Pompeo Delivers Scathing Rebuke of Obama's 'Misguided' Foreign Policy in His Own Cairo Speech
In an unabashedly pro-American address in Egypt’s capital on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared the United States a "force for good" in the world, and relegated former President Obama's "misguided" Mideast policies to the dustbin of history.
"In falsely seeing ourselves as a force for what ails the Middle East, we were timid in asserting ourselves when the times – and our partners – demanded it," Pompeo explained, without naming the former president outright. "When America retreats, chaos follows,” he said.
"America is a force for good in the Middle East," he stated bluntly. "We need to acknowledge that truth because if we don't, we make bad choices."
Pompeo delivered his speech at the American University in Cairo, where almost ten years ago Barack Obama made a very different sort of speech apologizing for America's past actions and attitudes.
The secretary blamed the former administration, and Obama in particular, for "gravely misreading" the "historic convulsions" witnessed throughout the Middle East in recent years. "At this critical moment, America, your long-time friend, was absent too much," he said. The secretary also argued that the Obama administration "grossly underestimated the tenacity and viciousness of radical Islamism."
"These fundamental misunderstandings, set forth in this city in 2009, adversely affected the lives of hundreds of millions of people in Egypt and all across the region," Pompeo told the audience of Egyptian officials, foreign diplomats, and students.
“Remember: It was here. Here in this very city, another American stood before you. He told you that radical Islamist terrorism does not stem from ideology. He told you 9/11 led my country to abandon its ideals, particularly in the Middle East. He told you that the United States and the Muslim world needed ‘a new beginning.’ The results of these misjudgments have been dire,” he said.
In falsely seeing ourselves as a force for what ails the Middle East, we were timid in asserting ourselves when the times – and our partners – demanded it.
We grossly underestimated the tenacity and viciousness of radical Islamism, a debauched strain of the faith that seeks to upend every other form of worship or governance. ISIS drove to the outskirts of Baghdad as America hesitated. They raped and pillaged and murdered tens of thousands of innocents. They birthed a caliphate across Syria and Iraq and launched terror attacks that killed all across continents.
America’s reluctance, our reluctance, to wield our influence kept us silent as the people of Iran rose up against the mullahs in Tehran in the Green Revolution. The ayatollahs and their henchmen murdered, jailed, and intimidated freedom-loving Iranians, and they wrongly blamed America for this unrest when it was their own tyranny that had fueled it. Emboldened, the regime spread its cancerous influence to Yemen, to Iraq, to Syria, and still further into Lebanon.
Our penchant, America’s penchant, for wishful thinking led us to look the other way as Hizballah, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Iranian regime, accumulated a massive arsenal of approximately 130,000 rockets and missiles. They stored and positioned these weapons in Lebanese towns and villages in flagrant violation of international law. That arsenal is aimed squarely at our ally Israel.
When Bashar Assad unleashed terror upon ordinary Syrians and barrel-bombed civilians with sarin gas, a true echo of Saddam Hussein’s gassing of the Kurdish people, we condemned his actions. But in our hesitation to wield power, we did nothing.
Our eagerness to address only Muslims and not nations ignored the rich diversity of the Middle East and frayed old bonds. It undermined the concept of the nation-state, the building block of international stability. And our desire for peace at any cost led us to strike a deal with Iran, our common enemy.
So today, what did we learn from all of this? We learned that when America retreats, chaos often follows. When we neglect our friends, resentment builds. And when we partner with enemies, they advance.
The good news. The good news is this: The age of self-inflicted American shame is over, and so are the policies that produced so much needless suffering. Now comes the real new beginning.