Sunday, December 18, 2016

Tillerson could shine as secretary of State

At USA TODAY by Armand V. Cucciniello III  -- 

President-elect Donald Trump’s choice of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to serve as the next secretary of State has caused another post-election panic attack. Looking beyond Tillerson’s engagement with Russia, however, reveals someone with a distinguished education, a notable leadership record and substantial foreign affairs experience.

It's a fact that Tillerson is a businessman with a history of looking out for corporate interests such as access to energy, growth, sustainability and profit. But assessing his candidacy on that basis would be akin to saying the president of the United States should be judged for a business position on a record of looking out for the American people, national security and the U.S. economy. In both cases, the leaders have their organization’s top priorities and strategic goals in mind.

The assertion that Tillerson has no diplomatic experience is myopic. If having been a diplomat is a prerequisite to leading the State Department, 66 out of 68 U.S. secretaries of State, including John Kerry, would have failed the test. Former secretaries of State James Baker and Condoleezza Rice, and former Defense secretary Robert Gates, have vouched for Tillerson’s grasp of geopolitics. If he is a blatantly bad choice, such esteemed figures from past administrations would be unwilling to tarnish their reputations and legacies, regardless of any financial ties to ExxonMobil, in support of his candidacy.

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