Before assuming the position of Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson faced extensive grilling by Senators, and after swearing in, was one of the most heavily contested members of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet. As the longtime Chief Executive Officer of Exxon Mobile and personal friend of Vladimir Putin, his ascendance to the arena of diplomacy has brought serious controversy.
A closer analysis of Rex Tillerson will highlight his unique set of strengths that make him a valuable asset to any administration, whether Democrat, Republican, or Third Party, but also his questionable views and underdeveloped political presence.
Strengths (No Particular Order)
Tillerson has a good understanding of how the world works.
Like several “Big Oil Guys,” he has traveled the world to do business. Behind the chaos in places like the Middle East and South China Sea, are countries’ individual pursuits for territorial control of resources. In a sense, oil seems to run the world, and caught up in this conflict, was Rex Tillerson for decades. Through his close involvement, he has been at the epicenter of global politics for decades.
Tillerson smooths relationships.
Being the Secretary of State means representing the president in various nations. Following some of the president’s controversial tweets, statements, and phone calls, Tillerson worked to lower tensions and restore relations with countries who may have been offended.
Tillerson wishes to avoid war.
If you feared Trump’s administration would cause war, be relieved that Tillerson is Secretary of State. Though Tillerson is not war-averse, he is a skilled negotiator. He accepts that there are several nations that the United States will never agree with ideologically, but sees potential in cooperating with them. As a result, he will assume a position of diplomacy in world affairs, rather than that of a neoconservative.
Tillerson maintains good relationships with some of the World’s most powerful people.
Due to a lot Earth’s oil being controlled by oppressive regimes, Tillerson has had to constantly negotiate and cut deals with some of the most influential individuals, including Vladimir Putin. As someone comfortable with key figures in the future of the World, Tillerson becomes a huge asset to the United States, knowledgeable with how to deal with these types of people.
Tillerson is patriotic.
As someone who manages one of the largest companies, Tillerson could have retired to an enormous, nicely-situated ranch, living out his days with just his family and without stress. Instead, he accepted Trump’s offer, where he faced harsh judgement by even his own party, division within the state department, and one of the most stressful jobs. He did it, with encouragement from his wife, for the love of his country.
Tillerson is socially indiscriminatory.
The degree to which he is socially liberal or conservative is unknown. However, it is known that he is indiscriminatory, treating all people equally. For example, he removed the Boy Scouts’ historical ban on gay membership, illustrating he will not distinguish between individuals based off their personal identification.
Weaknesses (No Particular Order)
Tillerson has not built a presence inside his department or to the public.
Tillerson has not spoken publicly much since his initial speech. As a result, he remains “in the background” to the populace. Within his department, he is left with several of Obama’s administration’s employees, making it difficult to work in separated division. Furthermore, Trump has not let him pick his own staff team.
Tillerson has to work more closely with Trump.
Being Secretary of State requires representing the president and his/her agenda. In order to do such, Tillerson should be more involved in Trump’s meetings and negotiating, as well as coordinating regular meetings with him.
Tillerson has not publicly stated the degree to which he believes humans are responsible for climate change.
Though he is fully aware of Global Warming, he has not commented on our role in augmenting its rate. Because he is Head of State, he will need to attend Climate Change Conferences, making it crucial for him to take a stand.
Tillerson’s assertiveness is debated.
In his hearing, Tillerson refused to declare whether or not Vladimir Putin was a war criminal. The State Department is responsible for the ranking and categorization of war criminals, terrorist hotbeds, and much more. To be successful, he will need to make these decisions. Many fear he will not stand up to people, such as Putin, who consider him to be a friend and business partner.
Rex Tillerson has accumulated skills and knowledge as a business leader. His next task, to be a great Secretary of State, is to incorporate them into World Politics. He is no longer an observer, but a key player, and for that reason, he must be more assertive in certain matters. He has already taken action in the South China Sea and calming relations between the United States and other countries, however lacks in unifying his department and building his national presence.