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Pompeo is Hopeful For the Change in the Course of History on the Korean Peninsula

“Mike Pompeo is someone who I think has the close ear of the president,” said Nile Gardiner of the conservative-leaning Washington-based research institution, The Heritage Foundation.

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Pompeo has vowed to bring back the “swagger” to the State Department.
Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of State ,Wikimedia commons

New U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says there is “an unprecedented opportunity to change the course of history on the Korean peninsula” with President Donald Trump planning to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“I underscore the word “opportunity;” we are in the beginning stages of the work and the outcome is certainly yet unknown,” Pompeo said after his ceremonial swearing in at the State Department Wednesday. Trump was in attendance.

Pompeo said the Trump administration will not repeat the mistakes of the past, adding, “Our eyes are wide open.” He said “We are committed to the permanent, verifiable, irreversible dismantling of North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction program and to do so without delay.”

Trump made his first visit to the State Department Wednesday for the ceremonial swearing-in.

said Pompeo Tuesday while speaking to personnel who gathered as he arrived for his first full day at the State Department
Mike Pompeo, wikimedia commons

“Mike is a true American patriot,” Trump said as he praised Pompeo. “I have no doubt that you will make America proud as our nation’s chief diplomat.”

Pompeo has vowed to bring back the “swagger” to the State Department.

“The United States diplomatic corps needs to be in every corner, every stretch of the world, executing missions on behalf of this country, and it is my humble, noble undertaking to help you achieve that,” said Pompeo Tuesday while speaking to personnel who gathered as he arrived for his first full day at the State Department.

Thomas Hill, of the Washington-based Brookings Institution said “I would say he needs to go further than restore, but I would say he needs to modernize the department, while also fighting the interagency battles that will inevitably come about. As well as just dealing with the problems of normal, international diplomacy: Iran, North Korea, Russia, etc.”

The former CIA director takes the helm of the State Department after Trump’s decision to fire then-secretary of state Rex Tillerson in March, hours after Tillerson had returned from a trip to Africa.

Unlike with Tillerson, Trump is said to have a close working relationship with Pompeo.

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“Mike Pompeo is someone who I think has the close ear of the president,” said Nile Gardiner of the conservative-leaning Washington-based research institution, The Heritage Foundation.

Pompeo took selfies with several State Department employees Tuesday, vowing to reach out to as many staff members as possible.

“I’ll spend as little time on the 7th floor” and meet people in “many parts of this organization,” he said.

A U.S. foreign service officer, who did not want to be named, told VOA he hopes Pompeo’s experiences in Congress, the U.S. military, and the intelligence community “highlight that the United States faces real adversaries abroad, and that the [State] Department’s career employees are resources – not the enemy.”

Tillerson was under fire at the State Department for leaving many senior vacancies unfilled and proposing dramatic budget cuts, lowering the morale of the diplomatic workforce.

Pompeo, who was confirmed last week, boarded a plane just hours after being sworn in Thursday, traveling to the NATO foreign ministerial meeting in Brussels. He continued on to Saudi Arabia, Israel and Jordan.

Also Read: Sudan Stops 13 Diplomatic and 4 Consular Missions Due to Financial Crisis

“I do think he is going to be a far bigger presence on the world stage than Rex Tillerson was,” said The Heritage Foundation’s Gardiner.

And while Tillerson brought just one reporter on his first foreign trip to Asia, Pompeo left Washington with six journalists on his plane last week. Pompeo picked up two more reporters as he continued his overseas trip to the Middle East, before returning to Washington on Monday.

“I think I have the record for the longest trip on the first day of work,” Pompeo joked on Tuesday. (VOA)

Next Story

Economy to Overcome Other Issues in 2020, says Trump

President Donald Trump is hoping that simple message in 2020 will help foil his eventual Democratic Party challenger. 

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President Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump attends a Keep America Great Rally at the Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, U.S. VOA

“It’s the economy, stupid” has been a catchphrase of U.S. presidential politics since the 1992 campaign, when Bill Clinton unseated incumbent George H.W. Bush. Nearly three decades later, U.S. President Donald Trump is hoping that simple message in 2020 will help foil his eventual Democratic Party challenger.

