The last days of Pompeo: secretary of state lashes out as reign comes to an end

The last days of Pompeo: secretary of state lashes out as reign comes to an end

The last days of Pompeo: secretary of state lashes out as reign comes to an end Photo

Trump’s foreign policy chief has pursued confrontation with Iran and other perceived enemies, but his efforts to disrupt diplomacy will end in failure

The finale of Mike Pompeo’s reign at the state department has been as controversial and clamorous as the rest of his 32-month tenure, but it is unclear what traces will remain after he has gone.

The last days of Pompeo have been played out in a blizzard of self-congratulatory tweets, at the rate of two dozen a day, as he seeks to write his own first draft of history.

The former Kansas congressman, with evident ambitions for a presidential run in 2024, has accented his claims of success by frequent derogatory references to the previous administration, portrayed as hapless appeasers. The political point-scoring and aggrandizement have made the use of the megaphone provided by a government Twitter account, with 3 million followers.

It is not the first time Pompeo has used government resources for personal ends. The state department inspector general was investigating him for using state department staff to run private errands, like picking up dry-cleaning and walking the dog, when Pompeo had him fired last May.

Other claims are contradictory, like his insistence the US has restored deterrence against Iran, alongside his allegation that Tehran is a greater threat than ever. On Tuesday, he called Iran “the new Afghanistan”, alleging – without evidence – that it has become al-Qaida’s hub of operations.

While Iran’s economy has been successfully pummelled by sanctions, as Pompeo points out, its stockpile of low-enriched uranium is now more than 12 times greater than it was when Pompeo took up the job of US secretary of state in 2018.

“If the real economic duress US sanctions put on Tehran has increased or least failed to stop the very activities that policy was meant to reverse, it’s a matter of having made an impact without delivering a favourable outcome,” Naysan Rafati, senior Iran analyst at the International Crisis Group, said.

Similarly, Pompeo argues that Donald Trump’s summits with Kim Jong-un led to a lull in nuclear warhead and long-range missile testing. But he does not mention that Kim has declared an end to that moratorium, and is now set to have a substantially bigger arsenal than when he began meeting Trump.

The portrait Pompeo has painted of Trump’s America has been in dramatic contrast to recent events. Two days after Congress came under an unprecedented violent attack by a mob egged on by Trump, Pompeo blithely tweeted: “Being the greatest country on earth is not just about our incredible economy & our strong military; it’s about the values we project out into the world.”

He also boasted his state department team “did more than any other to build alliances that secured American interests” days before having to cancel his swansong trip to Europe because his counterparts did not want to see him.

The Luxembourg foreign minister signalled he would be unavailable to meet America’s top diplomat, and described Trump’s behaviour as “criminal”. The Belgian foreign minister, Sophie Wilmès, who Pompeo was also supposed to have met on the trip, made clear on Twitter that her government was counting on Joe Biden to restore US unity and stability.

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