March 13, 2018

The Clock Is Already Ticking on Mike Pompeo

The new secretary of state corrects for his predecessor's weaknesses.

By Julianne Smith and Derek Chollet

Rex Tillerson’s humiliating end is hardly surprising. He’s been on life support for months: last summer, Washington buzzed with rumors of “Rexit,” and last November the White House leaked the very plan it executed today. With his departure, Tillerson shatters John Sherman‘s long-standing record for being forced out so soon. Few in the State Department are sad to see him go; he never seemed to like the job, and despite his good intentions, future secretaries of state will study his short tenure for lessons in what not to do.

Tillerson is an honorable and decent person, but one strains to think of anything he got right, minus perhaps his final statement, on Monday, condemning Russia for the nerve agent attack in the United Kingdom. History will not be kind to him. His efforts to reform the State Department weakened its diplomatic corps and diminished America’s diplomatic heft. It is hard to think of any policy area where he had a noticeable or lasting positive impact.

He allegedly projected a moderating influence on Trump, but it’s not clear that anyone, especially the president, really listened to him. He supported strengthening the Iran nuclear deal and remaining in the Paris climate accords but never got Trump to agree. His lack of clout was well understood around the world, which explains the chilly reception he often received by some of our closest allies. In fact, up to now, it seemed his most notable accomplishment was not being fired.

Read the full op-ed on Foreign Policy.

  • Podcast
    • October 18, 2019
    Discussing Turkey’s Offensive Against the Kurds in Syria with Nick Heras

    The United States’ withdrawal and the Turkish military’s incursion into the Kurdish-controlled northeast have completely changed the balance of power in Syria. Without America...

    By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend & Nicholas Heras

  • Commentary
    • Business Insider
    • October 12, 2019
    3 winners and 3 losers from a melting Arctic

    The Arctic Ocean is projected to have its first ice-free summer by 2050.While most would justifiably consider this a tragic consequence of climate change, some countries and i...

    By Brent Peabody

  • Podcast
    • October 4, 2019
    The Transatlantic Alliance at 70 with NATO's Camille Grand

    Camille Grand, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defense Investment, joins Dr. Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend to discuss the 70th anniversary of NATO and the challe...

    By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend & Camille Grand

  • Commentary
    • Georgetown Journal of International Affairs​
    • October 3, 2019
    How Poland’s Law & Justice Party Plans to Win

    From Hungary to Turkey, strong, democratically-elected parties have used their control over the legislature to change their constitutions and other rules of the game in ways t...

    By Carisa Nietsche

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia