No ideology but efficiency

Dexter Filkins at the New Yorker looks at Tillerson’s demolition of the State Department.

In only ten months, Tillerson, the former C.E.O. of ExxonMobil, has presided over the near-dismantling of America’s diplomatic corps, chasing out hundreds of State Department employees and scaling back the country’s engagement with the world. Most alarming has been the departure of dozens of the foreign service’s most senior officials—men and women who had spent their careers living and working abroad, who speak several languages, and who are experts in their fields. As I detailed in my recent Profile of Tillerson, he came into the job proposing to cut the State Department’s budget by a third, with plans to eliminate more than a thousand jobs and dramatically scale back the already measly sums America spends on refugees, democracy promotion, women’s rights, and the prevention of H.I.V. At the same time, the Trump Administration was proposing to dramatically increase spending on defense—by fifty-eight billion dollars, an amount that is larger than the State Department’s entire budget.

It’s what stupid people would do, I suppose – miss the point of diplomacy altogether, and go all out for the loud bangs.

Tillerson’s vision was of a vastly diminished role for America in the world, and a more militarized one.

As far as I could gather, Tillerson doesn’t have much of an ideology, apart from efficiency. As the C.E.O. of Exxon, Tillerson showed himself willing to make deals with any regime or any dictator, no matter how noxious the human-rights record or how corrupt, in order to secure more oil. He shared caviar with Vladimir Putin in New York, lobbied to undo sanctions against Iran, and set up subsidiaries that did business with Syria, Iran, and Sudan, whose regimes were all under American sanctions. When asked about these decisions, Tillerson did not seem much troubled by doing deals that were wildly at odds with his country’s foreign policy; Exxon, which operates in nearly as many countries as the State Department, was too important for that. “I’m not here to represent the United States government’s interest,’’ he told an audience in Texas while still at Exxon. “I’m not here to defend it, nor here to criticize it. That’s not what I do. I’m a businessman.”

Neoliberalism in a nutshell. “I have no concern with anything but higher profits for my company. I am an empty suit.”

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