Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Unclear on Economic Sanctions, Tillerson Could Strengthen U.S.-Foreign Business Relations

business relations, secretary of state, capitalism

Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson may improve business relations with the State Department and therefore foreign governments.

The former ExxonMobil CEO is known for his ability to foster relations with unlikely governments in advance of business interests. As the head of one of the world’s largest oil and gas corporations, it was in Tillerson’s job description to make deals with tough foreign business partners.

His diplomatic capabilities in regard to trade provide optimism to those who seek repair of America’s Middle East foreign policy, and illustrates a pivot from the Obama Administration’s actions in the region.

However, Tillerson won’t be able to make business in-roads with isolationist countries unless he is confirmed, and not everyone is cheering on the oil tycoon through his nomination process.

Tillerson is facing criticism from Democrats, but the minority party’s talking points go beyond his close relationship with the American oil industry.

His obvious support of fossil fuels is enough to gain opposition from climate change advocates, despite ExxonMobil’s support of the carbon tax under Tillerson.

The nominee’s jobs-friendly attitude doesn’t quell the national security concerns of his critics.

Since Tillerson’s nomination, the minority party has strategized how to block the fossil fuel-friendly nominee, and they only need to convince a handful of Republicans to join their side if they want to succeed. With Republicans holding majorities in both houses of Congress, the Democratic Party must be strategic in their opposition to President-Elect Trump’s nominees.

It appears as if the Democrats are focusing their opposition on Tillerson, and the strategy has potential. The Democrats can slow down – or even halt – Tillerson’s nomination if they make the right allies. After all, a handful of top GOP senators have expressed their opposition of the nominee as well.

From receiving Kremlin awards due to multi-billion dollar oil deals, to finessing contracts via European Exxon subsidiaries with countries considered U.S. enemies such as Iran and Syria, Tillerson’s history on the international stage is under the spotlight.

But concerns regarding his priorities still highlight Tillerson’s diplomatic business abilities.

Tillerson’s ties to Russia and Iran raise flags about what America’s foreign policy will look like under the Trump Administration. One big concern shared among the opposition is Tillerson’s stance on Russian sanctions. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) have both raised questions about Tillerson’s past deals with Russia, including longtime opposition to sanctions.

Tillerson’s trade-friendly business policies come in contrast to the aforementioned senators’ hawkish support of strong sanctions on Russia.

However, Tillerson said about Russian sanctions at his Senate hearing on Wednesday that he “would leave things in the status quo so we are able to convey this can go either way.”

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