Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is not waiting to leave office to write his own version of history, and he is not doing it in eloquent books. Instead, he has taken to the favorite medium of our debased age — Twitter — to polish his battered reputation and preen for the possible pursuit of the presidency. His efforts might be said to echo Churchill’s — if Churchill were utterly devoid of literary style, honesty, courage, wit, or principle. In truth, Pompeo has taken his inspiration from Churchill’s contemporary, George Orwell, who observed: “In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible.”
Pompeo’s Twitter thread — now dozens of entries long — began on Jan. 1 with the kind of baldfaced lie you would have expected from Big Brother: “We’re so much safer today than four years ago.” Come again? 2020 was the deadliest year in U.S. history. More than 354,000 Americans have already died of covid-19 — and many of those deaths are directly attributable to the epic mismanagement of the president Pompeo has served with canine servility.
Lie No. 2: “Realism. Restraint. Respect for our founding. These are the core ideas that define America First.” “America First” is the slogan of a president who is now attempting to overturn the presidential election results. Pompeo’s master shows his “respect for our founding” in the same way that Mussolini showed respect for Italian democracy.
Lie No. 3: “Swagger (def.): To represent America with pride, humility, and professionalism. We’ve done it.” Um, no, that’s not what “swagger” means. The dictionary defines it as “arrogant or conceitedly self-assured behavior” — a far more accurate summary of Pompeo’s conduct.
There is not enough space in this newspaper to chronicle all of Pompeo’s falsehoods. But a few stand out.
Pompeo: “We restored America’s credibility.” The Pew Research Center would beg to differ. It finds that since President Trump and Pompeo took office, favorable views of the United States have plummeted to all-time lows among key allies such as Germany, France and Japan.
Pompeo: “No more leading from behind. We are #LeadingFromTheFront, tackling the world’s toughest problems.” Given that the administration exited the Paris climate agreement and the World Health Organization, it’s fair to say it’s not “leading from behind” in the fight against global warming and covid-19. It’s not leading, period.
Pompeo: “We didn’t side with dictators, like the last Administration.” What a howler. In truth, the administration has based its Middle East policy largely on siding with dictators in Turkey, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Even after Saudi Arabia’s crown prince ordered the murder of a Post contributing columnist, Jamal Khashoggi, Trump and Pompeo pushed ahead with a $500 million arms sale to Saudi Arabia. If this isn’t “appeasement”— Pompeo’s favorite pejorative for the Obama administration — then the word has no meaning.
You have to give Pompeo credit for chutzpah when he claims the administration “pushed back hard on Russian aggression by supporting friends, not coddling Moscow.” Trump still hasn’t said a word about Russia’s reported bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan or its reported cyberattacks on America.
Pompeo boasts of support for Ukraine: “I issued the Crimea Declaration, which reversed the ban on lethal military assistance to Ukraine. Obama wouldn’t send freedom fighters weapons. We did.” No mention that Trump held up aid to Ukraine to force its government to smear his political opponent. Pompeo was on the call with Ukraine’s president but did not object.
Pompeo loves to claim credit for actions, even if they achieve no positive results. Afghanistan: “Every Administration since Bush 43 wanted to draw down U.S. troops and forge peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. We did it.” North Korea: “Two summits in Singapore and Hanoi and an historic meeting in the DMZ later, the wins are undeniable.” Venezuela: “The @StateDept team worked tirelessly to build a global coalition of more than 60 countries taking a stand against the illegitimate Maduro regime.”
You would never know that negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban have made little appreciable progress or that the Taliban’s terrorist campaign is worse than ever. Or that North Korea now has more nuclear materials or missiles — along with the capability to strike the U.S. mainland with them — than when Trump and Pompeo took office. Or that the Maduro regime remains entrenched in Venezuela. I’d bet that Pompeo will soon claim credit for exiting the Iranian nuclear deal and killing Iranian general Qasem Soleimani without noting that Iran has ramped up uranium production and hasn’t curbed its destabilizing activities.
But that’s not to say that Pinocchio Pompeo’s Twitter stream is entirely mendacious. He can rightly claim at least one historic achievement: “I was the first Secretary of State to visit Guyana and Suriname.”