Why Is Rex Tillerson Racing Home from Africa?

I am beginning to think that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s doesn’t have the same stamina as his predecessors John Kerry and Hillary Clinton. First, there was his Asian trip.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson cut short his recent visit with South Korean officials due to “fatigue,” the Korea Herald reported on Friday.

According to the newspaper, the top U.S. diplomat did not have lunch or dinner with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn during his visit.

Now there is his African trip:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will conclude his first diplomatic trip to Africa a day early and fly back to Washington on Monday amid new developments in the administration’s approach to North Korea.

Tillerson met with leaders in Chad during the first half of the day on Monday. He was then scheduled to travel to Nigeria, where he would meet with the country’s president, foreign minister and representatives from the U.S. embassy there.

However, he will cut his time in Nigeria short, according to a Reuters report. Tillerson will spend just a few hours there and then fly back to the U.S. on Monday night.

“Due to demands in the secretary’s schedule, he is returning to the U.S. one day early after concluding official meetings in Chad and Nigeria,” Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein said.

Tillerson had to cancel all of his planned events in Kenya on Saturday because he was not feeling well.

Some may speculate that Tillerson’s sudden illness in Korea had something to do with Trump’s fire and fury comments and that his malady on Saturday was a reaction to not being consulted at all before the White House announced on Thursday night that President Trump would agree to meet with North Korean madman Kim Jong-Un. These same skeptics may ruminate aloud about the possibility that Tillerson is cutting short his visit to Nigeria in order to get back to Washington, D.C. before he suffers any additional surprises or humiliations.

Of course, he could be coming home (or being called home) to announce his resignation. Or, if Christopher Steele is correct that Tillerson was essentially the Putin-approved alternative to Mitt Romney, maybe something more sinister is afoot.

According to the report, in late November 2016, Steele relayed information from his Russian sources that senior Kremlin officials had intervened to block Mitt Romney as President-elect Trump’s choice for secretary of State. Reporter Jane Mayer writes that Moscow had asked Trump to appoint someone who would be willing to lift sanctions related to Ukraine and cooperate with Russia’s involvement in Syria.

Who can say?

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.