Opinion | Secretary of State Pompeo Leaves No Bridges Unburned

Whereas his boss approaches an notorious exit, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been busily and noisily scorching the earth behind them.

Aside from a quick, boilerplate condemnation of the violence on Capitol Hill final week, Mr. Pompeo has proven little regret or misery over it, and positively no recognition that President Trump had a central function in inciting the mob.

However Mr. Pompeo has not been idle. Over the previous week, he unleashed a sequence of actions whose solely actual objective seems to be to make life as tough as potential for his successor on the State Division. He put Cuba again on the record of state sponsors of terrorism, he plans to designate the Houthi rebels in Yemen as a international terrorist group, he eased restrictions on contacts between American diplomats and Taiwan officers and he claimed that Iran is a “home base” for Al Qaeda.

All of the whereas, Mr. Pompeo has been hyperactive on social media, issuing scores of tweets because the begin of the 12 months touting the administration’s “accomplishments” overseas. Most of those are regarded by American allies and plenty of State Division professionals as horrible, like withdrawing from the Intermediate-Vary Nuclear Forces Treaty, the Paris settlement on local weather change and the Iran nuclear deal.

Among the actions Mr. Pompeo took over the previous week could be defensible, had been they taken within the context of a coherent international coverage. However coming days earlier than a change in administration, their sole identifiable objective is to maliciously plant obstacles — some commentators have known as them time bombs or booby traps — earlier than the incoming administration and President-elect Joe Biden’s selection for Mr. Pompeo’s successor at State, Antony Blinken, are in place.

Returning Cuba to the state-sponsor-of-terrorism record does nothing besides complicate Mr. Biden’s intention to return to the seek for higher relations initiated by President Barack Obama and throw a sop to Trump-backing Cuban exiles in Florida.

Sanctioning the Houthis in Yemen is a clear favor to Saudi Arabia, which has sought to defeat the rebels with a scientific bombing marketing campaign with American assist that has inflicted untold struggling to civilians. The Houthis, supported by Iran, little question have dedicated their share of crimes, however they’re crucial to any peaceable decision of the brutal six-year warfare and, extra instantly, to the supply of meals and medical provides to a area described by the United Nations as struggling the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Easing the longstanding restrictions on contacts between American diplomats and Taiwanese officers could be construed as a robust gesture of assist for the democratic authorities in Taipei. However america has demonstrated its assist in lots of different methods, and Mr. Biden doesn’t want an added irritant as he assumes duty for the fraught and complicated relationship with Beijing.

On Tuesday Mr. Pompeo declared that Al Qaeda, the terrorist group behind the Sept. 11 assaults, had discovered a brand new dwelling base in Iran. “They are partners in terrorism, partners in hate,” he declared with out providing any proof. Present and former officers had been fast to mood and even contradict the declare, which offered Mr. Pompeo with a pretext for additional demonizing Iran, a leitmotif of the administration, and made any effort by Mr. Biden to resuscitate the Iran nuclear deal tougher.

Mr. Pompeo’s effort to depart no bridge unburned may stand him in good stead with major voters, ought to he — as has been broadly anticipated — search larger workplace within the coming years. However selfishness on the expense of the nationwide curiosity isn’t the mark of an honorable diplomat or a patriot.

That sentiment seems to be shared in Mr. Pompeo’s State Division, the place some officers are mentioned to be preserving discreet clocks counting down the minutes till Secretary Pompeo is a personal citizen as soon as once more.

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