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Iran Hawk Mike Pompeo Confirmed as Secretary of State

Pompeo says he's learned a lesson about American interventions in the Middle East, but can he be trusted?

KEVIN DIETSCH/UPI/NewscomKEVIN DIETSCH/UPI/NewscomThe U.S. Senate voted this afternoon to confirm former CIA Director Mike Pompeo as the Trump administration's secretary of state. The final vote was 57 to 42.

Pompeo, who served in the military before being elected to Congress in 2011, made a name for himself in the House as an outspoken Iran hawk and a supporter of pre-emptive war against the nuclearizing Persian regime. In a 2016 column for Fox News marking the one-year anniversary of the Obama administration's nuclear deal with Iran, Pompeo called the agreement "problematic" and "devastating" to American influence in the Middle East. Rather than renegotiating the deal, Pompeo said, "Congress must act to change Iranian behavior, and, ultimately, the Iranian regime."

While it's no secret that the United States has pursued regime change in the past, often with disastrous results, it seems odd to pick someone who has openly called for toppling foreign governments as America's top diplomat. In the lead-up to his confirmation, Pompeo repeatedly said he will seek to "fix" the Iran deal, but he has always left the door open to military action.

Pompeo gave assurances to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who had threatened to torpedo his confirmation, that he has learned important lessons from America's foreign policy blunders during the last two decades. "President Trump believes that Iraq was a mistake, that regime change has destabilized the region, and that we must end our involvement with Afghanistan," Paul said. "I received confirmation that Director Pompeo agrees with President Trump."

Whether Pompeo has actually learned from those mistakes remains to be seen, but critics of America's often confusing and counterproductive policy in the Middle East have good reason to be skeptical, given his history. During his time leading the CIA, Pompeo compared Iran to the Islamic State and reportedly tried to link the Iranian regime with Al Qaeda. Where have you heard that argument before?

With Pompeo running the show at Foggy Bottom, it seems less likely that the State Department will be an effective check on Trump's urge to withdraw America from the Iran deal. Adding John Bolton, Trump's pro-war national security adviser, to the mix suggests that the hawks are indeed asendant.

If you need one more reason to worry, all you have to do is look back at the circular logic employed by Pompeo in that August 2016 Fox News column. America needed to be more aggressive toward Iran, Pompeo argued, because "the region is far less stable."

"Iran increasingly controls Baghdad, Damascus, Sanaa, and Beirut," he explained. "Terror attacks have increased. While the deal itself is problematic, also devastating is the fact that America is no longer viewed as a reliable partner to our traditional regional allies."

That instability—and Iran's maneuvering to fill a power vacuum in the heart of the Middle East—falls squarely on the shoulders of the United States. Diplomacy failed in 2003, and we have been paying the price for 15 years. Unless Pompeo recognizes America's role in creating that mess, America's top diplomat can't be trusted to avoid a repeat of it.

Photo Credit: KEVIN DIETSCH/UPI/Newscom

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  • John||

    Earth to Reason, the President and allegedly the Congress decide if and when the US intervenes militarily. The Secretary of State doesn't get a vote. So, it really doesn't matter what this guy thinks. He is not the one making the decision.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Some people (ahem some Reason staff) don't want Trump to succeed and especially not become super popular in Asia for defusing the North Korea threat. Pompeo seemed to connect with Fat Boy-Un and China seems to be responding to Trump pushing them to intervene with NK. These talks might produce something good for the USA and certain people would hate that to happen.

    It might not work out at all but TDS prevents certain people from wanting NK playing nice under Trump's watch.

  • Tony||

    And if it all goes to shit, you'll still be defending him.

  • Harvard||

    If it all goes to shit we'll be exactly where we are now.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Every new war should be taken as an injustice. "We're at war now, so what's more matter?" is not valid when people are being murdered for our flippancy.

