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Foreign Policy

The Undiplomatic Diplomat

Feb 25, 2020

The US Secretary of State is supposed to be the nation’s top diplomat, but the current holder of the office, Mike Pompeo, is decidedly undiplomatic.

Pompeo’s petty China-needling continues apace, even at a time when China is stricken with a tragic epidemic caused by a poorly-understood virus.

“We know that there are security issues here,” Pompeo told his hosts on a diplomat trip to Kazakhstan. “A good example is what’s going on with the coronavirus. You’ve got a long border with China, which is where this disease has emanated from.”

He skirted around the issue of Kazakhstan’s close ties with China with this disingenuous claim: “We fully support Kazakhstan’s freedom to choose to do business with whatever county, whichever country, it wants. But I am confident, I am confident that countries get the best outcomes when they partner with American companies.” Given the punishing diplomatic toolkit the US has at its disposal, “best outcomes” is a chilling phrase.
Speaking to the thorny question of religious repression in Xinjiang, Pompeo plays the saint, urging Kazakhstan to accept “those seeking to flee China. Protect human dignity, just do what's right."
Human dignity? Just do what’s right?

This from the man who in his own words has owned up to targeted killing, lies, clandestine intrigue, and dirty tricks around the world?

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, fresh from orchestrating the assassination of Iran’s General Qassem Suleimani, fresh from running shameless political interference for his impeached boss Donald Trump, and fresh from the petty put-down and subsequent banning of an NPR journalist for asking tough questions, is now on the warpath with China.

“China is the central threat of our time,” Pompeo announced smugly in London on January 29, 2020 on the first stop of a Eurasian tour, on which he has criticized China every step of way.

At a time when the world needs to work closely with China to contain an unfortunate infectious outbreak, he is burning bridges, sowing discord, and piling on the hate.

Armchair warrior Pompeo has no qualms about signing off on kill missions or kicking someone who is down, so long as there’s a perceived strategic advantage in doing so, even if it’s only a temporary stumble.

The irony is that Pompeo is so undiplomatic, he makes President Trump sound diplomatic in comparison. “But we’re working very closely with China and other countries,” Trump said on January 30, before adding the obligatory boastful coda: “We think it’s going to have a very good ending for us…that I can assure you.”

Trump’s Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, said of the coronavirus ravaging central China: “I think it will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America.”

Pompeo’s incessant attacks and heated rhetoric on China has primed the global public, nervous about an unknown disease, to see China as the enemy. It’s hate-mongering of the first degree and not something any true diplomat would be proud of.

Pompeo throws his heft around, and his ego is second to none, except for perhaps Trump, who he continues to adulate.

Pompeo rashly stokes the flames of war in Iran and elsewhere in the Mideast, cosseting cruel autocrats in places like Saudi Arabia, embracing injustice, and quashing underdogs.

Pompeo’s right-hand man in carrying out subterfuge, Michael D’Andrea, is known “affectionately” within policy circles as the “Dark Prince”, “the Undertaker”, and “Ayatollah Mike”.

D’Andrea has a record of advocating the torture of prisoners, the dropping of killer drones, and assassination. Even though a member of Congress described D’Andrea as “a murderer” for his illicit work, Pompeo, while still at the CIA, promoted him in 2017 to run Iran programs in a more “muscular” fashion.

The carnage continues. Pompeo helms the State Department in Foggy Bottom as if it were a cloak-and-dagger division of the CIA in Langley, Virginia. One day it’s helping Trump remove an ambassador who stood in the way of a dirty tricks campaign in Ukraine; the next day it’s conspired with D’Andrea to arrange the assassination of General Suleimani in Baghdad.

Hypocrisy is not uncommon, perhaps even inevitable in high politics, but Pompeo has taken it to a whole new level of ruthlessness.

He accuses China of the precisely the kind of abuse that his own administration is most guilty of.

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