Op Ed: 69th Secretary of State
By REX TILLERSON
On Febuary 1st 2017, as much of the Trump cabinet was still being held up by senate democrats, our 69th Secretary of State was confirmed by a vote of 56 to 43, with all 52 Republicans in support as well as 3 Democrats and 1 independent. Going as far back to the founding of our country, the Secretary of State position has always been a dignified and important position. Over the years dignitaries like John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, and James Baker have taken on the position.
As the Trump administration and senate leadership has paraded through remarkable and somewhat unqualified confirmation hearings, Rex Tillerson comes through as one of the most surprising choices. On November 19, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney met with the President-elect at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, reportedly to discuss the position of Secretary of State. Romney was arguably the safe choice, and along with former CIA Director David Petraeus, and Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, they filled out the possible options for the Trump Team.
On December 13, 2016, President Donald Trump nominated Tillerson for United States Secretary of State. This surprising move was met with confusion, and intrigue. Tillerson is an American business who served as Exon Mobile CEO, and also as President of the Boy Scouts of America. So what makes Tillerson so qualified for a dignified position like Secretary of State?
As the Trump Administration tries to reform a frail relationship with Russia, Tillerson is the man for the job. Tillerson has ties with President Vladimir Putin of Russia. They have been associates since Tillerson represented Exxon’s interests in Russia during President Boris Yeltsin’s tenure. Tillerson represents a new approach, one different than the Obama administration’s policy of increased sanctions and red lines. In 2014, Tillerson expressed opposition to the Obama sanctions. He stated “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.” In 2016, Tillerson said that the US should have deployed military units to neighboring states next to Russia in a more “muscular” response. Tillerson represents a more friendly approach to Russia, while also introducing a more hard line approach to Russian aggression.
Tillerson was first recommended to Trump for the Secretary of State role by Condoleezza Rice, during her meeting with Trump in late November. Rice’s recommendation of Tillerson to Trump was backed up by Robert Gates, three days later. Former President George W. Bush also praised Donald Trump’s Secretary of State Nominee Rex Tillerson and offered his support. As with Trump, Tillerson’s business background and diverse policy’s will be interesting to watch in the future. Rex Tillerson is uniquely qualified for the Secretary of State position.