A weak cheer for Rex Tillerson
Even a blind sow finds an acorn once in a while. Trump’s appointments to date can be summarized as an assembly of imbeciles, some with nazi tendencies. Rex Tillerson as secretary of state qualifies as an imbecile if, as reported by Steve Coll, his favorite book is “Atlas Shrugged.”
And he is also a NIMBY jackass very much in the style of the next president.
And there may be many other objectionable things about him. Coll will be happy to tell anyone about them.
But his go-it-Exxon’s-way style at least occasionally hits the correct note. Coll says:
In Kurdistan, during the Obama Administration, Tillerson defied State Department policy and cut an independent oil deal with the Kurdish Regional Government, undermining the national Iraqi government in Baghdad. ExxonMobil did not ask permission. After the fact, Tillerson arranged a conference call with State Department officials and explained his actions, according to my sources, by saying, “I had to do what was best for my shareholders.”
It is RtO’s firm opinion that a free and independent Great Kurdistan is not only consistent with what used to be American values but an indispensable component of any settlement that could conceivably bring calm to southwest Asia.
OTOH, clearly Exxon didn’t do it out of any high-minded principles or even from a sophisticated conception of the politics in that part of the world, since it also does business in Equatorial Guinea, one of the worst hellholes in the world.
(Equatorial Guinea is the richest country per capita in Africa thinks to oil royalties but here is some of what Wikipedia has to say about it: “The UN says that less than half of the population has access to clean drinking water and that 20% of children die before reaching the age of five. The country’s authoritarian government has one of the worst human rights records in the world, consistently ranking among the “worst of the worst” in Freedom House’s annual survey of political and civil rights.”
(It might be nice if, during Tillerson’s confirmation hearings, some senator asks him about that. For that matter, it might have been nice if Hillary Clinton and John Kerry had been asked about policy there, too.)
Tillerson and I also agree that everyone should have electricity. Something like 2 billion people don’t and they die because of it. I have never written about this, but RtO’s position on climate change is:
If you are going to propose ANY policy with regard to climate or pollution, the first words I want to hear are how you intend to bring electricity to ALL the people. Unless I hear that, I will not listen to anything else you have to say.
At the Council on Foreign Relations, Tillerson said:
“There are still hundreds of millions, billions of people living in abject poverty around the world. They need electricity. They need electricity they can count on, that they can afford. They need fuel to cook their food on that’s not animal dung. There are more people’s health being dramatically affected because they could — they don’t even have access to fossil fuels to burn. They’d love to burn fossil fuels because their quality of life would rise immeasurably, and their quality of health and the health of their children and their future would rise immeasurably. You’d save millions upon millions of lives by making fossil fuels more available to a lot of the part of the world that doesn’t have it”