This transition occurs at a time when the United States and the world are in dire need of a steadying diplomatic hand. The president may conduct a historic sit down with Kim Jong-un. The Iran nuclear deal is hanging on by a thread, and Tillerson was negotiating to save it. Russia appears “highly likely” to have poisoned a former spy on the soil of our NATO ally, the United Kingdom. The United States and another NATO ally, Turkey, are engaged in a military standoff as Syria burns (here, too, Tillerson was conducting talks).
The hope is that Pompeo can re-energize the State Department. The fear is that he will do so by indulging the president’s (and his own) hawkish impulses. For as long as he remains in office, President Trump will represent a force for volatility in world affairs. The country is in need of a secretary of state who can minimize the damage emanating from the Oval Office, maintaining a steadying American presence in the parts of the world not destabilized by the president’s attention.This article was originally published in The National Interest.