Tillerson Reported to Step Down: Major White House Reshuffle to Affect US Foreign Policy
Rex Tillerson is reported to be on his way out against the backdrop of his increasingly frayed relationship with President Donald Trump. Mike Pompeo, a former Republican congressman who now leads the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), is to take his place. Tom Cotton, a hawkish Arkansas Senator, is to head the CIA. The timing of Tillerson’s departure remains uncertain, but the expected shake-up could come at the end of the year or early next.
According to the Washington Post, Pompeo “had been informally preparing to take over in Foggy Bottom, reaching out to potential candidates for positions and collecting ideas.” Rex Tillerson has been under fire for his stewardship of the State Department. His critics say the US diplomacy is in free fall with diplomats pushed out, and morale hitting rock-bottom. The reports about Tillerson’s departure appear in mass media amid the mounting from lawmakers and diplomats. It’s worth noting that White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders did little to scotch the rumors. “There are no personnel announcements at this time,” was the only remark she made, not denying that there was a transition plan in mind.
Replacing Tillerson with Pompeo could presage a dramatic change. The nomination of Mike Pompeo, a former congressman from the Tea Party, for State Secretary would likely sit well with many Republicans who served with him in Congress. He is known as a rampant anti-Russia, anti-Iran, and anti-North Korea hawk. Pompeo is also expected to be more hawkish on other key issues.
Will the US use force against Pyongyang? Pompeo supports a military option while Tillerson stands for a negotiated solution to the problem. Infamously, Trump once tweeted that Tillerson was “wasting his time” trying to negotiate with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Will the US tear up the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or Iran deal? Pompeo is known to be a stern critic of Iran and opposed the nuclear deal that was brokered with the country during the Obama administration. Tillerson says the JCPOA should remain in force, while Pompeo is an ardent advocate of getting the United States onto a collision course with Iran.