What a week for diplomacy. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is out. The new secretary, Mike Pompeo, is (almost) in. At the same time, there’s chaos globally: The UK has expelled 23 Russian diplomats, a possible trade war with China is on the horizon, a high-stakes summit with North Korea is scheduled for May, and war is still raging in Syria.

Now is not the time for the United States to take a backseat in geopolitics. Enter assumed-Secretary Pompeo, a solid, thoughtful and accomplished leader with plenty of Washington experience. What should he be thinking about right now? I outlined my suggested plan of action in a column for Bloomberg View:

  1. Address recruiting and morale of the Foreign Service.
  2. Reach out to former secretaries of state and defense to learn from their experiences.
  3. Treasure the apolitical Foreign Service leaders.
  4. Craft a Diplomatic and Development Strategy.
  5. Reassure our key allies.
  6. Stay close to Jim Mattis, who has managed to swim in this very troubled sea and hold on to both his reputation and the respect of the department he leads.

Secretary Pompeo is in for a tough assignment as he hopes to guide the nation through multiple, concurrent geopolitical crises and survive the revolving door of the Trump White House. I also had the opportunity to discuss this with the team over at MSNBC’s Morning Joe:

Let’s also take a deeper look into the global issues Pompeo will have to tackle first:

  • China: While a looming trade war stands out as the issue of the week, there is a lot to confront China about. From their claims to owning the entirety of the South China Sea to our need for them to continue to enforce sanctions against North Korea, the new secretary will have his hands full. I joined CNBC for a conversation on this, which you can watch here.
  • North Korea: Not to be sidelined by issues du jour, North Korea will continue to be a major problem for the Trump administration. Trump’s remarkable gamble of essentially “taking a meeting” with Kim — seemingly without any prior planning or even developing a basic agenda — is a fascinating new twist on traditional diplomacy. For any conversation between the two leaders, President Trump must have a well-briefed, historically grounded negotiating team backing him up. This responsibility is going to fall mainly on the State Department. You can read more thoughts in my recent Bloomberg View.
  • Russia: Lest we forget about the Kremlin. After Moscow refused to explain how a Russian-made nerve agent was used on a former spy and his daughter in the UK, the Brits expelled the Russian diplomats from their country. As I told Bloomberg Radio, with retaliation from Putin certain, we need to align ourselves completely with the British, consider expelling Russian diplomats in solidarity, strengthen our own cyber defenses, and stand operationally alongside the Brits, as Putin will continue to press on them diplomatically and militarily.
  • Syria: Arguably the saddest case of them all, Syria is now seven years into its civil war. More than 400,000 Syrians have died, according to most estimates. Well over 11 million have been pushed out of their homes, often to refugee camps in neighboring nations. Syria now resides among the worst post–Second World War civil conflicts, joining the Balkans, Rwanda, the killing fields of Cambodia and the long Colombian insurgency in terms of sheer brutality, inhumanity and lethality. The U.S. can no longer be a bystander in Syria. First steps are to find a way to deliver humanitarian aid and repair our relationship with Turkey, who has the credibility, resources and geopolitical heft to steward U.S. interests in Northern Syria. I offered more suggestions in a new piece for TIME.

I’m cautiously optimistic that Pompeo is a good choice to right the State Department ship. Let’s hope that’s the case.

As always, thanks for reading.

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