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    The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved the confirmation of Mike Pompeo to be the next Secretary of State. Pompeo, who is currently the director of the CIA, was nominated by Trump to replace Rex Tillerson. Sputnik discussed this with Dr. Kyle Kopko, Associate Professor of Political Science at Elizabethtown College.

    Sputnik: What are your thoughts on the vote and that Pompeo almost got rebuked by the committee?

    Dr. Kyle Kopko: The tension on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee wasn't entirely surprising given just how polarized the state of national politics is and the fractions that we observe within Congress.

    As previously noted senator Rand Paul was the biggest hold out but after he receive personal assurances from President Trump that Pompeo shared his views that intervention in Iraq was a foreign policy mistake then that was enough to persuade senator Paul, and of course Democrats within Congress, particularly on Senate Foreign Relations Committee were also concerned about Pompeo's past views on homosexuality as being immoral, and whether or not he would support human rights abroad.

    READ MORE: Prof: 'Pompeo Will Influence Trump Away From Pulling US Out of Foreign Affairs'

    Also, there's concern about his stance on the religion of Islam. He had made comments before as a congressman that if Islamic religious leaders didn't speak up to condemn extremism they would be considered complicit in acts of violence, and so he was able to walk back a lot of those statements during his testimony.

    Sputnik: What can we expect from the new diplomat?

    Dr. Kyle Kopko: He had these previously stated views that seemed very hawkish but at the same time during his Senate confirmation hearings he seemed to take a much more measured diplomatic approach. I think that he's going to try restore faith in the State Department, there's some concern that too many diplomats have exited since Rex Tillerson served as Secretary of State.

    I also think that Pompeo will be likely to convey to allies and enemies abroad the strength of US military forces but he will also use every means possible to arrive at a diplomatic solution. I think that his secret meeting with Kim Jong-un was indicative of that.

    Sputnik: Everybody is concerned about the Iranian nuclear deal, do you think that Pompeo will indeed have an impact on that deal?

    Dr. Kyle Kopko: Very much so. As Secretary of State if there was to be a renegotiation or withdrawal from the deal he would be expected to take a leading role in these negotiations or shaping what the next iteration might look like, or just withdrawing altogether, and he has been critical of the Iran nuclear deal in the past.

    If I had to take a guess I suspect that there will be attempts to renegotiate and try to influence Iran's influence in the Middle East, particularly, their influence in Syria or supporting Hezbollah in particular, and that's something that director Pompeo has been very critical of in past speeches.

    Sputnik: What do you think is the main problem that is seen for Trump and for Pompeo with the nuclear deal as it is?

    Dr. Kyle Kopko: I think it's a combination of things. It's the ability for Iran to still produce some uranium and plutonium, and I think there's always concern that there could be covert actions to still develop a nuclear weapon within Iran, but to the larger issue of influence in the Middle East I think that the Trump administration is frustrated that their influence in Syria in support of what US intelligence and State Department entities believe to be terrorist groups in the Middle East, that too is a very big concern for the Trump administration, and that was largely unaddressed in the previous iteration of the Iran nuclear deal.

    So I could see the renegotiations centering on those types of issues moving forward. Allies and enemies of the United States abroad have realized that President Trump likes to use very harsh rhetoric and that is sort of his normal operating procedure, so even though he has made some very critical comments about the Iran nuclear deal this could be saber-rattling, hoping to set the stage for favorable negotiations, and I'm sure that is something that diplomats within the State Department are aware of and other diplomats throughout the world are also aware of.

    Sputnik: What has Pompeo's stance been in the past on North Korea specifically?

    Dr. Kyle Kopko: For North Korea he does view this as a vital threat to the United States, ending their nuclear program is something of great importance to national security, and I think he has a vested interest in making sure that North Korea ends that program so they don't destabilize the region, and also do not develop any more weapons capable of hitting the United States.

    This is something that I think he's personally invested in given that he has met with President Kim Jong-un in North Korea. So this will be a defining moment of what would be his term as Secretary of State.

    Sputnik: What kind of effect do you think Pompeo will have, if any, on the relations between the US and China?

    Dr. Kyle Kopko: As Secretary of State I think he will have a great deal of influence and sway over any sort of negotiations between the United States and China. To be perfectly honest no one wants to have bad relations with China within the United States.

    READ MORE: Attacking the Syrian Army Will Make 'US Look Very Bad' — Donald Trump, 2013

    Our markets are interdependent, we need each other to have a healthy economy, and I know that there are concerns about a trade war developing between the United States and China, particularly, in regard to tariffs on steel and aluminum, and also concerns over China confiscating intellectual property of American businesses abroad.

    So I think that Pompeo certainly wants to see favorable terms negotiated for American businesses in China, but at the same time we need China's markets, China's market need American markets as well, so it's in everyone's best interest to work something out.

    Sputnik: How popular is this choice? What are people saying about Trump's choice of Mike Pompeo?

    Dr. Kyle Kopko: It's a choice that I think his base strongly supports and detractors of President Trump will not support it. It's sort of politics as usual within the United States, and I think that there is a fair number of folks who just don't know enough about director Pompeo.

    Obviously, they know that he's the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, that he has taken more of a hawkish stance, and they're just waiting to see whether or not he can shift from taking those hawkish stances to taking more diplomatic stances in this new role.

    READ MORE: US Exceptional, Russia Is Not? Pompeo Is in for Some Major Shocks — Twitterians

    Pompeo and Trump both share a lot of the same policy views, particularly, when it comes to Iran and North Korea, and there was tension between President Trump and Secretary Tillerson on some of those very issues.

    Secretary Tillerson wanted to take a less hardline stand, exercise more diplomacy, move a little slower and that was something that frustrated President Trump even though he had known Secretary Tillerson for years. In this case, there seem to be some similarities on policy even though Pompeo and Trump do not have a very long personal history together.

    The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

     

     

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