Monday, March 30, 2020

Is Pompeo The Worst Secretary Of State Ever?

This is the title of a column in today's Washington Post by Jackson Diehl.  His answer is an unequivocal "yes," and I must say on thinking about it I know of no others clearly worse than him, maybe not even any  as bad as him.

Diehl focuses on some general incompetence but then focuses on two specific issues that I have posted on here previously.  The most important one, which is getting more serious by the minute, involves Iran.  It is increasingly clear that Pompeo is probably the lead figure in pushing for heightening sanctions on Iran and also increasing the chance of war with them.  He was a key player in Trump's initial exit from the JCPOA nuclear agreement and has argued that making it harder for Iran to get medical equiopment even as they face a deepening epidmci with thousands dying will bring them to the negotiating table or even lead to regime change.  There is no evidence of any of that, just an immoral making many more people die awful deaths.

He is also apparently a key figure in labeling Covid-19 "the Chinese virus" or "Wuhan virus."  Trump has said he won't call it those things anymore, apparently being told that this has been leading to attacks on Asian Americans.  But Pompeo continues to push this line for no obviously good reason.

Indeed this last matter ties to a more general complaint byDiehl, that aisde from just being plain outright evil, Pompeo is also incompetent at just very basic stuff.  So this week there was a conference call among the foreign ministers of the G7.  This should have been a boilerplate affair, with them coming together to combat the pandemic.  But in fact the whole thing was a flop with no resolutions. Why? Pompeo apparenly kept insisting the the disease be called the "Wuhan virus" with no other G7 foreign minister willing to do so.  But Pompeo trashed the entire meeting over this idiocy.

He also ran to Afghanistan to supposedly negotiate a deal between the two canddidates for president who are in a deadlock.  He failed there to get anybody to do anything.

Finally we have another conference call that failed, this one among various figures from the G20, currently being led by Saudi Arabia and its awful Crown Prince MbS. Again, a move to coordinate the fight against the virus should have been the top priority, but Pompeo decided to demand of MbS that he stop pumping so muvh oil since the crah in oil prices is hurting a lot of US-based oil companies that support Trump. Again, this went nowhere and his move annoyed MbS so much that the meeting ended with nothing done at all.

Maybe there has been a worse US Secretary of State, but if anybody has a candidate, this pile of horrible actions, most of them just in the last week or so, will be hard to match.  He needs to go.

Barkley Rosser

10 comments:

Jerry Brown said...

Yes but doesn't he just reflect the views of his boss? Trump tool is what he is.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

He seems to be leading the charge for several of Trump's worst instincts and views, especially on both Iran and China.

ken melvin said...

Any damned fool can criticize. Trump, Pompeo, Bolton, ... were real good at criticizing. They didn't know they didn't know; weren't even smart enough to understand what it was that Clinton, Obama, Kerry, ... were trying to do. Pompeo has a god problem, too, that gets in the way of reason.

Anonymous said...

"Is Pompeo The Worst Secretary Of State Ever?"

Likely so, and a terrible Secretary of State for sure, but I am so appalled by Pompeo that I would want to look back to try to understand whether there are precedents to the policies of Pompeo that I at least failed to recognize. The absence of a discernible sensitivity or humanism and inept administration even in policy matters that I disagree with are stark and frightening. Where though might this stem from?

Barkley Rosser has written strongly about the inhumane sanctions policy towards Iran, but Joe Biden just said that he and his advisers think Iran is "lying" about the harmful effect of the sanctions and they find no reason to lift the sanctions. Pompeo then may reflect American international attitudes in a way that I would prefer to dismiss.

pgl said...

"Pompeo has a god problem".

Pompeo is so arrogant that I bet he thinks he is God.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Yes, Pompeo seems to be part of the religoius nut faction of this admin. It is curious that he actually does appear to have a high IQ and was #1 in his West Point class. By all accounts he is extremely arrogant and also clearly has his own presidential, if not divine, ambitions.

Regarding Biden, it has been my understanding that he has supported getting the US back into the JCPOA. of course when Obama got it going the congress insisted on retaining some sanctions that had been on before unrelated to those tied to the nuclear program, ones related to human rights abuses and other stuff. It may be that he wants to keep some of that stuff on, in short, to return to the Obama period status quo, whivh would be a vast improvement over the current situation, but I do not know. I doubt he wants to keep all current sanctions on, but I could be wrong.

Anonymous said...

I doubt Biden wants to keep all current sanctions on, but I could be wrong.

[ Since I will support Biden, I would prefer not to criticize him but Biden spoke terribly, completely inhumanely, about Iran yesterday and I was startled and appalled. Let Biden correct himself today or tomorrow, but I am sure there will be no correction. American policy with regard to Iran is beyond inhumane, I would hope the Democratic presidential candidate wold speak to the matter or redress. ]

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

A.,

You are right about Biden's comments. This is very disappointing. Bernie is reasonably demanding the sanctions be lifted. I do not see why Biden will not at least call for retracting the recently imposed new sanctions.

Anonymous said...

"Is Pompeo The Worst Secretary Of State Ever?"

Yes. The question is difficult for we have experienced periods of turmoil in foreign affairs in our history, and the answer is tragic, but "yes." This is a Secretary of State working for narrow sectarian interests and directly against broad American interests, and wildly antagonistic internationally.

Anonymous said...

Barkley Rosser worte an indictment of Secretary Pompeo, with which I agree. A comment by Jerry Brown followed pointing out that Pompeo was a reflection of President Trump and I wanted to agree with that comment as well. We have a terribly dangerous president and secretary of state, looking to international affairs.