Mike Pompeo is the new Secretary of state just like Donald Trump desired, and the confirmation comes from the Senate. Pompeo, who has been the director of the CIA, received support from 57 senators while 42 voted against him, this is the slimmest margin for this position in the recent history. The last nominee who received a small number of votes was Rex Tillerson who got 56 and who was Trump’s first Secretary of State. Before him, ever since the Carter administration, every nominee received at least 85 votes or more.
When he was sworn by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito at the Supreme Court, Pompeo immediately went to Brussels for his first trip as Secretary of State. From there, he will go to the Middle East. Tillerson proved to be unfit for the job, and Mike Pompeo will have a demoralized State Department and the diplomatic corps. Tillerson left some of the most important positions vacant and kept cutting the budget as well as staff, and it will take some time for Pompeo to repair the damage.
For one moment, it seemed as if Pompeo would not be able to get a vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but he was cleared in the last minute when Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky voted for Pompeo. He will have a tumultuous beginning as the Secretary of States because not only does he need to fix things up, but he also faces major issues such as the Iran nuclear deal and Trump’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
Pompeo, who was the CIA director, received support from all the Republican senators and only six Democrats. GOP Senator John McCain of Arizona was absent because of cancer treatment, whereas the Democrats who voted for Pompeo come from states that lean towards conservatives and their names include Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. As a CIA director, Pompeo traveled to Pyongyang to meet with Kim Jong-Un before North Korean leader meets with Trump. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn spoke of Pompeo: “He’s the perfect person to come in at this time and lead those efforts.”
While the Republicans are favoring Pompeo, his opponents have pointed out that he has hawkish foreign policy views, and he has made some negative comments against the Muslims and LGBTQ population in the past. During his confirmation hearing, Pompeo tried to soften such image, and it worked for him. He will officially become the new Secretary of State before May 12, which is Trump deadline for the Iran deal changes. If nothing is modified in that deal, Trump plans to withdraw from it and reintroduce the sanctions on Iran.
“If there’s no chance that we can fix it, I will recommend to the president that we work with our allies to achieve a better outcome and to achieve a better deal,” Pompeo said in his confirmation hearing earlier in April. We have already mentioned that Pompeo will go to the Middle East from Brussels, Belgium. There, he will visit Saudi Arabia, Israel and Jordan, said the officials who preferred to remain anonymous.
While in the Middle East, new Secretary of State will discuss the Iran deal as well as the Syrian crisis, he will talk about strengthening the defenses of NATO in Europe. According to the official, the Russian aggression is increasing, and only six NATO allies are currently meeting the goals regarding their defenses. Nine members have provided plans to reach such goals by 2024, which is important, especially since Trump criticized the organization and its contribution. Pompeo will have a difficult job in the beginning, but he also has a chance to prove his worth.