ExxonMobil CEO Rex TIllerson Reportedly Trump’s Pick For Secretary Of State

The head of the biggest energy company in the world is reportedly Donald Trump's pick for Secretary of State.

Rex Tillerson

A person whose name only entered the mix as a potential Secretary of State in the past several weeks has apparently skyrocketed to the top, and it’s raising more concerns about how the coming Trump Administration intends to handle the challenges posed by a resurgent and interventionist Russia:

President-elect Donald Trump is likely to select Rex Tillerson, the longtime CEO of ExxonMobil with deep ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, as his secretary of state, according to two people close to the presidential transition team.

Trump has engaged in an unusually public, weeks-long search that divided his top advisers to find the nation’s next top diplomat, meeting twice with former critic Mitt Romney and a host of other contenders, including Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Trump hailed Tillerson as a “world-class player” on Saturday and praised him as a skillful manager of one of the biggest companies on the global stage in a Fox News interview excerpt that will air in full on Sunday.

“To me, a great advantage is he knows many of the players and he knows them well. He does massive deals in Russia, he does massive deals for the company — not for himself — for the company,” Trump said.

One person close to the transition said Trump was now “certain” to select Tillerson while others cautioned that he is only the leading candidate. “Not done deal,” insisted another senior transition source. Other finalists have included Romney, Corker, retired Adm. James Stavridis, who met with Trump this week, and John Bolton, who two sources said was likelier to end up as the No. 2 official at State.

Trump’s transition team pushed back publicly on the initial report Saturday, from NBC News, that Trump had fully settled on Tillerson. “No announcements on Secretary of State until next week at the earliest,” tweeted Jason Miller, the communications director for the transition.

Earlier this month, however, Miller had tweeted that Trump had not made a decision on selecting retired Gen. James Mattis as his defense secretary after news reports that he had. Trump announced Mattis as his pick only hours later.


The Texas-born Tillerson, 64, has spent his entire professional life at Exxon, joining the company as an engineer in 1975 and becoming its chairman and CEO in 2006.

Tillerson’s days at Exxon were coming to an end whether or not he scored the secretary of state job. He’ll reach Exxon’s mandatory retirement age of 65 in March, and is expected to be replaced by Exxon veteran Darren Woods. Tillerson was paid $27.3 million last year and owns shares in Exxon worth more than $160 million.

Tillerson’s name has been in the mix of potential name for about the past two weeks but, unlike potential candidates such as Romney, Corker, and Giuliani, there was no indication that he had met personally with Trump so it was hard to judge if the addition of his name to the mix was an indication that he was a serious candidate or whether it was intended as a diversion from where the President-Elect was actually headed, a common tactic in processes such like these. In the meantime, we’ve seen Trump meet with Corker at least once, and with Romney twice, and the suggestion, now withdrawn, that he had settled on Giuliani as his Secretary of State. The Trump transition team, meanwhile, is saying that no choice has been made and that there is currently no immediate plan to announce a choice in the near future, although that could obviously change on a moments notice. In any case, one presumes that we’ll have an announcement about a nominee sometime before the Christmas holiday.

As for Tillerson himself, I must admit to not really knowing enough about him to comment sufficiently. His position as CEO of a major energy company obviously means that he has experience dealing with some of the biggest issues that would face a Secretary of State in the coming years, albeit from the point of view of a businessman rather than someone concerned with national security, and that he likely has a very good working knowledge of many of the world’s hotspots, including the Middle East, Russia, and China’s moves to expand its territory, and it’s oil and gas claims, in the South China Sea. From that perspective, Tillerson could very well be well-suited to the position of Secretary of State notwithstanding the lack of real foreign policy experience, and lord knows that our recent history of appointing “experts” to the position, dating back to at least 2001, has produced less than ideal results. In Tillerson’s case, though, that business experience could prove to be problematic:

Tillerson’s emergence as Trump’s likely choice comes less than 24 hours after a bombshell report that the assessment of the Central Intelligence Agency was that Russia intervened in the 2016 American presidential election by hacking into the emails of the Democratic National Committee, and one of Clinton’s top advisers, in an effort to boost Trump.

Trump’s transition team dismissed that report in an unusually caustic prepared statement: “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.”

But Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike expressed concern. “Russia is trying to break the back of democracies — and democratic movements — all over the world,” tweeted Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R-S.C.) on Saturday.

As head of ExxonMobil, the biggest U.S. oil producer and one of the largest corporations in the world, Tillerson oversees a sprawling operation that stretches across dozens of countries, which could raise questions about whether he can separate himself from the business interests of his company.


Tillerson ties to Russia and Putin stretch back to the 1990s, and he has been critical of the U.S. sanctions imposed in 2014 that have constrained Exxon’s work in the country. Russia is one of the top three oil producers in the world, along with Saudi Arabia and the United States.

In 2011, Tillerson joined Putin at his vacation home to sign a lucrative deal that allowed Exxon to explore oil fields in Russia’s Arctic. In exchange, state-controlled oil company OAO Rosneft was allowed for the first time to acquire ownership stakes in Exxon projects in the United States. Putin later awarded Tillerson with the “Order of friendship,” one of Russia’s highest honors, for the company’s “big contribution to developing cooperation in the energy sector.”

Tillerson made waves in 2014 when he spoke at an energy summit in Moscow alongside Igor Sechin, a Rosneft executive and close confidant of Putin who has been sanctioned by the Treasury Department.

Tillerson’s ties with Russia in general, and Vladimir Putin in particular, are exceedingly concerning given the allegations regarding potential the potential attempt by Russia and/or private actors allied with Russia attempted to influence the 2016 elections by hacking into the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee and release information selectively in an effort to help Donald Trump win the election. Even without those allegations, though, a Secretary of State with close ties to an adversarial foreign leader would be of concern in any case. For one thing, even though he would be stepping down as CEO of Exxon/Mobil, one has to wonder whether Tillerson’s views of Russia have been skewed such that they are less likely to question Russian motives for fear of antagonizing them. Second, there’s an obvious question of what kind of dealings Tillerson has had with Putin and his cronies both inside and outside the Russian government and whether he would be personally compromised by any of those dealings. Finally, of course, there’s the question of just how much influence having yet another person who has expressed sympathies for Russia in general, and Putin in particular, will have over American policy in the event of the inevitable challenge from Putin that Trump is likely to face sometime early in his first term in office.

As a result, even before he is officially named, Tillerson’s potential appointment is raising concerns with some Senators:

Donald Trump’s leading candidate for secretary of state, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, would accelerate the president-elect’s collision course with Congress over his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and raise new questions about Putin’s role in the election.

Tillerson, whom Trump officials now call the front-runner for America’s top diplomatic job, has spent hours with Putin negotiating billions of dollars in Russian oil projects, and is believed to be on friendlier terms with the Russian autocrat than all but a handful of Americans. He has also been critical of U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia since 2014.

The potential selection of a Putin friend for the critical post is raising alarm in both parties that Trump intends to act on his campaign talk of refashioning a U.S.-Russian relationship now at its most adversarial point since the end of the Cold War.

Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham are likely to mount aggressive opposition to Tillerson, according to sources familiar with their thinking.

“I don’t know what Mr. Tillerson’s relationship with Vladimir Putin was,” McCain said in a Saturday interview with Fox News. “But I’ll tell you it is a matter of concern to me.”

On Friday, McCain’s former longtime chief of staff, Mark Salter, tweeted that Tillerson would “sell out NATO for [Russian] oil and his pal, Vlad. Should be a rough confirmation hearing, and a no vote on the Senate floor.”

Democrats are also pledging a rough path to confirmation.

“The Putin relationship will be a major focus” of any Tillerson confirmation hearings, said a Senate Democratic aide. “Tillerson and the company opposed sanctions efforts on Russia, he has received an award from Putin, and has done extensive oil business generally in the country,” the aide said.

In a Saturday afternoon statement, a Democratic National Committee spokesman called Trump’s presumed choice of Tillerson “outrageous,” calling it “another victory for Vladimir Putin, who interfered in our election to help elect Trump and now has a close ally with no foreign policy experience serving as America’s top diplomat.”

Tillerson’s rising stock at Trump Tower comes at a particularly volatile moment. On Friday, U.S. officials disclosed that the CIA has concluded Putin’s government sought to influence the November presidential election in Trump’s favor. On Friday night, Trump’s office issued a defiant statement saying that U.S. intelligence officials are “the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction” and that it’s “time to move on.”

But Democrats and many Republicans are not ready to do so. Also on Friday, President Barack Obama’s homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco, said that Obama has ordered an intelligence review of election-related Russian hacking. The findings of that report could fuel planned GOP hearings on Russian cyber activities. Incoming Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer is also demanding bipartisan congressional action on the issue early next month, POLITICO reported Saturday.

“[I]f they’re able to disrupt elections, then it’s a national security issue, obviously,” McCain told reporters on Friday. He has been the most outspoken critic of a potential thaw with Russia, issuing a statement days after last month’s election warning that “the price of another ‘reset'” with Russia “is unacceptable.” (Obama and his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, pursued a Russia “reset” policy in his first term, though his counterpart at the time was not Putin but then-Russian President Dimitri Medvedev.)

A confirmation hearing for Tillerson would surely involve tough questions about his connection to Putin, who awarded Tillerson and several other energy executives an Order of Friendship medal in 2012.

“I agree, as you point out, that nothing strengthens relationships between countries better than business enterprise,” Tillerson told Putin during a June 2012 meeting at an oil refinery on Russia’s Black Sea coast.

Western sanctions on Moscow, imposed as punishment for Putin’s annexation of Crimea and his support for a pro-Russian insurgency in Ukraine’s east, have hit ExxonMobil hard. Tillerson, who became the company’s CEO in 2006 after starting his career as a production engineer there in 1975, signed agreements with Moscow to explore or drill in Siberia, the Black Sea and the Russian Arctic.

The sanctions have halted Exxon projects in the country, including a $700 million joint venture with the Russian oil giant Rosneft to drill in the Arctic Kara Sea. In a 2015 Securities and Exchange Commission filing, the company estimated its maximum potential losses due to Western sanctions at $1 billion.

Tillerson is hardly the only Western executive to do business with Putin, whose country is one of the world’s largest energy exporters. But at least one of Exxon’s major deals with Moscow was sealed after Putin’s 2014 seizure of Crimea began a new period of hostility with Washington.

That’s why Tillerson could face hard questions from several GOP Russia hawks who sit on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which must vote to advance any secretary of state nomination to the full Senate. They include Florida’s Marco Rubio, who has called Putin “a gangster and a thug”; Wyoming’s John Barrasso, who has complained of Putin’s “belligerence”; and Johnny Isakson of Georgia, who said in October that the U.S. “should really have physically gone in” to Ukraine to defend it from Russian aggression.

Marco Rubio is also being critical of the possibility of a Tilleron pick:

All of this promises to make any confirmation hearings for Tillerson among the most contentious of any of Trump’s nominees so far. In the end, it’s unlikely that opponents would be able to block confirmation, but it’s not impossible. Republicans will have just a three-seat majority in the Senate beginning in January, meaning that the defection of more four or more Republicans could mean the defeat of his nomination. The last time a Cabinet appointment by an incoming nominee failed to win confirmation was in 1989 when George H.W. Bush’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, former Texas Senator John Tower, was rejected due to allegations regarding his abuse of alcohol while in office and serious questions about whether he had been sufficiently treated for that problem. There have been subsequent nominees whose nominations likely would have been rejected had they faced a vote, but they were withdrawn from contention prior to a floor vote. Whether a Tillerson might suffer a similar fate will depend very much on what happens in confirmation hearings.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, National Security, Politicians, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook


  1. KM says:

    So Mitt – what’s it like to play the whore and not even find the money on the dresser next morning?

    Seriously though, I hope it was worth your self-respect to realize what a disaster this Presidency is going to be. Run by an absolute egoist who paraded you around for the cameras, made you debase yourself for a shot at a job you’re a hundred times more qualified for then he is and dumped for the next shiny object. This could have been your direct boss for the next 4 years, man. Be very very grateful you weren’t chosen to be the international face of this dumpster fire. It’s going to be bad enough living here…

  2. Tony W says:

    Across this entire administration the foxes will be in charge of the hen house. What could go wrong?

  3. James Pearce says:

    That’s why Tillerson could face hard questions from several GOP Russia hawks who sit on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

    Ha! “Hard questions.” That’ll get him…

  4. Pch101 says:

    Make Russia Great Again.

  5. Slugger says:

    A couple of years ago when prominent Republicans were comparing Obama to Putin I thought that they were just engaged in some of the senseless Obama bashing like criticism of putting mustard on a hamburger and criticizing his wife for advocating that kids eat vegetables. I did not realize that they actually meant to put people with close ties to him into the highest positions in our government. I guess that I was naive.
    I do wonder how the Trump administration plans to handle some inevitable conflicts. In the Middle East we will face a conflict between the desires of Mr. Putin and Mr. Netanyahu. Perhaps in such a standoff we can look to America’s interests as a tie breaker.

  6. Lit3Bolt says:

    Kleptocracy now, Kleptocracy in the future, Kleptocracy forever!

  7. C. Clavin says:

    It’s in the best interest of Trump, Putin, and Tillerson to have oil prices increase dramatically.
    Kiss $2.20 gas good-bye.
    I’m sure all the real ‘Muricans are OK with that.

  8. michael reynolds says:

    Mitch McConnell just slithered out from under his rock to pretend that he’s always wanted an investigation of Russian meddling. Just off camera: McCain and Graham holding pitchforks.

  9. MBunge says:

    Given all this concern over Russia, it’s a shame there wasn’t a major political figure who was sounding the alarm about Putin years ago. You know, like someone running for President in 2012. I’m sure such a person would have been taken very seriously and not dismissed as some sort of loon.


  10. James Pearce says:

    McConnell is doing a press conference right now talking about how the Russians are not our friends. I mean, yes, thank you for clarifying that, Mitch.

  11. michael reynolds says:


    Oh cut the crap. Romney insisted Putin was Threat #1, most of us said no, he’s threat #2, ISIS is #1.

    That’s it.

    Now, let’s talk about the fact that the White House will be Kremlin-on-the-Potomac, and that is not in any way, shape or form, the fault of anyone but Trump and his voters.

  12. Pch101 says:

    Bunge’s straw man arguments must sound quite compelling in his mother’s basement.

  13. Ratufa says:

    Look at the positive side: Rex TIllerson seems like relatively sane member of the Republican business class. Given that his boss is Trump, and that John Bolton is rumored to be the next deputy Secretary of State, he may be one of the more rational people on Trump’s foreign policy team.

  14. Lit3Bolt says:


    Rational in the Ayn Rand sense more likely. Which is ideological incompatible with the ideals of diplomacy or service.

    Tillerson knows Putin and has a better relationship with him than any American currently alive.

    This is like making Edward Snowden Secretary of State. At this point we can probably conclude our national security will be compromised for the foreseeable future and perhaps permanently. By the end of Trump’s term, Putin will have every American’s SSN and tax return, as well as access to our diplomatic assets and military secrets.

  15. cian says:

    Too dumb to breathe. That’s America at the moment. We’ve been taken to the cleaners by Russia and no matter what the CIA report shows, it’s all win-win for Putin- Trump stays and America’s institutions are further weakened in the eyes of at least 50% of its people. Arguing whether Putin wanted Trump to win or just wanted to damage Clinton is beside the point. Russia wants to destabilise America, plain and simple, to damage us in the eyes of the rest of the free world who look to the United States for guidance. Having batshit crazies Russia once played footsy with suddenly in positions of real power is a bonus, but the real goal is a weak, mixed up, at war with itself America and he has already achieved that. There is no winding this clock back, it is ticking steadily towards midnight and the bomb it has attached itself to was primed a long time ago by a republican party who decided they would rather see America fail than Obama succeed.

  16. SKI says:

    Tillerson … owns shares in Exxon worth more than $160 million.

    Want to bet whether he sells all his stock interests?

    Or even if he can given the vesting schedule of options he likely holds as CEO?

  17. michael reynolds says:


    There is no up-side. Anyone who takes Trump’s money is Trump’s servant. No one with a sense of self-preservation or dignity or morality would work for this fascist party clown except as an act of patriotic self-sacrifice.

  18. michael reynolds says:

    BTW, sorry to play copy editor, but the Tillerson in the headline is misspelled – ‘l’ in lieu of ‘i’.

  19. Sleeping Dog says:

    It would be interesting to know who in Trump’s circle whispered Tillerson’s name and how that person became aware of Tillerson?