    I still hold out hope that Trump will veer towards the hesitancy he discussed during his campaign.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    If the talks don't work out (or go to shit since that is how Obama talks went) then its war soon anyways.

  • ||

    Earth to Reason, the President and allegedly the Congress decide if and when the US intervenes militarily. The Secretary of State doesn't get a vote. So, it really doesn't matter what this guy thinks. He is not the one making the decision.

    Now John, the official party platform is NAP, respect for property rights, and not hating Iran because Americans, especially libertarians, aren't supposed to hate foreign governments no matter how brutal and oppressive they may be.

    Russian hackers are evil and Putin is just shy of Hitler but the fact that an Iranian woman cannot legally be sodomized while gay Iranian men can be punished with death on the mere testimony of four righteous men is diversity and, thus, to be tolerated.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    "it really doesn't matter what this guy thinks."

    It's that kind of thinking that gave us Hillary Clinton.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    It's important to keep in mind that Russia controls Drumpf to such an extent that these high-level personnel decisions are directed by Putin. As Harvard's Lawrence Tribe has explained, the previous SOS was installed to be a loyal Kremlin puppet, then fired when he stepped out of line. It's all but certain that Pompeo is where he is because Putin wants him there.

    #TrumpRussia

  • Just Say'n||

    Come on, man. Give it a rest. Even a partisan with the most TDS infested mind is giving up on Russia fever dreams. Your parody has jumped the shark

  • Aloysious||

    Sneaky Russians never give up.

    Did Boris the Blade ever give up? No.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    What? [takes out earplugs]

    "Heavy is good, heavy is reliable. If it doesn't work you can always hit them with it. "

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Trump is going to go all Pompeii (plural of Pompeo?) on North Korea now!

  • Just Say'n||

    "but can he be trusted?"

    Just like all secretary of states in recent memory the answer is, of course, "no"

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Well, we know the FBI does not care about top secret information being on private serves, so one less thing Pompeo has to worry about when it comes to the State Department's IT security.

  • TuIpa||

    Did someone actually stupidly ask if we can trust a government flack?

    WTF?

  • Rhywun||

    Someone else called for "principled judicial activism" yesterday. Nothing's surprising around here anymore.

  • DajjaI||

    The Incel Rebellion has begun!

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Can a career government bureaucrat be trusted? Gee, I wonder... /sarc

  • Flinch||

    Absolutely. You can trust them to reflexively do the CYA routine without blinking.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "With Pompeo running the show at Foggy Bottom, it seems less likely that the State Department will be an effective check on Trump's urge to withdraw America from the Iran deal. Adding John Bolton, Trump's pro-war national security adviser, to the mix suggests that the hawks are indeed asendant."

    Trump is surrounding himself with people he can trust ahead of impeachment proceedings--the likelihood of which roughly approximate the chances of the Democrats retaking the House in November. If Speaker Pelosi fails to initiate impeachment proceedings against Trump, the Democrats will almost certainly replace her with someone else who will.

    Thus, Trump is surrounding himself with people he can talk to about Putin, etc. without having to worry about them selling him out to impeachment proceedings. With the exception of Jeff Sessions, the only Republicans who risked their political futures by backing Trump during his campaign (Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, John Bolton, Sarah Palin, Chris Christie, Larry Kudlow) were people who had no political future to risk. The fact that they will have no political influence in a future without Trump makes especially desirable as advisers.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Let's review.

    Jeff Sessions was not chosen to be the Attorney General because of his views on marijuana, and Trump's commitment to federalism on the issue has proven to be far more important than whatever Jeff Sessions really thinks about anything.

    Larry Kudlow was not chosen to be the Director of the NEC because he shares Trump's views on free trade.

    John Bolton was not chosen to be the National Security Adviser because he shares Trump's views on Iraq being a mistake.

    And there is no reason to think Mike Pompeo was chosen to be Secretary of State because he (or Trump) wants to invade Iran. If Trump had appointed someone who favored staying in the Iran deal, it would be irrational to assume that meant that Trump had changed his mind on the Iran deal.

