Opinion: Trump makes right choice in Pompeo

Dave Trott
President Donald Trump watches Mike Pompeo speak during his ceremonial swearing-in as Secretary of State at the State Department on May 2.

Newly sworn-in U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is the right person to serve as our nation’s chief diplomat. Having served in Congress with Pompeo, I am confident that he has the skill and character to lead America’s foreign policy and to execute the important international goals of the Trump administration.

Pompeo’s experience is undeniable. He is a Harvard educated lawyer who graduated at the top of his class from West Point, a former Member of Congress, and most recently, served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. But Pompeo’s most defining characteristics don’t appear on his resume — the confidence, trust, and rapport that he earned and built with his colleagues — traits he aptly displayed in Congress and subsequently as director of the CIA. Moreover, his willingness to challenge Washington “groupthink,” makes him well suited to lead the State Department and achieve lasting success on the world stage.

I believe President Trump made a great choice in Mike Pompeo because he has the skill to address the incredible challenges and unique diplomatic tasks facing the nation and world today. Whether it’s the negotiations on the Korean Peninsula, the need to rework the disastrous Iran nuclear deal, or the ongoing crisis in Syria, the United States will benefit from strong and steady leadership in the State Department.

In North Korea, the stakes have never been higher, and it was Pompeo the president sent to represent him in Pyongyang, setting the groundwork for the upcoming one-on-one meeting between Trump and Kim Jong Un. Pompeo was the highest-level Western official to ever meet with North Korea’s dictator and the results of this diplomacy are nothing short of historic.

I am particularly encouraged by Pompeo’s record as a leader on the issues of international religious freedom. Having lived my entire life in a region that has vibrant communities of Christians from the Middle East, I know firsthand the challenges faced by many families who continue to endure religious persecution throughout the world. I have no doubt that these faith-based and persecuted communities will find a champion in Pompeo. He represented the Middle Eastern diaspora communities in his Kansas district valiantly, highlighting the struggles they faced in the Middle East and earning a reputation as a leader who understood that the issue of religious freedom has to become more than just a nascent component of American foreign policy.

Sadly, we have seen the threats against the communities of Middle East Christians continue to rise over the past several years. Terror groups like the Islamic State have specifically targeted Christians in many Middle Eastern counties — leaving ancient communities either destroyed or forced out of their homelands. I know Pompeo will serve as a strong voice for these persecuted peoples around the globe.

It’s no secret that Pompeo’s worldview is in sync with the president’s, and I believe that will lead to a smoother and even more effective foreign policy — one that can continue to fight for the values of our nation, protect those facing religious persecution, and secure lasting diplomatic wins for America and its allies.

U.S. Rep. Dave Trott, R-Birmingham, represents the 11th Congressional District and has served as Michigan’s only member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.