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Posts Tagged ‘Rex Tillerson’

Here is Rex Tillerson’s address to the Arctic Council in Fairbanks. Bolded emphasis is mine.

Remarks

Rex W. Tillerson
Secretary of State
Fairbanks, Alaska
May 11, 2017

SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, it’s my pleasure to welcome all of you, foreign ministers, permanent participant heads of delegation, Arctic Council observers, and honored guests. And I want to thank again the tribal leaders of the aboriginal groups for their greeting this morning and their very meaningful message to all of us, and we appreciate their opening this session for us.

I want to welcome all of you to the 10th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting and this beautiful city of Fairbanks, and we thank them again for their great hospitality in hosting us.

I would now call your attention to the provisional agenda for this meeting and seek its adoption.

(No response.)

SECRETARY TILLERSON: As I see no delegates seeking the floor, I take it that the agenda can be adopted without change. It is so decided.

As the next agenda point, I would like to call for the adoption of the SAO Report to Ministers.

(No response.)

SECRETARY TILLERSON: As I see no delegations seeking the floor, I take it that the report can be adopted without change. It is so decided.

Let’s turn to the agenda item on the accomplishments of the Arctic Council during the U.S. chairmanship.

The United States had been privileged to lead the Arctic Council at a time when the Arctic Region has been facing unprecedented change and challenges.

I am grateful for the level of cooperation that the nations and the peoples of the Arctic have demonstrated as they continue to address these challenges.

The Arctic Council, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, has proven to be an indispensable forum in which we can pursue cooperation. I want to affirm that the United States will continue to be an active member in this council. The opportunity to chair the Council has only strengthened our commitment to continuing its work in the future.

We look forward to working with Finland as they assume the leadership role of this council. There are still issues of great concern to each of us that we can address, including advancing the welfare and living conditions of those who call the Arctic home; recognizing that each country has a strategic interest in being part of the Arctic’s future; and making sure that we continue to be vigilant in protecting the fragile environment.

In the United States, we are currently reviewing several important policies, including how the Trump administration will approach the issue of climate change. We are appreciative that each of you has an important point of view, and you should know that we are taking the time to understand your concerns. We’re not going to rush to make a decision. We’re going to work to make the right decision for the United States. The Arctic Council will continue to be an important platform as we deliberate on these issues.

I could not hope to mention all of the individual initiatives and programs that the Council has brought to fruition over the past two years under U.S. chairmanship. Each of the Council’s subsidiary bodies has done outstanding work in this respect, and I do wish to acknowledge and commend all of their efforts, even as I highlight but a few.

The signing of the Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation will facilitate the movement of scientists, scientific equipment, and importantly, data sharing across the international boundaries of the Arctic.

The Council has produced the first-ever assessment of telecommunications infrastructure in the Arctic. During the Finnish chairmanship, the Arctic Council will build on this work in conjunction with the private sector to advance this ongoing effort to strengthen connectivity throughout the Arctic Region.

Arctic Council members have conducted multiple exercises to prepare for potential search-and-rescue events in the Arctic as well as to coordinate responses to environmental incidents. These exercises significantly advanced our capacity to address risks inherent in the increased human activity that is undergoing and will continue to expand in the Arctic Region.

At the community level, the council broke new ground in a number of ways. A compelling initiative known as RISING SUN has produced resources that will prove truly valuable to Arctic residents in addressing suicide prevention, particularly among indigenous youth. The council also built on work initiated by the State of Alaska to improve water and sanitation capacity in rural Arctic communities.

As Arctic shipping continues to increase, the Council took a number of measures designed to ensure that such shipping remains safe and reliable, including the Arctic Ship Traffic Database that will improve our understanding of the ship traffic in the Arctic, including the number and types of vessels in the Arctic, their exact routing, and other important information.

And finally, the Council has strengthened resilience at the national and local levels in the face of environmental and other change.

I could go on at length about our shared accomplishment, but I am certain other speakers today will mention the many other Arctic Council projects deserving of recognition.

Let me close my remarks by thanking again all of those involved in these initiatives – the many government officials, the permanent participants, the working group and task force chairs, the secretariats, the observers and invited experts. The last two years have witnessed remarkable growth in the reach and productivity of the Arctic Council, thanks to all of you. And I am confident that, under the leadership of Finland, the Council is poised to do even more.

