In the end, Pompeo’s Cairo speech was little more than an exercise in arrogant self-congratulation:
“In just 24 months, the United States under President Trump has reasserted its traditional role as a force for good in this region,” Pompeo will say in the speech Thursday at the American University of Cairo, according to a State Department fact sheet circulated beforehand. “We have rediscovered our voice. We have rebuilt our relationships. We have rejected false overtures from enemies.”
American hawks are particularly sensitive to criticism that the U.S. meddling in the world does more harm than good, and so they are constantly asserting without much proof that the opposite is true. The Trump administration has done very little in the Middle East or anywhere else that might be reasonably described as doing good, and so Pompeo’s insistence that it is a “force for good” is even more strained and hard to take seriously. The same people that have helped some of the world’s worst governments blow up civilians and starve millions of people in Yemen want to be applauded for their good work. Our government has been helping to create mass starvation and backs the Saudi and Emirati architects of the famine to the hilt for the last two years and more, but Pompeo doesn’t have anything to say about that. It is a disgusting attempt to whitewash the administration’s real record.
If Obama’s Cairo speech ten years ago was an unsuccessful attempt to acknowledge the failures and mistakes of American policy in the region, Pompeo’s was a lecture directed against all critics of U.S. foreign policy. At one point, he said, “In falsely seeing ourselves as a force for what ails the Middle East, we were timid about asserting ourselves when the times — and our partners — demanded it.” There is almost nothing that hawks love more than to pretend that people in a particular region crave and demand U.S. interference in their affairs. Once again, we were treated to the propaganda that we are always liberators, never occupiers (most Iraqis would likely disagree with that), and further that we have never been oppressors at any time. Pompeo declared, “We’ve never dreamed of domination. Can you say the same of the Iranian regime?” It takes a remarkable amount of gall to tout the virtue of our hegemony in the region while also denying that it exists. Pompeo’s claims aren’t true, but then the point of a speech like this is to bury the truth under an avalanche of self-serving nonsense.