Nel's New Day

August 1, 2017

U.S. No Longer ‘Just,’ ‘Democratic’

Filed under: Foreign policy — trp2011 @ 11:04 PM
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In less than 200 days, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has changed life for the people of the United States. According to DDT, police brutality is a good thing, torture is better, and dictators who murder people for their own benefits are to be emulated. Voting should be taken from anyone suspected of casting votes against Republicans, and pollution is positive if it helps business. War is wonderful, even if the U.S. kills civilians, because it makes money for the wealthy. Health care is only for the wealthy, and nonwhite people are disgusting. People are disposable, and only the richest have any value. Ethics and values are worthless. The president is the CEO of the nation with no attention to Congress or the Supreme Court—unless they agree with the CEO. The nation has become a family business run by DDT and his children.

 (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

DDT’s personal Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is following DDT’s opposition to democracy, justice, and human rights.

The past mission of Tillerson’s agency:

“The Department’s mission is to shape and sustain a peaceful, prosperous, just, and democratic world and foster conditions for stability and progress for the benefit of the American people and people everywhere.

“This mission is shared with the USAID, ensuring we have a common path forward in partnership as we invest in the shared security and prosperity that will ultimately better prepare us for the challenges of tomorrow.”

That mission is being redefined, per Tillerson’s directions. The draft of a new mission:

 “We promote the security, prosperity and interests of the American people globally.”

The draft statement on ambition:

“The American people thrive in a peaceful and interconnected world that is free, resilient and prosperous.”

The words “just” and “democratic” have disappeared from desired outcomes, but “prosperous” for just “American people” stays.

Not everyone reads mission statements, but this draft, if put into effect, shows the world that the United States no longer stands for justice and democracy. It would bring the U.S. far closer to Russia and other countries run by dictators. Tom Malinowski, former assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, said about Tillerson’s mission statement draft:

“It’s a worldview similar to that of Putin, who also thinks that great powers should focus exclusively on self protection and enrichment, rather than promoting democracy. By removing all reference to universal values and the common good it removes any reason for people outside the United States to support our foreign-policy.”

Tillerson may be intending to further reduce the staff at the State Department: hundreds of officials work on congressionally funded programs meant to promote democracy and justice abroad.

When speaking about Cuba or Venezuela, DDT promotes democracy. In his inauguration speech, however, he said:

“We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to follow.”

In his speech in Saudi Arabia during his May visit, DDT went farther when he said that his inauguration speech promised that the U.S. would “outstretch our hands in the spirit of cooperation and trust.” That was after he told his audience that Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have “shared interests and values.” He may have been referring to his personal desire to control the media in the U.S. through violence and create a dictatorship in which wealthy leadership controls legislative, executive, and judicial functions. As Wilbur Ross marveled during the visit, no one protests in Saudi Arabia—because they are either imprisoned or killed.

Tillerson is following earlier statements. His first speech to his State Department employees stated that the promotion of U.S. “creates obstacles” to national security interests. The former Exxon CEO refused to unveil the agency’s annual human rights report. Under Tillerson, the State Department is eliminating the http://www.humanrights.gov website and move its content to an alternative web address, www.state.gov/j/drl. He already reportedly closed the State Department’s Office of Global Criminal Justice, which hunts down war criminals.

Todd Buchwald, special coordinator of the Global Criminal Justice office, is being reassigned to legal affairs.  The remaining staff in the office may be reassigned to the agency’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. As Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright established the office in 1997 to address genocides, at that time in Bosnia and Rwanda, and prosecute people who commit these horrific atrocities. Since then, the U.S. cooperated with internationally supported criminal courts in the former Yugoslavia to Cambodia and the Central African Republic with greater support for the International Criminal Court (ICC). Closing this office communicates the message that the U.S. no longer cares about atrocities throughout the world.

The reorganization of the State Department will follow Tillerson’s priorities: prosperity for U.S. businesses and increased military.

Rumors started a few weeks ago that Tillerson might be resigning. He denied them, but Tillerson has disappeared this week with no known destination. Meanwhile he has rescinded a large number of delegations of authority. People who want a pass to the State Department parking lot even have to go to his personal office.

Tillerson paid a private consulting firm $1.1 million to survey half his employees and discovered that they are unhappy. Complaints covered management, working conditions, lack of performance goals, and technological problems. The 110-page report stated that not one person felt that the environment helped them be successful. One employee summarized some of the problems of overhauling the agency “to save costs.“ Tillerson has asked for a 30 percent budget reduction. “Our leaders do not understand our mission and our capabilities,” the employee said.

The survey results demonstrate a pattern of poor leadership. The results were so bad that Tillerson didn’t release the expensive report, but it was leaked to the Wall Street Journal. Conservative analyst Max Boot wrote in Commentary that the only benefit from Tillerson’s and DDT’s incompetence is strategy is to “explode for all time the conceit that business leaders with no experience in politics are best qualified to run the government.” Tillerson’s only qualification for his current position is that he negotiated oil deals with Russia and other countries.

In his initial speech to his employees, Tillerson repeated DDT’s mantra of making “America First.” If he continues to erase the system of U.S. diplomacy around the world, he may succeed in making “America vanquished.” About Tillerson’s leaderships style, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said, “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition ultimately.”

December 19, 2016

Rex Tillerson: Oil in Trump’s Swamp

Kakistocracy: a fine English term going back to 1829 that means government by the worst element of a society, a government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens. Forbes writer Michael Lewitt explains its usage: “Corrupt, dishonest and incompetent politicians, regulators and bureaucrats were put in charge by self-absorbed, selfish and ignorant citizens.” Trump cabinet nominees collectively have more wealth than a combined one-third of American households. They are the most conservative, very white, and very male with almost no experience. In addition, they resemble DT—egotistical, megalomaniacal, bumbling liars. The nation’s future government will be a blend of “nepotism, oligarchy, plutocracy, kleptocracy, demagoguery, alt-right values and a disturbing tendency toward fascist white nationalism.” (Quote from Sophia A. McClennen, professor of international affairs and comparative literature at Pennsylvania State University.)

The Electoral College has voted, and Donald Trump (DT) is now the formal president-elect of the United States. In building his kakistocracy, DT has appointed a number of inexperienced oligarchs for his cabinet. A series of postings on this blog will begin with Rex Tillerson, nominee for the Secretary of State.

rex-tillerson

AP Photo / Manuel Balce

tillerson-putinThe outrage against Tillerson from both Democrats and Republicans began with the nominee’s extremely close relationship with Vladimir Putin. Exxon missed the U.S. fracking boom and moved to the Russian and Arctic oil fields, perhaps 20 percent of the world’s untapped resource. Toward that end, the company signed deals between 2011 and 2013 with the Russian state-owned oil company, Rosneft, for exploration in the Black Sea, development of shale resources in western Siberia, and drilling in the Arctic. According to Rosneft, these areas could contain more oil than the Gulf of Mexico. The year after Tillerson and Exxon signed the deal with Rosneft, Russian president, Vladimir Putin gave the country’s Order of Friendship medal to Tillerson. (Above: Russia President Vladimir Putin (R) and ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson (L) attend the signing of an agreement between Rosneft and ExxonMobil in the Black Sea port of Tuapse on June 15, 2012. MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty Images)

Exxon is so wealthy and powerful that it’s like a country of its own with its own foreign policy. Its pockets are deep, and it employs such Tillerson advocates as former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Robert Gates. President Obama’s sanctions on Russia’s oil industry for its 2014 “participation” in the Ukraine and annexation of Crimea smashed Exxon’s dreams—until DT was elected last November. Russia needs Western expertise to drill in places such as the Arctic, and DT can give it to them.

Tillerson’s connection with Rosneft also connects him with oligarch Igor Ivanovich Sechin, head of the oil company. A close relationship with oligarchs from major world powers puts Tillerson into a position to set up his own U.S. oligarchy and what better place to do it than the White House. He has been open about his goals. Asked in March 2013 what he would do if he worked in the White House, he laughed and said, “My philosophy is to make money. If I can drill and make money, then that’s what I want to do.” His idea of international diplomacy—the Secretary of State’s job—is that it “is an enormous amount of interference with that process of discovery and perfection and improvement.”

Improvement to Tillerson doesn’t mean controlling global warming. Exploitation of the Russian and Arctic resources would vastly increase warming above four degrees, but he doesn’t worry about climate change. He has said, “To say that you’re addicted to oil and natural gas seems to me to say you’re addicted to economic growth.”