With that, we’re ready to move to the next agenda item, which is the statements from the Arctic States and from the permanent participants. I now offer the floor to each of the other heads of delegation in turn for these statements, beginning with Canada.

Here is an update on the administration’s position on the Paris Agreement.  It remains no position.

The Paris Climate Agreement: Why is President Trump Still Waffling?

By Joel B. Stronberg

Predictably there’s been a lot written over the last few weeks about the Paris Climate Agreement and whether the Trump administration will continue to sit with other nations.

Driving the coverage is the on-again off-again meeting between Trump and a pace of senior advisors. The ultimate decision will be his to make—purportedly after the G-7 summit at the end of May. His advisors are divided. EPA Administrator Pruitt leads the leavers, while Secretary of State Tillerson, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are shepherding those advising to stay.

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Looks like there might be a big battle there.

Here is Hillary Clinton’s statement on the Paris Agreement issued in December, 2015.

Hillary Clinton Statement on the Paris Climate Change Agreement

Hillary Clinton released the below statement following the conclusion of an international climate agreement at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The agreement solidifies greenhouse gas pollution reduction targets from more than 180 countries accounting for more than 90 percent of global emissions; establishes transparency provisions to measure global progress and hold countries accountable; and mobilizes financial support and private-sector investment to help developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change and achieve sustainable economic growth.

“I applaud President Obama, Secretary Kerry and our negotiating team for helping deliver a new, ambitious international climate agreement in Paris. This is an historic step forward in meeting one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century—the global crisis of climate change.

“The Paris agreement is testament to America’s ability to lead the world in building a clean energy future where no one is left out or left behind. And it was made possible in part by every person, business owner, and community in the United States and around the world that stepped up to prove we don’t have to choose between growing our economy and protecting our kids’ health and future—we can do both.

“But we will only succeed if we redouble our efforts going forward to drive innovation, increase investment, and reap the benefits of the good-paying jobs that will come from transitioning to a clean energy economy. The next decade of action is critical—because if we do not press forward with driving clean energy growth and cutting carbon pollution across the economy, we will not be able to avoid catastrophic consequences.

“We cannot afford to be slowed by the climate skeptics or deterred by the defeatists who doubt America’s ability to meet this challenge. That’s why as President, I will make combating climate change a top priority from day one, and secure America’s future as the clean energy superpower of the 21st century.”

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2016_campaign_pic

This is no longer about a political campaign and should not be a political football.  It is about the future, and it is urgent!

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You probably saw some photos like this from yesterday kindly provided by the Russian Foreign Ministry since American photo journalists were barred from the Oval Office during this meeting.

My prediction was incorrect about a Lavrov/Tillerson meeting. They did indeed meet at the State Department although Tillerson was not included in the White House sit-down.

Then there is this. The bolded emphasis is mine.

The Arctic Council: Fostering Cooperation, Preservation, and Prosperity in the Far North

By: David A. Balton, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Fisheries, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs

Icebergs float off the port of Ilulissat, Greenland. June 17, 2016.

The Arctic is a special place.

Its awe-inspiring natural beauty suggests a land untouched by time. But it is not a park — people have been living in the Arctic for thousands of years. Today, the ways of life of Arctic peoples, along with the Arctic itself, is changing rapidly and profoundly. Many of these changes — environmental, social and economic — transcend national borders, making international cooperation critical for the Arctic’s future.

The Arctic Council serves as the forum where Arctic nations and peoples collaborate to protect the Arctic’s environment while also fostering development of its economic potential in responsible and sustainable ways. This week in Fairbanks, Alaska, the United States will proudly conclude a successful two-year Arctic Council Chairmanship with concrete achievements that will improve economic and living conditions in the Arctic region; enhance Arctic Ocean safety, security and stewardship; and strengthen the resilience and adaptation capabilities of Arctic communities in the face of climate change.

