Home/Daniel Larison/Rubio as Secretary of State Would Be More of the Same

Rubio as Secretary of State Would Be More of the Same

Curt Mills reports on the possible replacement of Mike Pompeo by Marco Rubio, and Rubio’s replacement by Matt Gaetz:

“My former boss @marcorubio would be a historic and amazing Secretary of State,” Gaetz tweeted Thursday. The skinny: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on the ropes amid the impeachment inquiry, might duck out of town. The ex-Kansas congressman could return to the Free State to seek a long-coveted Senate seat—a move not so quietly favored by the powerful majority leader, Mitch McConnell.

The president would then tap Marco Rubio as Pompeo’s replacement.

Mills’ reporting on administration personnel decisions has been outstanding, so if he says that Rubio is in serious contention as a Pompeo replacement I have to assume that there is something to it. Like the first two Trump choices for Secretary of State, Rubio would be a bad choice because of his lack of qualifications and his open loathing for diplomatic engagement. If there are still any Republicans that value diplomacy, the president seems determined not to consider them to run the State Department. Rubio is a foreign policy “expert” in the worst D.C. way: he is a hard-line ideologue who likes to talk about foreign policy a lot without demonstrating any judgment or understanding of the subject matter. He combines the recklessness of Lindsey Graham with the sanctimony of Joe Lieberman, and he has the conventional interventionist leanings of both. If Trump wanted to discourage and disillusion his voters ahead of the general election, nominating Rubio to run his foreign policy would be a good start.

After the dumpster fires that were the Tillerson and Pompeo eras, one might think that any successor, no matter who it was, would be an improvement. Don’t be so sure. Rubio would not really be an improvement over Pompeo. He would just be a more manically hawkish figure in over his head. As Mills mentions, Rubio has had considerable influence over the Trump administration’s Venezuela policy and its approach to Latin America as a whole. Not coincidentally, the Trump administration’s Venezuela policy is an embarrassing failure and the approach to Latin America might charitably be called a train wreck. The heart of the problem with putting Rubio in charge of U.S. diplomacy is that he hates successful diplomacy and opposes every effort to negotiate with adversaries. In less than a decade in the Senate, he has been a reliable vote against every important treaty and agreement that has come along. Like Pompeo, he detests making necessary compromises to secure diplomatic accords, and his first instinct in every crisis is to sanction and threaten. Following the last year and half of Pompeo’s disastrous “swagger,” the State Department doesn’t need another unqualified warmonger taking the reins.

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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