Trump — in tweets, at political rallies and in remarks to reporters — constantly emphasizes the performance of the U.S. economy, stock market surges, low unemployment rates and his tax cuts to boast he is doing a great job as president.

Economists and political analysts are divided on whether that message will enable the incumbent to stay in office beyond January 2021.

Culture war, partisan split

Ever since Clinton, “we’ve all kind of assumed that should be true. And I think for the most part, it is,” said Ryan McMaken, senior editor and economist at the Mises Institute, a politics and economics research group in Alabama. He cautioned, though, that Trump finds himself on one side of a culture war that his predecessors did not have to confront, as well as a deep partisan divide on consumer confidence.

Walmart Supercentre
Balo Balogun labels items in preparation for a holiday sale at a Walmart Supercenter, in Las Vegas. Black Friday once again kicks off the start of the holiday shopping season. But it will be the shortest season since 2013 because of Thanksgiving falling on the fourth Thursday in November, the latest possible date it can be. VOA

Policy analyst James Pethokoukis at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, a public policy research group, also is cautious about the economy prevailing over all other issues.

“Just having a strong economy is not going to guarantee you re-election,” he said. “People often point back to the 2000 election, which occurred after a decade of tremendous economic growth any way you want to measure it — gross domestic product, jobs and wage growth. And yet, [Clinton’s vice president] Al Gore still lost that election to George W. Bush.”

McMaken questioned whether voters in key swing states — such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio — who cast ballots for Trump in 2016 were experiencing enough of the touted economic performance to vote again for the president.

Overall, however, “it’s not a bad economy to run on if you’re Donald Trump,” said Pethokoukis.

Trump, said to have concerns about the direction of the economy ahead of next November’s election, will likely push for more tax cuts, passage of a renegotiated North American trade pact and continued pressure on the country’s central banking system, the Federal Reserve, to lower interest rates.

A LB Steel LLC's employee manufactures a component
A LB Steel LLC’s employee manufactures a component for new Amtrak Acela trains built in partnership with Alstom in Harvey, Illinois, U.S. VOA

Trouble ahead?

There are rumblings of economic storm clouds on the horizon. The impact can be seen in Trump’s trade war with China, which has hurt U.S. farmers and raised prices for consumer goods. It’s also reflected in the Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing Index, an underperforming U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index and a ballooning record national debt, in addition to the worrying level of money owed to creditors by middle-class Americans.

“We’ve actually been in a sort of a manufacturing recession, seen a shrinkage of factory jobs, the exact kinds of jobs that I’m sure that people voting for the president thought would be a lot better now,” said Pethokoukis.

So far, none of this has prompted a major stock market correction.

“There seems to be a lot of adaptations in the markets to Trump’s America. That may work to his advantage,” said the Mises Institute’s McMaken.

Analysts note a lack of emphasis on economic platforms so far by the leading Democratic U.S. presidential candidates seeking to oust Trump next year.

But such a platform is likely to be touted when the opposition party holds its convention next July in Milwaukee and picks its campaign ticket. Pethokoukis suggested the Democratic Party should devise a plan with a goal to boost American worker productivity, which has flatlined for years.

The great divide

McMaken pointed out that the widening chasm between the well-off and those struggling economically in the United States makes Trump vulnerable — something emphasized by left-leaning Democratic presidential contenders such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Donald Trump says the economy isn't doing well
Tents and tarps erected by homeless people are shown along sidewalks and streets in the skid row area of downtown Los Angeles, California, U.S. VOA

“On the ground level, I would say just in general, the economy isn’t doing as well,” concluded McMaken.

ALSO READ: Greed For Power May Demolish The Democracy

Amid an impeachment drive by the Democrats, Trump is repeatedly hammering on a specific message to those questioning his suitability for office while being impressed with the performance of their pension accounts during his presidency.

“Love me or hate me, you’ve got to vote for me,” Trump said at a rally in New Hampshire in August, warning that Americans’ investments portfolios would go “down the tubes” if he lost next year’s election. (VOA)