Several of our achievements during our Chairmanship deserve special attention. The Council completed an assessment that identifies gaps in telecommunications capabilities across the region which, when remedied, will improve the lives and boost the economies of the countries in the Arctic region. The Arctic Council has also created a groundbreaking new tool, the Arctic Ship Traffic Database, to track shipping routes and prepare for an anticipated increase in activity. This surge in shipping will stimulate investment in infrastructure and benefit the economies of Arctic nations.

To ensure continued responsible development in the Arctic, the Arctic Council focused on initiatives that enhance the safety and good stewardship of the region. As we see more human activity in the Arctic, we need to be better prepared to protect the people who live and work there. Under U.S. leadership, the Council worked together to enhanced search and rescue readiness through live exercises. The recent entry into force of an agreement to cooperate on oil spills in the Arctic and an updated guide on how to respond if one happens help prepare and protect us from potential challenges in the future.

We are especially proud to announce a landmark scientific cooperation agreement, through negotiations led by the United States and Russia, which will usher in a new era of Arctic science by breaking down the barriers to research and exploration in the region. Together, we will increase our knowledge about the challenges and opportunities in the Arctic.

Left: Alaskan Sunset in July near Anchorage — 12:10 am. Right: placid view in Tutka Bay with near mirror-like conditions reflecting grand mountain scenery off the waters. Alaska, Kenai Peninsula, Kachemak Bay. (NOAA National Ocean Service)

Alaska is America’s Arctic. It is tough, beautiful, and complex.

The United States looks forward to hosting the foreign ministers of the other Arctic nations and leaders of indigenous Arctic groups in Fairbanks this week to celebrate the conclusion of our successful chairmanship. We wish great success to Finland which will serve as the next chair. Thanks to the dedication of the many groups and individuals supporting it, we know the Arctic Council will continue to preserve and protect the economic opportunities and unique beauty of the Arctic for future generations.


Originally published on blogs.state.gov on May 10, 2017.

Oh those shipping routes! And about those “challenges and opportunities,” does oil figure in there in some sneaky way? Sigh!

Related:

Hillary Clinton to Canadians: Watch Putin in the Arctic as well as in Europe

#WatchThis Space: Arctic Activity

Arctic Activity…. #WatchThisSpace! Keep Watching!

 

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Never mind that the melting of the ice cap has a human cause — well mind, but put it aside for the moment.

The Arctic: Source of Conflict or Cooperation?

Tillerson and Lavrov are expected at this week’s meeting of Arctic Council at time of heightened tension

An icebreaker in Russia’s port of Dudinka earlier this month.

An icebreaker in Russia’s port of Dudinka earlier this month. Photo: LEV FEDOSEYEV/TASS/ZUMA PRESS

KITTILA, Finland—In normal times, a meeting of the Arctic Council wouldn’t usually attract much attention.

The intergovernmental forum was established 20 years ago to enable the eight countries with territory inside the Arctic Circle—the U.S., Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland—to discuss how to protect the polar region’s unique environment.

But at a time of heightened geopolitical tension, this week’s meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska, carries extra significance. With U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, due to attend, the meeting that begins on Wednesday could have broader strategic consequences—both for the Arctic and the world.

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Speech describes ‘obstacles’ to national security interests, but former official says it shows secretary of state is ‘clueless’

The US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has said Donald Trump’s “America first” approach to the world means decoupling US foreign policy from values such as human rights and freedom.

Addressing state department diplomats and staff, Tillerson said there were times when insistence that foreign countries abide by US values got in the way of the pursuit of national interests.

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There is probably no statement by a U.S. Secretary of State crazier than what Tillerson said.

It is hard to believe that this is the same State Department Hillary Clinton headed only four plus years ago. Unrecognizable!

Many moons ago I said that Barack Obama should have had Lisa Murkowski over for lunch to congratulate her on her write-in victory.  He did not.  That was a stupid mistake.   A political idiot would have known to do that.  Right.  That includes Trump.  But Hillary would have.

Murkowski is a key figure in our Arctic interests.

I wonder if she will be at Tillerson’s side, as she was at Hillary’s,  at this next Arctic Council event.

Or will they just be ramming through the ice pack to free up the lanes and let Russia drill, baby, drill?

There is common ground. The melting ice caps are an issue.  Protection of the ecosphere is an issue.

We are an Arctic nation. Our values should help form our policies.

Do you still wonder why Russia interfered with our election? Do you think it was for fun?

More here >>>>

 

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When I posted Tillerson’s Folly,  my thinking was that, in barring the press from his first official trip, Rex Tillerson was alienating a potentially valuable set of allies. Brassy Rebel pointed out, in her comment there, that his attitude vis-à-vis the press might indicate a broader administration policy of downgrading diplomacy. Indeed, Trump’s cabinet picks in general seem to indicate antagonism toward the very departments these folks head.

Hillary Clinton spent her first weeks at the State Department roaming the halls when she had a chance and popping into offices to ask what the folks there did.  Foreign Policy‘s article by Robert Jervis, presents a secretary of state cut off from others in the building and even from the Oval Office.

Remember when everyone said Hillary got off on the wrong foot with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with her reset button?

She did go on to work very successfully with him on New START, didn’t she?

Did you wonder when Tillerson was going to meet with Lavrov? Well, according to Jervis, he already has and that did not go swimmingly.

A minor indicator was his ignorance of the protocol to be followed when he met his Russian counterpart and neglected to make the standard introductory remarks. This shows that Tillerson was disconnected from his building’s expertise, that he ignored what he was told, or that his subordinates went out of their way to embarrass him.

The reason we did not know about it, of course, is the absence of press and paucity of press briefings under Tillerson. Here is the schedule for March so far. There was no briefing today. In contrast, here is the schedule for January – the last three weeks of John Kerry’s tenure.  Here is the schedule for March 2012, five years ago this month and the last year Hillary was secretary of state.  There is definitely something going on there. Mark Toner is still the spokesperson, but he is speaking far less these days than under Hillary and John Kerry.  It is also a little odd that Tillerson has not appointed his own spokesperson.

Jervis’s analysis is well worth a read. He takes a broad look at Tillerson’s State Department and his conclusions bode ill for the department and for diplomacy.  It reminds me of George W. Bush appointing Christie Whitman to head the EPA and then knee-capping her at every turn. She finally left in frustration after only  two-and-a-half years.  Fine thanks for giving him Barney!

 

Argument

Rex Tillerson Might Be the Weakest Secretary of State Ever

 

The administration that promised to drain the swamp is draining Foggy Bottom.  This, from The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove also offers some interesting insights. They are blaming the smaller plane on budget cuts. Just wondering what effect those cuts will have on embassy and consulate security.  This passage is particularly ironic.

Tillerson found himself being lectured on press freedoms during a visit to Bonn, Germany, last month by none other than Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the foreign policy czar of journalist-snuffing strong man Vladimir Putin.

“Why did you shush them out?” Lavrov demanded after Tillerson’s handlers ejected reporters from a bilateral meeting as the Secretary of State began to speak; Lavrov, who frequently travels with a full complement of journalists on his official plane, had already taken a press question. (Due to lack of witnesses from the Fourth Estate, Tillerson’s reply, if any, went unrecorded.)

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You might want to rethink canceling your subscription to The Guardian.

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The State Department press corps had boarded and had been logged in – both by the crew and on their social nets – when the secretary of state’s motorcade drove up. Hillary Clinton was about to board for her first official tour in Africa as secretary of state.  It was very exciting, but her press corps, all logged into Twitter, were disconcerted.  There was another motorcade on the tarmac. Another plane was preparing for takeoff.  The State Department press corps did not like it, and they said so on Twitter and other social nets.

What’s he doing, they queried. He’s stealing her light! There was a tweetstorm of monumental proportions.

The “he” in this case was the secretary of state’s husband and the former president who was off on a mission to rescue two journalists captured and imprisoned in North Korea.


They were employed by his former vice president, and the former POTUS went at his behest with the approval of the new president and his secretary of state, about to be bound to Africa. She knew all about it, of course. For the sake of convenience and perhaps to some degree for the sake of last minute preps and briefings, they had left their Georgetown residence together and arrived at Andrews for their separate missions. It was well-coordinated as such events go.

The DOS press corps, however did not see it that way that particular morning. They circled their wagons around the secretary of state, whose coverage was their job, and expressed their disgruntlement on Twitter where I was following several of the younger members of the corps.

