A number of news organizations are suggesting that Donald Trump has picked his secretary of state. His name is Rex Tillerson, the current CEO of Exxon-Mobil. The selection is an unusual one in that Tillerson does not have any government or diplomatic experience. His education is in engineering. Tillerson’s pick for the State Department is as outside the box, in its own way, as the nomination of Ben Carson to be Secretary of HUD.

On the other hand, as the head of the largest oil and gas company in the world, having been in charge of Exxon Yemen and a division that handled the companies holdings in Russia and the Caspian Sea before that, Tillerson has broad international deal making experience. He knows a lot of world leaders and is said to have close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Therein is the problem, according to Trump opponents, some of whom are already convinced that Trump is Putin’s “Manchurian candidate.” That Tillerson runs an oil and gas company is also not a point in his favor.

Mind, as of this writing, Tillerson’s pick is not entirely official and will not be until the announcement is made. However, it is clear that he has soared to the top of the short list very quickly, especially since Rudy Giuliani has taken himself out of the competition. He doesn’t fit the profile of a secretary of state in that he is not an academic like Condi Rice, a politician like John Kerry or Hillary Clinton, or even another former general like Colin Powell.

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Tillerson’s experience is in a more practical world, and that may have been the attraction for Team Trump. He must know something of the vagaries of war and peace throughout the world in that they tend to impact business. Uprising, economic sanctions (which he opposed when directed against Russia) and political upheavals affect business.

In any case, oil and gas are going to be weapons of diplomacy as the fracking boom has discovered more of the product and as Trump plans to allow more drilling everywhere.

Tillerson would be well positioned to take advantage of that development.

In the spirit of full disclosure, the writer of this piece worked for Exxon-Mobil in the 1990s.

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