Mike Pompeo Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Can Mike Pompeo Save US Foreign Policy?

After more than a year of struggling to engage constructively with US President Donald Trump's administration, the world should start thinking realistically, instead of hopefully. Mike Pompeo's takeover as Secretary of State could provide an ideal opportunity to do just that.

MADRID – Rex Tillerson’s tenure as US Secretary of State was one of the shortest, most turbulent, and most ineffectual in the history of that illustrious post. Not only did he gut the State Department; he was also out of the loop in President Donald Trump’s administration. Will his replacement – outgoing CIA Director Mike Pompeo, an “America First” true believer who has Trump’s ear – fare any better?

Tillerson’s departure comes at a time when Trump seems to be seeking to separate himself from a national security team that has often acted as check on the president’s worst instincts, at times even ignoring his more impulsive declarations. That effort is exemplified by the recent appointment of firebrand John Bolton to replace the embattled H.R. McMaster as National Security Adviser.

This new phase carries significant risks; the selection of Bolton, in particular, has raised fears that the US may be headed for a destabilizing conflict. But it may also amount to an opportunity for a kind of reset: with a secretary of state who is unlikely to say what the international community wants to hear, a more open and candid dialogue might be possible, opening the way for realistic, mutually beneficial action.

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