Their loyalty to and protectiveness of Hillary was plain to see. No one should be stealing her steam, not even her husband, a two-term former POTUS.  This was her big trip.  They were there to make it visible to the world.

Apparently the current SOS, Rex Tillerson, missed class that day and in the days following Hillary Clinton’s flu and subsequent fainting spell and concussion, or even her bouts with spring allergies, or he would know the fealty and concern with which the DOS press corps treats coverage of the secretary of state.

Instead of giving them a fair chance to get to know him, bond, and explain and defend him in the press, he has opted to treat them as the enemy and barred them from the plane on his first official excursion to Asia. N.B. Asia was also Hillary’s first official trip as SOS.

This decision is not only folly but also speaks to the general attitude of this administration toward the press.  Without giving them the chance to get to know him and perhaps develop a sympathy toward him and his work, he has chosen to banish them as inimical – the general stance of the administration – and a dangerous and foolhardy one.

The State Department press corps tends to be very open, supportive, and defensive of the secretary of state. Tillerson, on his first official journey, has chosen to erect a wall, another symbol of this new administration, between him and those whose function is to cover his tenure.

He has decided to pare down. He will not be using the Big Blue Bird – so familiar via Condi, Hillary, and John Kerry.  He will use a smaller plane. N.B. that this does not necessarily represent any reduction of expenses since the news bureaus pay for the press transportation.  It represents, instead, a slap in the face to the free press.

The Trump administration and Tillerson as part of it have chosen to treat the press as the enemy.  They could have caught more flies with honey, but never mind. As Roseanne Rosannadanna might have said, Mr. Tillerson, you sound like a real attractive guy.  Truth is, when you have a name that sounds like it came out of an “Archie” comic book, you really needed all the help you could have gotten, and beggars cannot be choosers.

 

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Monday I posted this: #WatchThis Space: Arctic Activity.  Well you really have to watch! Things are moving fast, and there are a lot of moving parts. This, from Michael Grunwald in Politico.

Rex Tillerson Tried to Get This Rule Killed. Now Congress Is About To Do It For Him

Should oil companies disclose payments to foreign governments? The GOP, and former Exxon CEO, think not.

February 01, 2017

… back in 2010, ExxonMobil’s then-CEO, Rex Tillerson, was deeply worried about Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms, a bipartisan amendment that required drilling and mining companies to disclose any payments they make to foreign governments. So Tillerson and one of his lobbyists paid a half-hour visit to the amendment’s Republican co-author, then-Senator Richard Lugar, to try to get it killed.

Tillerson argued that forcing U.S. oil firms to reveal corporate secrets—such as paying foreign governments—would put them at a competitive disadvantage. He also explained that the provision would make it especially difficult for Exxon to do business in Russia, where, as he did not need to explain, the government takes a rather active interest in the oil industry.

SNIP

Today, seven years later, Republicans confirmed Tillerson as President Trump’s Secretary of State, despite allegations that he’s too cozy with Russia. At the same time, the GOP is preparing to try to kill the disclosure rule created under Section 1504, despite warnings from international aid groups that the move would provide a wink-and-nod blessing to hidden corporate payments to petro-thugs. The House is expected to act this afternoon, and since the move relies on a special mechanism for reversing rules enacted late in a presidential term, Senate Republicans will need a mere majority rather than a filibuster-proof 60 votes to follow suit.

Read more >>>>

As you probably could have guessed …

U.S. House Passes Resolution to Kill Extractive Anti-Graft Rule

Four years to the day since Hillary Clinton exited the State Department, Tillerson will occupy Foggy Bottom, and Congressional Republicans have blown smoke and fog over corporate payments to foreign governments. This in conjunction with the Arctic activity slips past much of the MSM while they occupy themselves with Trump thinking Frederick Douglass is still alive.

Just a reminder: The Benghazi-cum-server-cum emails Oversight Committee railed and wailed a lot in the course of their hearings about Hillary’s State Department initiatives promoting American businesses overseas.  That is part of the Secretary of State’s job, and all of those initiatives were transparent.

John Kerry’s successor enters with a cloak of invisibility ready made.

02-01-13-Z-08

Keep watching this space!  The war in Urkraine is escalating.  Remember that plank in the Republican platform that Trump had removed?

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