Thursday, October 24, 2019

‘Your question is insane.’ Full interview with Secretary of State Pompeo in Wichita

...Eagle: Has Russia been able to fill the power vacuum that was created by the withdrawal of US troops in Syria?

Pompeo: I’m actually very familiar with this issue. From my time in Congress. I remember who invited the Russians into Syria. It was President Barack Obama. I mean, he didn’t just let them come in.

He invited them in. He had them come in and pretend to be chemical weapons inspectors. He actively worked with the Russian leadership, said no, come on in, come on into Syria. And this administration has taken a very different approach in the Middle East. We’ve identified the worst actor there, the Islamic Republic of Iran. We’ve taken real actions to reduce their capacity to inflict harm, to create instability throughout the Middle East. We came into office, you’ll remember this. There were people in cages heads being cut off. You remember you’ve seen these pictures, cages on fire. The caliphate and taking a piece of real estate that was enormous. ISIS was on the rise. And this administration took a set of policies not only in Syria, but in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East, that destroyed the caliphate entirely. We still have counterterrorism risk. Radical Islamic extremism continues to exist not only in the Middle East, but in but in other parts of the world too. This administration is determined to keep the American people safe, to push back against the threat from radical Islamic extremism wherever we find it, whether it’s in western Iraq, or Syria, northeast Syria, in particular, Asia, wherever we find bad actors who are seeking to impose harm on the American people, this administration will seriously deal with it.

Eagle: And what good really is the word of the U.S. in light of the president’s treatment of the Kurds? Has that undercut U.S. credibility?

Pompeo: The whole predicate of your question is insane. The word the United States-- I’ll give you a good example-- the word of the United States is much more respected today than it was just two and a half years ago. The previous administration in Syria, where you asked the question earlier, the previous administration said, ‘Boy, if you use chemical weapons that’s going to be bad,’ and the president drew a red line, President Obama drew a red line. He then duly ignored it. This president said, ‘If you use chemical weapons, I’m going to take action.’ And we fired Tomahawk missiles in to take down that threat to let them know that the cost of violating this, this massive violation of human dignity, these massive human rights violations by using chemical weapons, that there would be a cost imposed for that. And when the President said he would do it. He did. I see that all across the world, we make clear the things that we will do. We also make clear the things that we’re not prepared to do. I think it’s important for people to understand that other countries have to step up too. Other countries must share the burden for not just the security of the world, but security for their own countries. So this president’s been very clear that we have high expectations for how other countries, not just our European partners, but countries in Africa, countries in the Middle East, countries throughout Asia, who depend on the Strait of Hormuz to be up, they need to, they need to do that for themselves as well. And when they do, America will continue to be an enormous partner. I get a chance to travel the world. And when I show up, people want to meet the American secretary of state. They don’t want to meet Mike. They want to meet the American secretary of state who they know can work alongside them to deliver security for their people in an important way....