Pompeo on What Trump Wants

Roundup
tags: Trump, Mike Pompeo

Is the Trump administration out to wreck the liberal world order? No, insisted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in an interview at his office in Foggy Bottom last week: The administration’s aim is to align that world order with 21st-century realities. 

Many of the economic and diplomatic structures Mr. Trump stands accused of undermining, Mr. Pompeo argues, were developed in the aftermath of World War II. Back then, he tells me, they “made sense for America.” But in the post-Cold War era, amid a resurgence of geopolitical competition, “I think President Trump has properly identified a need for a reset.” 

Mr. Trump is suspicious of global institutions and alliances, many of which he believes are no longer paying dividends for the U.S. “When I watch President Trump give guidance to our team,” Mr. Pompeo says, “his question is always, ‘How does that structure impact America?’ ” The president isn’t interested in how a given rule “may have impacted America in the ’60s or the ’80s, or even the early 2000s,” but rather how it will enhance American power “in 2018 and beyond.” 

Mr. Trump’s critics have charged that his “America First” strategy reflects a retreat from global leadership. “I see it fundamentally differently,” Mr. Pompeo says. He believes Mr. Trump “recognizes the importance of American leadership” but also of “American sovereignty.” That means Mr. Trump is “prepared to be disruptive” when the U.S. finds itself constrained by “arrangements that put America, and American workers, at a disadvantage.” Mr. Pompeo sees his task as trying to reform rules “that no longer are fair and equitable” while maintaining “the important historical relationships with Europe and the countries in Asia that are truly our partners.” 

The U.S. relationship with Germany has come under particular strain. Mr. Pompeo cites two reasons. “It is important that they demonstrate a commitment to securing their own people,” he says, in reference to Germany’s low defense spending. “When they do so, we’re prepared to do the right thing and support them.” And then there’s trade. The Germans, he says, need to “create tariff systems and nontariff-barrier systems that are equitable, reciprocal.” ...

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