WASHINGTON — In May, simply weeks after turning into secretary of state, Mike Pompeo returned to Capitol Hill for defiant and surprisingly heated exchanges about diplomacy along with his former Democratic colleagues.
“I’ll take a again seat to nobody with respect to caring about and defending the individuals,” he stated of diplomatic safety in a single blistering reply throughout a listening to in the House, the place he had served for six years as a Republican congressman from Kansas. Before the Senate, he dismissed one other query from a Democrat as “weird” and “outrageous.”
At the time, Mr. Pompeo may afford to dismiss minority Democrats who had little to no sway over the State Department. That will change in January, when Democrats will take over the House and have subpoena and budgetary powers on the Foreign Affairs and Appropriations Committees — each of which function a examine on the State Department.
Even in the Senate, the place Republicans retain management, Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee can proceed to maintain up nominations at the State Department, which is struggling to fill its ambassador ranks and different senior diplomatic posts.
“I hope we are able to work collaboratively to get the solutions the American persons are in search of,” Representative Eliot L. Engel, a New York Democrat who’s in line to be the subsequent House Foreign Affairs chairman, stated in a assertion.
Mr. Engel stated he meant “to be certain that our diplomats can do their work free from partisan abuse.”
The newly treacherous political setting comes as Mr. Pompeo’s honeymoon as the nation’s chief diplomat has ended inside the State Department, and the administration’s international coverage methods are below pressure round the world.
President Trump has made clear he helps Mr. Pompeo’s strategy. “Mike Pompeo has slot in so superbly. He’s executed an unbelievable job,” Mr. Trump stated in a postelection information convention on Wednesday.
Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee stated they meant to launch a stream of investigations as soon as they had been in management.
They need to have a look at whether or not Mr. Trump’s worldwide enterprise pursuits have affected American international coverage; what was stated at the July summit assembly in Helsinki between Mr. Trump and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia; and if State Department political appointees have used loyalty checks to display screen profession diplomats for alternative assignments.
Probing the administration’s methods in Yemen, Afghanistan and North Korea are additionally priorities for Democrats, who stated Mr. Pompeo and his aides had executed little to reply their queries — a grievance that even Republicans quietly echo.
In one instance, Mr. Pompeo promised throughout his testimony in May to expeditiously appoint envoys to monitor anti-Semitism and L.G.B.T. rights. “You have my phrase we’ll transfer on them,” he stated. The appointments are nonetheless pending.
In the Senate, the new chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee is predicted to be Senator Jim Risch, a little-known Idaho Republican who aligns carefully with Mr. Pompeo’s conventional anti-Russia, anti-Iran conservatism. But in dealings with North Korea, Mr. Risch has quietly secured assurances that a senatorial observer be included in negotiations heading towards a treaty — making certain a examine on the delicate talks.
Beyond Washington, Mr. Pompeo’s challenges have additionally been mounting.
A canceled assembly in New York final week between Mr. Pompeo and North Korea’s main nuclear weapons negotiator was the newest signal that the talks are at an deadlock, at the same time as Pyongyang provides to its nuclear and ballistic missile arsenals.
Mr. Trump’s troop surge to resolve the 17-year conflict in Afghanistan seems headed for defeat or retreat. The administration’s long-gestating peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians faces extreme hurdles, and President Bashar al-Assad of Syria has solidified his maintain over his shattered nation. Venezuela continues to slide into anarchy, relations with Russia are worsening, governments in Pakistan, Turkey and throughout Eastern Europe are more and more anti-democratic, and China’s affect in Latin America, Africa, South Asia and elsewhere continues to blossom.
Also troubling, as soon as dependable allies are edging away from the United States — or turning into liabilities.
President Emmanuel Macron of France known as final week for the creation of a European military amid a fraying NATO alliance with the United States. Tokyo and Seoul have each launched attraction offensives with Beijing to hedge in opposition to an unpredictable Washington. And Saudi Arabia’s deadly techniques in Turkey and Yemen have made it an object of worldwide opprobrium.
Mr. Pompeo could have simply days to rehabilitate Saudi Arabia’s popularity earlier than Congress considers severe penalties in opposition to Riyadh. Mr. Pompeo’s name late final month for a cease-fire in Yemen, the place a humanitarian catastrophe is intensifying, has up to now been ignored.
And then there’s Iran. Early this month, Mr. Pompeo introduced the re-imposition of the final set of sanctions that had been lifted below the 2015 nuclear accord. Anti-Iran hawks who had eagerly awaited the second complained that the administration didn’t go far sufficient, and it remained unclear if the relaxation of the world would heed the United States’ calls for to reject Iranian exports.
Mr. Pompeo’s dealing with of these myriad challenges has gotten combined opinions in an administration dominated by a mercurial president whose blistering tweets overshadow, and sometimes undermine, what the State Department seeks to accomplish.
The main instruments Mr. Trump has employed to form world occasions are tariffs and sanctions, however Mr. Pompeo has management over neither.
Negotiations over North Korea, Afghanistan and Syria are amongst the international coverage priorities that Mr. Pompeo leads, however up to now with few successes to present.
Morale at the State Department has recovered since the tenure of Rex W. Tillerson, the former secretary of state — however simply barely.
“Most profession diplomats are proud idealists who need to advance America’s pursuits by making the world a higher place,” stated Nancy McEldowney, a former ambassador who retired final 12 months after a 30-year profession as a Foreign Service officer. “Many of them are deeply ashamed of the bullying, transactional and in lots of circumstances amoral insurance policies of this administration.”
Mr. Pompeo is extensively seen as shut to the president. But the president gave his chief diplomat an not possible job when he despatched Mr. Pompeo to confront Riyadh in the wake of final month’s killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi dissident, in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
Pictures of Mr. Pompeo smiling and laughing with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia drew widespread condemnation and marked the lowest level of his State Department tenure.
“The greatest problem for him is that he has turn into Trump’s firefighter,” stated James J. Carafano, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a member of Mr. Trump’s presidential transition staff. “Sending him to meet the Saudis and Turks completed nothing, and it wasn’t the proper mission for him.”
After months of relative quiet at Foggy Bottom, Mr. Pompeo started to emerge in latest weeks, giving a host of interviews during which he firmly caught to administration speaking factors.
“Securing our southern border, implementing American sovereignty is a gigantic nationwide safety situation,” Mr. Pompeo informed Sean Hannity, the Fox News host, on Nov. 2. “It’s why as secretary of state, I’ve been very concerned in these discussions” about the migrant caravans transferring by way of Mexico.
But he has additionally held off-the-record talks at assume tanks and educational facilities, the place he has been described as deeply educated and much from doctrinaire.
Analysts see that divide as stemming from the basic issue of his job — managing a president whose pronouncements usually diverge considerably from fundamental information. As lately as Wednesday, Mr. Trump stated talks with North Korea had been “going positive.”
Mr. Pompeo “reacts to the president’s momentary impulses however has no seen or articulated sense of priorities, sequencing or underlying technique,” stated Eliot A. Cohen, a navy historian who labored for President George W. Bush. “But that’s in all probability not his fault.”