Rocket, Guardians of Freedom
13 January 2017
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held Rex Tillerson’s confirmation hearing, the nominee for Secretary of State, on Wednesday. Rex Tillerson, pictured above with Vladimir Putin, has a cozy relationship as with the Russian president. He is the former CEO of ExxonMobil, the largest oil company in the world, and received the Russian Order of Freedom from Putin in 2013 for signing deals with Russia’s state-owned Rosneft, marking the start of a partnership between ExxonnMobil and Russia to drill in the Arctic Sea.The Order of Freedom itself is not consequential or worrisome, but what it marks sends danger signals. Tillerson’s connections to the oil industry and Russia are significant additional conflicts of interest in the new administration. The president-elected has already demonstrated veneration for the authoritarian-regime Putin and Putin himself, which is an alarming departure from the previous policy of the Republican Party. Trump wants to establish closer relations with Russia, in complete disregard of the recent actions of the dictatorial regime, which has invaded and occupied Ukraine and helped prop up another dictator in Syria through military action. The nomination of Rex Tillerson only affirms the future administration’s determination to condone Russia’s aggressive actions around the world and undermine the strong response of the Obama Administration to Russia’s escalating behavior. The deal between ExxonMobil and Rosneft mentioned earlier was halted earlier because of sanctions imposed on Russia. The Secretary of State, as the head diplomat of the country, has a significant platform to advise the president to, say, lift sanctions on Russia, which would oil industry greatly, and only encourage Russia to take even more aggressive actions.
Throughout the confirmation hearing, Tillerson often deflected answering question by reflecting a need for more information, even with the most basic question types. Admittedly, he has no experience in world affairs, other than his business dealings as CEO of ExxonMobil, which is a little bit different from Secretary of State. He is either completely unprepared and unqualified to serve as Secretary of State, just as the person who nominated him, or he deflects questions in order to cover up views and positions that might compromise his nomination. He is not willing to make promises and commitments on tape and in front of senators that would be in the interests of the American people because he realizes that his own views and policies will revert those commitments and promises. Senator Marco Rubio, who has critiqued the Obama Administration for its weak response to the aggression of Russia, provided a hard line of questioning to the nominee. Tillerson would gave evasive answers. He would not commit to continuing existing sanctions on Russia. Maybe because sanctions harm his business interests. He would not commit to the new bipartisan legislature on the floor, which would sanction people involved in cyber attacks against the U.S. Maybe because the president-elect has benefited from the cyber-attacks conducted by Russia and has denied their involvement in spite of intelligence reports otherwise. He would not admit that Put is a war criminal for helping Assad stage attacks against civilians in Syria. He would not admit that Putin ordered the killing of dissidents. All of these acts are backed by evidence, and Rex Tillerson could not commit to any one of them because he and the president-elect have close ties to Russia and have an interest in undermining U.S. policy against Russia. If he can’t confirm that Putin does not kill dissidents, what next? Will he say, as Trump has said, the Russia is not in Ukraine, spouting nonsense from Russian state-media propaganda. Will he say that Russia’s occupation of Ukrainian Crimea was warranted? It is a dangerous time for American diplomacy when we align with our enemy’s interests and abandon countries that align with our interests. Hopefully, as he has hinted, Senator Rubio will not confirm Tillerson as Secretary of State, along with other Republican senators who are needed to sway the vote, such as McCain and Graham.
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