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Pompeo High Priest of Trump's Foreign Policy, But For How Long?

Pompeo High Priest of Trump's Foreign Policy, But For How Long?
Mike Pompeo (AFP/Getty Images)

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Tuesday, 10 September 2019 05:44 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Reported to the world by presidential Twitter on Tuesday afternoon, the dismissal of National Security Advisor John Bolton was nothing short of stunning and, for the most part, unexpected.

Its immediate impact on the Trump Administration’s foreign policy was to remove the biggest obstacle to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo becoming the president’s high priest of foreign policy.

“Pompeo won an important battle, in that his rival Bolton — someone built up to be the perfect national security advisor — is now out,” Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institute, who has worked for four presidents, told Newsmax.

But, Hess quickly added, “One can’t say any more than that for now.  How long does his power last and how long does he last under a president who is uniquely fickle?”

The secretary of state appeared to flex fresh political muscle Tuesday afternoon.  He joined Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin at a press briefing at the White House less than an hour after the president made public the dismissal of Bolton (who had been scheduled to join the two Cabinet secretaries when their briefing was announced Tuesday morning.)

Asked if there was a possibility President Trump would meet with Iranian President Rouhani during the opening of the United Nations in New York later this month, Pompeo replied without hesitation: “Sure.”

He then explained how Trump was willing to meet with anyone to secure an easing of tensions with Iran. Bolton, an architect of the administration’s hard line with the Tehran theocracy, almost surely would have fought even the suggestion of a meeting with Rouhani.

Pompeo and Bolton reportedly disagreed on Venezuela, in which the NSC chief advocated a hard line.  President Trump was said to be frustrated at the inaction over forcing leftist President Nicolas Maduro from power and blamed Bolton.

On Libya, Pompeo made clear his preference for the civilian government in Tripoli that is also recognized by the United Nations, while Bolton arranged a phone call by Trump to its insurgent rival, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. 

Pompeo, who freely admitted to reporters that he and Bolton “many times” had had disagreements, said that the president “is entitled to the staff that he wants at any moment.” He emphasized that the president “should have people he trusts and values and whose efforts and judgments benefit him in delivering American foreign policy.”

For now, Pompeo follows in the path of strong secretaries of state who have a close relationship with their presidents: John Foster Dulles with Eisenhower, James Baker with George H.W. Bush and John Kerry with Barack Obama.

“Baker’s a good comparison because Pompeo has the same kind of chemistry with Trump that Baker had with Bush 41,” Chris Whipple, author of the much-acclaimed “The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency,” told Newsmax,

“And throw in Henry Kissinger with Nixon,” Whipple added, “Kissinger wore both hats, secretary of state and national security advisor under Nixon and Ford.  Maybe Trump will give Pompeo both titles.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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Reported to the world by presidential Twitter on Tuesday afternoon, the dismissal of National Security Advisor John Bolton was nothing short of stunning and, for the most part, unexpected.Its immediate impact on the Trump Administration's foreign policy was to remove the...
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2019-44-10
Tuesday, 10 September 2019 05:44 PM
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