Former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the mess Donald Trump is leaving behind.
President Donald Trump is on the way out of office—perhaps even earlier than the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. But the legacy he leaves behind—not just in terms of increasingly polarized domestic politics but also in terms of foreign policy—will greatly shape the next administration right out of the gate.
The Trump administration spent years ramping up the confrontation with China, with little to show for it. The “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran only redoubled Tehran’s development of nuclear materials. Russian efforts to undermine NATO have continued undeterred. And U.S. relations with traditional allies have grown more frayed.
Just before a Trump-inspired mob stormed the U.S. Capitol this week, Foreign Policy spoke with Rex Tillerson, Trump’s first secretary of state, about his former boss, the state of the world, and the challenges facing the Biden administration. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.