Mike Pompeo: The Right Man at the Right Time

President Trump has nominated CIA Director Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State. This is a great move.

In this April 9, 2018, photo, Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo leaves a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington.

By Rob Schwarzwalder Published on April 12, 2018

President Trump has nominated CIA Director Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State. This is a great move.

If anyone doubts that Pompeo has what it takes to lead America’s international portfolio, watch this interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace. Pompeo was confident, tough, direct and deliberate. He conveys leadership without trying.

Even the New York Times concedes that the CIA “appreciated (Pompeo’s) clout at the White House.” In January the Times admitted that Pompeo “had (a) smooth first year” at the helm of the agency.

My friend Will Inboden was a senior foreign policy adviser to President George W. Bush and is now Chair of the Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas at Austin. He writes in Foreign Policy that Pompeo “earned his promotion” and “built trust with the CIA workforce.”

Hard Words

Pompeo realizes that we live in a dangerous world. In a recent speech, Pompeo noted that the CIA “can’t perform our mission if we’re not aggressive. … We have to be focused on crushing our enemies.”

Note that: Not appeasing. Not containing. Crushing.

Hard words. But when someone threatens one’s family or one’s country, there are times when there is no alternative but the most severe of measures. In many places in the world, those kinds of threats are very real. Pompeo is someone prepared to work in tandem with Defense Secretary Mattis to stop them.

Prioritizing Religious Freedom

Of special importance is that Pompeo understands the centrality of religious liberty to America’s foreign policy. That’s why Tony Perkins, my friend and former boss at the Family Research Council, has co-authored a letter signed by 50 top faith leaders calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Leader Charles Schumer to support Pompeo’s confirmation.

Religious liberty, American security, and economic prosperity are entwined. Mike Pompeo both understands and will apply this truth.

The signatories of the letter are a virtual Who’s Who of advocates for the persecuted church. They quote Inboden as noting that “[t]here is not a single nation in the world that both respects religious freedom and poses a security threat to the United States.”

“We will only have sustainable, long-term peace if we actually make religious freedom a foreign policy priority,” they wrote. “Mike Pompeo understands this and will make it happen.”

Economic Growth and Religious Liberty

Also, economic growth is correlated to religious liberty. Brian J. Grim, president of the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation, reports that a recent study “finds a positive relationship between religious freedom and 10 of the 12 pillars of global competitiveness, as measured by the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index.”

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Georgetown University’s Thomas Farr was the first director of the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom. He writes in his book, World of Faith and Freedom: Why International Religious Liberty Is Vital to American National Security, that “a growing body of scholarly work” indicates that “religious freedom is the key element in a set of ‘bundled freedoms’ — political liberties such as free speech and assembly without which democracies cannot mature and survive.” Indeed, says Farr, countries in which religious liberty thrives produce “the flourishing of citizens in a well-ordered society.”

In sum, religious liberty, American security, and economic prosperity are entwined. Mike Pompeo knows this, and will apply it in his position.

Pompeo Understands

As to the safety and well-being of our country, America’s foreign policy is grounded in three principles:

  • Our allies need to know they can depend on us. (Of course, within limits — America should not be some kind of international valet, cleaning-up everybody’s messes or paying their bills.)
  • Our adversaries and competitors know they need to respect us.
  • Our enemies need to fear us. I mean just that: They need to be worried that America can and will act to defend against threats to our national security and vital interests.

It’s about time, after the foreign policy desert of the Obama Administration and the well-intentioned but inept tenure of Rex Tillerson, for a Secretary of State who understands these things.

Mike Pompeo does.

What Can I Do?

You might wonder what you can do about this. It’s simple: Call your senators to urge support for Pompeo at 202-224-3121, the main Senate number. 

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  • AdamBGraham

    This reads much like a puff piece. It seems as though it’s assumed that foreign policy has anything to do with directing other world governments to look or behave in a certain way. It’s certainly fine that we have a preference for good governance and can communicate as such. But the idea that there is any legitimacy to using the force of American military or economic might to compel foreign governments to be beholden to our wishes is immoral and violent. Statecraft is about keeping peace and promoting free trade and Mike Pompeo is anything but the right man for the job. He is, in fact, wrong on torture, wrong on Syria, wrong on Iran, and the list goes on. This appointment marks yet another step in a negative direction for a conservative, non-interventionist foreign policy.

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