Yuri Rogulev: "Rex Tillerson will become US Secretary independent from lobbyists"
Yesterday, US President-elect Donald Trump decided on his candidate for Secretary of State: he sees the head of oil and gas giant ExxonMobil Rex Tillerson as the head of American diplomacy. He is known for extensive business connections in major countries around the world, including in Russia. The director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Center for the Study of the US at the Moscow State University Yuri Rogulev discussed reasosns and consequnces of this choice in an interview with Vestnik Kavkaza.
- What are the reasons for Trump's decision to choose the head of oil and gas giant as the head of US diplomacy?
- One of the reasons is that this person does not depend on current political elite. Tillerson meets this criteria. He is independent in a sense that he is the head of largest American company and he will be free from the influence of various lobbyist structures. In addition, Rex Tillerson is a man with a huge experience. His company has businesses in 50 countries, and it requires consideration of geopolitical factors, he deals with different problems at the highest level, so he knows many politicians personally. He has experience of state service both in CIA and Pentagon, so he's an experienced person, recommended by such people as Condoleezza Rice and Jim Baker. Finally, I think Trump and Tillerson have pretty close, if not the same views on political situation in the US, the economy and foreign policy. As a result, it will be more or less comfortable for president-elect to work with the head of ExxonMobil.
- Will Trump be able to make him State Secretary and who opposes Tillerson's candidature?
- I think he'll do it. Of course, there will be many debates regarding Tillerson's candidature, but overall, there are no significant problems that would hinder his appointment as Secretary of State. Congress looks at this kind of appointments more or less favorably. The most important thing for Trump is to worked with republicans, so that they would not protest at the last moment. If there will be no fight within the Republican Party, then everything will go smoothly. On the other hand, even if there are problems, the vote will take place as usual: first it will be considered at the Senate Committee, then in the Senate itself, so I think this appointment will be made despite all debates and opponents.
- Will Tillerson's appointment affect US foreign policy?
- It's too early to say anything. There is a lot of time until not just Tillerson's appointment, but also Trump's inauguration. They will declare their foreign policy goals only after that. Of course, Tillerson will be treated as a face of the team and overall, he will work in the direction set by the president. So right now we are waiting not just for words, but for the new president to announce actions, measures and steps that he will take.
- Is this appointment convenient for Russia?
- We should not consider Rex Tillerson as pro-Russian candidate, just like we should not consider Donald Trump as pro-Russian US President. They are certainly not pro-Russian figures. Tillerson worked and works in Russia, he knows our country, he visited it many times, he has a lot of contacts here, but it hardly means anything, he is not working for the Order of Friendship, but for the sake of high profits. His work proved the possibility of mutually beneficial cooperation with Russia, which could bring high income. This is a positive factor, which probably will have an impact on his policy, but it's not the main factor. After all, new Secretary of State will protect US interests and pursue an pro-American, not pro-Russian policy.