(Washington, D.C.) — Aside from the Vice President, no member of the Cabinet has a closer working relationship with President Trump than Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
That’s a good thing, especially given the high stakes of American diplomacy right now. Mr. Trump came to office with no military or foreign policy experience, and having said a number of unsettling things during the 2016 campaign.
Pompeo is a strong conservative and a devout Evangelical Christian. He graduated from West Point. Served as an officer in the U.S. Army. Was deployed in Europe during the end of the Cold War. Came back to Kansas. Built a company. Ran for Congress. Served on the House Intelligence Committee. Was tapped to be Trump’s first Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Served there with distinction before becoming Trump’s second — and far more effective — Secretary of State.
This morning, the New York Times Magazine has published an extensive profile of Pompeo, looking both at his relationship with Trump and his Evangelical faith. I’ll let you be the judge of whether the reporter is genuinely curious about and respectful of Pompeo’s religious beliefs, or trying to paint him as a nut.
When he explores Pompeo’s faith, the reporter — Mattathias Schwartz — weaves me into the story. He notes that Pompeo and I met when he was in Congress. That we’ve stayed in touch over the years. That we’ve met together from time to time, most recently in Egypt. And that he has read my novels over the years.
All of that is true. Indeed, I was more than happy to give the Secretary an advance copy of my forthcoming political thriller, The Persian Gamble, during one of our last meetings.
But the implication in the article is that the basis of our friendship is End Times theology. That stunned me when I read the final version of the story because it’s not true.
Pompeo and I have talked about a lot of interesting and important subjects over the years, including our shared Evangelical faith. But not once have we ever talked about eschatology. I would never shy away from discussing my views with him, or anyone else for that matter. But he’s never raised the topic. Nor have I. We’ve had plenty of other things to focus on.
When I met Schwartz in Egypt, we sat near each other at the American University in Cairo where Pompeo was delivering a major policy address. Then we rode together in Pompeo’s motorcade to the massive new “Nativity of the Christ Cathedral,” and then to the brand new mosque. Schwartz asked me a number of questions about my views of Pompeo and some questions about myself and my background. Yet he never asked me about whether Pompeo and I had ever discussed eschatology or shared the same views.
Here’s what has actually impressed my about Pompeo over the years:
- Pompeo understands the nature and threat of evil. Too many in Washington do not. Yet as I have often said, “to misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it.” Pompeo is unlikely to be blindsided. He came of age when the Soviet Union — the Evil Empire — was at its zenith. He thus understands the serious threat posed by tyrants like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un. He also sees Radical Islamism — not Islam as a religion, but Radical Islamism as a terrorist ideology — as a force for evil that absolutely must be pro-actively confronted, contained, and dismantled.
- Pompeo is a man of action — not content with simply analyzing a problem, he wants to figure out how to solve that problem and then pursue his strategy relentlessly. That’s why it was so important that he leave the CIA, whose director is not supposed to be involved in making policy. He’s much better suited to being Secretary of State, where he can help the President and VP shape bold, decisive American answers to the world’s most dangerous and intractable problems.
- Trump, Pence and Pompeo have forged an impressive alliance in completely reversing the direction of the disastrous Obama-Biden-Clinton-Kerry foreign policy. Together, they have scrapped the fatally flawed Iran nuclear deal and are building a global alliance to neutralize the Iran threat. They are pressing North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons program and sign a peace treaty with South Korea. They are working to strengthen NATO and contain the aggressiveness of Czar Putin. And they’re trying to forge a new era of peace and strategic alliances between Israel and her Sunni Arab neighbors. I pray they are successful on every front. This not easy work. The threats are real and the stakes are high. But they’re moving in the right direction, and I can’t think of anyone better to be running the State Department at a time like this than Mike Pompeo.
I’d recommend you read the magazine profile in full.
I’d also encourage you to take 29 minutes and listen to an interview Mattathias Schwartz did with National Public Radio in which he discusses how he approached researching and writing the profile, what his views of Pompeo are, and how he views Pompeo’s faith.
You likely won’t agree with it all. I didn’t. But Pompeo is a power player. There haven’t been many serious, detailed profiles about him. And it’s worth understanding him better, and keeping him (and his lovely wife, Susan) in your prayers.
- Mike Pompeo’s Mission: Clean Up Trump’s Messes — This week’s North Korea meeting is just the latest challenge in a larger balancing act for the secretary of state. (New York Times Magazine)
- NYT Magazine journalist explains how Mike Pompeo helps “translate Trump” to the world. (29 minute audio of an interview on the National Public Radio program, “Fresh Air.”)
(Photos: 1) New York Times Magazine website; 2) First time I met with Pompeo, back when he was a Member of Congress; 3) our most recent meeting in Cairo.)
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