Rex Tillerson As Secretary Of State Refreshing Surprise In The Chaotic Trump Administration
It is no secret that this publication has been very critical of the Trump administration. However, where credit is due, it must be given. In this case, Rex Tillerson who this publication was very critical of when picked by Trump to be Secretary of State (due to his past strong ties to Russia and big oil as a consequence of his tenure as CEO of Exxon-Mobile), his comments yesterday in a question and answer session with students at George Mason University, added a positive perspective on what continues to be a bright spot in an otherwise chaotic, erratic, and deeply concerning Trump administration.
Tillerson was asked by students why he would leave such a lucrative job as CEO of a huge multinational oil corporation and pointed to his number having come up short in the Vietnam draft that led to him not having to serve in the war. He pointed to his pride in his father having served in World War II in the Pacific and his uncle having served several tours of duty in Vietnam. Tillerson noted that when the opportunity came to serve as Secretary of State, he felt compelled to serve because it was his turn and his time.
Cynics can point to the fact that if Tillerson really wanted to serve in the military in Vietnam, he could have just enlisted and not waited for the draft. However, this article is not coming from a cynical position and applauds Mr. Tillerson’s comments to students as an example of an American being compelled to give up a lot of money and power to serve his country. It must also be noted that Rex Tillerson has been been a steady hand and an intelligent and presence in an administration that has adopted chaos, abysmal rhetoric, and lack of clear messaging as its status quo.
Harsh critics of Rex Tillerson point to many top positions in the State Department that remain unfilled and staffers continuing to leave in droves as Tillerson being an ineffective and incompetent Secretary of State. However, these critics fail to acknowledge the extremely difficult task that Tillerson has in serving a president who is genuinely clueless about foreign policy while seeming to think he’s some sort of a strategic genius. Trump is good at selling himself and positively world-class at conning gullible people, but there’s a great deal he simply doesn’t know about global affairs, and some of the things he thinks he knows are dead wrong. He won’t stop tweeting nonsense, and smarter leaders than he is have accurately assessed him and figured out that flattering his ego and pandering to his business interests will get him to do whatever they want. Given the president he serves, how effective could Tillerson possibly be?
Some of Tillerson’s more controversial actions — for example, his efforts to reorganize the State Department — were actually long overdue. The inconvenient fact is that the State Department, especially the foreign service, has been a neglected institution for a long time and has not been adjusted to the realities of 21st-century diplomacy. The United States is still the only world power that routinely assigns about a third of its ambassador positions to unqualified amateurs as a means to reward them for their campaign contributions. Meanwhile, career qualified foreign service officers rarely get the opportunities for career development that their counterparts in the armed services or in other countries’ diplomatic staffers enjoy.
To be sure, the job of CEO of one of the largest and most profitable oil companies would not go to any unqualified dummy. Rex Tillerson has proven that he is articulate, measured, and competent as our top diplomat. It is sincerely our hope at The Freedom Press that rumors of his departure at the end of this year are just rumors.