How they see us: An Iran hawk as chief diplomat
The replacement of Rex Tillerson with Mike Pompeo as U.S. secretary of state will be “good for the U.S. and good for Israel,” said The Jerusalem Post (Israel) in an editorial. Tillerson never had any influence on President Trump, who often mocked the former Exxon boss. But Pompeo has proved during his year heading the CIA that he can sway the president, not least by his use of “killer graphics” in his daily intelligence briefings. Most important, the two hold the same worldview. Unlike Tillerson, Pompeo shares Trump’s opposition to the Iran nuclear deal—the 2015 agreement that waived international sanctions on Tehran in exchange for the regime limiting its nuclear programs. Pompeo has rightfully called the Obama-era pact a “disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.” He will firmly back Trump if the president scuttles the deal when it comes up for recertification in May, unless European nations agree to new restrictions on Iran: inspections at all nuclear sites, an extension to the ban on most nuclear research, and limits on the development of long-range missiles.
Pompeo has his own reasons for belligerence against Iran, said Iran’s Tabnak.ir. Before his stint at the CIA, he represented the U.S. congressional district that includes Wichita, home to Koch Industries—a big player in U.S. shale oil. The company is owned by the Koch brothers, Republican megadonors who hate the nuclear deal because it has increased Iran’s oil exports, lowering the global oil price. “Breaking the deal will mean the return of Iran’s oil sanctions, rising oil prices, and more profits for the Koch brothers.” But Iran won’t take such a betrayal lying down. As Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has warned, pulling out of the nuclear deal would be “a painful mistake for the Americans.”
Pompeo may welcome such Iranian threats, which he’ll use to argue for regime change, said Shahir Shahidsaless in the U.K.-based MiddleEastEye.net. A fervent evangelical Christian, Pompeo accused the Obama administration in 2015 of consistently siding with the “Islamic East” against the “Christian West.” He won’t be satisfied with mere tweaks to the nuclear agreement—he seeks the overthrow of the mullahs. With Pompeo egging Trump on, we could see “a U.S.-Iran military confrontation.” Iran isn’t even the most pressing world threat, said the Toronto Star (Canada). The first priority for the White House is “to defuse the ticking time bomb that is North Korea.” Trump said he would meet with dictator Kim Jong Un by May, but since Pompeo doesn’t believe Kim can be negotiated with, he’ll likely recommend a military option instead. Tillerson was a lousy steward of the State Department, but at least he encouraged the president to work with allies rather than go it alone. In Pompeo, Trump has found someone who will reinforce his “most aggressive attitudes” and never advise caution. “What could possibly go wrong?” ■