Secretary Of State Tillerson Delivers Wide-Ranging Foreign Policy Speech To State Department Employees

Associated Press: Tillerson calls for balancing U.S. security interests, values
“Translating ‘America First’ into diplomatic policy, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday declared the United States can’t always afford to condition its foreign relationships and national security efforts on countries adopting U.S. values like human rights. He spoke to a State Department eager for answers about changing priorities and a sweeping, impending overhaul…” (Lederman/Lee, 5/4).

The Atlantic: Rex Tillerson Spells Out U.S. Foreign Policy
“…In a 40-minute speech, his second to the department’s staff, Tillerson refrained from discussing the administration’s proposed budget cuts. Nevertheless, he offered perhaps the most comprehensive roadmap of U.S. foreign policy, addressing the nation’s involvement with East Asia, Russia, Africa, and the Western Hemisphere…” (Bendix, 5/3).

The Hill: Tillerson stresses ‘difference between policy and values’ for State Dept.
“…[Tillerson] acknowledged that the country’s national security and economic interests may, at times, outweigh the desire to enforce certain values, like human dignity and ‘the way people are treated,’ saying the U.S. will no longer demand other nations conduct themselves according to American values. ‘I think it’s really important that all of us understand the difference between policy and values, and in some circumstances, we should and do condition our policy engagements on people adopting certain actions as to how they treat people,’ he said. ‘We should demand that. But that doesn’t mean that’s the case in every situation’…” (Greenwood, 5/3).

New York Times: Tillerson: It’s Time to Restore ‘Balance’ With Other Countries
“…Mr. Tillerson offered few specifics for a staff deeply anxious about a proposed budget that would cut outlays [up to] 31 percent and that aides to Mr. Tillerson have said could eliminate about 2,300 jobs, or about three percent of the department’s 75,000 employees. The reductions are expected to be achieved through attrition…” (Harris, 5/3).

Wall Street Journal: Tillerson Points to Shift in U.S. Foreign Policy Priorities
“…In separating U.S. policies from values such as human rights, democracy, press freedom, and the treatment of minorities, Mr. Tillerson appeared to outline a departure from priorities pursued during both the Bush and Obama administrations. … Human rights groups and some lawmakers have raised concerns about what they’ve described as a U.S. turn away from an emphasis on human rights and basic freedoms. … But Mr. Tillerson said emphasizing rights can impede other imperatives…” (Schwartz, 5/3).

Washington Post: Tillerson says putting pressure on North Korea is just the beginning
“…Tillerson offered the most expansive expression of his worldview since his confirmation hearing. He said many policies and practices enacted decades ago must be modified to meet the realities of a post-Cold War era. President Trump’s ‘America first’ philosophy means restoring ‘balance’ in relationships with allies, such as in trade and defense spending. ‘We just kind of lost track of how we were doing. And as a result, things got a little bit out of balance,’ he said…” (Morello/Gearan, 5/3).

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

KFF Headquarters: 185 Berry St., Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94107 | Phone 650-854-9400
Washington Offices and Barbara Jordan Conference Center: 1330 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 | Phone 202-347-5270 | Email Alerts: | |

The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.