Is Pompeo The Worst Secretary Of State Ever?

“Is Pompeo The Worst Secretary Of State Ever?”, Econospeak, by Barkley Rosser

This is the title of a column in today’s Washington Post by Jackson Diehl. His answer is an unequivocal “yes,” and I must say on thinking about it I know of no others clearly worse than him, maybe not even any as bad as him.

Diehl focuses on some general incompetence but then focuses on two specific issues that I have posted on here previously. The most important one, which is getting more serious by the minute, involves Iran. It is increasingly clear that Pompeo is probably the lead figure in pushing for heightening sanctions on Iran and also increasing the chance of war with them. He was a key player in Trump’s initial exit from the JCPOA nuclear agreement and has argued that making it harder for Iran to get medical equipment even as they face a deepening epidemic with thousands dying will bring them to the negotiating table or even lead to regime change. There is no evidence of any of that, just an immoral making many more people die awful deaths.

He is also apparently a key figure in labeling Covid-19 “the Chinese virus” or “Wuhan virus.” Trump has said he won’t call it those things anymore, apparently being told that this has been leading to attacks on Asian Americans. But Pompeo continues to push this line for no obviously good reason.

Indeed this last matter ties to a more general complaint by Diehl, that aside from just being plain outright evil, Pompeo is also incompetent at just very basic stuff. So this week there was a conference call among the foreign ministers of the G7. This should have been a boilerplate affair, with them coming together to combat the pandemic. But in fact the whole thing was a flop with no resolutions. Why? Pompeo apparently kept insisting the disease be called the “Wuhan virus” with no other G7 foreign minister willing to do so. But Pompeo trashed the entire meeting over this idiocy.

He also ran to Afghanistan to supposedly negotiate a deal between the two candidates for president who are in a deadlock. He failed there to get anybody to do anything.

Finally we have another conference call that failed, this one among various figures from the G20, currently being led by Saudi Arabia and its awful Crown Prince MbS. Again, a move to coordinate the fight against the virus should have been the top priority, but Pompeo decided to demand of MbS that he stop pumping so much oil since the crash in oil prices is hurting a lot of US-based oil companies that support Trump. Again, this went nowhere and his move annoyed MbS so much that the meeting ended with nothing done at all.

Maybe there has been a worse US Secretary of State, but if anybody has a candidate, this pile of horrible actions, most of them just in the last week or so, will be hard to match. He needs to go.

Barkley Rosser