Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson – announced as the secretary of State pick by President-elect Donald Trump this week - could take U.S. foreign policy in a new direction with commercial deal-making taking precedence over a more traditional hard-ball diplomatic approach.
"The choice is evidence of Trump's focus on transactional foreign policy i.e. Art of the Diplomatic Deal," said Gal Luft, co-director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS) a Washington based think tank focused on energy security. "It also reflects the shift from foreign policy based on geopolitics to one based on geo-economics."
The choice of Tillerson has clear implications for U.S. relations with Russia, Iran, the Middle East broadly and China and has proven controversial because of Exxon Mobil's considerable investments in Russia. Tillerson has also developed a rapport with President Vladimir Putin through the deal process.
Additionally, many critics see the selection as further proof of a corporate takeover of government.