Rex Tillerson is destroying the State Department. This is indisputable. He is leaving key positions unfilled. He is refusing to consult with the hundreds of experts at his disposal with decades of experience. He is eliminating entire sections within the State Department, forcing career employees into early retirement. Others are just leaving civil service altogether.
As the former CEO of one of the largest, richest, and most powerful corporations to ever exist, there is literally no argument that can be made that he's not doing it on purpose. The incompetence required to "accidentally" do the kind of deep and lasting damage Tillerson is doing would prohibit attaining such a lofty position as CEO of ExxonMobil. Even a wild confluence of the Peter Principle and the Dunning-Krueger Effect can't get you there.
Rex Tillerson is destroying the State Department and he's doing it with Donald Trump's blessing. So why is David Ignatius of The Washington Post portraying Tillerson as some kind of patriotic hero taking one for the team?
After the story broke about Tillerson calling Trump a "moron", Tillerson held a press conference to debase himself and soothe Trump's fragile ego. This had to be done because Trump cannot tolerate the slightest challenge to his dominance and was almost certainly preparing to fire Tillerson in the most humiliating way possible.
But Tillerson never wanted the job and as a 65-year-old multimillionaire with a spot waiting for him back at ExxonMobil where he's worked since he was 23, he certainly doesn't need the job. So why embarrass himself in public to keep working for someone he clearly despises? Ignatius opines:
Tillerson’s desire to remain on the job is a stabilizing move, at a moment when the United States is locked in a potential nuclear confrontation with North Korea and Trump is headed for a key November meeting in Beijing. Although Tillerson has been a poor public communicator at the State Department, he knows the world and can speak the language of America’s global partners and potential adversaries. His departure now would be widely seen as damaging to America’s already fragile position in a world disrupted by Trump’s erratic policies.
I honestly have no idea what Ignatius is talking about here. Tillerson's entire tenure has been widely seen as damaging to America’s already fragile position. Again, this has been by design. Tillerson has been deliberately dismantling America's soft power with great precision and while we can assume Trump and most of his inner circle of sycophants are utterly ignorant about what the State Department does, congressional Republicans and Democrats are not. They have repeatedly complained to Trump about the damage to our diplomatic power and have just as repeatedly been ignored.
Ignatius tries to paint the rosiest picture possible here:
Tillerson, like everyone else in Trump’s world, is living under a volcano. The former ExxonMobil chief executive doesn’t need this job; he’s a wealthy man who obviously dislikes Washington. He probably should be taken at his word when he says that he remains in his post at the State Department, despite the constant nastiness and occasional humiliation, because he’s trying to serve his country.
But let me paint a different picture.
ExxonMobil, as a multinational oil company, is so rich and so powerful that it has no allegiance to any country. In fact, it sees nations like the United States as impediments to the only thing it cares about: making money. They've been running around the world for decades, undermining American foreign policy in order to drill for oil and there's been very little we've been able to do about it because, well, they're ExxonMobil.
But that's not always the case and in 2014, the State Department blocked a deal worth at least $500 billion that ExxonMobil hasn't been able to move forward on. Russia has huge oil deposits but they don't have the ability to exploit them. ExxonMobil does and they were all set to make lots of money together. So much so that Vladimir Putin gave then-CEO Rex Tillerson the Order of Friendship, the highest civilian honor Russia can give. Both Russia with its weakened oil-dependent economy and ExxonMobil have been furious at the State Department sanctions denying them access to all that money
Fast forward three years. Putin puts Trump, a man he clearly controls, in the White House. Trump, who has never met Tillerson and knows nothing about him, picks him to be Secretary of State. Tillerson, who has no background in diplomacy and publicly says he didn't want the job, takes it anyway. Tillerson then immediately proceeds to dismantle the very department that blocked his company and Russia from making billions.
In Ignatius' story, Tillerson is a patriot with no observable history of patriotism. In fact, he has a history of working directly against the interests of the United States to further the financial interests of his own company. That doesn't make for a very convincing narrative to explain why he would put up with a buffoon like Trump.
In my story, Tillerson is a greedy scumbag willing to sell out the United States on behalf of Russia to the tune of $500 billion with a history of screwing the United States over whenever and wherever possible. With that kind of money at stake, even a 1% stake would see Tillerson's personal fortune increase from $300 million to $5 billion. And as an added bonus, the pesky State Department that keeps getting in the way of ExxonMobil, the company Tillerson has devoted his entire adult life to, will be crippled for decades.
I don't know about you, but I feel as if my narrative, while much less comforting, explains Tillerson's actions far better than Ignatius'.
There are 32 days left to the the 2017 elections.
There are 396 days left to the 2018 elections.
- This article kills fascists
Please consider becoming a paid member of The Daily Banter and supporting us in holding the Trump administration to account. Your help is needed more than ever, and is greatly appreciated.