For all the reasons to be concerned about President Trump's nomination of current CIA director Mike Pompeo to replace Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, experts on Tuesday warn that an increase risk of a U.S.-initiated war with Iran should be at the top of the list.
In case you are wondering why Rex Tillerson had to be replaced with Mike Pompeo of all people: Iran.
Tillerson was too sane for a catastrophic and absolutely unnecessary Iran war.
Pompeo, on the other hand, has been waiting for this opportunity for decades.
— Amir (@AmirAminiMD) March 13, 2018
In a reaction on Tuesday, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), worried openly that Trump's nomination of Pompeo "could have profound implications for the fate of the Iran nuclear deal and the prospect of a new war in the Middle East."
Jon Rainwater, executive director of Peace Action, also expressed grave concerns. "By tapping Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State," said Rainwater, "Trump is handing over the reigns of U.S. diplomacy to one of the most hawkish members of his administration. For all of Tillerson's flaws, he served as a check on Trump's more hawkish positions. With Pompeo, Trump's worst instincts on Iran and North Korea will be reinforced."
In November of 2016, as CNBC notes, Pompeo warned that the Iranian government was "intent of destroying America," characterized the nuclear deal forged by the Obama administration as "disastrous," and said he was looking forward to "rolling back" the agreement.
At a time when Trump has repeatedly threatened to rip up or nullify the deal, Rainater lamented how Pompeo's "extreme policy views threaten to gut U.S. diplomatic capacity further by making war the go-to option rather a last resort."
A useful summary of Pompeo’s calls for war with Iran, even as deal was being negotiated and later when it was proven to be working. He is a disastrous pick. This will not end well. https://t.co/ZpPx53vN9l
— Joe Cirincione (@Cirincione) March 13, 2018
Given that Pompeo has also suggested military strikes would be more effective than diplomacy when it comes to Iran, NIAC said there are "serious questions about his fitness to serve as America's top diplomat."
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According to NIAC president Trita Parsi, Pompeo as head of the State Department is "a recipe for war."
— Trita Parsi (@tparsi) March 13, 2018
"The firing of Tillerson and appointment of Pompeo furthers a dangerous trend in which Trump is increasingly surrounding himself with foreign policy hawks who fully support his erratic and belligerent foreign policy," Parsi later added in a statement to Deutsche Welle. "Though Tillerson was not very effective, he nevertheless was an obstacle against Trump killing the nuclear deal with Iran. Pompeo, on the other hand, has been an ardent opponent of this multilateral agreement. The Iran nuclear deal is increasingly on life support as a result of this decision."
In fact, Trump explicitly cited Pompeo's thinking on Iran when he was asked by reporters on Tuesday morning about Tillerson's ouster.
"We disagreed on things," Trump said of the outgoing secretary of state. While Trump said he believes the Iran deal is "terrible," he said Tillerson that it "was okay."
"So we were not really thinking the same," Trump added. "With Mike Pompeo, we have a very similar thought process. I think it's going to go very well."
For those concerned about Pompeo's aggressive and hawkish positions, however, it's not at all clear that the results will be anywhere near very well.
"Unfortunately," NIAC warned in its response, "the net effect of Pompeo at State may not just be be the further isolation of America and erosion of our credibility on the world stage, it may result in a dramatic escalation of tensions in the Middle East and a war with Iran."