Washington, DC – Thomas Countryman, a career diplomat who served as United States assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation from 2011-2017.
“Secretary Tillerson has been a poor advocate for the State Department but he served as a Cabinet-level check on some of President Trump’s worst impulses, such as wanting to “break” the Iran nuclear agreement. Mr. Pompeo instead favors an aggressive Middle East policy that would undo the diplomatic progress we made on nonproliferation and potentially embroil us in a new conflict in that region. We do not have a nuclear crisis today with Iran, but if Pompeo becomes a yes-man to President Tump, we may be faced with two nuclear crises in May. If the new Secretary of State has a disdain for diplomacy mirroring Trump’s, it will be bad for the Department and the country.”
Colin Kahl: Deputy Assistant to President Barack Obama and National Security Advisor to Vice President Joe Biden from 2014 to 2017,
“Tillerson was not an effective manager at State, overseeing a hollowing out of the department. And he consistently butted heads with Trump. Pompeo will likely be a more effective manager and has a good rapport with Trump. That is the good news—and it is also the bad news, since Pompeo will enable Trump’s worst ideological instincts on issues like the Iran nuclear deal. Moreover, every time a big move like this is made, there is some transitional turmoil—and this move is occurring against the backdrop of an impending North Korea summit, talks with the Europeans on saving the Iran deal, the move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and managing the geopolitical fallout over steel and aluminum tariffs. North Korea could be particularly problematic given the gamble Trump is taking to meet with Kim Jong Un, the lack of a North Korea envoy and the absence of a U.S. ambassador to South Korea, and Tillerson’s role in overseeing outreach to Pyongyang and Beijing. So, it isn’t a great time to fire the Secretary of State.”