Home/Daniel Larison/Pompeo Told a Lot of Lies in His ‘Untold Story’

Pompeo Told a Lot of Lies in His ‘Untold Story’

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo participates in a press conference with U.S. President Donald J. Trump during the NATO Foreign Ministerial in Brussels on July 12, 2018. (State Department photo/ Public Domain)

Pompeo delivered a speech at the Heritage Foundation in which he claimed to be telling the “untold story” of the Trump administration’s diplomatic successes. As usual, the speech was full of gross distortions and flat-out lies:

And as I said, that central idea, that animating principle that we laid out there about doing our best to help the Iranian people be successful [bold mine-DL], I think it set the stage for the work that I’ve done what is now in this last year and a half.

It also set the stage for the way that we’ve tried to conduct foreign policy. I’ve continued to deliver tough messages that recognize a set of basic facts about the way the world is, because we can’t achieve good policy unless we recognize the reality of what’s going on with the ground [bold mine-DL].

During his brief tenure at the State Department, Pompeo has excelled at misinforming, misleading, and simply lying to the public. One of the most dishonest conceits of his work as Secretary of State is the idea that he is deeply concerned with telling the truth about the way things really are. This is the same man who lied to Congress that the Saudi coalition was making a serious effort to reduce civilian casualties when the coalition was deliberately targeting civilians with their bombing campaign and starving them with their blockade and economic warfare. This is the same man who pretended that the Saudi crown prince wasn’t responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi when it was obvious no one else could have been behind it. He is the one who has lied about the causes of the war in Yemen and he has lied about who is mainly responsible for the humanitarian crisis by trying to put all of the blame on Iran. He lies about Iran and the nuclear deal almost every time he opens his mouth to talk about them. Pompeo has spent most of his time as Secretary of State obscuring “what’s going on” to conceal the awful consequences of Trump administration policies. He looks at the way “the world is,” and then makes up a bunch of whoppers to create a fantasy version that is more pleasing to the president and more flattering for himself.

The claim that the Trump administration wants to “help the Iranian people succeed” may be one of the most galling and insulting lies that Pompeo tells on a regular basis. The Trump administration has spent the last year and a half doing everything they can to make the Iranian people more miserable. The sanctions that Pompeo is so proud of are killing sick people by cutting them off from their medicine, destroying the Iranian middle class, dashing the hopes of young Iranians for a better future, suffocating political activists, and bolstering hard-liners. Obviously strangling a country’s economy and impoverishing its people is not going to “help” them “succeed,” and it isn’t intended to. The idea that Iran hawks have ever wanted to help the Iranian people is belied by their enthusiasm for punitive measures and threats of war. They pay lip service to the people’s aspirations at the same time they support policies that crush those aspirations.

Lacking in achievements of their own, the administration has to steal the achievements of the preceding administration:

It was the Trump administration, with the help of the SDF fighters and 70 nations that built a coalition – something that never gets talked about – the work that we did to build out that team united around the destruction of the caliphate in Syria and Iraq was important and effective.

The Trump administration’s role is never talked about here because they aren’t the ones that built this coalition. They inherited it and essentially continued the same policy, and now Pompeo has the nerve to take credit for something that he had very little to do with. He then has the gall to repeat his refrain about truth-telling:

My responsibility, for a start, is to help countries see the world for what it is.

That may be what Pompeo ought to be doing, but it certainly isn’t what he has done. He has acted as Trump’s spinmeister and propagandist. He has played the part of a shameless flack desperately concocting fables to cover up for terrible policies. Pompeo has not helped Saudi Arabia to “see the world for what it is.” He has regurgitated their absurd cover stories and whitewashed their crimes. His role in lying about what North Korea agreed to do has meant trying to deceive the entire world.

Pompeo’s “truths” are at best partial, and they are usually so biased and warped by his hard-line views that they are unrecognizable to the rest of us. Few U.S. officials are so preoccupied with boasting about their devotion to the truth as Pompeo, and few are as thoroughly dishonest as he is. He keeps bringing this up throughout the speech:

But showing up only matters if you’re there for a purpose and that you’re willing to tell the truth when it’s tough and that you’ll continue to speak to them about things that are hard.

As countless journalists can attest, Pompeo doesn’t like telling the truth, and he really hates it when they ask him questions that expose his statements as false and misleading. He doesn’t like telling the truth when it’s easy, much less when it’s tough, and he attacks anyone willing to confront him about the Trump administration’s failures.

There is a reason no one has told the story of the Trump administration’s foreign policy successes: there haven’t been any successes to talk about. The things that Pompeo cites as proof that the administration’s policies are working don’t hold up under scrutiny. He boasts about driving businesses away from Iran, but this is simply inflicting damage. It isn’t achieving anything except destruction. He mentions the attacks on Saudi oil facilities, as if the increased tensions with Iran resulting from the administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign aren’t evidence of failure. He claims that the administration has “changed the global conversation on China,” but neglects to add that the deleterious effects of the trade war have been borne primarily by American businesses and consumers. Pompeo can point to a lot of activity, but he can’t point to any meaningful results that have advanced U.S. interests one iota. To tell the “untold story” of the administration’s successes abroad, Pompeo has to keep telling lies.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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