Home/Daniel Larison/Pompeo’s ‘Swagger’ and Disdain for Real Diplomacy

Pompeo’s ‘Swagger’ and Disdain for Real Diplomacy

Then-Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-KS, speaking at a rally in 2013. He faces a senate grilling for his secretary of state nomination today.Mark Taylor/Creative Commons

David Wade criticizes Secretary of State Pompeo’s “swagger” P.R. campaign:

The new slogan is the latest indication that the administration is misdiagnosing State’s real problems: understaffing and under-resourcing to the point of wholesale dysfunction, the damage to America’s reputation in the world and a five-letter millstone dragging down our diplomats that’s spelled T-R-U-M-P. #Swagger misdiagnoses one problem—a hollowed out civilian force—and exacerbates another: managing the perception of arrogance and reckless unilateralism.

It is no accident that a Secretary of State with no diplomatic experience and little foreign policy experience to speak of would be interested in promoting an attitude most closely associated with arrogant blowhards. The Trump administration has demonstrated time and again that it doesn’t value diplomacy or the compromises that it requires, it has no time for the expertise of its career diplomats, and it isn’t going to allocate the resources that the department needs to do its job effectively. When both the president and Secretary of State don’t understand diplomacy and don’t value it, it is unsurprising that U.S. foreign policy is defined by issuing maximalist demands, making reckless threats, and imposing unjust collective punishment on entire countries.

Alexandra Bell sees Pompeo’s slogan and the attitude behind it as the antithesis of real diplomacy:

At this point in his tenure, if Secretary Pompeo has anything, it is obtuse bravado. Telling beleaguered State Department employees that they have gotten their swagger back, while whistling past the graveyard of American diplomacy is the best evidence of that.

Our diplomats have indeed lost confidence over the last twenty months, but that is a direct result of the current President’s behavior and his treatment of the Department of State.

When Pompeo took over from Tillerson, there was a mistaken belief in some parts of Washington that the administration’s mistreatment and neglect of the State Department would end, but the only thing that has changed is the nature of the abuse.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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