The surprising thing isn’t that Donald Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. It is that it took this long. Tillerson, a hapless manager who decapitated much of the senior ranks of the State Department, has finally suffered his own decapitation at the he hands of Trump. His replacement by CIA Director Mike Pompeo signals a much bolder and more activist Trump foreign policy.
At the most basic level Pompeo will work to restore the depleted ranks of the foreign service. His close ties to Trump—he has visited him daily at the White House—means that he will not be at the receiving end of Trump’s barbs as was Tillerson. He will be able to restore some lustre to a once proud institution.
Pompeo will also influence policy. On North Korea and Iran he will likely stake out hawkish positions. But his bona fides as a hawk will also allow him to take the lead in negotiations with Pyongyang. Trump is clearly eager to strike a deal. The presence of Pompeo will help insulate Trump from charges of a new Munich from the Right.
Trump’s next move will likely be to oust national security adviser H.R. McMaster, another mediocre appointment. Trump wants a reset. Overhauling his foreign policy team is a first step.
As always, however, the question remains Trump himself. Will he actually heed the advice of his advisers?