Exxon Mobil CEO, Rex Tillerson will be Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State. This can be viewed in two ways, depending on which parallel universe one inhabits.
In the logical universe, Tillerson is a compromise candidate. His long-term business dealings with Russian companies and his friendly personal relationship with President Putin are somewhat akin to Trump’s choice of US Ambassador to China, Governor Terry Branstad. Brandstad has a long standing personal friendship with President Xi Jinping.
This illustrates a pattern that when it comes to experience, Trump is far more concerned with experience in personal and professional deals than he is with experience in government. Tillerson has never held any government position and similarly Brandstad is the Governor of the comparatively small US state of Iowa.
Tillerson’s association with big oil is somewhat worrying in respect of US-Gulf relations. Trump’s policies in this area are not yet entirely clear. On the one hand he has quite rightly condemned Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s support of terrorism and their deep links to The Clinton Foundation.
However, Trump wasted no time in surrounding himself with anti-Iran hawks like James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis. There is a very real worry that the anti-Iran sentiments of the US Whitehouse could play into the hands of the Gulfi regimes which unlike Iran, fund Wahhabist terrorist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda. One can hope that in this area, pragmatism prevails.
Many had thought that Congressman Dana Rohrabacher would be Trump’s dark horse pick for Secretary of State. Rohrabacher has a great deal of experience in international issues as a long-time member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. Rohrabacher has been vocal in his support for US cooperation with Russia over Syria and unlike many of his colleagues in both the Republican and Democratic parties, has stated his support for the democratic self-determination of the Crimean people.
As Alexander Mercouris recently reported, Rohrabacher may instead be Trump’s pick for US Ambassador to Moscow, a move which in many ways is also pragmatic as Rohrabacher’s sensible views on Russia and the Middle East are offset by his often crass remarks on China and his rather insane positions on the former Yugoslavia where he encouraged Bill Clinton to fund and arm the Albanian terrorist organisation KLA.
But in the universe inhabited by the Democrats and Russophobic Republicans like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, Tillerson will be portrayed as a kind of Frankenstein monster. To them anyone who wants friendship with the superpower that is the Russian Federation is some sort of traitor to America rather than a realist and moreover someone who wants to protect Americans from the actual threat of Islamic terrorism. McCain has allied himself with every enemy of Russia and has been photographed on numerous occasions alongside Ukrainian neo-Nazis as well as Islamic terrorists in Iraq and Syria.
McCain’s anachronistic views do not bode well with old-fashion isolations, traditional anti-war individuals on the compromised American left, nor with Trump’s younger supporters who tend to listen to Alex Jones. However, many Washington Republicans and almost all Democrats are sympathetic to these views which will doubtlessly be lined up against Tillerson and paint him as something he is not.
One thing is clear, in spite of ambiguity over Iran, Trump’s team on the whole looks to be good for international cooperation against Islamic terrorism and moreover, Trump appears to be committed to reconciliation with Russia in the aftermath of Obama’s reign bringing the two most powerful countries in the world closer to war than they have been at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.