European allies waited months to hear promise of U.S. support

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson participates in a panel discussion after his remarks on U.S.-European Relations at the Wilson Center in Washington, U.S., November 28, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Vastavam web: On the eve of his trip to Europe, Rex Tillerson gave a speech last week that European allies had waited months to hear: an “ironclad” promise of U.S. support to its oldest allies.The uncertainty is particularly acute given Washington’s leading role in crises in North Korea and Syria.“Just as Tillerson comes to Brussels to give a public statement of support that the EU and NATO have wanted all along, it seems he has no mandate, that the guillotine is hanging over his head,” said an EU official involved in diplomacy with White House officials.
European leaders yearn for stability in U.S. foreign policy. They are troubled by Trump’s “America first” rhetoric and inconsistent statements on NATO and the European Union.In addition, Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate change accord and his decision not to certify Iran’s compliance with a nuclear deal undermine European priorities.“The United States remains committed to our enduring relationship with Europe. Our security commitments to European allies are ironclad,” he told a think tank.
He said he would convey that message to the European Union and NATO. He is set to visit Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Vienna on Thursday and Paris on Friday.“If there were expectations that Tillerson might evolve into a counterweight to Trump, someone who could pass on messages from partners and exert moderating influence over American foreign policy – those expectations have been disappointed,” said Niels Annen, foreign policy spokesman for Germany’s Social Democrats in parliament.
The French have gone around Tillerson to develop contacts with U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, while the EU’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini has gone directly to Vice President Mike Pence.One European diplomat said Tillerson was in a difficult position from the outset because the Trump administration was hostile to Iran and brought in a team of generals who took a hard line, “so it never left Tillerson much room.”