Saturday, December 10, 2016

Rex Tillerson as SOS: Zero Experience — Has to Hit Ground Running Big Issues Ahead

Close ties to Russia and Putin: $500 Billion Oil Deal on Hold
(Due to sanctions by Obama administration)

Donald Trump is expected to nominate Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state, two sources close to the transition process told NBC News on Saturday (December 10). (My emphasis added in the piece).
The 64-year-old veteran oil executive has no government or diplomatic experience, although he has ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The pick would put to rest weeks-long speculation of who would earn the post as top U.S. diplomat, and also would place Tillerson fourth in line to the presidency.
(I note: This is really bad deputy choice also pending: Tillerson will be paired with former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton as Deputy Secretary of State).
Bolton would handle day-to-day management of the State Department.
Nothing is final until the president-elect officially announces it, which could happen as early as next week.
Tillerson, who was once dubbed “T. Rex” by Sarah Palin (I note: could be the kiss of death as it were) met with Trump at Trump Tower in NYC. In a pre-taped interview set to air Sunday on Fox News, Trump discussed why a businessman such as Tillerson would be a good fit as America's chief diplomat, saying in part:
“Well, in his case, he's much more than a business executive, I mean he's a world-class player.” (Trump at the same time acknowledged Tillerson's relationship with Russia through his oil business dealings).
Trump continued: “To me, a great advantage is he knows many of the players, and he knows them well. He does massive deals in Russia. He does massive deals for the company — not for himself, for the company.” (I note: yeah, we’ll see about that).
Tillerson, of Wichita Falls, Texas, has already notified his corporate board about taking on the new role, sources told NBC News. He is set to retire from Exxon Mobil next year since the company has a mandatory retirement age of 65, Reuters reported. He has never previously worked in government, but reportedly holds conservative political views. (I note: Ouch).
Tillerson has made tens of thousands in in political donations over the past two decades to Republican groups and candidates, including to President George W. Bush and former Texas Gov. Jeb Bush, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Tillerson backed Jeb Bush during the GOP presidential primary and did not donate to Trump's campaign.
Little is known about where he stands on foreign policy, and as secretary of state, he would have to hit the ground running on major issues. Among them: handling the nuclear agreement with Iran that the Obama administration made in 2015; the sanctions imposed on Russia; disputes with China and North Korea; the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria; and rebuilding Afghanistan and Iraq.
While he has spent his entire career in the energy sector, Tillerson does have experience dealing with foreign governments since Exxon Mobil operates in more than 50 countries. (I note: Making big oil deals and settling nuclear non-proliferation issues is not exactly the same thing now is it)?
Tillerson has strong links to Putin after representing the company's interests in Russia during the Boris Yeltsin administration. And, in 2013, the Kremlin bestowed the country's Order of Friendship honor on Tillerson.
Things we’ve learned about Tillerson:
At an Exxon Mobil shareholders' meeting in May 2014, Tillerson touched on his disapproval of sanctions, saying in essence: “We do not support sanctions, generally, because we don't find them to be effective unless they are very well implemented comprehensively and that's a very hard thing to do. We always encourage the people who are making those decisions to consider the very broad collateral damage of who are they really harming with sanctions.”
Related to that anti-sanctions view: One of Exxon Mobil's and Russia's biggest deals fell victim to sanctions imposed by the Obama administration in reaction to Russia invading Crimea in 2014. That deal was to drill in the offshore Arctic Kara Sea oil field would have reportedly been worth $500 billion.
My final notes: This is a key office and in my view Rex Tillerson is not ready, prepared, or anywhere near being qualified to hold that key position, unless of course he wants to work to get the Russian sanctions lifted so he can possibly (I surmise) get a retroactive big piece of that $500 billion pending oil deal – you think? (Too cynical you think)?
Some real cynicism: It seems with all the “business types” Trump is putting up for high profile appointments in government, and now more so with the Tillerson possibility with his oil ties to Russia and Putin and pending big deal, that Donald Trump plans on beating adversaries economically; not necessarily diplomatically or militarily (depending on the circumstances of course) with his so-called “Art of the Deal” tactics... which I now dub “Art of the Con.”
But, we’ll have to wait and watch and see the processes and outcomes. Many people have advocated “to run government more like a business” (I know I have heard that a lot of times and I’m sure you have, too). Well, we may be about to see that in action and sooner than anyone expects, or more than anyone wants. 
Stay tuned on that last point, but I strongly believe that both the Tillerson and Bolton choices are wrong for a multitude of reasons that will fall out along the confirmation way. You’ll see what I means as they move through the process.
The sound we may hear if Tillerson is in fact nominated and confirmed (at least in my view):

As always, thanks for stopping by.

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