Pompeo is going to give Senate hard-liners what they want by pulling the nomination for a top State Department position:
The fate of the U.S.’s top diplomat for Asia remains in limbo two weeks ahead of the expected historic summit with North Korea.
In one of his first major personnel moves as secretary of state, Mike Pompeo is expected to withdraw the nomination of Susan Thornton for Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, three sources with knowledge of the matter told ABC News.
Marco Rubio and Tom Cotton were Thornton’s biggest detractors, and it appears that they have successfully torpedoed her nomination with Pompeo’s help. The objection to Thornton is purely ideological, and it is driven by a desire for more aggressive policies toward China and North Korea. Yanking her nomination when most of the department’s top positions remain vacant is a clear sign that Pompeo doesn’t value the expertise and experience of career diplomats any more than his predecessor did.
Withdrawing Thornton’s nomination will continue the administration’s pattern of rejecting knowledgeable people for important positions because they fail to adopt sufficiently hawkish views. Victor Cha’s nomination to be ambassador to South Korea was reportedly pulled because he expressed reservations about attacking North Korea. All of this has left the U.S. at a disadvantage:
The ambassador posting in South Korea has been vacant for 16 months. President Donald Trump nominated Navy Adm. Harry Harris for the position on Saturday but he is nowhere near being confirmed before the summit.
“I think it’s going to lead to a position where we have no experts at the table, no one who has weighed in over the course of the situation,” said foreign policy expert Brett Bruen, who worked as a State Department official for 12 years.
“There’s no medium or long-term memory that has been built up over the last year and a half. From a national security perspective, on North Korea, Iran, any other major threat, we are flying blind,” he added.
The Trump administration doesn’t value or understand diplomacy, and so it should come as no surprise that they have no use for experienced and qualified diplomats.