Amid international anger about the Trump administration’s trade tariffs and images of children separated from their parents at the southern US border, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN that he has no concerns about potential fallout.
“I am not at all concerned that anyone in the world can look at the United States and understand it to be anything but a beacon of hope, democracy and freedom,” Pompeo said in an exclusive telephone interview marking his first two months in office. “We have a long history of that and it has continued under the Trump administration.”
In a conversation that touched on diplomacy with North Korea, Russia’s election interference, and trans-Atlantic tensions, President Donald Trump’s top diplomat gave an impassioned defense and relentlessly positive assessment of the administration’s nationalist foreign policy.
In embracing and promoting the Trump agenda, some of which diverges from the traditional concepts of US leadership he embraced as a congressman, Pompeo underscored his loyalty to the President and his vision.
Staying in lockstep
A seasoned politician, Pompeo’s comments reflect a recognition that his future success as secretary of state rests in large part on being in lockstep with the President - a lesson his predecessor Rex Tillerson did not learn. That loyalty has won him tremendous credibility with Trump. It remains to be seen whether it will generate the political capital and room to maneuver that Pompeo will need as he tackles a world’s worth of challenges.
In Sunday’s telephone call, he was upbeat and dismissed concerns about the furor over the Trump administration’s decision to levy tariffs against allies and pursue policies that resulted in family separations at the border.
The United States’ longstanding record on trade and humanitarian issued outweighs any short-term damage to its image caused by pictures of children separated from their parents at the border, he insisted.
“I have the amazing blessing of being the foreign minister for the most generous nation in the history of civilization,” Pompeo told CNN.
In explaining his “zero tolerance” policy, Trump recently accused illegal immigrants of “invading” America – even though the State Department has noted the dangers posed by violence and crime in Central American countries such as Honduras and El Salvador, sources of some of the largest migrant flows at the southern US border.
The department warns Americans against traveling there.