppose this position rather than in working with the new American Administration. In addition there are other forces that are much more open in their antagonism to America. Both groups will provide challenges to President Trump and his new head of the State Department.

The other big players

Since the end of the Second World War two countries have played a role in opposing the United States on the world stage.

The first of these is Russia which during the Cold War opposed the United States as the Soviet Union. The two superpowers never fought directly during this period but a number of conflicts were ersatz confrontations. The struggles in the Middle East between American backed Israel and the Soviet backed Arab countries were a public display of this antagonism. The Korean and Vietnam Wars were other conflicts that played a role in the international struggles for power between the two countries.

Despite the apparent intent of President #Donald Trump to establish better relations with Russian President Putin, these struggles have taken a whole new direction with the allegations of Russian Interference during the presidential election.

This will be a particular challenge for Tillerson as the results of the investigations into the allegations may well have consequences on both American and international politics.

China was an opponent in the Korean War and also in the world market place. The deep philosophical differences between the two countries were marked with periods of deep mistrust and others of apparent distention between them.

In recent times the relationship has been strained by clear signs of military expansion by China which has featured the construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea which is causing distress amongst America’s allies in Asia. The competition between the two countries is also commercial and the huge rise of the Chinese economy over the last two decades is a direct challenge to America’s position in the world market place.

The battle fields, real and potential

Secretary Tillerson also faces major challenges in the Middle East and North Africa where the many conflicts have caused the refugee crisis troubling the world. These battlefields became more insidious with the Russian role in Syria and were made more delicate by the reactions to the ban of Moslem refugees from seven “at risk” countries that some have perceived as confirmation of an American war with Islam. The new Head of the State Department will have to work closely with the major players to both end the fighting by defeating the fanatics and working together with the Moslem countries to settle any real, or perceived confrontation between the United States and Moslems around the world.

North Korea has been a thorn in the side of world politics for decades and the situation has been made worse by Leader Kim Jong-un’s determination to turn it into a nuclear power. This will be a particularly delicate problem to resolve as it will only be possible with the active collaboration of China.

Finally, the recent changes in the relationship between Cuba and the United States will need to be treated carefully, as well as the longstanding issues with other neighbours such as Venezuela and Nicaragua.

Although the new Secretary of State will also face other challenges over the next four years these will be the ones that will undoubtedly require his closest attention. They will put to the test both his negotiating skills and his ability to adapt to the specific requirements of each problem. Rex W Tellerson’s activities will be a major part of how the future will judge the Donald Trump Presidency.