Steve Coll on Rex Tillerson

So Rex Tillerson, ExxonMobil chief executive, has finally been announced as Donald Trump’s nomination for Secretary of State. It feels a very “Trumpian” pick – a business giant known for his deal making but with no political experience – and he will blend easily into a cabinet of billionaires and generals.

Steve Coll, who has written what sounds an absorbing account of ExxonMobil, has this to say about him on The New Yorker website

In public appearances, he comes across as sophisticated, yet his life is rooted in environments that are fundamentally nostalgic for imagined midcentury virtues and for the days when burning fossil fuels did not threaten to trigger catastrophic climate change. Tillerson once listed his favorite book as “Atlas Shrugged,” Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel that has become a touchstone for libertarians and promoters of unbridled capitalism. Compared to the records of some of the other people around Trump, Tillerson’s is at least one of professional integrity; Exxon is a ruthless and unusually aggressive corporation, but it is also rule-bound, has built up a relatively strong safety record, and has avoided problems such as prosecutions under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, even though it operates in many countries that are rife with corruption.

As well as a nice line on ExxonMobil’s foreign policy often being more important than the State Department’s…


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