Mike Pompeo Leaves State Department With a Dubious Legacy

Mike Pompeo Leaves State Department With a Dubious Legacy


In Europe, Mr. Pompeo is credited with helping to strengthen NATO as a bulwark against Russia, including through increased military spending. Alexander R. Vershbow, a former NATO deputy secretary-general who was also a former United States ambassador to Russia and South Korea and an assistant defense secretary, said Mr. Pompeo had helped protect NATO from Mr. Trump’s “contempt for the allies and bullying tactics.

Mr. Pompeo also deployed shuttle diplomacy to warm relations between Israel and states in the Middle East and North Africa as part of the Abraham Accords, the administration’s signature foreign policy achievement. But those peace pacts were largely brokered by Jared Kushner, the president’s senior adviser and son-in-law.

Mr. Pompeo has steadfastly supported Israel by defying internationally recognized norms, such as by moving the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and declaring Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and the legitimacy of West Bank settlements. As an evangelical Christian — a group that makes up a key conservative political constituency — Mr. Pompeo has sometimes framed actions against Iran in religious terms linked to Israel and biblical prophecy.

The Abraham Accords were part of a pressure campaign to isolate Iran with sanctions and military threats that began after Mr. Trump withdrew from a landmark 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran in May 2018, just weeks after Mr. Pompeo moved to the State Department after serving as the C.I.A. director.

Over the next two years, he repeatedly vexed efforts by other world powers to keep the 2015 nuclear deal intact. Mr. Pompeo was visibly energized by jousting with Iranian officials on Twitter: “You know you’re on the side of angels when this happens,” he tweeted on Tuesday, months after Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, called him the “Secretary of Hate.”

Mr. Pompeo was among Mr. Trump’s advisers who pushed for military strikes against Iran, which the president resisted in June 2019 but allowed in January 2020 to kill a top Iranian general who was in Iraq. Still, Mr. Pompeo reversed himself in November, among a group of senior officials — including Vice President Mike Pence; Christopher C. Miller, the acting defense secretary; and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — who countered the president’s request for strike options against Iran with a warning that it could easily escalate into a broader conflict in the last weeks of Mr. Trump’s presidency.

Mr. Pompeo has described himself as a disciple of “realism, restraint and respect” — an approach advocated by his longtime financial backer, Charles G. Koch, a conservative billionaire whose network of donors gave more campaign contributions to Mr. Pompeo than to any other congressional candidate in the country in four House elections from 2010 to 2016.





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