After a nominee becomes president-elect, it is his job to nominate advisers for himself as well as official Cabinet positions. Some of these positions must be confirmed by the Senate, while others are simply traditional advisers for the president. Regardless of the required confirmation or not, these are the people that the president will be relying on over the next four years. In the area of foreign policy, the Secretary of State is one of the most important policy creators. As Trump has yet to choose a Secretary of State, instead we must look to his nominees for National Security Advisor and CIA director, both of whom will assist the president in foreign affairs.
CIA Director, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.)
Trump’s pick for his CIA director is Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), who serves in the House as a third-term congressman on the Energy and Commerce Committee, the House Intelligence Committee, and the House Select Benghazi Committee. The CIA Director must be confirmed by the Senate. It is likely that Trump picked Pompeo due to his experience on the House Intelligence Committee, and his “get things done” attitude towards his job. The former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), was not selected because his appearance on the Benghazi Committee was “too soft,” and his seven terms in Washington may have labeled him as an insider.
Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) was a top scholar from West Point, after which he served as an armored cavalry officer in Germany. Following his Army years, he attended Harvard Law School, which then led to his time in Congress in 2011. As a military officer, he has been very vocal about terrorism and the safety of American soldiers, even stating that Edward Snowden should face the death penalty for sharing information with foreign enemies like Russia and possibly more. His questioning of officials during House hearings is thorough, indicating that the same effort will be established for his time as CIA director.
As for his involvement in presidential politics, Rep. Mike Pompeo does his job without concern for the potential endorsements and favoritism. Former CIA operative Evan McMullin, one of Trump’s presidential opponents, currently supports him as the next CIA director. Interestingly enough, Pompeo did not directly support Trump as a presidential candidate, rather only supporting him as the Republican nominee, an opponent to Clinton. This will serve him well as CIA director, as he will not blindly support Trump’s policies nor will he reject them entirely.
After his appointment, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) was attacked by the media for alleged Islamophobia and his support of the government’s metadata program, otherwise known as the mass governmental collection of phone call data. In reality, Pompeo simply stated and continues to support the fact that Muslim leaders must reject Islamic terrorists, or the extremist populations will continue to grow, seemingly with the approval of their community. He also points out that Islam and the Judeo-Christian religions have a longstanding feud in which their land, beliefs, and individuals are attacked. Pompeo refuses to back down on this fact, realizing that to be politically correct vs. actually correct is a legitimate difference. Concerning the government surveillance of phone calls, Pompeo believes that the best way to mitigate the terrorist threat is to re-establish the metadata program, which draws on a variety of technical and human intelligence. Despite what the media and his opponents say, he will be an excellent CIA director, and is not simply a Trump puppet.
National Security Advisor, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn
Trump’s choice for his National Security Adviser is Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a retired army lieutenant who served as a national security adviser to Donald Trump on his presidential campaign. Unlike the CIA Director position, Michael Flynn does not have to be confirmed by the Senate, and thus a more controversial choice for this position should not be surprising.
Flynn is a registered Democrat, and served the country directly as a military officer until 2014, when he was dismissed from his intelligence job at the Pentagon for being too combative. Regardless of his knowledge set as a political adviser, it cannot be doubted that he was an excellent military officer. The absence of critiques from this period of Flynn’s life clearly indicated that he was an efficient and useful officer to the Army. However, his background may not prove useful as a National Security Adviser, especially to a president who may be more inclined to military action than other presidents.
More recently, Flynn has been attacked by the left for his foreign entanglements, especially when he was able to obtain classified information, as well as his anti-Islam comments. Unfortunately, it is very likely that both of these are true, and therefore Flynn appears as a bad pick for the Trump administration. In general, presidents want to pick those with varying personalities and different ideas as advisers, since the varying viewpoints will provide the best foreign policy. However, as evidenced by Flynn’s tweets, he may simply serve as a “yes-man” rather than an adviser.
The Trump transition team has so far picked both controversial and bad people to serve in areas related to foreign policy. Other picks, such as Gov. Nikki Haley as UN Ambassador and Stephen Bannon as Chief Strategist, will be closely working with Trump to execute his foreign policy ideas. I hope, along with an entire America, that these people will positively influence his decisions, regardless of their backgrounds. Trump needs people to challenge his policy decisions, such that he will have to support his ideas with good, intelligent reasons to act. This will not only result in a surplus of innovation in solving foreign policy issues, it will also keep our nation safe.
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