Dexter Filkins has the Coolest Name Ever

Dexter Filkins, Reporter for the New Yorker - image via  Charlie Rose

Dexter Filkins, Reporter for the New Yorker - image via Charlie Rose

Dexter Filkins has the greatest name ever IMHO. Also, he has that great rumpled reporter look that makes someone shout Pulitzer (for which he has been shortlisted). Among other things, he has also written the Forever War, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award which chronicled his experience during 9/11 and the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. I thought was one of the best accounts the US government's inability to understand the culture and politics of the Middle East

NOTES from Rex Tillerson at the Breaking Point, by Dexter Filkins

  • Tillerson was raised in Texas/Oklahoma to lower-middle class parents. He was an Eagle Scout and hard worker who eventually graduating from the University of Texas and started his career at Exxon. In 2006, he became CEO after legendary CEO Lee Raymond. In 2016, four months from retirement, he agreed to become Secretary of State.
  • Tillerson isn’t charismatic, nor is he willing to do much give-and-take in negotiations. He’s quiet, low-key and was willing to work against US government interests on behalf of Exxon.
  • As a true Exxon company man, he's had a strong relationship with Putin’s inner circle and worked to develop multiple joint Exxon/Russian projects often in opposition to the Obama government, sometimes paying fines for working against US sanctions.
  • Exxon lawyers knew about climate change but publicly campaigned against it. Tillerson kept an internal email alias to discuss the issue in secret, though later authorized the cessation of funding anti-climate groups. Supports the Paris Climate deal
  • His tenure at Exxon was mixed. Where Lee Raymond was dynamic and charismatic w/ a strong sense of the organization, Tillerson is autocratic and secretive, often relying on a handful of advisors to make decisions. While Exxon hasn’t done poorly, Tillerson often was slow to see initiatives or changes in the energy industry (like the move to cleaner fuels). 
  • The State Dept has been gutted, both by budget restrictions (the Trump Administration wished to reduce funding by 32% this Spring) and by the lack of talent available to Tillerson. A large portion of the of the Republican diplomatic core openly opposed Donald Trump’s candidacy which blacklisted them for consideration. Additionally, many career diplomats have chosen to retire or take leaves of absences instead of serving in a stripped and reduced organization.
  • Tillerson isn’t a diplomat but is a Boy Scout who is serving his country. He obviously doesn’t like the President but is willing to do the job.