WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has brought “swagger” back to the foreign affairs bastion and the result has been surge in driving forward to U.S. foreign policy goals, a top undersecretary told reporters.
“It’s different, there’s an energy, you can feel it in the hallways,” Andrea Thompson, the Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security, told defense writers last week. “You can see it.”
Pompeo replaced former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in April.
Thompson said her definition of swagger includes Pompeo having “confidence (and) trust in your team.”
A former military intelligence officer, Thompson said Army officers are used to having “a new boss” every two years. “You’d adapt to your leadership’s style” Thompson said. She said everyone at the State Department is “serving their country” and now they can “unleash the energy.”
Thompson had recently returned from a trip to southeast Asia where the sale of U.S. weapons systems — and their competition from Russian equipment — was one of the top agenda items, she said.
She said she made it clear to her counterparts that having served “28 years in uniform, I’ve used that equipment, I know it’s the best equipment in the world.”
The weapon system giving the U.S. competition is the Russian S-400 anti-missile system, with Moscow close to finalizing deals on sales to India and Turkey. (A journalist for TASS, the Russian news agency, attending the event added there are possible sales to Saudi Arabia and China as well.) Thompson said that is the only foreign weapons system of which there is a competitive concern.
“It’s a cheaper system for some of these countries, it’s an alternative,” Thompson said, referring to the S-400. “Some of these countries have historical relationships with Russia.”
Nevertheless she said that “if you want the best, you buy American equipment.”
Thompson said she also discussed the situation with North Korea with her counterparts. She told reporters that it is North Korea’s move now to keep momentum moving forward in negotiations toward an end of sanctions and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
“We’re not going to give anything until North Korea does what it says,” Thompson said. She said that North Korean must honor “their obligations that they committed to in Singapore,” referring to the June summit in Singapore between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump.
She said the State Department has plans ready for all alternatives that Kim may follow. That said, she said the State Department officially believes that Kim will follow through with his promise to denuclearize.
“He said he was going to do it,” Thompson said. “He said it to the secretary (Pompeo). And he said it to the president, so we’ll hold him to his word.”