'Bomb Iran & execute Snowden’: Brief history of Pompeo’s foreign policy rhetoric
Newly-installed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo doesn’t have a huge amount of experience as a diplomat so what can we expect from the former Kansas congressman now that he is heading US foreign policy?
Pompeo landed the top job in the State Department on Tuesday after US President Donald Trump ousted Rex Tillerson. Here’s a flavor of his previous comments on the most pressing foreign policy issues.
Pompeo was appointed CIA director in November 2016. He began his tenure by talking tough on Russia, describing it as a major threat to US interests. “[Russia] has reasserted itself aggressively, invading and occupying Ukraine, threatening Europe, and doing nearly nothing to aid in the destruction and defeat of ISIS.”
He continued with the hawkish rhetoric throughout his time in the CIA. On Sunday he said that Americans are safe from Russia because it has weapons to counter any Russian threat.
“Americans should rest assured that we have a very good understanding of the Russian program and how to make sure that Americans continue to be kept safe from threats from Vladimir Putin,” the then-CIA chief said.
However Russia isn’t the only ‘bad guy’ out there, according to Pompeo. In a revealing interview with the BBC the then-US spy chief attacked alleged Chinese efforts to exert covert influence in the West. He claimed China attempts to post spies in schools and hospitals, as well as trying to steal information from US companies.
"We can watch very focused efforts to steal American information, to infiltrate the United States with spies – with people who are going to work on behalf of the Chinese government against America,” according to Pompeo. "We see it in our schools. We see it in our hospitals and medicals systems. We see it throughout corporate America. It's also true in other parts of the world... including Europe and the UK.”
After becoming CIA director Pompeo spoke of a desire to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula because of the danger of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un possessing weapons of mass destruction. In recent days he reaffirmed this position, asserting that the Trump administration has “its eyes wide open” on North Korea as Kim agreed to pause nuclear testing ahead of forthcoming negotiations between the two nations.
“The pressure will continue to mount on North Korea,” he told CBS. “There is no relief in sight until the president gets the objective that he has set forth consistently during his entire time in office.”
Pompeo, who, like Trump, had a career as a businessman before turning to politics, has reserved his strongest rhetoric for Iran and the nuclear deal signed by former US President Barack Obama.
His opposition dates back to his time as a congressman when he said that the deal “won't stop Iran from getting a nuclear bomb and places Israel at more risk.” Pompeo also criticized the Obama administration for not demanding that Iran cease calling for Israel's destruction as part of the deal.
Before becoming CIA director Pompeo broached the possibility of using force to destroy Iran's nuclear capacity. “In an unclassified setting, it is under 2,000 sorties to destroy the Iranian nuclear capacity,” he said in 2014. “This is not an insurmountable task for the coalition forces.”
Pompeo’s dramatic comments on Iran pale in comparison to the fate he thinks National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden deserves. The new secretary of state said that Snowden, who leaked classified NSA information, should be brought back to the US and sentenced to death.
“[He] should brought back from Russia and given due process, and I think the proper outcome would be that he would be given a death sentence,” Pompeo said in February 2016.He also lashed out at Snowden’s appearance via video link at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, in 2014, fearing it would cause “lawless behavior” in the crowd. The talk went ahead without incident.
Pompeo also had harsh words about WikiLeaks, referring to the whistleblowing organization as a "hostile intelligence service" in April 2017.
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