Neoconservatives are freaking out about Trump’s pick for Secretary of State. You see, Rex Tillerson’s job at Exxon means that he has to negotiate with foreign leaders in energy rich countries, and those countries include Vladimir Putin’s Russia. But those looking to mount an attack on Rex Tillerson might want to listen to their heroes. As the Washington Examiner’s Joel Gherke notes:
President-elect Trump’s choice of Rex Tillerson to lead the State Department is being celebrated by high-profile members of George W. Bush and President Obama’s administrations, who said the ExxonMobil CEO has “great integrity” and broad international experience.
“I know Rex as a successful business man and a patriot,” former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice added in a Facebook post. “He will represent the interests and the values of the United States with resolve and commitment. And he will lead the exceptional men and women of the State Department with respect and dedication.”
“I strongly endorse the President-elect’s select of Rex Tillerson to be the next secretary of State,” former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who served under Bush and Obama, said in a statement Tuesday morning. “He would bring to the position vast knowledge, experience, and success in dealing with dozens of governments and leaders in every corner of the world.”
Both Rice and Gates represent ExxonMobil through their consulting firm, but they remain highly-respected foreign policy experts. Gates, who led the Pentagon under President Obama and George W. Bush, is one of Tillerson’s earliest and most significant backers. Trump reportedly first considered interviewing Tillerson at Gates’ recommendation.
Make no mistake: Vladimir Putin is a tyrant, and in most respects his interests are averse to those of the United States. But we have partnered with tyrants in the past when it’s suited our interests. The United States allied with the Soviet Union to defeat Hitler in World War II; we allied with the Chinese under Nixon, forging a trade relationship that has helped bring some material prosperity and extremely modest liberalization to a nation impoverished by communism, and we’ve carried out an exceedingly uncomfortable long term relationship with the savages who run Saudi Arabia to secure our energy supply. If Vladimir Putin can be an ally in the war against international terrorism, it’s something we should investigate.
This is something neoconservatives can’t suffer. They couldn’t when Ronald Reagan negotiated from a position of strength with the Russians, eventually ending the Cold War without a nuclear holocaust. In their eyes, even showing up to the table means defeat. Better to send a bunch of young people to fight proxy wars at the cost of billions of dollars and thousands of lives in perpetuity. This is of course a completely absurd and childish way of looking at the world, and Trump is looking to change that. We’re glad that some of America’s best national security minds agree with him.