December 07, 2018

Pompeo’s Speech in Brussels Was Tone-Deaf and Arrogant

By Julianne Smith

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo set himself an impossible task for his speech in Brussels on Tuesday: take President Donald Trump’s disparaging and often contradictory remarks about Europe and his self-declared love for nationalism, weave them into a cohesive trans-Atlantic strategy, and try to sell it to a large audience in Brussels. Unfortunately, no one—except perhaps Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and a few other autocrats—bought it. Pompeo’s tone-deaf calls for European countries to reassert their sovereignty in the name of reforming the liberal order did not reveal anything resembling a trans-Atlantic strategy. It revealed only the administration’s ignorance and arrogance.

Pompeo’s main message was that the rules-based, multilateral system that served the West’s collective interests for many decades no longer worked. To prove his point, he ticked through a list of the weaknesses and failings of international institutions, including the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and the African Union. Anyone who has followed Trump’s public remarks about international institutions—or those of his national security advisor, John Bolton—did not find that perspective at all unexpected. What Europeans did find surprising was that Pompeo lumped the European Union in with those other institutions. “It’s quite a precedent to have a U.S. Secretary of State put the EU on the hit list,” Marcin Zaborowski, the former head of the Polish Institute of International Affairs, texted me after the speech.

Read the full article in Foreign Policy.

  • Reports
    • October 20, 2020
    Charting a Transatlantic Course to Address China

    Working together to collectively strengthen the United States’ and Europe’s ability to compete with China provides an opportunity for a reinvigorated partnership....

    By Julianne Smith, Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Carisa Nietsche & Ellison Laskowski

  • Podcast
    • October 16, 2020
    European Outlooks on the Transatlantic Relationship, with Jana Puglierin

    Jana Puglierin joins Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend to discuss how Europeans are thinking about the United States and a future transatlantic relationship. Puglierin is...

    By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend & Jana Puglierin

  • Podcast
    • September 25, 2020
    Kicking-off the Next Season of Brussels Sprouts with Amb. Nicholas Burns

    In the first episode of the new season of Brussels Sprouts, Amb. Nicholas Burns joins Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend to discuss U.S.-Europe relations under the Trump a...

    By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend & Amb. Nicholas Burns

  • Commentary
    • War on the Rocks
    • August 14, 2020
    Russia and China Playing Musical Chairs in Zero Gravity

    American defense planners need to not overinflate the threat of Russian-Chinese cooperation, but still understand and plan for those areas where their combined efforts might l...

    By Jeffrey Edmonds

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia