Those who have been skeptical of the former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson becoming the U.S. Secretary of State under the republican President Donald Trump, were correct in their thinking beyond their wildest dreams.
It was the former Defense Secretary Bob Gates who recommended Mr. Tillerson for the post. He described the Exxon CEO to the president as the type of candidate who was an unorthodox and bold deal-maker/ businessman with a history of dealing with some of the world’s most formidable leaders, from Russia’s Vladimir Putin to Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh.
While his credentials and references from previous cabinet level officials should have made him an outstanding secretary, his behaviors have caused many to question his motives, like his being acquiescent to the president’s budget cuts of about 30% without a wimper; his announcing a cut for over 2000 state department jobs; his over the top avoidance of the press and even his own staff; and his tendency to decline to attend scheduled crucial conferences.
A CAREFUL review of his history, reveals Mr. Tillerson’s dark side. For several decades, the Exxon CEO has dealt with leaders and countries, not noted for endorsing “human rights” standards. All he cared about was making money. He has viewed the U.S. State Department and the press with disdain, as an impediment. In short, the US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson has been appointed to head an organization that he despises.
(Link to 1/17/17, Lee Fang and Steve Horn of Intercept report: “Rex Tillerson’s Exxon Mobil Frequently Sought State Department Assistance, New Documents Show)
“My philosophy is to make money.”—Rex Tillerson
And so why did he accept this position? The answer is that he wants to benefit his company of 41 years, ExxonMobile. Besides he would have been required to retire anyway at age 65.
ExxonMobile is not as financially sound as when he became CEO in 2006. It is heavily burdened with debt and it is subject to several lawsuits, from not disclosing what it knew about climate change at an earlier date; to mistreatment of its employees around the world; and for a myriad of other infractions.
He has already reaped one benefit for the fossil fuel industry. A 2010 major (CARDIN) regulation requiring oil companies to be transparent as to monies transferred to foreign governments (bribes) was eliminated right after he became the U.S. Secretary of State (2017).
But there is one 2011 lucrative deal with Between Exxon and Rosneft, a Russian oil company to explore for oil in Russia’s arctic area worth upwards of $500 billion dollars which has been put on hold after the US imposed sanctions on Russia for its 2014 unprovoked incursion into Crimea, Ukraine. Exxon has filed for governmental waivers but all requests have been rebuffed, one as late as April 2017.
My speculation is that the lifting of the 2014 sanctions against Russia has been Mr. Rex Tillerson’s primary motive for his accepting the U.S. Secretary of State job, along with his innate contempt for this governmental agency.
The following article from Inthesetimes.com is lengthy, and so I have footnoted a link below to the entire post. The author, Antonia Juhasz, is a leading energy analyst, author, and investigative journalist specializing in oil. As an award-winning writer, her articles appear in Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Harper’s, The Atlantic, etc. She is the author of several books on the subject of oil.
Excerpts from the 1/9/17 article, “Rex Tillerson Could Be America’s Most Dangerous Secretary of State:”
“(Around January 2017) Exxon Mobil (was) preparing to appear before a jury at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. There, the company face(d) allegations that security forces under its employ engaged in serious human rights abuses, including murder, torture, sexual violence, kidnapping, battery, assault, burning, arbitrary arrest, detention and false imprisonment. The complaint specifically names Rex Tillerson.”
“Among the plaintiffs, all of whom use aliases out of fear for their lives, is “John Doe II.” According to the complaint, in August 2000, soldiers working for Exxon Mobil beat and tortured him “using electricity all over his body, including his genitals.” After approximately three months, the “soldiers took off his blindfold, took him outside the building where he had been detained and showed him a pit where there was a large pile of human heads. The soldiers threatened to kill him and add his head to the pile.” He was ultimately released, only to have the soldiers return later to burn down his house.”
“John Doe I, et al., v. Exxon Mobil Corporation, et al. is awaiting a trial date expected “any day now,” according to lead plaintiff attorney Terrence Collingsworth. The complaint alleges that from 2000 through 2004, private military security forces employed by Exxon Mobil to protect its natural gas operations in Aceh province, Indonesia, committed the cited offenses against local villagers. From 1976 to 2005, Aceh was embroiled in a violent independence struggle. In the midst of the conflict, Exxon Mobil essentially privatized Indonesian soldiers, the complaint argues, despite their well-documented history of abusing Indonesian citizens, and aided and abetted the human rights violations through financial and other direct material support.”
“Exxon Mobil has fought the case for 15 years, denying not the human rights abuses, but rather that the company should be liable. A federal judge ruled, however, not only that the company must stand trial, but also that “sufficient evidence demonstrates” that Exxon Mobil corporate officers “exerted significant control” over the security decisions made by its Indonesian subsidiary.”
“A 2006 amendment and a 2007 complaint adding new plaintiffs allege that top Exxon Mobil officials “have been continuously involved” in the Indonesian operations and that “Exxon Mobil Corp. officials who have met with Indonesian officials include … Rex W. Tillerson, president of Exxon Mobil Corp.”
“It is just one of countless lawsuits, investigations and allegations confronting the company and its former CEO involving human rights abuses; unsafe working conditions; investor and public fraud; destruction of the environment, climate and public health; support of dictators; contributions to global instability and inequality; and being party to wars and conflict—in addition to decades of verdicts against the company—all of which will follow Tillerson into and haunt the next administration, should Congress permit him to join it.”
Rex Tillerson has carefully constructed a public veneer for Exxon Mobil as a law-abiding, spit and polish, model corporate citizen. The storyline goes that because it is so big and has so much money, Exxon Mobil can afford to do everything just right. That may be true in some cases, but more often, Exxon Mobil wields its vast influence and wealth in a manner more closely in line with the philosophy of its infamous founder, John D. Rockefeller, who once said, “The way to make money is to buy when blood is running in the streets.”
“Like generations of senior management before him, Rex Tillerson has spent his entire career at Exxon Mobil. Recruited fresh out of the University of Texas at Austin in 1975, Tillerson, who is known to colleagues as “T-Rex,” rose through the ranks, becoming senior vice president of Exxon Mobil in 2001, president and board member in 2004, and CEO and board chairman in 2006. His 2015 salary was $27.3 million, or about 500 times the median U.S. household income.”
“Exxon Mobil is a uniquely insular company, often referred to as a “cult.” In Steve Coll’s Private Empire: Exxon Mobil and American Power, executives of other oil companies describe Exxon Mobil as “ruthless, self-isolating and inscrutable … priggish Presbyterian deacons” who maintain “kind of a 1950s Southern religious culture. They’re all engineers, mostly white males, mostly from the South. … They shared a belief in the One Right Answer.”
“All of the top executives are imbued with the Exxon culture and regard themselves as carriers of the culture,” Neva Goodwin, great-granddaughter of John D. Rockefeller, told me in 2013.”
“Other than a stint as president of the Boy Scouts of America from 2010 to 2012, Tillerson does not publicly step outside his (CEO) role.
“Until required to change policy in 2014 to continue receiving federal government contracts, Exxon Mobil failed to meet a single Human Rights Campaign criterion for an LGBTQ-inclusive workplace. When I investigated Exxon Mobil’s LGBTQ polices for The Advocate in 2013, a gay former employee told me, “I feel that (Exxon is like that) racist old aunt, that racist grandfather figure, that person completely out of touch with the times.”
The word I hear most often to describe Exxon Mobil under Tillerson is “bully.”
It is a viewpoint shared by Exxon Mobil’s closest neighbors in its home state of Texas. “They are a major polluter that is breaking the law and threatening the health of millions of Texans and I think they are grossly irresponsible to their neighbors,” says Luke Metzger, director of Austin-based nonprofit Environment Texas. The group is suing Exxon Mobil for breaking clean air laws at its Baytown oil refinery and chemical plant more than 4,000 times between 2005 and 2010, pollution which Metzger alleges continues to this day in this largely Hispanic community near Houston.
In 2013, two workers died and 10 were injured with severe burns at Exxon Mobil’s Beaumont, Texas, refinery. The Department of Labor cited the company for numerous safety violations that resulted in the deadly flash fire.”
“The company is vehemently anti-union, says Brooks, and workers, whether unionized or not, are made to fear for their jobs if they speak out.”
“Within months of my conversation with Brooks in 2013, farmers in Basra, Iraq protested Exxon Mobil, demanding compensation for lost jobs and what they allege is stolen farmland; families in Mayflower, Ark., were forced from their homes when 210,000 gallons of heavy Canadian tar sands oil spilled from a ruptured Exxon Mobil pipeline; and locals in Eket, Nigeria protested Exxon Mobil in response to a November 2012 oil spill that they said wreaked havoc on coastal land and livelihoods.”
WHY HE WANTS THE JOB
“Exxon Mobil operates in some 200 countries and has current direct joint ventures with companies from China and Russia to Saudi Arabia. According to Citizens for Tax Justice, it also keeps a lot of its profits outside the United States, with a whopping $51 billion off-shored in both 2014 and 2015, and another $47 billion in 2013. On Forbes’ World’s most powerful people 2016, Tillerson clocks in at #24, while President Obama is #48.”
