Selecting a secretary of state who could potentially incite, as well as preside over, a global energy conflict is a difficult call to make, but those are kind of the calls that President-elect Donald Trump makes.
Reports are in — Rex W. Tillerson, the CEO of ExxonMobil is to serve as Trump's secretary of state. According to The New York Times, transition officials dismissed “bipartisan concerns that the globe-trotting leader of the energy giant had forged a too-cozy relationship with Vladimir V. Putin, the president of Russia.” Tillerson was presented with Russia's Order of Friendship in 2013.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates brought Tillerson to Trump's attention, according to Politico.
Considered but ultimately passed over were: most-likely-to-go-to-war-with-a-Muslim-nation-within-six-months Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mitt Romney, now a neutered critic, and David Petraeus, a former Army general and scandal-beset CIA director.
Tillerson has spent more than 40 years at Exxon. He's made at least $27.2 million per year over the last four years. Tillerson once listed Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged as his favorite book, according to the New Yorker.
Last year, Tillerson told shareholders his firm hadn’t invested in renewable energy because “[w]e choose not to lose money on purpose,” according to Politico. “Mankind has this enormous capacity to deal with adversity,” he added, pointing to technologies that can combat inclement weather “that may or may not be induced by climate change.”
In congressional testimony in 2010, Tillerson said:
“Well, we have said for some time that there is no question the climate is changing, that one of the contributors to climate change are greenhouse gases that are a result of industrial activities — and there are many greenhouse gases besides CO2. And the real challenge, I think, for all of us is understanding to what extent and therefore what can you do about it. And it is a scientific challenge. We view it as a risk management problem. There is a risk. The consequences, if those risks play out, are pretty dire.
“Where I think we have differences and where we perhaps talk past one another from time to time is that, being a science and engineering company, we understand the science, we understand the difficulties of modeling the science. And there are a number of very complicated models that have been developed by people who are studying the issue around the world to try and first replicate what has happened so we understand the science and then predict the future. And as we look at the competency of those models, there is not a model available today that is competent, and I think all of those people who run those models would acknowledge that. So we say keep studying it.”
Geo-petro-politically, Tillerson would have to deal with Moscow and its Ukraine situation, China's Pacific and African ambitions, as well as the always incendiary Middle East.
The president-elect's pick is likely to be met with a confirmation battle in the Senate.