For almost the entire four decades of Tillerson’s tenure at Exxon, the company has lied about their awareness of catastrophic effects from climate change and spent millions of dollars to block any bills that address the problem. Forty years ago, the company took the problem of climate change seriously and developed programs to explore the issue. Within a few years, however, Exxon started dismantling its own climate change programs and moved on to suppress evidence, spread doubt about science, and block any action to control greenhouse gases. It also created the misnamed Global Climate Coalition to stop any government action to curb fossil fuel emissions.

By the beginning of the 21st century, Exxon used the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group of corporations that writes measures for U.S. legislators, to block emissions control. Tillerson was CEO for 12 of those 17 years. In addition, Tillerson’s block of Exxon shareholders successfully opposed a measure from the Rockefeller family to expand the company’s investment in alternative energy sources.

Tillerson’s current position on climate change is that it’s merely an “engineering” issue because, he claims, people can adapt to anything. Asked about models of greenhouse gas concentrations, he replies that “models simply are not that good.” He has no answer for what to do if the sea levels surge and freshwater pulses into the ocean from a collapse in the West Antarctica.

Yet Tillerson’s egregious business dealings go much farther than just his pandering to the Russian government which recently arranged for the release of hacked emails in order to get Tillerson’s possible new boss elected to his leadership position of what people like to call the most powerful country in the world.

Many people are unaware that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating Tillerson and Exxon. Under his leadership, the company failed to accurately value its oil reserves in order to keep stocks high. A correct disclosure of its lower valuations would cost Exxon billions of dollars if the initiation of drilling is more costly from the “price of carbon” or regulations that force reductions to greenhouse gas emissions. With this high cost, Exxon might have to drop projects, and that shrinks its profitability. Even if Tillerson manages to get DT to leave the Paris climate accord, Exxon’s worldwide business may lose money because it does business with other countries that remain in the pact.

The SEC is also investigating the reason that Exxon does not record its reserves values when oil prices drop. The price of a barrel of oil dropped from $115 in 2014 to under $28 by last February, but that the company didn’t include that loss in future calculations. Fabricating future profits not based on fact is an act of securities fraud against investors.

DT as president would greatly benefit Exxon because the investigation could get stymied with Tillerson as Secretary of State. The SEC could also be remade with DT as president. Seven top officials, including chair Mary Jo White, have already resigned, and DT can appoint three new commissioners on the five-member panel. Whether Tillerson becomes Secretary or stays Exxon CEO, the oil company benefits. Last week DT referred to the free market as the “dumb market,” indicating that government should be in control, a total reversal of past GOP philosophy.

Another lawsuit plaguing Tillerson and Exxon accuses the company of discrimination against LGBTQ people in its hiring practices. ExxonMobil is the only corporation in history to get negative ratings on the Human Rights Campaign’s Equality Index for lacking any protections for LGBTQ employees in 2012 and 2013. President Obama’s executive order barring federal contractors from anti-LGBT employment discrimination—probably to be soon revoked by DT—caused the company to adopt an LGBT non-discrimination policy, but the lawsuit is still pending. Exxon has received over $1 billion in federal contracts during the past decade.

Tillerson’s conflicts of interest are overwhelming. He personally owns at least $218 million in Exxon stock and holds a pension worth $70 million. At least he wouldn’t have to pay any taxes if he has to sell them for a Cabinet position because divesting stocks based on a potential conflict interest for this position is tax-free.

In another connection with Russia 20 years ago, Tillerson became a director  and then president of Exxon Neftegas, a US-Russian oil firm based in the tax haven of the Bahamas, a country with zero corporate taxes where Exxon has registered at least 67 companies. Exxon reported that Tillerson was no longer a director after he became Exxon’s CEO in 2006, but the secrecy of the nation may cause difficulty in determining Tillerson’s investments. Conflict of interest may be somewhat legal for the president and vice president but definitely not for Cabinet members or other government officials.

Oh yes, and Tillerson has literally no background in diplomacy or public service—just like DT.  With pushing from oil oligarchs like Dick Cheney and deep-pocketed campaign donor Robert McNair as well as Gates and Rice, skeptical GOP senators like Marco Rubio are showing signs of falling into DT’s swamp—the one filled with oil.

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