OPINION

Column: Rex Tillerson, CEO of State

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Olivier Douliery | Abaca Press

Rex Tillerson answers questions during his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 11 in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

Last week, the former ExxonMobil CEO and chairman, Rex Tillerson, was narrowly made the secretary of state after a close vote in the Senate. 

Tillerson meagerly won with a 56-43 lead. Before Tillerson, the closest vote in for secretary of state happened in 1825 when Henry Clay was made secretary of state with a 27-14 win.

It’s clear that Tillerson is not the senate Democrats’ first 

pick for secretary of state, as there were only three 

Democrats and one independent that voted for President Donald Trump’s nominee.

Though Tillerson appears to be one of Trump’s more moderate picks for his secretary of state, the Senate and the nation still have their concerns.

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Tillerson’s foreign affairs experience should help him in his new position, though making business deals versus political deals will likely throw him a new curveball compared to how he handled international affairs on behalf of ExxonMobil.

Despite his international experience, environmentalists are highly concerned with having a former CEO of an oil company as our secretary of state, fearing the prioritization of business over the environment.

It makes sense that he was selected by Trump, whose goal is to bring in as many people from the business world as he can, primarily CEOs. There seems to be an end goal here of privatizing parts of the government. 

Tillerson is known for his “America first” attitude, much like Trump’s. 

Compared to other nominees, he’s not the worst choice in the eyes of the Democrats, even though they don’t support him, because he has extensive foreign affairs experience.

Tillerson has been criticized for his close relations with the Russian President Vladimir Putin, who awarded Tillerson with Russia’s Order of Friendship in 2013. This is unsettling for many Americans who believe that Russia is aggressive toward Eastern Europe and Syria. There are worries that he may pardon Russia for their atrocities and ease sanctions on the rogue country. 

Another foreign affairs concern with Tillerson is his lack of knowledge of Saudi Arabia’s human rights violations toward women due to his business dealings with Saudi Arabia’s oil companies. It looks like he has a similar mindset to Trump in that business relations are more important than human rights violations.

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The worry with having a real estate mogul and a CEO of a former oil company as our president and secretary of state is that they will prioritize deals with countries regardless of their crimes and the threat they pose. 

Stepping into this new role brings the responsibility of finding compromise with Russia and China while also reviewing the international nuclear deal with Iran. Our relations with our close neighbor Mexico are rocky due to Trump’s insistence on a border wall. And as a result of all of these international issues, Europe is displeased with us as well.

Tillerson has a big job ahead of him that even the most qualified politician would find tough to work with. Despite the doubts that many have about him, the hope is that maybe a fresh perspective in the role secretary of state will be a good thing.


Follow Claudia Drace on Twitter.



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