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All Rex Tillerson Cares About Is Energy

Author: Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health
December 16, 2016
Foreign Policy


President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state holds a unique view of the soft-power side of American diplomacy and influence in the world. ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson said in his 2012 annual corporate letter that all the good for the world, its hopes and dreams, rests with energy.

“In the coming decades,” Tillerson wrote, “society will continue to face complex challenges related to a growing world population, economic growth, climate change, food security and public health.… We must recognize that none of the challenges we face can be addressed without reliable and affordable access to energy. Energy powers our offices and schools. It runs life-saving medical equipment and operating rooms. It manufactures vaccines and transports medical personnel.”

At the close of 2015, ExxonMobil reported a total income of $16.2 billion, versus a debt of $38.7 billion — a significant reversal of fortunes compared with the corporation’s 2013 income of $32.6 billion and debt of $22.7 billion. But it was a bad year for the oil business, with the price of petroleum plummeting. Despite the indebtedness, ExxonMobil maintained its $11 million a year support of anti-malaria programs, boasting, “Over the past 10 years, we contributed about $2.4 billion to communities around the world,” without detailing who exactly received this generosity and for what purpose.

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