Secretary Pompeo: “Age of Self-Inflicted American Shame” in Middle East is Over

Secretary of State Pompeo gave a powerful speech in Cairo on January 10 that repudiated President Barack Obama’s disastrous Middle East policies – often referred to as “leading from behind” – that undermined security in the region and America’s reputation worldwide.  Pompeo also tried to mobilize regional states against Iran and reassured them about the Trump administration’s policies.

Pompeo’s speech was delivered in Cairo to draw a sharp contrast to President Obama’s controversial 2009 “apology tour” speeches, one of which he gave in that city in June 2009.

Pompeo vilified Obama’s Middle East policies by saying at the start of his speech by saying, “When America retreats, chaos often follows.”  The Secretary also rebutted criticism that President Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria is no different that President Obama’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011, stating “let me be clear: America will not retreat until the terror fight is over.”

Pompeo also reiterated President Trump’s strong support for Israel and how Mr. Trump has repaired this relationship which was weakened by the Obama administration.

One of the most important statements of the speech was when Pompeo said this rejecting Obama’s claim that radical Islam is not a driver of terrorism:

“In this very city, another American stood before you. He told you that radical Islamist terrorism does not stem from ideology… He told you that the United States and the Muslim world needed ‘a new beginning.’ The results of these misjudgments have been dire.”

Pompeo harshly criticized Obama for “willful blindness” with respect to Iran and how the Obama administration’s “desire for peace at any cost” led it to agree to the dangerous 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.  Pompeo followed up today by announcing an international summit on Iran next month that will discuss how to promote stability and freedom in the Middle East and focus on Iran’s regional influence.

Secretary Pompeo’s speech was important because it explained the President’s Middle East strategy and reassured U.S. allies in the region.  A transcript can be found HERE.

About Fred Fleitz

Fred Fleitz is President and CEO of the Center for Security Policy. He recently served as a Deputy Assistant to President Trump and Chief of Staff to National Security Adviser John Bolton. He previously worked in national security positions for 25 years with CIA, DIA, the Department of State and the House Intelligence Committee staff. Read his complete bio here. Follow Fleitz on Twitter @fredfleitz.