“So why does Rex Tillerson want a job that could easily be seen as a step down in power and influence? A partial answer is that Tillerson turns 65 in March and faced a forced retirement. He also has unfinished business, particularly in Russia, which he likely does not trust the Trump administration to handle. His personal interests and those of Exxon Mobil—often referred to as “Mother Exxon” by employees—have been seemingly one and the same for his entire adult life.”
“Rex Tillerson is leaving Exxon Mobil in far worse condition than when he took over.”
“Oil prices crashed in 2009, and have yet to recover. Exxon Mobil’s profits in 2015—though still a staggering $16 billion—were 65 percent less than 2008’s high, and less than half of what they were in 2014.”
“Tillerson owns some 600,000 shares of Exxon Mobil stock and was promised approximately 1.8 million more upon his retirement. In response to potentially insurmountable conflicts of interests as secretary of state, however, his golden parachute was altered one week prior to his scheduled confirmation hearing. Tillerson will sell his current stocks worth about $54 million (though valued at almost $25 less per share today than 2014) and convert the rest to $180 million in cash that cannot be invested in Exxon Mobil for 10 years.”
“Exxon Mobil is cash-poor and debt-ridden, such that, for the first time since the Great Depression, Standard & Poor’s stripped it of a AAA credit rating in April 2016, citing the “reserve-replacement ratio” as the company’s greatest challenge—that is, finding enough new oil reserves to replace that which it pumps from the ground.”
“The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating whether Exxon Mobil has been inflating the size of its oil reserves by counting reserves as “booked”—meaning planned and accessible for producing—when they should not be.”
“To increase its value, Exxon Mobil needs more oil. Fortunately for the company, it has the potential for a good deal more in Russia’s Arctic.”
“Between 2011 and 2013, after more than a decade of work, Tillerson signed cooperation agreements for 10 joint ventures with Russia’s state-controlled oil company Rosneft, including those in the Russian Arctic. The Financial Times reported in 2014, “Russia was going to be Exxon’s next mega-area. And the list of mega-areas in the world is very short.”
As a result, Exxon Mobil’s 63.7 million-acre Russian holdings are nearly five times larger than its second-largest holdings—its 14 million acres in the United States.
“Obama, however, did not see Russia in the same warm light. In 2014, the president imposed sanctions against Russia after it sent troops into Crimea. The sanctions permit some of Exxon Mobil’s projects, but none of its Arctic or other offshore exploration, not only halting these operations but also making it impossible for the company to book the potentially enormous reserves.”
“Exxon Mobil’s Russian Arctic holdings became even more valuable when, in late December, Obama joined Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in banning oil and gas activities in virtually the entire U.S.—and all of Canada’s—Arctic waters. Unlike the Russian sanctions, which were implemented with a presidential executive order that can be overturned by another such order, the drilling ban is more akin to the designation of a National Monument and would require an act of Congress to overrule.”
“According to Bloomberg, Tillerson made multiple personal visits to the White House since 2014 to discuss, among other things, Russian sanctions. Unable to budge Obama, Tillerson may now just get the job done himself, directing negotiations as secretary of state and advocating for Donald Trump to revoke the sanctions.”
CLIMATE “RISK” OR CLIMATE CHANGE?
January will be a busy month for Rex Tillerson. On January 19, he has been called to testify in a federal lawsuit brought by 21 young people alleging that the oil and gas industry has sought to both prevent the U.S. government from taking action to protect the environment from climate change and lock in a fossil-fuel-based national energy system with full knowledge of the extreme dangers it poses. Kelsey Cascadia Rose Juliana, et al. v. United States of America, et al. is before the U.S. District Court of Oregon.”
The suit stems from a 2016 investigation by InsideClimate News, as do the state and federal investigations into potential fraud perpetrated by Exxon Mobil against the public and its shareholders regarding what the company knew about climate change and when, and what it did with that information. A finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize, the investigation uncovered that Exxon’s own scientists confirmed in the 1970s that the burning of fossil fuels harms the climate. The company then chose to publicly deny the reality of climate change and finance the climate denialist movement (findings Exxon Mobil disputes).
Link to report:
Rex Tillerson Could Be America’s Most Dangerous Secretary of State Inthesetimes.com/features/rex_tillerson_exxon_trump_sec._of_state Jan 9, 2017