Secretary Pompeo Sets a Political Trap for his Successor: That's not Right?
You may disagree with my opinion on Secretary of State Pompeo but I write not to gratify readers’ political sensibilities, rather to offer a strictly objective, honest assessment of how I view his recent announcements. I see a worrisome sign for America and its relations with the rest of the world.
That said, what is one to make of the recent announcements by US Secretary of State Pompeo? With only few days left before his departure, Pompeo is deliberately embarking on an inappropriate tweeting campaign about his accomplishments using his official Twitter account. What accomplishments, one may ask: Most obvious is approval of continued U.S. support in intelligence and weapons/ammunition sales for the Saudi-Emirati campaign of destruction against Yemeni civilians; his gutting the State Department of well-qualified and competent civil service foreign officers; campaign examples clearly proliferate!
Pompeo’s announcements include the lifting of decades-old restrictions on diplomatic contacts with Taiwan; Cuba’s inclusion on the terrorism list; and the designation of a terrorist organization by the Houthis in Yemen are his quick way to score political points at the expense of U.S. interests.
The three resolutions mentioned above would surely create chaos for his successor and the Biden administration – for that matter. The resolutions would have been more understandable had they been taken in the context of an integrated foreign policy. But let us not kid ourselves: there is or was no cohesive foreign policy in the first place. The only objective behind these announcements is to cunningly plant political obstacles, which some current and former officials described as diplomatic booby traps, before his successor Anthony Blinken, if confirmed, takes over the reign at the State Department.
One thing that caught my attention: Pompeo, and later President Trump, claimed that the al-Qaeda terrorist organization behind the September 11, 2001 attacks had found a new headquarters in Iran adding that Iran has "accomplices in terrorism, partners in hatred," without providing any evidence of the accusations. Have they [Pompeo and his boss] forgot that it was Saudi Arabia who financed the 9/11 attacks? Have they, conveniently or ignorantly, forgot to mention that the threat of terrorism also comes from our supposed ally, Saudi Arabia? How could Pompeo and Trump forget that out of the 19 hijackers in the 9/11 attacks, 15 were from Saudi Arabia?
As argued in, Beneath the Veil: Fall of the House of Saud, while Iran’s involvement, (through its proxy Hezbollah) during the 1983 suicide bombings of the US Embassy and Marines barracks in Beirut is well documented, nothing has been more destabilizing than the puritanical Wahhabism ideology that Saudi Arabia has promoted and continues to champion through its petro-dollars.
Where does Congress stand? Well, suffice it to state that Congress daily reflects heights of hypocrisy given how politicians (not all but clearly a majority) are more concerned about their political careers and what is in it for them personally than serving the American people and upholding once-sacred, founding principles. While we might hear, from time to time, that certain members of Congress are angry on points of principle and ethics, it is inevitably nothing but cheap political theatrics. Meanwhile, most Americans have no clue that the legislative branch is now largely controlled by a Saudi lobbyist group. Former congressman and current Secretary of State Pompeo’s announcement(s) pretty much confirms this.
When it comes to listing the Houthis as a terrorist group, which will come into effect on January 19th, one day before he and the Trump administration leave power, Pompeo came to a conclusion that he will not have to deal with the repercussions. Doing so leaves an unequivocal political trap for the next administration.
It is no different from what Pompeo did when he approved assistance to the Saudis — despite opposition from the highest levels of the State Department and in absence of direct congressional approval — reflecting concern about losing $2 billion in arms sales. His act raised serious questions about America’s moral standing in the world.
As to the lifting of decades-old restrictions on diplomatic contacts with Taiwan, I categorize it as another political trap Pompeo is setting for his successor. The move infuriates China, and given the already tense relations between China and the United States, it could trigger a major crisis that could escalate beyond control.
As far as the reclassification of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism, I see Pompeo’s move as nothing but political vengeance on former President Obama, who lifted that designation. Of note: The Cuban regime led by President Raúl Castro has no recent record of assisting terrorists.
Against this backdrop, it is no secret that Pompeo does not hide his presidential ambitions. Yet, his actions are irresponsible and a quick way of scoring political points at the expense of U.S. interests.
In light of these revelations, I do not see how the American people would trust Pompeo as a president to do the right thing! Alas, doing the right thing is a rare value these days!
David Oualaalou is a Geopolitical Consultant, Award Winning Educator, Veteran, Author, and former International Security analyst in Washington, D.C..