At US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s swearing-in ceremony, Trump jocularly told those present that he did not believe that Pompeo graduated first in his class when he majored in mechanical engineering at the US military academy in New York.
“I heard that rumor a long time ago. I thought it was a rumor. And I’ve heard it many times. So I (asked him) is that true? And he said yes.” And laughter filled the hall.
Excellence, however, has not been a stranger to Pompeo’s career. He attained his PhD in law from Harvard and worked as editor of the university’s famous law magazine. He worked in successful business and was member of the US House of Representatives for Kansas for six years. “Mike was the type of guy who was just born smart,” one of his friends says.
Pompeo’s name did the rounds recently following the historic meeting with North Korea’s leader. This is besides his role in the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and his intensified attack on the Tehran regime, especially his latest speech, which has been truly historic.
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It is fortunate to have a character such as Pompeo at this particular time. He is a man with moral values and principles and he seeks to implement them via realistic methods.
He has deep understanding of issues and a clear vision regarding threats and players who threaten world order and its stability, such as al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and the Iranian regime.
It seems Pompeo has the biggest influence on Trump ever since he was head of intelligence. He established a close and honest relation with his superior that further strengthened during the daily sessions he held with him to inform him of the dangers that threaten US’ national security.
What Pompeo has in common with Trump is that he is also street smart and did not only become witty thanks to books and academic curriculaMamdouh AlMuhaini
Chemistry with Rex
There was chemistry between the two men unlike the case with Rex Tillerson and Trump and whom the latter fired after he acted like a stubborn bull who repeatedly gored his owner.
Tillerson was a rigid personality that lacked the simplest skills for the job, which is executing his boss’s agenda. Trump thus fired him in tweet while he was still sleeping.
The same happened to McMaster, the national security advisor who did not read his boss’s approach well and whom Trump hated due to his arrogant behavior, studded stars on his chest and the use of big academic terms. Pompeo knew the keys to Trump’s character despite the possibility that he could pose a threat and scratch his ego with his wits and degrees.
What Pompeo has in common with Trump is that he is also street smart and did not only become witty thanks to books and academic curricula, and this is what Trump wants in his administration. He wants strong characters that are close to his heart and distant from the American elite in Washington and New York and which despises him and seeks to topple him.
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In his early days, Pompeo read books by playwright and philosopher, Ayn Rand, who is originally Russian. Her writings influenced him and this perhaps made him closer to Trump who fits as a hero in her writings because he reflects her philosophy of individualism, self-interest and unrestrained capitalism.
Rand despised ethical altruism to the extent that she was described as “goddess of the market.” Pompeo is more Republican than Trump, the businessman who’s been immersed in the world of media and finances for decades before he decided to engage in politics and exploit his mobilization abilities to win the presidency. Trump proved that he is a political animal and an electoral promotion machine.
Pompeo is a Republican in his principles whether in or outside the US. When he worked in trade, he realized how government interference destroyed businesses and said once that he is going to Washington to change this.
He was for decreasing taxes, limiting the government’s role and against subsidy programs. He supported the pure teachings of the founder fathers as they have been written.
On the foreign level, he is a hawk who believes in the American exception and of the importance of maintaining the international order and combating the powers that seek to destroy it, even if they are individuals.
He did not hesitate to demand execution of Edward Snowden who leaked dangerous and confidential data from the National Security Agency. His experience in the Congress, the CIA and the Department of State deepened his convictions and his approach.
The New York Times described him as the first person to have served as both the United States’ top spy and top diplomat. There is a huge contradiction between these two tasks but he proved his competence in both.
Those who know him say he is polite and not weak, a smooth-tongued but strict, a diplomat but steady. He negotiates but he does not forget major issues or principles. He knows how to please his boss but without turning into a puppet in his hand and an echo of his voice.
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He knows how to frankly voice his opinion without harming Trump’s narcissism. This is why the president saw a trustworthy character in him and why he listens to him and is convinced by his views.
Pompeo believes in the idea of force and crushing rivals if needed. When he was the CIA director, he ordered secret missions to pursue and kill dangerous Taliban members.
This is new as such dangerous operations were usually only planned for al-Qaeda members. He is once reported to have said: “We cannot accomplish our mission without being cruel.”
Espionage and diplomacy
The objective remains the same in espionage and diplomacy, and power can be used at any time especially after the Obama era which was marked by hesitation and which he repeatedly criticized.
Pompeo was a fierce critic of Hillary Clinton and he opposed her stance toward the terror attack on the consulate in Benghazi, which killed US envoy Christopher Stevens. When she announced she was running for the presidency, he said he will stand with any Republican who confronts her no matter who he/she is.
Through Pompeo’s strong speeches and statements, we can understand the American administration’s solid and clear position with regard to Tehran. It is nothing new for Pompeo as he strongly opposed the nuclear deal.
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After it was announced that Trump won the presidency, he tweeted celebrating victory and expressed the extent of his deep hatred of the Iranian regime. “I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism,” he said.
In his latest speech, he addressed the Iranians across the world and inside Iran and said that the Trump Administration dreams the same dream of the Iranians, that this nightmare formed by the Iranian regime ends, adding that “through our labors and God’s providence, (this dream) will one day come true.”
People in the hall applauded him, and it is certain that millions also cheered as they too dream of the end of the nightmare, which has been on for 40 years now.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Mamdouh AlMuhaini is the Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabiya News Channel’s digital platforms. He can be followed on Twitter @malmhuain.