    Are you want of these things that thinks that whatever happens in the world means whatever the fuck you want it to mean?

    P.S. The unconstitutional nuclear deal with Iran is indefensible from a libertarian perspective. It's also irrational. I've never seen anyone defend it from any perspective--other than misinformation and naivete. Go ahead and defend it, Boehm. I dare you.

  • John||

    If there turns out to be a deal with North Korea to get it to give up its nukes, it is going to be high comedy watching the same people at reason who sold the unconstitutional dangerous joke that is the Iran deal tell now explaining how a North Korea deal is the worst thing ever!! Because Trump!!

    It will be even more entertaining than watching Chapman go full cold warrior about Russia. And that might have been the funniest, saddest and most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. But we haven't seen anything yet if there is a North Korea deal.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I was all thumbs on that last post--glad it's comprehensible!

    Yeah, Reason staff's position on the enumerated power of congress has been all over the place--just within the past couple of weeks.

    On the one hand, the Trump's strike against Assad was wrong because it was unconstitutional.

    Yesterday, they described congress' enumerated power to set the rules of naturalization as "slavishly deferring to the will of the elected branches".

    http://reason.com/blog/2018/04.....nt_7240502

    Now, I guess we're supposed to support the Iran nuclear deal regardless of whether it's constitutional?

    Excuse me if I can't tell the difference between people who don't give a shit about the constitution and people who only care about it when it suits them to do so for other reasons.

  • John||

    The flip flop regarding DACA is bad even by reason standards. When Obama enacted it, Reason was all about the President having authority to enforce whatever parts of the law he wanted. Now that Trump is reversing it, they are all about the President not having the power to even enforce the law. How do they write this crap with a straight face?

  • mtrueman||

    "Excuse me if I can't tell the difference between people who don't give a shit about the constitution and people who only care about it when it suits them to do so for other reasons."

    Because they are all lawyers. You can tell em apart from their ties. Us non-lawyers have less abstract matters to distract our attention.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    If Trump can pull off a great deal with NK, he will have accomplished something that no president since WWII has gotten to work. Furthermore every president since and including Truman has tried.

    That Trump popularity will further sink the Democratic Party and they know it.

  • Delius||

    If Trump can pull off a great deal

    You could have stopped there, since that has yet to happen even once.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    All the fantastic deals that Trump has pulled off already.

    1. He was elected president

  • Tony||

    All you care about is watching other people get theirs.

    You are a sociopath, John.

    But you're in numerous company, if not good company. That's pretty much the entire point of the conservatard movement these days, sticking your tongues in the wind hoping some proggie tears land on them. It's just so sad.

  • John||

    You are the one thinking it is a bad thing if North Korea gives up its nukes but I am the sociopath. You are a sad, angry person Tony. Being too stupid to understand the world around you has done very bad things to your mental health.

  • Tony||

    The only reason you claim to care about North Korea giving up nukes is so that Team Trump gets a point on its board.

    But you're not playing fair because you take all the many, many points on Team Trump is a Traitorous Incompetent Fatso board and just assert that they don't count.

    This will probably blow up in his face because he's being played like the moron he is, but you still won't care about North Korea or anything else but getting your proggie tears fix. Because you're a psycho with no principles.

  • John||

    Tony you are angry and bitter at the prospect that North Korea will give up its nukes because you know Trump will take credit for it. That is totally fucked up and sick. But you make up for it by projecting your depravity on everyone else. If you were not such a genuinely hateful person, I would have to feel sorry for you.

  • Tony||

    If Trump makes a breakthrough with NK where all other presidents failed, I will say fair play to Trump. I will assess the situation objectively. I'm not going to vote for him because he's such a monumental fuckup in every other way, but that would indeed be a point for him.

