With mind-numbingly repetitive regularity, President TrumpDonald TrumpMedia giants side with Bannon on request to release Jan. 6 documents Cheney warns of consequences for Trump in dealings with Jan. 6 committee Jan. 6 panel recommends contempt charges for Trump DOJ official MORE’s critics can be counted on to denounce his every move. To them, his decision to replace Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonHillicon Valley — Blinken unveils new cyber bureau at State Blinken formally announces new State Department cyber bureau Hillicon Valley — TikTok, Snapchat seek to distance themselves from Facebook MORE with Mike PompeoMike PompeoNo time for the timid: The dual threats of progressives and Trump Psaki: Sexism contributes to some criticism of Harris Mnuchin, Pompeo mulled plan to remove Trump after Jan. 6: book MORE as secretary of State was a disaster, more evidence that Trump is “unhinged,” and “reckless,” and “[insert the insult of your choice here].” They are wrong. Worse, they are missing the more important point: Pompeo’s elevation gives Trump an opportunity properly, and finally, to execute the America first foreign policy on which he campaigned.
For example, consider U.S. policy toward the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal, in which the Iranian regime agreed to suspend its drive to acquire nuclear weapons in exchange for the lifting of Western sanctions. Though a terrible deal for the United States, it was one of the Obama administration’s most sought after foreign policy goals, and it was one of the Obama policy decisions Trump most regularly and most vehemently denounced during his 2016 campaign for the presidency.
Trump, on the campaign trail and since, has made clear his belief that the deal was negotiated improperly from the start, and that he would, as president, either renegotiate it with better terms or abandon it entirely. Tillerson, apparently captured by the Obama holdovers and permanent bureaucracy at the State Department, never took to President Trump’s opposition to the deal. At regular intervals throughout the past year, Tillerson counseled the president not to abandon the deal.
In fact, the disagreement between the two men on this issue was so strong that last week, when discussing his decision to replace Tillerson, the only policy disagreement the president cited was their disagreement over Iran policy: “When you look at the Iran deal, I thought it was terrible, he thought it was okay. I wanted to either break it or do something. He felt a little differently. So we were not really thinking the same.”
By contrast, Pompeo had experience with the Iran nuclear deal going back to his service as a member of Congress, where he sat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. In that role, he flew to Vienna, Austria, in July 2015, as the Iran deal was being debated, to question firsthand officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which would be tasked with verifying some parts of the deal. He was one of the leaders of the opposition to the deal in the House, and he fought it to the bitter end.
With Pompeo moving from the CIA to the State Department, if confirmed as secretary, the president finally will have a man representing him and his views of the deal in the current international discussions over the deal’s fate. It’s about time. President Trump has made a good move swapping out Tillerson for Pompeo.
With a tougher focus on actions in Iran, the new secretary of State can help turn the president’s campaign rhetoric into reality, and Americans of all stripes will know that the man in the White House has chosen and put in place a team determined to fight for them.
Jenny Beth Martin is chairman of Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund.