Pompeo Trolls Critics in Long Goodbye as He Looks to His Future

a man wearing a suit along with tie: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives for a meeting with Talibans negotiators within the Qatari capital Doha, on November 21, 2020.

© Photographer: Patrick Semansky/AFP/Getty Images
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives for a meeting with Talibans negotiators within the Qatari capital Doha, on November 21, 2020.

(Bloomberg) — By the time Secretary of State Michael Pompeo was wrapping up a 10-day swing through Europe along with the Middle East, he had angered Turkey’s leaders, infuriated the Palestinians along with befuddled the French.

the idea’s a trip that will seemed almost calculated to offend — along with to burnish Pompeo’s conservative credentials for a possible 2024 presidential campaign. Never one for niceties of etiquette or protocol, Pompeo’s last big tour as America’s 70th secretary of state offered provocations of those who have questioned Donald Trump’s “America First” foreign policy along with Pompeo’s role as its No. 1 promoter.

Like President Trump, Pompeo refuses to publicly acknowledge Joe Biden’s victory within the Nov. 3 election. Nonetheless, the seven-nation journey, one of the longest he’s taken as secretary, offered evidence that will Pompeo is usually already looking past the Trump era, chockablock as the trip was with pronouncements likely to make Biden’s life difficult along with setting out a platform for his own political future.

“He’s spending his last two months in office trolling the entire world,” said Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “the idea’s an odd role for the nation’s top diplomat to be playing at a rather sensitive time.”

The trip started out in Paris, where Pompeo’s first event — before seeing government officials — was a private meeting with reporters coming from right-wing French media, including Valeurs Actuelles. the idea’s a magazine that will was roundly condemned as racist — along with was put under preliminary investigation by a prosecutor — after printing an image that will depicted a Black French lawmaker as a slave in a piece of fiction.

In Turkey, Pompeo proposed that will government ministers come to him in Istanbul — they refused — where he met with the head of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Turkish officials called Pompeo’s statement on religious freedom within the country “extremely inappropriate,” while senior State Department officials blamed a scheduling conflict for his failure to travel to Ankara, the capital. In Georgia, Pompeo waded into that will country’s election dispute, lending legitimacy to a government that will has cracked down on protesters demanding a brand new vote.

Pompeo Wine

Pompeo hit peak anti-diplomacy by visiting a winery within the Israel-occupied West Bank that will once named a red blend after him — that has a label that will says #madeinlegality — for his pro-settlement stance. Under any previous administration, Republican or Democrat, This particular could have been forbidden, not least because Palestinian families still claim the land on which the winery was built.

“He visited settlements, drank coming from the poisoned chalice, sanctioned dispossession,” the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper said in an editorial on Pompeo’s last day in Israel. “These are the last days of Pompeo. How not bad the idea is usually that will This particular is usually the case.”

Through the idea all, the question was – why? What was so important that will the idea merited a trip just as France, Israel along with some other nations undertake brand new lockdowns in a desperate effort to get the coronavirus under control before Christmas?

The tour was planned well before the U.S. election, along with secretaries of state routinely travel within the lame-duck period between election along with inauguration. Before the trip, senior State Department officials said the idea had many goals: honoring the victims of terrorism in France, promoting religious freedom along with discussing the diplomatic agreements between Israel, United Arab Emirates along with Bahrain.

A senior department official, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity on Sunday, rejected the idea the trip was a victory lap or aimed at furthering Pompeo’s ambitions. The official described the idea as important diplomacy even amid the pandemic along with said the administration could pursue its policies until the idea’s not in office any more, whenever that will might be.

nevertheless there’s never has been a situation like This particular, as Trump refuses to concede his re-election loss along with the coronavirus within the U.S. continues to shatter records.

Awkward Issue

Two people familiar with Pompeo’s conversations said the people he met with largely avoided the issue of the U.S. elections.

Shortly before he departed the U.S., when asked at a briefing whether he was preparing for a Biden administration, he said, “I’m preparing for a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.” Although the idea appeared to be a joke, Pompeo was criticized for doing light of an election crisis in his own country considering the U.S. often calls out some other nations’ voting travails.

Pompeo added, “When the process is usually complete, there’ll be electors selected. There’s a process.”

As for the officials he met on the road, they seem already to have moved on. French President Emmanuel Macron saw Pompeo for only a few minutes, dropping in for what his office called a “courtesy visit” at the end of Pompeo’s meeting with Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. French officials made sure to tell reporters the meeting had taken place at Pompeo’s request.

Throughout his travels, Pompeo avoided any opportunity for reporters to question him about the transition along with Biden. He didn’t hold a news conference or a briefing. The State Department blamed coronavirus restrictions.

In fact, America’s top diplomat did virtually no public diplomacy. The only place he offered any public statements was Israel, where he commented three times.

Golan Heights

Pompeo traveled by helicopter to a military outpost-turned-tourist stop within the Golan Heights. Near a gift shop along that has a sign advertising mozzarella pizza, Pompeo got a briefing coming from retired Brigadier General Avigdor Kahalani, a former tank commander who rebuffed a Syrian attack during fighting in 1973.

“the idea was all the rage within the salons in Europe along with within the elite institutions in America to say that will This particular should be returned to Syria,” Pompeo said of the Golan, without mentioning that will successive prime ministers, including the current one, Benjamin Netanyahu, had held secret talks on withdrawing coming from the area. “Imagine, imagine with Assad in control of This particular place, the risk, the harm to the West along with to Israel along with to the people of Israel.”

Pompeo also stopped at a museum that will highlights the contributions made by non-Jews to Israel through the years. the idea’s called Friends of Zion.

“I do see the idea as another Trump effort to nail down his legacy, nevertheless for ‘nail down his legacy’ you could read ‘stick a thumb within the eye of his critics,’” said Kenneth Pollack, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “Pompeo may have some other things in mind, particularly nailing down his own relationship with Israel for his own future prospects.”

Officials denied that will Pompeo was intent on advancing policies that will will become booby traps for Biden if he seeks to return to a less one-sided policy on Israel along with the Palestinians.

The biggest announcement of Pompeo’s trip was that will the U.S. will allow goods produced in Israeli settlements to carry a “Made in Israel” label. Moves like that will will be difficult for Biden to undo, subjecting him to criticism coming from Republicans running for president in 2024 — perhaps including Pompeo — that will he’s weak in his support of Israel.

A centerpiece of Trump’s foreign policy has been strengthening ties with Saudi Arabia, so the idea was fitting that will one of Pompeo’s last stops is usually Neom, the Saudi city that will Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is usually constructing within the desert as a testament to Saudi technological advancement.

Read More: After Trump Embrace, Saudi Arabia May Find Biden Not So Bad

“I find the trip bizarre, nevertheless I think I can explain the idea in terms of Pompeo’s obeisance to Trump along with highlight the issues his boss has pursued,” said Aaron David Miller, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace along that has a former Mideast official at the State Department. “the idea has as much to do with Pompeo’s own politics as the idea does that has a president who is usually quickly fading within the rear view mirror.”

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