There was a lot wrong with Pompeo’s Cairo speech, but this part stood out for being especially absurd:
And our desire for peace at any cost led us to strike a deal with Iran, our common enemy.
Pompeo likes to speak in ideological cliches, and this part of the speech was overflowing with them. The negotiation of the nuclear deal was focused on limiting Iran’s nuclear program, and that is what it did. The costs of implementing the deal were borne entirely by Iran. The only thing that the U.S. had to agree to give up were the sanctions whose ostensible purpose was to get Iran to make concessions on the nuclear issue. According to Pompeo, those are the sanctions that “should never have been lifted,” and so he confirms once again that there is no agreement that Iran could have made or could ever make that he and other Iran hawks would find satisfactory. Pompeo’s remarks make it clear that this administration isn’t going to offer Iran any incentive to negotiate with the U.S. on anything. His reiteration of the 12 preposterous demands that he listed last year proved as much.
The Secretary’s speech in Egypt is the latest example of what happens when the responsibilities of our chief diplomat are given to a man who has no interest in or experience with diplomacy. Instead of pursuing mutually beneficial negotiations with other states, Pompeo looks for excuses to condemn his predecessors and express contempt for their work. Rather than trying to build on the diplomatic successes of the previous administration, he takes to foreign soil to denounce them. He is the most overtly partisan Secretary of State we have had, and so he sees nothing wrong with scoring points publicly against domestic opponents while claiming to represent the country as a whole. The U.S. has had some poor Secretaries of State in our history, but few have been as ill-suited to the job as Pompeo. Each time he delivers a high-profile speech, he embarrasses the country and diminishes his office.