Moon of Alabama – Jan 10, 2019
Today Mike Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State, visited Egypt. He held a somewhat delusional speech at the American University in Cairo. It is headlined:
There is little in the speech that supports the headline. It starts with blustering:
[B]ecause I’m a military man by training, I’ll be very blunt and direct today: America is a force for good in the Middle East.
We need to acknowledge that truth, because if we don’t, we make bad choices – now and in the future.
Pompeo blames Obama for the trouble the “force of good” caused:
Remember: It was here, here in this city, that another American stood before you.
He told you that radical Islamist terrorism does not stem from an ideology. He told you that 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, quote, “a new beginning,” end of quote. The results of these misjudgments have been dire.
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.
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.
It follows a list of false claims and fake history:
For those who fret about the use of American power, remember this: America has always been, and always will be, a liberating force, not an occupying power. We’ve never dreamed of domination in the Middle East.
Pompeo ignores the still valid Carter doctrine which demands exclusive U.S. domination of the Middle East: “An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”
When the mission is over, when the job is complete, America leaves. Today in Iraq, at the government’s invitation, we have approximately 5,000 troops where there were once 166,000. We once had tens of thousands of U.S. military stationed – personnel stationed in Saudi Arabia. Now that number is a tiny fraction.
In 2011 the Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki rejected to sign a Status of Force agreement that would have given U.S. troops in Iraq special rights. In consequence the U.S. had to retreat from Iraq. A few troops came back to fight the Islamic State which Obama let grow to eject Maliki. Those troops will too have to leave. After the 1991 war against Iraq, Saudi Arabia came under pressure from radical Islamists to kick the many U.S. troops out of the country. Several thousand sill stayed. After the Kohbar tower bombing in 1996 the rest had to go too. In both cases the retreat was not voluntarily.
The speech goes on with a long passage of bashing Iran and lauding Israel. Pompeo says that the Trump administration wishes to establish the ‘Middle East Strategic Alliance’, an Arab NATO that allies with Israel. A pipe dream born out of sheer ignorance that is destined to fail.
We’re also seeing remarkable change. New bonds are taking root that were unimaginable until very recently. Who could’ve believed a few years ago that an Israeli prime minister would visit Muscat?
Israel’s then Prime Minister Rabin visited Oman in 1994. Two years later then Prime Minister Shimon Peres followed. So yeah, a lot of people could have believed that. None of them though believes that a ‘Middle East Strategic Alliance’ will ever be more than a talking point.
The speech then comes to the core of Trump’s thinking and policy: