Michael Pompeo, Secretary of State
John Bolton, National Security Advisor, The White House
The recent switch from Gen. H.R. McMaster to John Bolton as head the NSA, and Trump’s nomination of Mike Pompeo to succeed Rex Tillerson as secretary of state represent a seismic – and many say worrisome – change in the conduct of Trump’s foreign policy at a time when the nation faces more than one potentially explosive situation. Bolton, a neoconservative and former U.S. representative to the United Nations, is notorious for his aggressive approach. New York Times political columnist Peter Baker’s recent description of him as “combative, relentless and proudly impolitic” is almost a compliment compared to what other opponents say about him. R. Nicholas Burns, a former senior State Department diplomat, calls Bolton “a practitioner of sledgehammer diplomacy.” As a CNN commentator, Bolton argued in favor of a strike against North Korea. Unlike Tillerson, Pompeo is on Trump’s wavelength when it comes to issues such as the Iran nuclear agreement and the Paris Climate Accord. Unusually for a director of the CIA, Pompeo personally conducted Trump’s daily intelligence briefing, reportedly tailoring it to the president’s short attention span and reputed limitations in coping with complex issues. At his confirmation hearings Pompeo protested that he was not a hawk, but his president is, and an unpredictable one. And the question is, would either man have the will or the inclination to restrain him?