Home/Daniel Larison/Pompeo’s North Korea Lies Are Catching Up to Him

Pompeo’s North Korea Lies Are Catching Up to Him

Then-Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-KS, speaking at a rally in 2013. He faces a senate grilling for his secretary of state nomination today.Mark Taylor/Creative Commons

Secretary Pompeo keeps lying to the public about what North Korea has agreed to do:

The whole world understands the threat that Chairman Kim’s nuclear weapons present to the world. Chairman Kim’s now committed to giving them up. He said he would denuclearize. He’s told me that face to face, personally, no less than half a dozen times.

It is difficult to take Pompeo’s assertions seriously when he has made a habit of saying things that everyone knows to be untrue. He has repeatedly referred to the “final, fully verified denuclearization as agreed to by Chairman Kim” when Kim never agreed to any such thing:

Pompeo expects us to take his word for what Kim has told him privately, but his assurances don’t count for very much when we know he has consistently misrepresented Kim’s public position. Supposing that Kim did say something like this to Pompeo, it is very likely that Kim’s idea of denuclearization was and is very different from Pompeo’s. Even if Kim said these things and professed a desire to follow through on them, it doesn’t actually mean that he committed to disarm. More to the point, even if Kim said something to Pompeo it is clear enough that the North Korean government isn’t acting on the things that Pompeo thought he heard.

Pompeo’s statement is emblematic of many of the flaws in the Trump administration’s North Korea policy. He tells us something we know to be false, then he touts his face-to-face meetings with Kim as proof when this doesn’t really prove anything (and we can’t trust what he says anyway), and he treats nonbinding verbal commitments as meaningful. The Secretary of State wants us to trust him as a reliable interpreter of the North Korean position when he has spent the better part of a year consciously spinning and misrepresenting that position in order to keep his boss happy. As Pompeo might say, that is ridiculous and frankly ludicrous.

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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