    The problem is that even if NK nukes San Francisco you'll still be making excuses for Trump. And I just don't get it. He's the worst person in America. Don't you see that?

  • ||

    If Trump makes a breakthrough with NK where all other presidents failed, I will say fair play to Trump. I will assess the situation objectively. I'm not going to vote for him because he's such a monumental fuckup in every other way, but that would indeed be a point for him.

    Since you're being so honest, would the recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital without the corresponding loss of a Chris Stevens equivalent get a hat tip? Or are you just talking shit?

    Even if you buy the movie protest narrative, somehow Trump either recognized or accidentally stepped on a Muslim weak spot whereby he could laud Israel over the will of the international community without it resulting a corresponding protest and embassy overthrow.

  • Tony||

    And to prove me wrong, say that Obama's Iran nuclear deal was a positive development.

    Do it, I dare you.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    Obama's Iran deal was a positive development for Iran. Did it!

  • ||

    Obama's Iran nuclear deal was a positive development much like the Munich Agreement.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The Iran deal was not a positive development and Iran now has billions in cash to spend to kill Americans.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The other thing is that Trump is not keeping all his advisors around for years. There are various reasons for their departure but some presidents keep advisors around even if they are not doing well in their role.

  • John||

    Even the good ones burn out pretty quickly.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Sure. Its not easy being the head of a giant government agency that your are trying to roll back.

    Plus, Trump demands success which is anathema to bureaucrats.

  • John||

    Is Iran Hawk Iowa Hawk's evil twin brother?

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    [eats some jell-o contemplatively]

  • Crusty Juggler||

    can he be trusted?

    "Just the tip,?" Mike Pompeo was known to say.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    He's Greek?

  • FlameCCT||

    Seriously? At the minimum, Pompeo will not be an appeaser like HRC & Kerry. It also sends a clear message to both allies and enemies alike, the USA will no longer be a paper tiger like the Progressive Obama admin, bowing down to dictators and theocracies.

  • mtrueman||

    "At the minimum, Pompeo will not be an appeaser like HRC & Kerry. "

    Guy hasn't even formally assumed office and he's appeased North Korea far more than anyone in Obama's crew ever did. He's given the North Korean president front and centre on the world's stage; enter, stage left. This is just the attention and recognition that every North Korea president, right back to the beginning, has craved.

  • Tom Beebe||

    Let us be thankful for Rand's presence in this committee and his efforts to sway Trump & Co.

    Can they be trusted? We will have to wait and see, but at least there has been a non-interventionist effort in the Senate and comments made against which future actions can be measured.

    I'm a pro-rand Libertarian; this is but one example of how our beliefs can best be advanced. How many Libertarian party Senators have spoken out on this subject? Oh yeah.................

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    What would make anyone optimistic about a "great deal" with North Korea -- that North Korea's leader claims he is headed in that direction, or that Trump says he can arrange such a deal?

    Have two less reliable, less truthful, more blustery international leaders ever combined to try to address an important problem in our lifetimes?

    Should be good for some Saturday Night Live moments, though.

  • mtrueman||

    "What would make anyone optimistic about a "great deal" with North Korea"

    Have you any idea how optimistic South Koreans are about the situation? They're already excited about the prospects of peninsular wide infrastructure projects and the like. Trump won't be involved and it doesn't look like he's gonna stand in the way of peaceful developments.

    "Should be good for some Saturday Night Live moments, though."

    ... mixed in with some good Nuremburg rally moments, too.

  • Flinch||

    I know I missed something in the hearings - when the fossils start asking a State nominee questions like he was nominated for running Justice, I couldn't take the stupidity. Anyway, most hearings are useless and we'll see if he has the stones to connect Hillary's uranium deal with the Russians to the cash drop engineered by Kerry for Iran to buy up newly freed fissionables from the Putin regime. Then again... maybe that knowledge is how he got the job? A country funding its enemies is a very ugly political spectacle indeed.

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