Harold Hutchison / January 15, 2019

Pompeo Brings New Attitude to the Middle East

It’s a very welcome change from the gross foreign policy plunders of the Barack Obama years.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been taking heat from some quarters over his speech in Cairo last week. The short version is that he repudiated Barack Obama’s gross mishandling of the Middle East region. To the Leftmedia, that’s just not kosher.

“Remember: It was … here in this city that another American stood before you,” Pompeo declared. “He told you that radical Islamist terrorism does not stem from an ideology. He told you that 9/11 led my country to abandon its ideals, particularly in the Middle East. He told you that the United States and the Muslim world needed, quote, ‘a new beginning.’ … The good news is this: The age of self-inflicted American shame is over, and so are the policies that produced so much needless suffering. Now comes the real new beginning.”

“We’ve learned from our mistakes,” Pompeo added. “We’ve rediscovered our voice. We’ve rebuilt our relationships. We’ve rejected false overtures from our enemies.”

The mistakes came fast and furious during Obama’s tenure. The ill-advised and premature withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 created a vacuum that ISIS filled. The resultant human suffering alone made this an appalling decision, but it also hurt America strategically. The sad fact was that had America simply kept a residual force in Iraq, we’d be much better off.

Then came Libya. Moammar Gadhafi was nobody’s angel. He supported terrorist attacks that killed Americans. He pursued weapons of mass destruction. His human-rights record was horrible. On some level, his demise was karma. The problem was, there was no plan for after Gadhafi fell. At least with Iraq, George W. Bush’s administration had some idea of a desired outcome.

Speaking of Iraq, Libya was also problematic in another sense: Gadhafi gave up his WMD programs in the wake of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Thus some of our present problems with North Korea can be traced to the decision to take him out in spite of his cooperation. Kim Jong-un may be crazy, but he’s smart enough to realize that his nuclear arsenal makes removing him a much riskier proposition.

Then there was Syria. For all the constitutional questions surrounding our fight there (ISIS was a spinoff of an al-Qaida franchise, so some argue the 2001 authorization for use of military force applies), let’s face it, if you want to solve the refugee problem, ISIS and Bashar al-Assad both have to be dealt with.

Not keeping that common-sense principle in mind was a big mistake. But Obama compounded it by not backing up his “red line” regarding the use of chemical weapons. Trump, though, ordered airstrikes twice in response to Assad’s repeated alleged use of those despicable weapons. Even then, America’s credibility took a hit.

Trump also has gotten tough with Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan. For all the crying over what the Saudis did to Jamal Khashoogi, Erdogan has been just as bad, if not worse, when it comes to treating opposition journalists. Cutting off the F-35 was a good start, but there needs to be some serious changes in behavior.

Obama’s biggest mistake, though, was his futile pursuit of a rapprochement with the Iranian regime. Never mind that the Houthi, Iran’s stooges in Yemen, took shots at a U.S. Navy ship multiple times, leaders of that country routinely call for Israel to be wiped off the map. President Trump has been working to put new pressure on that state sponsor of terrorism. That is what will lead to good things and positive change in the Middle East.

Trump is also bolstering our more reliable allies in the region with arms sales. This should incentivize good behavior. Furthermore, if there should be a conflict in the Middle East, at least our allies will be able to operate with us. While some may see Pompeo’s speech as mere words by some, it’s a cherry on top of a policy-changes sundae that will strengthen America’s position. And that’s what makes America great, again.

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