The balance of consequences is made more distinctive by Trump and Tillerson. That is, Trump is not afraid to employ the judicious use of force to back up U.S. policy. Tillerson is a precise and reliable negotiator.
Of course, that assessment is based on few examples.
Former President Obama was an intellectual with complex policy ideas and nuance. Secretary of State Kerry was closely aligned with style. The outcome was that Russians believed correctly that U.S. leaders would become trapped in their weighty policies and they could do as they wished without much impunity.
Trump, for suspicious reasons, may have some leverage or diplomatic leeway with the Russians. Tillerson has much experience in conducting business with them. The outcome might be more credible U.S. policy.
"Several State Department officials told CNN Tillerson's strategy for the trip is to highlight Russia's responsibility and culpability for Assad's actions in an effort to shame Putin into doing more to end the conflict and drive a wedge between Moscow and Damascus.
"I'm hopeful that we can have constructive talks with the Russia government, with Foreign Minister (Sergey) Lavrov, and have Russia be supportive of a process that will lead to a stable Syria," Tillerson said on ABC's "This Week" ahead of the visit.
"Clearly, they are Bashar al-Assad's current ally," he added. "They should have the greatest influence on Bashar al-Assad, and certainly his decisions to use chemical weapons. They should have the greatest influence on him to cause him to no longer use those."
Tillerson's predecessor John Kerry held months of talks with Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, in an fruitless effort to find agreement on a ceasefire between the regime and the Syrian opposition, which could lead to a political process. Kerry and his aides often lamented President Barack Obama's stated unwillingness to use military action weakened his hand in those talks."
Possibly more effective US representation