Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is a straight shooter. The immediate improvement in clarity distinguishes him from the cloudy communications from former Secretary Kerry. Before that, there was Hillary Clinton. She had many more words, and even with clarity, there was too much clutter.
In negotiating with the Russians, Tillerson offered this choice: the U.S. or Syria? On whose side are you?
The Russian's have also been boxed into declaring their incompetence or insincerity about what happened with the Syrian chemical weapons attack.
What if the Russians choose to stick with Assad and the assemblage of rogue partners?
The U.S. will do well to shore up its relationship with China. Become stronger in other alliances, and that will deter the Russian's actions if not their rhetoric.
"As he embarked on a trip to Moscow following urgent meetings in Italy with top diplomats, Tillerson said it was unclear whether Russia had failed to take seriously its obligation to rid Syria of chemical weapons, or had merely been incompetent. But he said the distinction "doesn't much matter to the dead."
"We cannot let this happen again," the secretary of state said.
"We want to relieve the suffering of the Syrian people. Russia can be a part of that future and play an important role," Tillerson added in remarks to reporters. "Or Russia can maintain its alliance with this group, which we believe is not going to serve Russia's interests longer term."
Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement that it hoped for "productive talks." It said the outcome of the discussions is important not only for the Russia-U.S. relationship but "for the overall atmosphere on the world stage."
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