  20. Ratufa says:

    @michael reynolds:

    We’ll have to see what he’s actually like. But, he’s not John Bolton, and he doesn’t have a history of being a hawkish loon. I’m reluctant to criticize relatively sane people just because they are working for Trump, since Trump needs sane advice.That’s not because I want Trumpism to succeed, but because I’d prefer it didn’t fail because of another Iraq or an even worse fiasco in, terms of human lives and suffering and cost.

  21. michael reynolds says:

    I hear that. But I don’t think this guy is even remotely qualified, and he would not have made the list at all were he not super-rich and in bed with Putin.

    Trump is going to need a war, either foreign or domestic. He has zero support beyond his base, and both his competence and legitimacy are very questionable. He’ll need a war to rally support, because if he doesn’t he’s going to be politically impotent within months.

    Is Tillerson the guy best qualified to get us out of the stupid Taiwan mess Trump’s already blundered into? Of course not. His only ‘diplomatic’ experience is cutting profitable deals with the corrupt Russian thug-in-chief.

  22. Dixiengineer says:

    @KM: It is funny to listen to the cry baby liberals that have finally been told no. There is no place for the moral bankruptcy the liberals have tried to impose on this country; not to mention the financial bankruptcy of our nation. It is time that we stand up, pay up and become a world power again. We owe it to our children and the rest of the world, they need us to be strong too. I was raised to believe you work for what you want and if you do not get it you work harder the next time. We have to pay off our debit and I believe President Trump’s cabinet selections will position us for putting America and Americans first. Re-build our government so that we can be proud to serve and call ourselves Americans again. I am a little ashamed that currently we can not balance a check book and the last time we won a war was 1945, WWII. I say cheers to Trump! Let’s get industrious, smarter, harder working and tough again.

  23. Pch101 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I seriously doubt that Trump is going to start a war, either deliberately or inadvertently.

    What I would expect is for him to talk the US into some embarrassing situations. He just doesn’t know when to shut up, and he’s going to be in for a surprise if he believes that he scam the foreign diplomatic corps in the way that he has hoodwinked gullible widow-and-orphan real estate investors or Trump “University” students.

  24. @Doug:

    His position as CEO of a major energy company obviously means that he has experience dealing with some of the biggest issues that would face a Secretary of State in the coming years,

    I have some doubts about this assessment. He has been exposed to various parts of the world and their business circumstances, but that is a far cry from the needed experience for the position.

  25. C. Clavin says:


    The Dixiengineer must work on a toy train.

  26. grumpy realist says:

    @Dixiengineer: And how are you planning to pay for all of this extra-wonderful goodness? Oh, I guess you’ll be happy with getting rid of Medicare and Social Security, right?

    (Have fun buying reasonable health insurance for anything less than a cartload of money when you’re 70, by the way. That is, if you can get it at all.)

  27. KM says:

    @Dixiengineer :
    I point out Trump just publicly and rather deliberately embarrassed Romney with his false wooing and you go off on a liberals-suck-woot-Trump rant. Ask yourself: If Tillerson is such a good pick, where all the schmoozing in front of the cameras? The Tweets about what a great guy he is? Trumps’ done it to everyone he decided to kick to the curb so it’s no coincidence.

    I stand by my point – Mitt dodge a bullet being associated with this kind of moronic childishness. Any boss willing to make you look bad in public for whatever reason is a boss you don’t want to work for.

  28. michael reynolds says:


    We’ve had some really close brushes with serious war since the end of WW2, chief among them the Cuban Missile Crisis, but including as well the Berlin blockade and airlift, the U2 incident (Powers, not Bono,) and the 73 Egypt-Israel war. In all cases we did not intend to go to war, and neither did the other side, any more than the world intended to go to war in 1914.

    We’ve been saved by good diplomacy, by experienced hands in positions of power. Minus those experienced, steady hands we’d probably just now be digging Florida out from under the radioactive waste.

    The next-to-last war we got into was started by terrorists flying planes into buildings, and 15 years later we are still in it. No one woke up one morning and said, “Let’s invade Afghanistan,” it happened without conscious intent.

