The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
7 Reasons Why Rex Tillerson Should Not Be America's Next Secretary of State
3. Exxon' Human Rights Abuses
Rex's human rights record is coming back to bite him. As Raymond C. Offenheiser, the president of Oxfam America writes, as "Exxon CEO, Mr. Tillerson worked closely with some of the world's longest standing dictatorships, where human suffering is most acute … Many of the tactics Exxon employed to secure profits under Tillerson's leadership are not only ethically questionable, they contradict American values of enabling democracy and combating corruption."
To give you just one example: As Antonia Juhasz brilliantly explains in In These Times: "When he appears in January before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee to be considered for U.S. Secretary of State, Exxon Mobil will be preparing to appear before a jury at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, just blocks away. There, the company will face 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 is "John Doe II," who according to the complaint was beaten and tortured by soldiers working for Exxon "using electricity all over his body, includ[ing] 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."
Exxon has fought the case for 15 years.
4. A Patriotic American or Putin's Puppet?
Again much has been written about Tillerson's links to Putin. All the indications are that Tillerson will be Putin's puppet in the U.S.; pushing for sanctions to be lifted which will benefit Putin and his old company Exxon.
Exxon is desperate to get into Russia's Arctic. As 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." Then came sanctions which Russia tried to flout. Despite sanctions, Tillerson sent an Exxon executive to a Russian business forum last year.
5. Other Sanctions Busting
Exxon did business with Iran, Syria and Sudan through a European subsidiary at the same time as these countries were under U.S. sanctions as state sponsors of terrorism.
6. Financial Conflicts of Interest
As I wrote about earlier this week, Tillerson has so many investments that he cannot possibly operate without a conflict of interest, if he becomes Secretary of State. He "will be a walking disaster zone waiting to happen."
Tillerson says he will divest from 156 different entities within 90 days too. Some conflicts will be avoided, but many will not.
7. No Experience as a Diplomat
Tillerson is the first Secretary of State to have no experience in the public sector which is seen as a first in modern U.S. history.
Numerous politicians and commentators have raised concerns: He may be great at doing oil deals, but "has no proven knowledge or regard for the norms and necessities that so much of our modern diplomatic and security efforts depend upon," said Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey.
"Mr. Tillerson has demonstrated he knows the corporate world and can put his shareholders' interests first, but can he be a respected Secretary of State that puts the national security interests of the American people first? It remains to be seen," US Senator for Maryland and ranking Democratic committee member Ben Cardin, also said last month.
Steve Coll, author of Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power, added: "Yet it is hard to imagine, after four decades at ExxonMobil and a decade leading the corporation, how Tillerson will suddenly develop respect and affection for the American diplomatic service he will now lead, or embrace a vision of America's place in the world that promotes ideals for their own sake, emphatically privileging national interests over private ones."
Indeed, as Raymond C. Offenheiser, the president of Oxfam America noted "Conducting business abroad is no substitute for a track record in strong and principled diplomacy for U.S. interests and values. We look forward to hearing Tillerson address how he would fill the gaps in his resume and explain how exactly an oilman becomes a statesman overnight."
Oilman or Statesman? Its time for the Senate to find out.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Oil Change International.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Pedro Biondi
Extinct in its habitat for at least three decades, the Alagoas curassow (Pauxi mitu) is now back in the jungle and facing a test of survival, thanks to the joint efforts of more than a dozen institutions to pull this pheasant-like bird back from the brink.
By Julia Conley
Sen. Elizabeth Warren expanded her vision for combating the climate crisis on Tuesday with the release of her Blue New Deal — a new component of the Green New Deal focusing on protecting and restoring the world's oceans after decades of pollution and industry-caused warming.
A judge in New York's Supreme Court sided with Exxon in a case that accused the fossil fuel giant of lying to investors about the true cost of the climate crisis. The judge did not absolve Exxon from its contribution to the climate crisis, but insisted that New York State failed to prove that the company intentionally defrauded investors, as NPR reported.
By Sharon Elber
You may have heard that giving a pet for Christmas is just a bad idea. Although many people believe this myth, according to the ASPCA, 86 percent of adopted pets given as gifts stay in their new homes. These success rates are actually slightly higher than average adoption/rehoming rates. So, if done well, giving an adopted pet as a Christmas gift can work out.