The world is rife with turmoil, much of it affecting American interests, from the Middle East to Venezuela to the Korean peninsula. All this makes the role of the U.S. State Department even more vital than usual. But for the past 15 months, under Rex Tillerson, it has been handicapped by weak leadership and lack of influence with the White House.

That stands to change under Mike Pompeo, a veteran of Congress who has served Donald Trump as director of the CIA. In sharp contrast with Tillerson, Pompeo knows well how to work with both Congress and the president — who trusts him so much he sent him on a secret mission to Pyongyang to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Pompeo would undoubtedly be a stabilizing presence in a department that needs one.

But his nomination for secretary of state faces stubborn Senate opposition from many Democrats and at least one Republican — Kentucky’s Rand Paul, who wants to sharply curtail America’s role in world affairs and thinks Trump shares his views. Not only is Pompeo too hawkish for his taste, Paul expressed the fear that Pompeo “won’t be supporting the president.”

Senators shouldn’t lose sleep worrying about that possibility. Trump has shown he is more than willing to get rid of subordinates who don’t meet his expectations — and Pompeo is not one of them. As CIA director, don’t forget, he managed to win the trust of a president who came into office suspicious of the intelligence community.

Democrats are more likely to object because Pompeo is too closely aligned with Trump on global issues, hostile to the Iran nuclear deal and given to harsh remarks about Muslims and homosexuality.

But in his confirmation hearings, as The New York Times reported, “Pompeo presented himself in surprisingly moderate terms, promising to defend gay rights around the world, work to rescue the Iran nuclear deal and reverse the administration’s marginalization of American diplomats.” His successful meeting with Kim ought to convince skeptics that he is capable of making full use of diplomacy in addressing security threats.


For critics who think the president has been far too eager to cultivate friendly relations with Vladimir Putin, this nomination should be reassuring. In his CIA confirmation hearings last year, he said, “Russia has reasserted itself aggressively, invading and occupying Ukraine, threatening Europe, and doing nearly nothing to aid in the destruction of ISIS.” In January he said that “we need to continue to push back against the Russians everywhere we find them.”

Pompeo has performed ably in his current job, with none of the gaffes or ethical lapses of some of Trump’s other appointees. Presidents are entitled to choose their own advisers, and nothing that has emerged about Pompeo is disqualifying.

Editorial by the Chicago Tribune

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