Now that Mike Pompeo has replaced Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, we have a very different kind of man in charge of our foreign policy. Pompeo has hit the ground running, but can he run fast enough to play catch-up in filling the gaping vacancies in the State Department?

Now that Mike Pompeo has replaced Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, we have a very different kind of man in charge of our foreign policy. Pompeo has hit the ground running, but can he run fast enough to play catch-up in filling the gaping vacancies in the State Department?
Mr. Pompeo’s background as C.I.A. director may ultimately prove to be invaluable as Intelligence officers should understand that intelligence and diplomacy are our best foreign policy tools. However, this past year our administration has tarnished the world’s idea of America as the “last best hope of earth,” which the C.I.A. has repeatedly used as a recruitment tool for their best spies, according to David S. Cohen, a former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency (NY Times).
“Many people agree to become spies for the C.I.A. because they see a stark difference between our ideals and the repressive and brutal regimes of their own countries.” A teary-eyed spy once told Mr. Cohen that “he was drawn to work for us by the idea of America — that America stood for justice, decency and freedom and against tyranny, oppression and injustice.”
But what has happened to that America? In the effort to “Make America Great Again” we seem to have lost some of these things that made her great in the first place. Mr. Cohen believes we have departed from decades of bipartisan foreign policy by lauding autocrats, rebuffing refugees and downgrading human rights. This “has a direct, palpable and unmistakably negative impact on our national security. Tarnishing the idea that America stands for something uniquely good makes it harder for the C.I.A. to recruit spies. The best arrow in the C.I.A.’s quiver — the arrow that has led to countless high-quality recruits signing up over the years — will not be nearly as sharp.”
Cohen continues “No one can say how many potential spies will decide that working for America is not worth the risk. But the administration’s rejection of the American idea will surely mean that some will say no. And that means intelligence that could have been collected for years to come will be lost to us. That will harm our national security. The intelligence collected from human sources is distinct and potent. It is often the only way to obtain critically important information on plans, intentions, motivations and fears. Human assets can obtain specific information to answer key intelligence questions from policy makers. Trained spies can offer crucial insights into relationships and context, making other intelligence, such as information from intercepted communications, much more valuable.
“Every asset who is not recruited impoverishes our understanding of the opportunities, risks and threats in the world. And while every human asset is valuable, those assets who sign up because they are motivated by ideology, not money or fear of compromise, are among our best. To be sure, C.I.A. case officers will continue to recruit spies with breathtaking moxie, ingenuity and perseverance. But President Trump and Mr. Tillerson [have made] their job harder.” The Administration “should bear in mind that relinquishing America’s place as the shining city on the hill will do real and profound harm to our national security.”  
Like Sen. Mark R. Warner on the Senate Intelligence Committee, who eventually decided to support Pompeo’s nomination, I hope that our new Secretary of State will stand up for American values like freedom, diversity, equality and tolerance, and that he will repudiate some of the extreme views he expressed during his time in Congress. On the positive side, Pompeo has advocated for more punitive actions in addressing Russian aggression than has the President. I hope his CIA background will stand him in good stead in this regard.

Catherine Rhoades writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.