    He’ll start a war. He has to. He won’t be validated in his own mind unless he does. Given that he’s Putin’s buttboy I’d expect it to be domestic – to invent and inflate some domestic situation into harsh quasi-legal repression domestically.

    But a man stupid enough to throw Taiwan on the table as a bargaining chip is perfectly capable of Tweeting his way into an actual shooting war in the Taiwan strait. And when we don’t do as well as we expect to in that fight, and we lose a sub or even an aircraft carrier, then what? Trump backs down?

  29. michael reynolds says:


    You seem not to have downloaded the latest brain software update from Breitbart. Trump is attacking pentagon spending.

    Please update your software and come right back and like a good little Trumpbot say the exact opposite of what you said above. We’ll wait.

  30. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Can you imagine Trump backing down? This is a man who goes ballistic after an SNL sketch.

  31. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: This is also a man who is well experienced in losing. He has filed for bankruptcy for his businesses how many times? I think it will depend on his mood — is he cutting his losses like smart man, or is he failing like a short fingered boy?

    I mean, it sucks to be Taiwan when Trump declares diplomatic bankruptcy and abandons them, but Trump abandons people and businesses all the time. Perhaps Taiwan is destined to be the first of our allies he humiliates and destroys?

  32. CSK says:


    I see your point, but Trump has always portrayed his flops as yuge successes, and the Trumpkins have bought this. A disaster on an international stage might be a bit harder to prettify.

    He’ll fail like a short-fingered boy.

  33. Davebo says:

    @C. Clavin:

    From your lips to God’s ears. May be the only upside of this horrific administration.

  34. C. Clavin says:

    Expensive gas is an upside?
    I’m not a big fan of fossil fuels…and I do more than most to limit my consumption…but I never liked Bushes $4.00 gas.

  35. Pch101 says:


    So in summary, we should do stupid s**t because it makes right-wingers feel like bad asses, even after it fails spectacularly and blows up in our faces.

    And you wonder why I have zero faith in conservatives.

  36. CSK says:


    Apparently Roger Stone told Alex Jones (there’s a pair for you) that Trump did indeed jerk Romney around in order to torture him. He wanted payback for Romney calling him a fraud, a phony, and a conman.

  37. Cian says:


    SO there is something to like about Trump after all.

  38. James Pearce says:


    He wanted payback for Romney calling him a fraud, a phony, and a conman.

    The full quote is much, much worse:

    Donald Trump was interviewing Mitt Romney for Secretary of State in order to torture him, to toy with him. And given the history, that’s completely understandable. Mitt Romney crossed a line. He didn’t just oppose Trump, which is his democratic right, he called him a phony and a fraud. And a con man. And that’s not the kind of man you want as Secretary of State.


    So if you accurately identify Donald Trump as a phony and a fraud and a con man, you’re not fit to be Sec of State.

    But toying with a guy for some cheap payback, totally presidential…..

  39. Pch101 says:


    It makes Trump seem petty while making Romney seem too good for the job.

    This is the sort of lame drama that will fire up the Breitbart crowd as it provides a tangible reminder for establishment Republicans that they have good cause to mistrust Trump and to not give him the benefit of the doubt. On the whole, a stupid remark.

  40. CSK says:

    @James Pearce:

    Yeah, I know. This is Trump, the next president of the United States. A vindictive paranoiac with a long, long list of people he’s going to punish for not being sufficiently in awe of him.

  41. CSK says:

    Trump just Tweeted that he’d announce his pick for SOS tomorrow.

  42. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Dixiengineer: A classic case of self-delusion. When are you people going to wake up and declare war on your own ignorance?

  43. MBunge says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Historical revisionism at its finest. It is flatly a lie that everybody thought Romney was merely exaggerating the importance of America’s #2 geopolitical enemy. I know that. You know that. The inability to simply admit that is just another symptom of the problem that brought us Trump in the first place.

    And by the way, does everybody understand that the guy nominated to be ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, has a personal friendship with the current head guy over there which makes Putin and Tillerson look like mortal enemies? But no one worries about that. No one worries that Branstad might push for policies that benefit the industries of Iowa at the expense of the national interest. Indeed, if Branstad had been picked as Secretary of State, his ties to China would be ackowledged as his primary qualification by the exact same people casting doubt on Tillerson.

    And also by the way, if the interests of Exxon are so much in conflict with the interests of the United States…shouldn’t we be more concerned with the company itself? Because the guy who replaces Tillerson is going to pursue those exact same interests. Shouldn’t we, you know, be trying to severely limit the ability of Exxon to try and influence US policy and law for its own benefit?

    And now that I’d think of it, I’d really like an explanation of how ISIS is a greater geopolitical threat than Russia, particularly given that Russia is a billion times more powerful around the world and is not run by deranged fanatics. ISIS is certainly a more immediate physical threat but that’s only a tiny sliver of the geopolitical picture. Is not the close relationship between a corrupt global power and an amoral transnational corporation with immense influence on the US economy and politics slightly more worrisome than the goatherds currently getting their asses kicked in Syria?


  44. al-Ameda says:


    It is funny to listen to the cry baby liberals that have finally been told no.

    I say cheers to Trump! Let’s get industrious, smarter, harder working and tough again.

    I guess that means that Republicans won’t be shutting down the federal government multiple times again anytime soon?

  45. michael reynolds says:


    It is flatly a lie that everybody thought Romney was merely exaggerating the importance of America’s #2 geopolitical enemy.

    I’ve got news for you, Russia is still not our biggest geopolitical problem. Russia is Italy with nuclear weapons. It is extraordinarily vulnerable – so long as NATO and the west stay strong and united. In geopolitical terms you could easily see Russia as a big, tasty meatloaf just waiting for someone (China) to slice off a chunk.

    The current freak-out is not ‘OMG it turns out the Russians really are 10 feet tall!” It’s, “They meddled in our election, we need to find a way to punish them.” Which would not be much of a problem if Orangina wasn’t publicly giving Putin handjobs.

    It’s one of the reasons Trump is such a humiliation to this country. He’s not even on his knees to someone serious like Xi Jinping, he’s servicing a two-bit thug with a failing economy and a military he can’t afford.

    And now that I’d think of it, I’d really like an explanation of how ISIS is a greater geopolitical threat than Russia

    Easy. ISIS has the capacity to radicalize and destabilize governments we’d prefer not to see destabilized: Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt. ISIS is a sort of infection – they have an ideology that finds resonance in the MENA and has a demonstrated capacity to attack western targets. Those attacks radicalize their targets – much of Europe, obviously, threatening liberal democratic governments there with nativist, isolationist backlash that could fragment the EU and even NATO.

    The worst we can expect of Russia is a move in the Baltics. The worst we can expect of ISIS is attacks sufficient to deepen the fractures in the west and undermine western values, as well as perhaps pushing Egypt over the edge which would unleash a refugee crisis that would make Syria look like a frat party. Or they could destabilize Pakistan which is a nuclear power. Or the KSA at which point the middle east probably just comes apart.

    So, yes Russia has nukes but it has nothing else. No money. No ideology. And a rotten geographical position. Asian Russia is vulnerable as hell. And his navy remains a joke. It is eminently manageable – or would be. . .

  46. Pch101 says:

    I would think that the immediate threat that ISIS has posed to the government of George W. Bush’s Project for a New Iraq and said government’s inability to defend itself against the Sunni terrorists would make it obvious why ISIS poses a greater immediate problem than Putin’s Russia.

    Over the long run, the Chinese with their large population, rearmament efforts and imperial nostalgia pose a greater threat than Russia, so the Russians aren’t number one on that hit parade, either.

    None of that makes the Russians terrific, but there are bigger fish to fry.

    This stuff shouldn’t be that hard to figure out for anyone who has a modest knowledge of game theory and doesn’t get his news from the hard right wingnut media.

  47. dxq says:

    Yeah, I know. This is Trump, the next president of the United States. A vindictive paranoiac with a long, long list of people he’s going to punish for not being sufficiently in awe of him.

    And now he’ll have the CIA, FBI, and NSA at his disposal. Fantastic.

  48. DrDaveT says:


    And now he’ll have the CIA, FBI, and NSA at his disposal.

    No, he won’t.

    This is the Republican myth about the Executive branch — that they are all the lackeys of whatever President happens to be serving. It wasn’t true of Obama any more than it was true of W. And that’s a good thing, because the integrity of bureaucrats is the only thing standing between us and complete government meltdown at the moment.