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Spotlight: Mike Pompeo

Omri Nahmias

The new secretary of state takes on his biggest assignment to date

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

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ike Pompeo

Newly installed secretary of state Mike Pompeo is what you might call credentialed. The Californian, 55, graduated first in his class at the United States Military Academy at West Point, served on the editorial board of the Harvard Law Review, headed the CIA, and served four terms as a congressman from Kansas.

Now he takes on his biggest assignment to date. As the United States’ top diplomat, he must rally world opinion on Iran while engaging in delicate negotiations with North Korea. And then there’s Russian expansion in the Middle East, Syria’s killing fields, and Chinese ambitions in the Far East. We expect he’ll be busy.

72 Hours

That’s how long it took Pompeo to arrive in Jerusalem for a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu from the moment he was sworn in on Thursday. In fact, Pompeo headed immediately to Andrews Air Force Base after taking the oath of office, traveling first to NATO headquarters in Brussels and then to Saudi Arabia. His alacrity is in stark contrast to his predecessor, Rex Tillerson, who in his 16 months on the job never set foot in Israel.

Pro-Israel, Anti-Iran

Pompeo’s worldview is very similar — if not identical — to President Trump’s. They are both highly critical of the nuclear agreement with Iran and hugely supportive of Israel. They also both want to leave open the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba and back the use of torture to interrogate terror suspects.

No Business Like Politics

Oh, and he has something else in common with Trump: They were both businesspeople before coming to Washington. Pompeo established Thayer Aerospace, a company that manufactured complex structural components for aircraft. As it happens, when Pompeo later headed a company that supplied equipment for oil fields, he did business with Tillerson. Let’s hope Pompeo has more success in office than the former oilman.

One Voice

Pompeo’s closeness to Trump in worldview will help him in foreign capitals. Unlike his predecessor Tillerson, world leaders will know that Pompeo is speaking in the name of the president. That will be a valuable arrow in his quiver. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 708)

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