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.

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