Posted: 1:11 am ET
Steve Coll writes in The New Yorker that Trump’s reported pick of Tillerson as Secretary of State is “astonishing on many levels.”
As an exercise of public diplomacy, it will certainly confirm the assumption of many people around the world that American power is best understood as a raw, neocolonial exercise in securing resources.
Compared to the records of some of the other people around Trump, Tillerson’s is at least one of professional integrity; Exxon is a ruthless and unusually aggressive corporation, but it is also rule-bound, has built up a relatively strong safety record, and has avoided problems such as prosecutions under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, even though it operates in many countries that are rife with corruption.
In his career at ExxonMobil, Tillerson has no doubt honed many of the day-to-day skills that a Secretary of State must exercise: absorbing complex political analysis, evaluating foreign leaders, attending ceremonial events, and negotiating with friends and adversaries. Tillerson is a devotee of Abraham Lincoln, so perhaps he has privately harbored the ambition to transform himself into a true statesman, on behalf of all Americans. Yet it is hard to imagine, after four decades at ExxonMobil and a decade leading the corporation, how Tillerson will suddenly develop respect and affection for the American diplomatic service he will now lead, or embrace a vision of America’s place in the world that promotes ideals for their own sake, emphatically privileging national interests over private ones.
Read in full here. Steve Coll is the author of the book on ExxonMobil, excerpt below courtesy of Kindle Preview: